by Em Ware
Chapter 2- Getting To Know You
|I got home and panicked, what did these English folk consider 'nice'? In America a girl showing off her so called assets was what they considered to be something 'nice', especially the creepy old men who didn't seem to notice where my face was when I worked in the bar close to my old home in Maryland. I was forced to wear a tiny, tight tank top with denim cut-off hot pants and when I complained to the manager about the old men who thought I was a piece of meat I was threatened with losing my job. Women's rights didn't really seem to matter over there but from what I had already seen it was different in Woodston, everybody was treated equally. I eventually picked out a white ruffled blouse and a pencil skirt which rested just above me knee, it was smart and I suppose I looked okay when I looked in the mirror but I wouldn't have many people staring, which could be nothing but a good thing if you ask me.
The clock read 1pm exactly, I still had a few hours to burn before my shift started so I threw my jacket on and headed out to the corner shop which I had passed before while I was fixing up my cottage. It seemed quite small, but it only had to supply a tiny village so I suppose it was enough for essential items and possibly a few treats for when the younger generations actually decided to show up. It was only a five minute walk so I didn't bother taking my phone with me, it wasn't like anyone was going to call me, my mother and father were probably still sleeping anyway. From what I remembered the shop stocked the local newspapers like the Knutsford Gazette and the Northwich Reader, the would keep me entertained along with showering and getting ready for work for the five hours I had left to wait.
I found the shop very easily, it was only a couple of streets away from home. Nobody was in the shop at all from what I could see when I first stepped in.
"Hello?" I called out, just to reassure myself that it was open to the public, "Is anyone there?" Nobody answered so I tried one more time, further in the shop in case someone didn't hear me. I then got an answer. A sweet little voice replied to me from the back room, probably used for storage. The reply was very muffled but I could tell something was wrong. I ran to the door frame which connected the back room to the front of the shop, it had a bead curtain separating it but I could easily see through it so it wasn't really doing a great job. I separated a few stands of beads to get a better view and saw a small old woman stuck behind a pile of heavy boxes that she was too frail to move herself.
"One moment, I can try to help you, I just need to put my bag down in the front of the shop, do you mind if I leave it out of view behind the counter?"
"Not at all dear, it's a good job you came in when you did, I haven't been here that long." I threw my bag behind the small counter which was adjacent to the door frame and made my way towards the pile of boxes. Fortunately they weren't too heavy for me to lift out of the way into a neat pile, allowing the old woman to be freed from her prison of cardboard and polystyrene twists. I took her hand and led her out of the dark, damp, cold room into the artificial light of the main area of the shop. I got a better view of her there. She was plump, but nowhere near fat, she had curly dark grey hair which stopped at her ears but it was thick and neat all over the top of her head. She had a long dress on with capped sleeves and a little pinafore to keep her bottom half of her dress clean. Her small, rimmed glasses sat on the end of her nose and framed her warm, wrinkled eyes which seemed to smile at me and thank me for helping her out. She was exactly how I imagined an English grandma to be.
"Thank you so much for that Lovie, I was worried I'd be stuck there for hours, barely anyone comes in here now after that supermarket was built in Knutsford. This business isn't going to be running for much longer if that's the way it carries on," the old woman looked upset, she looked as if she had put so much effort into making the corner shop a good establishment for the community but nobody appreciated her as much as they should. I felt a sense of guilt even though I knew I hadn't committed a bad deed.
"You're welcome, I'm Nancy Miller, I moved into the old cottage just today but I've made a few visits before, I'll make sure your business doesn't fail, I'll make sure to come and buy at least one thing here every day."
"You're a very sweet girl Nancy, you know how to make an old lonely woman feel appreciated, it's a lovely change from what you hear about the youths these days. I'm Hilda Garvin, I'm sure you'll fit right into Woodston and you will receive good karma from doing good today. Now, what can I help you with?"
"I just wanted to buy a local newspaper or two to familiarise myself with the local surroundings before I go to work later, I've heard a lot about Knutsford and Northwich so I think I'll just get those."
"Okay then Dear, that will be £2," I gave Hilda the money and headed back home.
As I was walking back down the road, the headline of the Northwich Reader kept catching my eye. It read:
'ANOTHER YOUNG LOCAL DEAD DUE TO BRUTAL ATTACK'
So that's what Hilda meant about 'youths these days, I thought to myself, I suppose it was just a drunken fight in town gone too far, it won't be anything to do with the pretty little village of Woodston.
I didn't let it bother me and carried on walking home to read more about the so called 'brutal attack'.