Amazing Author Competition – Runner-up!

in-the-mag-3

The Grocery Shop Girl

‘Just put the tea on the shelves and stop daydreaming!’ mother said, looking annoyed in her starched white apron.

‘I’m not daydreaming’, I said. ‘I’m just thinking about the future.’

‘Well stop thinking about the future and just think about putting tea into jars’ mother said, looking at me sternly.

I had to be careful when she looked at me like that. If you gave her the slightest cheek, she could whip you hard.

‘Why must I stock shelves and stack bags of rice in the neatest possible way?’ I said, sounding like a five-year-old wanting a lolly from the sweetie shop. ‘Why can’t I just be a normal girl and go outside and play hopscotch with all the other children?’

 

My mother owned the grocery store and of course she made me help out. A lot. Since I was busy helping, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. I didn’t even have a nice cosy space in which to sit with my thoughts. Our home is above the shop and my room has a small, metal bed frame with a straw mattress I can barely even sleep on. The only other piece of furniture is an old cupboard that looks so lonely with little bits of paint chipping off it. I hated the parlour even more. Every time you walked in, there was a damp musty smell from rugs lying everywhere and there was only one gaslight so it was hard to draw or to look at the few books we had, which I yearned to read.

 

‘Elizabeth!’ mother shouted in my ear, catching me daydreaming again. Everyone in the shop turned to look. Mother blushed and pulled me over to the corner where no one was listening. ‘For goodness sake girl, what’s the matter with you?’

‘Well… it’s just that I get a bit…’

Suddenly, the ding of the service bell rang and mother said: ‘I’ll deal with you later.’

She started trudging to the counter and I followed, feeling a bit nervous.

 

As I walked over, I saw two lovely-looking girls standing there. One had a large mop of dark brown hair and the other had fiery red hair. It was as red as mother’s table cloth, which she kept for special occasions (though we rarely had special occasions).

They started talking to mother and asked where the dried fruits were stored.

‘Go and help them find the dried fruits please Elizabeth.’

Mother said ‘please’ in a sickly tone. The girls followed.

 

‘Hi, what’s your name?’ asked the girl with red hair.

‘My name’s Elizabeth’ I said casually.

‘Well my name is Hetty Feather. Nice to meet you’ she said confidently. ‘This is my friend Clover Moon. We’re making a fruit cake!’

‘That sounds wonderful. I’ve never made any kind of cake before’ I said jealously.

‘How about you join us, then?’ Clover Moon said, finally speaking.

‘Are you sure? We’ve only just met!’ I replied.

‘Well you’ll know us by the time we’ve finished baking!’ Hetty said.

‘Okay, I’ll see’ I said. They continued looking while I went and begged mother to let me go. She said I could if I promised to do extra work in the morning.

 

Well, the visit was wonderful. Clover lived in a home for girls and it was glorious compared to my house and the fruitcake we made was terrific. Hetty and Clover are now my friends and they visit me at the shop every day. I no longer feel lonely – all because of them!

‘Just put the tea on the shelves and stop daydreaming!’ mother said, looking annoyed in her starched white apron.

‘I’m not daydreaming’, I said. ‘I’m just thinking about the future.’

‘Well stop thinking about the future and just think about putting tea into jars’ mother said, looking at me sternly.

I had to be careful when she looked at me like that. If you gave her the slightest cheek, she could whip you hard.

‘Why must I stock shelves and stack bags of rice in the neatest possible way?’ I said, sounding like a five-year-old wanting a lolly from the sweetie shop. ‘Why can’t I just be a normal girl and go outside and play hopscotch with all the other children?’

 

My mother owned the grocery store and of course she made me help out. A lot. Since I was busy helping, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. I didn’t even have a nice cosy space in which to sit with my thoughts. Our home is above the shop and my room has a small, metal bed frame with a straw mattress I can barely even sleep on. The only other piece of furniture is an old cupboard that looks so lonely with little bits of paint chipping off it. I hated the parlour even more. Every time you walked in, there was a damp musty smell from rugs lying everywhere and there was only one gaslight so it was hard to draw or to look at the few books we had, which I yearned to read.

 

‘Elizabeth!’ mother shouted in my ear, catching me daydreaming again. Everyone in the shop turned to look. Mother blushed and pulled me over to the corner where no one was listening. ‘For goodness sake girl, what’s the matter with you?’

‘Well… it’s just that I get a bit…’

Suddenly, the ding of the service bell rang and mother said: ‘I’ll deal with you later.’

She started trudging to the counter and I followed, feeling a bit nervous.

 

As I walked over, I saw two lovely-looking girls standing there. One had a large mop of dark brown hair and the other had fiery red hair. It was as red as mother’s table cloth, which she kept for special occasions (though we rarely had special occasions).

They started talking to mother and asked where the dried fruits were stored.

‘Go and help them find the dried fruits please Elizabeth.’

Mother said ‘please’ in a sickly tone. The girls followed.

 

‘Hi, what’s your name?’ asked the girl with red hair.

‘My name’s Elizabeth’ I said casually.

‘Well my name is Hetty Feather. Nice to meet you’ she said confidently. ‘This is my friend Clover Moon. We’re making a fruit cake!’

‘That sounds wonderful. I’ve never made any kind of cake before’ I said jealously.

‘How about you join us, then?’ Clover Moon said, finally speaking.

‘Are you sure? We’ve only just met!’ I replied.

‘Well you’ll know us by the time we’ve finished baking!’ Hetty said.

‘Okay, I’ll see’ I said. They continued looking while I went and begged mother to let me go. She said I could if I promised to do extra work in the morning.

 

Well, the visit was wonderful. Clover lived in a home for girls and it was glorious compared to my house and the fruitcake we made was terrific. Hetty and Clover are now my friends and they visit me at the shop every day. I no longer feel lonely – all because of them!

By Anna Vignieri, Devon

 

Well done, Anna! We loved your setting of a humble grocery shop and really liked your main character, Elizabeth! Anna has won a signed copy of Clover Moon!

 

***Don’t miss the other two runners-up stories, plus, of course, the overall winning story!***
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