The girl next door

Maxie Forster is a binman who carries out ashes from the coal fires of North Shields the holes in his leather soled boots are letting in water from the rain and he cannot afford to go and take the boots to the cobbler shop in Billy Mill. He tries repairing them with some old lino and cuts the shape out with a stanley knife and glues them with some evo stick then places cardboard in the insides. Looking over the road on his round he spots a family being evicted by the bailiffs - the wagon is loaded with furniture and the woman and her five children stand in the rain as the barrow with everything she owns is pushed down the street.

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By Christmas Russell had settled into his new house and he’d brought his parents and sister down to see it.’

“This is like living in paradise said his mother as she walked around. Mrs Belsham had done well in choosing the décor and had bought him everything he needed from bedding to curtains and modern lampshades.

“It really had a woman’s touch; he kept it spotless like he did his car.’

Annabella had been around to look at it also and liked it.’ They had been seeing each other every weekend since that first night but nothing had happened physically between them. Even when Annabella’s parents had gone over to Normandy Russell hoped that she would have stayed over but she didn’t.

He was broken hearted though when she told him that she was going to spend a year in Austria as a nanny to a family.’

“What about us asked Russell?’

“Don’t spoil it she said; this is something that I must do. It will either make us or break us. It will give us a chance to find out how we really think of each other.

“I already know how I feel about you said Russell; I have loved you since I first saw you planting those Marigolds in your mothers garden.’

“The thing is Russell I like you very much but as for love; well,’ I don’t know; I’m unsure of my feelings.’

You need to meet other people and so do I then when I return we will find out if we still feel the same.’

“My feelings for you will never change Annabella.’

Please do not make me choose between you and going away.’

“It is only for a year and who knows you may meet someone you like.’

 “There will be no one else but you for me.’

“She walked to the window and Russell followed her he turned her face towards his then kissed her tenderly on the lips.’

“I must go she said and picked up her coat.’

“Wait I will run you home.’

“No this will only make things more difficult Russell, please ring me a taxi.’

“When are you leaving?’

“I leave tomorrow morning.’

“So you’ve known all this time and never told me.’

“I didn’t want to hurt you Russell.’ There was no easy way of telling you; that is why I have left it until now.’

Russell picked up the phone and called for a taxi and there was an uneasy silence between them as they waited for the taxi to arrive.’

“Have you got enough money for the taxi fare?’

“Yes, look I will write you as soon as I arrive alright; you can write me back if you wish.’

“Of course I will write to you; I will miss you Annabella.’

Please don’t say that Russell.’

“It’s true, I will.’

Annabella heard the taxi pull up outside so she turned and kissed Russell briefly then went down the stairs and out the front door. She didn’t look up at the window as Russell’s tears fell unashamedly down his cheeks. Instead she slid into the back of the cab and the taxi pulled away. “That would be the last that he would see her for a year.’

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