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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She told him how each weekend they would all go skiing with friends and that she was planning to come back the following year. She didn’t know whether or not she would get home for Christmas but would try. It was signed with regards Annabella.

He made himself a cup of tea then took out some writing paper and replied to her letter. He explained about his new project and how he’d already bought one of the apartments that would be ready to move into by the end of next year.

He wished her well and signed it. He took an envelope and placed the letter inside then sealed it. He would take it with him tomorrow and it would go in the out going mail tray. Turning out the lights Russell lay in his bed; he wanted to tell Annabella how much he loved and missed her but had decided not to. He wanted her to feel the heartache that he was feeling. Maybe then she would come back to him.


Doing his rounds at ten o’clock the doctor came to Shirley’s bed. She had been moved from the ITC ward and was now with the patients on ward twelve.

Doctor Henry Coulton pulled the screen around the bed then asked how Shirley was feeling.’

“Well I feel a bit tired doctor.’

“Yes you will for a while.’ I have to tell you Mrs Forster that you have advanced bowel Cancer. It has spread to your pancreas and your liver I’m afraid.’

“What does that mean doctor?’

“Well I’m sorry to tell you that may only have a few months left Mrs Forster.’

“Can you not operate?

“I’m afraid not and giving you radium treatment or even chemotherapy would not help either. Had you came to us sooner we may have been able to remove your bowel and you could have lived with a colostomy.’

“I just thought that the stomach pains I was having was just constipation you know.’

“Will I be able to go home?’

“Yes, in a couple of days but your symptoms will get worse we will have to increase your pain relief. I am very sorry Mrs Forster; I wish that there was something I could do for you.’

“Thank you for telling me doctor; I cannot complain I have had fifty good years some don’t even get that.’

“Will your husband be coming in?

“Yes, later tonight after work.’ but I don’t want my family to know that I’ve only a few months left.’

“I understand and you wishes will be taken care of.’

“You are a very brave woman Mrs Forster.’

“No good crying over spilt milk is there.’

The nurse opened the screens and a cup of tea was brought to her.

Shirley Forster sat thinking of what she was going to tell her husband and her daughter.


Maxie went about his round as usual his team raced around throwing black bin bags into the back of the wagon trying to get an early finish. They were in Chirton Green today and Maxie would be able to stop and get himself fish and chips from the Chippie on Heaton Terrace. He thought that he wouldn’t have time to make tea tonight as he would be rushing to the hospital.


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