“Just five minutes. I won’t be long. Try to be a good girl.” Mummy makes her wait in the car. Mummy doesn’t like to pay for parking. Mummy watches her pennies.
Sophie counts to sixty. She knows there are sixty seconds in a minute. She counts to sixty, five times, raising her fingers, but Mummy doesn’t return. Sophie counts again as she might have counted too fast the first time, but she gets muddled. She decides she’s counted enough.
Sophie opens her colouring book. She picks a red crayon and colours in a picture of a house. One with a door in the middle and a path leading to it, a window either side and a wavy thatched roof. A pretty house where nice people would live. Sophie scribbles, pressing hard and colouring outside of the lines.
Sophie sings to herself. The song she hums when she doesn’t want to feel afraid.
Five little apples so red and bright were dancing about on a tree one night.
She sings to her dolly, then shouts and throws Dolly on the floor for being naughty.
“Silly Dolly she shouts. You’re always under my feet.”
Sophie climbs into the front of the car, stepping on the hand brake. She pretends to drive. Broom, broom. She wiggles the steering wheel, turning it as far as it will go from side to side. She presses buttons and flicks switches. She flips the windscreen wipers and winds down the windows. Broom, broom.
Mummy is saving her pennies in her post office account. She makes the housekeeping stretch. She buys cheap cuts and day-old bread. Mummy sews and darns or buys clothes from the Shelter. Mum needs some money of her own to buy things for herself. To fund her escape.
Sophie slouches to touch her feet on the pedals, then pulls herself back up and presses on a handle to look up in the mirror. She draws on lipstick with a crayon, puckering her mouth and smacking her lips like Mummy.
She doesn’t notice at first when the car starts to move.
The wind came rustling through the town
One little apple came tumbling down.