by Alison Proud
a pot of English Breakfast tea
Dale woke up, something had hit him in the face. He removed the newspaper to see his mum standing over him. ‘Better not have been your lot involved in that old woman’s death’ she shouted and slammed out of his bedroom. ‘What does she care’ he thought? He got up and headed into town to get himself some breakfast, no food in the house as usual.
He walked to the arcade, but his ‘friends’ no longer gathered there, not after the incident with the old lady. Jack had recovered from his stab wound, paid Leo the money he owed him, and everyone was a gang again, but they got together on the other side of town now. He would go over there later but this morning he needed to do something first.
Henry was up early this morning; in fact, he had not slept much at all and he felt tired. He made a cup of tea and sat at the table in the kitchen. The basket of tulips that were left on his doorstep the day before brightened up the room and reminded him of his beloved Joyce. He missed her so much but somehow those flowers made him feel closer to her. He wondered who had left them for him. Maybe it was the man in the shop where he bought his newspaper. He drank his tea and then set off to thank him.
Dale felt relief as he saw him. He watched him walk through the arcade and into the newsagents and then leave again with his newspaper under his arm. He wondered how he was feeling and coping without his wife. He wanted to ask him if he was OK, if there was anything he could do to help. Instead, he stayed tucked away, watching him from a distance.
Henry was really puzzled because the man in the newsagents had said he knew nothing about the flowers. He thought about asking in the supermarket but there were so many people working there, no one would remember yesterday’s purchases. He made his way home and sat himself down to read the paper.
Dale went into the supermarket to get some food, he was starving. At the till he handed over the sandwich and a bunch of flowers. ‘£7.50 please’ said the lady. Damn. He only had a fiver. ‘I’ll have to put this back’ he said to her. He was angry when he left the shop, if his mum had food in the house instead of just wine and cigarettes, he would have been able to buy both.
For the first time in a long while, Henry had switched on the television. Neither he nor Joyce were ever really that interested in watching anything, but now the noise made him feel less lonely. It had been a long day, but night-time was finally here, and Henry decided to go to bed early. When he went to check the front door was locked, he noticed a piece of paper hanging out of the letterbox. ‘I’ve left you something, I hope you are OK,’ was scribbled on the paper. He opened the front door and picked up the yellow tulips from the doorstep.
Every day after that, more yellow tulips were left at Henry’s flat. The rooms were bursting full of colour and he felt like Joyce was still with him. If only he knew who was being so kind, he desperately wanted to thank them. One day he even sat in his doorway all morning and afternoon, determined to see who was bringing the flowers. They arrived overnight on that occasion, after he had given up waiting and gone to bed!
Dale had not eaten for days; he was spending his money on the flowers for the old man. His mum had kicked him out when she found out about Jack’s stabbing and he was sleeping rough now. He wanted to buy himself food, but he had to keep on getting the flowers. The old lady had bought them every day and she was gone because of his gang, so it was his responsibility to keep up her routine. This afternoon he bought the flowers, but he did not feel good, so instead of taking them to the old man’s house he put them on the ground next to his makeshift home in the doorway of a disused shop and slept.
Yesterday the tulips had not appeared at Henry’s flat and when he left to go and get his paper the following morning, he was surprised to not see them left on the doorstep overnight. The tulips (always yellow ones) had been arriving every day for a long time and had helped Henry to smile again. So, today he felt a twinge of sadness that maybe it was going to stop now, and he would never find out who had been so caring and thoughtful to do this for him.
Henry bought his paper. On the way out of the arcade, he stopped as something caught his eye, something yellow. Next to one of the homeless types in a shop doorway were some flowers, a bunch of flowers......yellow tulips. His yellow tulips, Joyce’s yellow tulips, the yellow tulips that were not delivered yesterday. Henry walked over and bent down to pick them up. Dale opened his eyes and saw the old man. ‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘I didn’t feel well enough to bring them to you yesterday.'
Henry asked the lad when he had last eaten, and Dale could not remember how long it had been. ‘How have you been able to buy these flowers every day?’ Henry asked.
use the money people give me’, said Dale and pointed to the plastic pot next to
the homeless note in front of him.
‘I have bacon at home young man, come with me and I’ll make you breakfast’.
Henry held out his hand and helped Dale to his feet.
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