Sunday 4 April 2021

Nancy’s Reflection - Armley, 1864


by Mari Phillips

a jug of ale


 Well, Joseph Myers, I’m watching you. They found you guilty, and you blamed t’ale, but you allus blamed t’ale! That time, the last time, with the knife, well, at least it finished me off. I’d had enough, every Friday and Saturday night and most of ‘em in between. You swilling your wages; t’money for me and bairns. I’d hear you tripping and cussin’ over the cobbles, then me black and blue when you got home and there was nowt t’eat. I’d send little’uns to me mam for a bowl of broth.

Were you ever happy Jo? Happen we shouldn’t ‘ave wed. I wouldn’t put up with it now, well I can’t, can I? I was nobbut a lass, you ‘ad blue eyes and told a good tale. Then I ‘caught on’ and daren’t tell me favva so that was it. We was ‘appy at first, but then you got in with a bunch of lads from the grinders and when more kids came along you spent more time wi’ them than us. Don’t know how you kept t’job, but you were pally wi’ t’foreman. It’s kids I feel sorry for. Me mam’ll not be able to keep ‘em. She’s strugglin’ her sen. Too many mouths to feed and nowt left for owt.

I can’t say I’m lookin’ forward to this, but everyone else is. There must be thousands here, bloodthirsty tykes. You’ll get a few minutes of fame, Jo Myers, an’ you’ll be sober. I know you tried to cheat hangman, but it didn't work, did it Jo? You botched it. Well, it’ll ‘appen now, for sure, but you don’t deserve a quick death, not after what you did to me. Anyway, I’ll watch you swing. Maybe I’ll sithee yonder, but you won’t be able to beat me next time, Jo Myers.

About the author

Mari lives in Leeds, writes mostly flash fiction, with several published in Café Lit, and is working on a couple of ‘longer’ short stories. She also occasionally dabbles in poetry. She is a keen singer and traveller, both activities severely curtailed under lockdown.


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