Monday 8 July 2024

No More Heroes by Penny Rogers, fresh orange juice diluted with lemonade

Inspired by the 1977 hit by The Stranglers that features an all-male cast of heroes and anti-heroes.

 

The pile of ironing collapsed onto the sofa. No room for me there, thought Laura. But there wasn’t time to sit down, even if there had been enough space. She looked at the crib where Betty was sleeping peacefully. ‘Sleep tight poppet.’ She knelt by the little bed, watching her latest foster child’s steady breathing. Poor baby, she’s safe now, thought Laura.

            In the kitchen Laura hurried to make a cake for the PTA sale tomorrow. Fleetingly she thought of the fancy gateaux and elegant torte that would sit alongside her jam sponge. Rosie came in from the garden. ‘Mum, can we have fish fingers for tea? Will Daddy be home tonight?’

            ‘No, you know Daddy won’t be home until Friday. He’s working in Plymouth, He’ll FaceTime tomorrow and you can tell him about the cake sale. And no, we can’t have fish fingers today, I’ve made a casserole. It’s got chicken and sweet corn in it.’

            ‘I never get what I want.’

            ‘Oh you do, and anyway you like chicken casserole. Now go and wash your hands while I finish this cake.’

            Jamie came back from football. ‘Mum, can Freddy come to tea? His mum’s got to work late.’

            ‘OK. It’s chicken casserole.’

            ‘Freddy can’t eat that. He’s gone vegan like his mum.’

            ‘Oh bother.’ Laura thought of another word beginning with ‘b’. ‘Never mind I’ve got some plant based burgers in the freezer. He can have those with mashed potatoes. Make sure his mum knows he’s here.’

 

Rosie pushed her casserole round her plate. ‘Mum, Mrs Cameron says that Archie’s dad was a hero. Is my dad a hero?’

            Laura took a deep breath. Archie’s dad had been a firefighter. Last week a chemical factory had exploded. Three workers and two firefighters, including Archie’s dad, had been killed.

            Jamie helped himself to some more potato. ‘United are heroes. They won the cup.’

            ‘That’s not the same thing,’ Freddy retorted, hoping that Jamie wouldn’t eat all that mash.

            ‘It so is. When they did a bus tour round the town, everyone said they were heroes.’

            ‘It’s a different sort of hero.’ Laura tried to think of the right words. Fortunately Betty chose that moment to wake up screaming. ‘Poor little girl, she’s teething and it hurts her.’ She scooped up the baby.  Jamie stopped eating and played peek-a-boo with Betty, turning her tears into smiles.

 

Later that evening Mark rang. ‘Everything OK?’

            ‘Oh fine. As long as you discount a burnt cake, a teething baby, a mountain of ironing and a big debate about what makes a hero! How are you getting on?’

             Their conversation was cut short by a wail from Betty. ‘Don’t forget to FaceTime tomorrow so that Rosie can tell you about the PTA cake sale.’

           

Rosie was thrilled to have her very own FaceTime with her dad. Later she explained to Laura ‘I told him all about the cake sale and how much money we made and the PTA is going to give it to the fund for Archie’s dad. And I told him that Betty’s much quieter and that Jamie’s horrible.’

            She looked intently at her mum. ‘Dad showed me some pictures of heroes.’

            ‘What heroes?’

            ‘Well, there was Archie’s dad, baby Betty, United on their stupid bus, an old lady whose name I’ve forgotten and…’ Rosie fiddled with the hem of her dress ‘… and a picture of you.’

            Laura stopped ironing and went to cuddle her daughter.

            ‘Dad said heroes come in all shapes and sizes, there are lots of them about.’

About the author  

Penny Rogers lives in Dorset in the south of England. She writes mostly short stories, flash fiction and poems and facilitates an informal writing group. She is a regular contributor to CaféLit. When she’s not writing Penny makes jams, pickles and preserves from home grown or foraged produce. 

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