by E A M Harris
I can always tell if Mummy’s lost her car keys. She shoves things about in her handbag and opens all the zips, like she did this morning.
She stopped in the narrow pavement outside the Christian bookshop. The people with their shopping had to push past us. She opened the zips and even said a rude word. Then the keys fell out of her bag. I picked them up.
‘That’s not what I’m looking for, Angie. I’ve lost my diary.’
Mummy’s diary’s blue with burnt bits on the cover from the time she threw it in the fire. Then she sort of screamed and pulled it out again with the poker. Once I asked her what she wrote in it.
She said, ‘Everything that happens,’ but Daddy said she writes secrets and he sounded cross. I think it was because I asked.
Today she was frowning, ‘It must have fallen out this morning. I can’t have lost it! I just can’t!’
We went back to all the streets and shops we’d been to, but it wasn’t anywhere. Mummy shivered like she was cold. Then we went back to the car. While Mummy searched the car, I crossed the pavement to the dress shop window to see the sparkly dresses. Standing beside me were two ladies, whispering and laughing.
The tall one had Mummy’s diary open in her hand. She was holding it out for the thin one to see. ‘Look at this, Jean. Would you believe it!’
The thin one was reading. I could tell because her lips were moving. ‘The beast! I wonder she lets him!’
‘Some people have no shame. She should be thinking of her children – and her husband, not carrying on like that.’
It’s so rude to read someone’s diary!
‘Better than East Enders!’ The tall one said. ‘We’ll have a good laugh when we get home.’ She put it into her basket.
I wanted to ask the lady to give me the diary, but I’m not allowed to talk to strangers, so when she walked past me I sneaked it out of her basket and put it in my pocket.
The lady grabbed my arm and shouted. ‘You little thief!’
‘I’m not,’ I screamed.
‘What are you doing to my daughter?’
‘She tried to steal from my basket.’
‘I didn’t, I didn’t.’
‘How dare you accuse my child of stealing! Get in the car Angela May and stop that noise.’
Mummy pushed me through a big crowd and into the car. She was cross with me all the way home.
I tried to tell her about the diary.
‘Don’t talk to me, Angela May. Look at the traffic! I have to concentrate. Why is every idiot in the world on the road today?’
We’re nearly home and I still haven’t thought what to do with the diary. If I give it to Mummy now, she’ll be crosser. I could keep it – but it isn’t mine. I’d better give it to Daddy. He’ll know what to do about it.
E A M Harris writes poetry and short stories. Her work has appeared in several print and online magazines.