Read Running Shoes (The Shades of Northwood) Online

Authors: Wendy Maddocks

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Running Shoes (The Shades of Northwood)

BOOK: Running Shoes (The Shades of Northwood)
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THE SHADES OF
NORTHWOOD:

RUNNING
SHOES

 

 

Wendy
Maddocks

©2011 by Wendy
Maddocks

 

Smashwords
edition

 

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Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

CHAPTER
ONE

 

 

 

“Giving birth
to you was definitely easier than this… and that took 24
hours.”

`”Great way to
make me feel special, Mom.”

“Oh honey, I
didn’t mean it like that. I just meant – “

“It’s okay,”
Katie grinned. She held the lid of one box down while her mother
suffocated it with parcel tape. “I’m shattered too.” There were
piles of boxes filling her bedroom. She stood up and put her hands
to her aching lower back. “My back’s killing me. Must be my age
catching up with me.”

“You’ll live. I
don’t think I can even get up.”

Katie stretched
out a hand and pulled her mother up. They put the box on one of the
piles and sat down on her bed.

They had both
been huddled in this room for the entire weekend bboxing up Katie’s
entire life so far. 16 and a half years. A handful of clothes were
still somewhere in the washing cycle but everything else was neatly
packed away in the boxes had finished and randomly thrown into the
ones she had done. But everything had been labelled –books – papers
– makeup and hair – computer stuff. Both of them looked around
without a word. Almost everything was packed away now but Katie had
a feeling she would be working into the night unravelling her
jumble of jewellery and ironing those last few clothes. Also, there
was a final check to make sure she hadn’t left anything important
behind.

“I can’t
believe how much junk I had.” Three or four black bags peeked
around the poster covered door. “And I never even knew I had half
of it.”

“We always made
you tidy your room but I guess we never made sure you actually
threw anything out.”

Katie rolled
her eyes and let herself fall back on the bed. It was quite late in
the evening and it was all she could do not to just curl up and
close her eyes. The alarm had gone off at eight this morning
although, after spending the day in this stuffy, little room and in
the sticky heat of high summer, the day felt like it had been much
longer. The windows had been open all day and a fan had been
whirring away on full. But Katie had no intention of complaining –
The oh-so-predictable British weather would likely be raining again
by the end of the week.

“Tea’s ready!”
a voice shouted up the stairs. “Well, in about ten minutes.”

“Thanks Dad!”
Hunger had started biting at Katie as soon as tea was mentioned.
“No more Dad making tea at the weekend.”

“We’ll visit
when you tell us you’re settled. We can make your tea then.”

“I’m going to
have to learn how to cook.” Katie jumped off her bed and tore
through the open book boxes by the window. “I don’t know how to
cook. What am I going to eat?”

“Katie, love.
You’ve been helping me cook since you started school. I don’t think
you’ll starve.” The older woman got up too and left the room. A
door down the hall squeaked.

A setting sun
washed the room in an orangey haze. The moon was already shining
brightly, just waiting for the sun to go down so it could be the
best thing about the night. Katie stood at the window and looked
straight in front. If she angled her head up just the right amount,
the houses opposite looked like they were miles away rather than
just across the road and the park across the road filled her view.
Never again would she have this view. Not that she would miss it
that much now that a car park had cut through half of it. But
still… it was the park she ran through every day and where Dad had
taught her to ride a bike. With a sigh, Katie closed the window and
grabbed her pumps.

“Brought you
something.”

A hand
brandished a cookbook under her nose. A student cookbook that
looked like it had never been opened.

Katie left her
laces undone as she took the book and flicked through it. Half of
it was simple food involving pasta, sausage or some kind of
casserole. Some were five minute recipes and a handful were
desserts or dinner party food. “Thanks Mom.” She hugged her
mother.

“Stop that or
you’ll make me cry.”

“I know. I’m
nearly there too.”

Katie took the
book and dropped into a box and taped it shut with a half-laugh.
“I’ll put the fire station on standby when I get there.”

“Do your laces
before you break your neck and then we can’t rent your room
out.”

Katie tied her
pumps with fingers so practised she did not need to watch herself
then followed the other woman down the bare, wooden stairs. Dad was
still banging around in the kitchen so they sat at the table and
watched him make a mess. Tea on Sunday was only sandwiches and
maybe a slice of quiche but today Dad was making an effort.
Sandwiches had been replaced by rolls, quiche by pizza and he had
bought a cake too.

“Dan!” Katie
shouted. Her little sister came running in and plopped down in the
seat next to her. “What are you wearing?” It used to be a yellow
sun dress but Dan liked to play in the mud so it was now a mostly
brown smock. “Dad, Mom, you didn’t need to do this. We went out
last night so I’m all partied out.”

“This isn’t a
party ‘cos there aren’t any people.”

“This is an
indoor party.”

“Still, I’d
rather just have a last normal, family night tonight.”

“Oh, honey, we
just couldn’t help but give you a tiny celebration. A last night
just doing ordinary things wouldn’t have been very special.”

“I know. It
just makes it harder.” Katie glared at her sister who was trying to
steal the mushrooms off her pizza slice. “Dan, pack it in.” The
younger girl shrank away from her and Katie was just as surprised
as her sister when they both started hugging each other. “It takes
me moving out to realise I quite like you, titch. Usually.”

Their parents
looked at each other. The two girls did love each other, they could
see that, but not even a Nazi interrogation would otherwise get
them to admit it. Their father opened the cupboard under the sink
and brought out a case of fizzy pop. He opened the case and passed
cans out. Katie broke hers open and drained half of it in one go.
“So, when me and Mom were dying of thirst up there you never
thought to bring these up. Nice.”

He nodded at
the basket of clothes in the corner – some crumpled and some
freshly ironed.

“Cool. Sleep
for me tonight.”

“Katie?” Dan
asked. “When you go away will it be forever?”

“I hope
not.”

“So, can I have
your room if you go for a long time? It’s bigger than mine.”

Mom touched the
smaller girls’ hand. “Katie will come back to visit sometimes and
she’ll need her own bed to sleep in. So, no, you can’t have her
room. Besides, yours is just as big. It’s just a different
shape.”

Katie went to
the drawer and got out a sharp knife. “Cake?”

Everyone wanted
some. When all four of them had a slice of the sponge cake with
orange chocolate icing and strawberry cream, and were sat in the
front room with the TV chattering away in the corner, Dan opened
the drawer in the coffee table and took something out. She was
always squirreling things away in every conceivable hiding place so
no-one paid any attention. She slid to the floor and crawled over
to her parents on the little two-seater settee. “Can we give it to
her now?”

“Okay.”

“Remember what
we said earlier. Don’t go over the top.”

“Katie. We made
this for you.”

It was a red
leather photo album with three quarters of the spaces filled in
with pictures of Mom and Dad when they were expecting Katie, all
her school photos, some from birthdays and Christmases, and a few
holidays. Every single one of them brought back such strong and
wonderful memories that Katie had trouble not crying. “It’s really
pretty.” And it was. Red glitter sparkled at the edges of the cover
and gold glitter speckled every page.

“I chose and
decorated the album and Mom and Dad chose the pictures. Oh, this
was meant to go on to but it kept falling off.” Dan reached back
into the drawer and brought out a string of pastelly seashells.
They were still curled into the loose spiral they had been meant to
be fastened in.

“I’ll keep it
safe always. Why are there blank spaces?”

“Because you
still have a lot of life left to live.”

Dad could be
surprisingly sweet at times.

“I’m going for
a walk in the park.” Katie got up and gave all of her family a
quick kiss then headed for the front door. There was someone’s
hairbrush on the bottom stair which she dragged through her long
hair and tied it up in a ponytail, not bothered that it was dirty
and straggling everywhere. Then she slung her baseball jacket over
her arm, matching cap over the worst of her hair and jogged out the
front door. The door swung closed behind her. The evening was not
quite dark but the disappearance of the sun had dropped the
temperature a few degrees –enough for there to be a chill in the
air but not enough to cool Katie enough to put her jacket on. She
turned left at the end of her road and headed for the row of shops
opposite. There were two newsagents, a betting shop and a local
hair salon that had given her that dreaded first haircut at age
three. Until then, Mom had trimmed it every few weeks. Katie was
glad that the salon was closed for the weekend because Antoine
would probably have some kind of seizure if he saw her hair in the
state it was in. Behind the shops was a block of flats – commonly
known as Heroin Heights due to the fact the local council had set
up a rehab group for addicts there. Katie was just glad they had
decided to try and help people with their problems rather than just
ignore them. Who really cared if they were on the same estate? Next
to the block of flats was a small residents car park and lock ups.
The good cars usually went into the garages and the beaten up or
barely running bangers were left in the car park. Coming through
here to get to the park was not high on the list of things Katie
would miss but then she couldn’t quite get her head around not
doing this again for a very long time. If ever.

Katie jumped
the low wall that separated the building from the street and from
there walked right up to the park gates. They were half open and
she walked in.

Running from
one end of the park to the tea rooms a few hundred metres away were
low stone bollards. Katie stepped up onto the first one and began
hopping the foot or so between each one. About 3 years ago, Dan had
lost her balance and fallen off the third post from the end,
hitting the ground badly and spraining her ankle. That was a fun
Easter Sunday spent in the hospital. Dad had been beside himself
with worry in case the X-rays showed a fracture or worse. Katie
just remembered being a bit annoyed that they weren’t going to be
home in time to watch Mary Poppins and a bit bewildered. She’d
never been inside a hospital before and only once since.

Thinking about
that, Katie dropped from the bollards and decided to go to the tea
rooms. It was closed but a woman near the door offered to get her a
cold drink and a snack before she locked up for the night.

“What’ll be
dear?”

“Are you sure?
I thought it was against the rules to serve after hours.”

“Well, it’s a
bit naughty but I can’t see the harm in a drink and some
sweets.”

“Orange juice,
crisps and a Twix. Or whatever you have.”

The older lady
scurried away into the building. “Won’t be long. I know there’s
some bits around here some place. Now where’d that stupid boy put
the juices?”

“Don’t worry if
you can’t find it.”

“No, it’s here.
I know it.” A minute later, a fuzzy grey head backed out of the
yellow building and turned to show the kind old woman holding a
plastic tray of snacks for Katie. “I put a pack of mints on for
you. I always like to have sucky sweets handy in case the urge
takes me.”

“How much do I
owe you?” Katie reached for her wallet.

“Come back
tomorrow and we’ll settle up then.”

“I’m leaving
the city tomorrow. I’d hate to go without a clear deck.”

“What’s a sweet
young girl like you doing leaving the city? Moving house I
suppose.” The old woman – there were tiny pin holes in her jumper
where a name tag had once rested but had obviously been taken off
for the night. “Parents always take children away from here. Too
much pollution – asthma and allergies. Nonsense, it is.”

BOOK: Running Shoes (The Shades of Northwood)
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