Happy Thursday. Today I am pleased to share an extract from The Soldier’s Home thanks to the lovely Kelly at Love Books Group.
EARLY MAY. Friday evening. Just gone four-thirty. Or ‘almost five and twenty-to- five,’ as both her parents would have said.
At the bus-stop with five teenaged stragglers. Four girls, one shuffling lad.
Enid didn’t teach any of them, knew no names.
Netball practice? Dawdlers. Detention?
No. Unlikely any of us teachers would volunteer to monitor that
of a Friday evening… Perhaps these were the latch-key kids? Or those with neither desire nor impetus to rush home. One way to find out and Enid was not going to do that.
They ignored her. The ancient teacher, invisible.
She listened not to their conversation but to their language, their use and gleeful abuse of it. Slang. Was that derived from slung, she wondered. Words thrown?
Enid listened for examples of it, but their chatter was coded so as to all but forbid her entrance. Fine. at suited, too.
eir bus appeared in the distance, Worsley to Swinton. en on, for her, to Pendlebury.
Tickets, passes, coins were found and rubbed. Primed.
Something about a Friday.
Odd but she now recalled some man called Fordyce, or similar, announcing, if she remembered correctly, ‘ the weekend starts here.’ ‘Ready Steady Go!’ In her very early thirties. When people danced. Shook. For a brief moment there was Dusty Spring eld. Making black and white television feel as though it were in colour.
The bus squealed to a stop and the small scrum gathered impatient and spuriously excited, then opened to o er her – the ageing ‘Miss’ – to get on rst, a practised display of ‘respect’, and when she demurred, it clattered chaotically upstairs. As though it had never ever done such an exciting thing before…
Enid sat downstairs, beside an exhausted woman obliterated by what Enid presumed was weekend food shopping. For a small platoon.
Nine stops – let thought loose. Loosen.
Anniversary of father’s death, soon. Tend their grave. at sweet ritual.
You have, like J.B. Priestley, been here before. Anything make tonight any di erent? No… Well, I have never shared a bus-seat with someone with quite so much shopping.
Papers to mark, essays to read, lessons to plan. Much Ado About My Life. Church on Sunday. Back Monday, ve past nine, urging a comprehension of the di erence between metaphor and simile into fourteen-year-olds. One of the young ladies careened down the stairs, called, ‘Night, Miss,’ and swung o the bus, running and swearing at her friends upstairs.
So many things you never did, Enid.
I hope we reach my stop before this poor woman has to negotiate her way past me and off. I don’t want to watch, witness, struggle; and if I offer to help I’ll needs go all the way to her house.
Ye Olde Pendlebury Offie.
A banal contradiction in terms, but what is life without the detail? O.
‘Under New Management’. Well, let us believe they will still sell
my Vendredi Vouvray.
She pushed at the door.
Enid was shocked, harshly, out of her routine.
No soft tinkle of a bell on a spring.
It had said, and it repeated itself lest she be in doubt, as she let the door close, ‘Barp-Klack.’
A hideous noise. An unnecessarily loud, metallic, somehow inhuman, noise.
The lay-out of the shop had been modernised. Making its title yet more idiotic. The wines now separated by country of origin. ere were scattered half-barrels containing ‘o ers’. A sprinkling of sawdust on the oor. Really? Were people likely to spit? Or bring their horses in here, perchance?
She located her ritual tipple, then spotted the same in a new glass-doored fridge. O. en saw a chilled Chablis.
For once, Enid… And for no good reason. Beyond a warm, thinning, memory.
Pleased, she headed towards the young man, reading at the counter, his hair languishing seemingly off only one side of his head. Indeed, the other side of his head appeared to have been recently shaved. Odd. When he looked up (and almost smiled) he had a ring in his nose. Someone new pushed at the door.
If the extract wasn’t enough then here is the blurb.
Blurb: ‘The Soldier’s Home’ is the stunning sequel to the bestselling debut, ‘The Single Soldier’, by renowned actor and writer George Costigan.
The war is over and his home was re-built … but a home is just a set of empty rooms without people and love. After surviving the war under German occupation, can a community now rekindle their lives, and rediscover their reasons for surviving?
As the soldier waits for the return of his love, the world keeps moving, threatening to leave his hopes and dreams behind.
History, secrets and painful truths collide in his troubled soul until peace arrives finally from a very unexpected source …