Love Stories by Glasgow Writers. Sticky Love by Pauline Lynch
by Pauline Lynch
No denying it, times were rough. Sadie was only seven, with limited life experience, but even she knew times were rough.
Last night, someone had knocked on their door asking to borrow dog food. It was late and she was meant to be asleep, but she’d heard the knock, and then the voice, and it was no one she knew. A complete stranger, after dark, asking for dog food. She’d heard her dad tell them no, and they’d gone away, but she’d sat up long enough to hear her dad talking about theirs being the last door in the close, and something about somebody trying their luck, and her mum saying: Aye, it’s rough.
Sadie knew it was rough.
The bins were on fire almost every day, filling the backs with a sweet smokiness Sadie would never forget. Huge steel drums that held the rubbish of the entire street. On the odd day they weren’t on fire, you could climb inside them and play. She’d only done that once, after weeks of watching the big kids from a distance; they climbed in and crowed like roosters, proud of their perch; Kings of the Castle. She’d found it stinky and disgusting and had no plans to repeat it.
Things were rough.
But here she was, back in bed after another day of being last at sums, another day of running all the way home to avoid another kicking from Sharon Hastie, another day spent fighting with Emma, her annoying wee sister, another day of refusing tinned oxtail soup – when would her parents ever give up on that stuff? – another day and here she was, in her folded down, fold-up bed, and she felt happy. Truly, altogether, undeniably happy,
Her hand grasped the new necklace lying around her neck. It was so sweet how he’d done it – nicked a knitting needle from his granny’s basket and stuck it through the toffee. It had been some effort. The needle had even bent. She hoped his granny wouldn’t batter him for it. But he’d made a hole and she’d watched, confused as he put white wool through it, also from his granny’s basket but he’d said she wouldn’t miss it, and then he’d tied a knot in it and said: Sadie, this is for you. We’re engaged now. And then, as an afterthought: Do you want to?
And she’d nodded and said: Aye, I do.
And he’d asked his sister, Michelle, to be the priest, and they’d found the ring of an old irn-bru can somebody had chucked onto the street, and with that up a close they did wed.
And he was probably in bed now like she was, only in the next close along, and he was thinking of her like she was thinking of him, and as she rolled over onto her side and unwrapped the toffee and stuck in her mouth, she didn’t think once about how rough it all was.
No, things didn’t seem that rough at all.
Pauline Lynch – winner of Sceptre Prize, 2013 for an extract from her novel The Keeper of Secrets.
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