Instead of finishing the various stories I have have hanging around (including the one that’s The History Boys meets An Education meets Doctor Who, that one is a doozie) I started a new one. I’m stumbling after 4 chapters so I offer up the first draft of the opening to shame me into either finishing it or shutting up.
Up here in the attic I can only hear my alarm clock ticking softly and the distant sound of a train chugging along the main line. I expect it’ll pass the house soon and I’ll see its smoke rising from behind the trees. It’s been raining all day and I’m bored. There was nothing on the wireless. Nothing I wanted to listen to, anyway. Just the usual boring old music dad likes and tedious talks about rationing and keeping the enemy at bay. It’s always the same.
It’s lucky my room has a good view or I’d just go totally insane. On a clear day I can see the sea, and the castle on the island. Today wasn’t a clear day.
Even though it’s almost August, I’m frozen. This morning I tiptoed downstairs and asked dad for some coal for my room and he almost bit my head off. He threw the newspaper at me. The headline was about coal shortages.
“You should read the news sometimes, Kim, instead of just reading old novels.”
This is a bit rich coming from him. He’s the town bookseller, you see. My reading of the old books tells me that once upon a time that would have been a lowly job. Not any more. He’s one of the most important people in the parish.
He was sitting in the old waiting room eating toast and writing a letter. He had a small fire going. He saw me enviously eyeing the warm coals.
“It’s for the customers. And we’ve got to keep the damp away from the stock. And Mrs Hopper. She’ll be in soon; she feels the cold at her age.”
I snorted and took the paper back upstairs with me. I’m supposed to help out in the shop in the summer holidays, but I’ve had a bad cold and I’m using it as an excuse. Got to admit I’m bored though, even after a week. I’ve already read both the Dodie Smith books we have in the shop, carefully so they can still be sold, and Emma for probably the ninth time. We’ve got loads of Jane Austen so I could read that anywhere and not worry about damaging the stock. I might read To the Lighthouse next. Dad says I’m not old enough, but Miss Danks put it on her reading list. Both of these facts make me want to read it very much.
The newspaper was pathetic. Eight badly-printed pages, tissue paper with type all smudged and misaligned, not like some of the beautiful books we’ve got downstairs in the shop which have lovely creamy, thick paper and beautiful letters. It was mostly news from London, boring stuff about the governments and telling us how everything is better than it really is. Hardly any pictures, except some adverts. Someone’s making a new wireless with shortwave and a record player built in. I’d love one of those. Might ask dad about my birthday present I never got. This year. Or last.
I was right. There goes the steam from the express train, heading North up the coast. A strip of sky has appeared just above the horizon in time for me to see the setting sun. The bright orange light is dazzling me. It’s painful, but it’s been so damp and dark today, I want to drink it in forever. Dad says sunsets make him feel sad. He’s crazy. The castle looks beautiful in silhouette. I think this a sign.
I wish we had a camera. Dad says we might get one next year. Like everything else I’m promised next year. If all our ships come in, what an amazing year 2035 will be.