writing

Cheap

Happy lockdown, everybody! I’d forgotten my login for this site, so even though our Saturday meetings have continued (online), I couldn’t put my stories up here. Sorry. So I’ve got three weeks’ worth of stories! (I missed a couple of weeks.)

Anyway, this story was inspired by the word ‘cheap’. I don’t like it very much, I think it’s definitely one of my weaker stories, but I’ve written it, so here it is.

Her mother was talking again. Something about budgeting; Rosie wasn’t really listening. She surreptitiously opened her book of signatures and looked down appraisingly.

“Rosie Thacker,” written in large, looping letters. “Rosie Thacker,” a slightly more serious signature. “Rosie Thacker,” printed. “Rosie Thacker,” written with the Rosie above the Thacker.

“Rosie Whittaker! You haven’t been listening to a thing I’ve been saying, have you?”

“I have,” argued Rosie. “You were talking about budgets.”

Her mother harrumphed. “That was a lucky guess. Rosie, love, it’s nice that you want a big dream wedding, but don’t you think things are, you know, getting out of hand a touch?”

Rosie was saved from answering by the doorbell. 

“Saved by the bell,” muttered Mrs Whittaker as she went to see who it was, and left Rosie looking starry-eyed at her future signature book. A new name meant a new start. She could write her signature however she wanted – ooh! – maybe she’d have a swooping line underneath, or even sign as “Mrs Adam Thacker”, or…

“Rosemary,” came the low, warning tones of Mrs Whittaker, “what the hell is this?” She entered the kitchen carrying a box of enormous proportions. A delivery driver followed after, a box under each arm. 

“Oooh, lovely, my flowers came!” squealed Rosie.

“What do you need flowers for?” asked Mrs Whittaker.

The delivery driver, sensing he didn’t want to be there, scuttled out, leaving mother and daughter glaring at each other.

“I need flowers,” said Rosie, in a voice you would use to explain a complicated subject to a 5-year old, “because I’m getting married.”

“You’re not getting married,” said her mother in the same voice, “until July. And it is February. These flowers will be dead by then.”

“I need them for practising,” said Rosie. “How else will I know what colour nail varnish the bridesmaids will be wearing if we don’t practise with real flowers?” 

TWO YEARS LATER

Rosie was smarting. She had just received a very cutting letter from Adam’s solicitors. He wanted the washing machine. Why he wanted the washing machine was anyone’s guess – he never used it, in all the six months they’d been married. Spite, she decided. It was pure spite.

John, her lovely new boyfriend, placed a cup of coffee at her elbow.

“Thanks love,” she said, a trifle absently. 

He sat down in the armchair next to her. 

“Bad news?” he asked. 

“He wants the washing machine. I doubt the bastard even knew we had a washing machine, but there we go, he wants it.”

John nodded sympathetically. “When Karen left me, we even argued over the leftover Dettol wipes. It gets better, I promise.” 

Rosie was still at a loss to explain what had happened. It had been a lovely day that July – she’d been the centre of attention – so why had they split, and so acrimoniously, only six months later?

“It’s today that he announced he was leaving,” she told John. “22nd February, two years ago. Breaks my heart.” She swallowed away her tears. 

“Well,” said John, steeling himself, “why don’t we make today a happy day? We’ll get our outdoor clothes on, head out to the moors and have a winter picnic. And, oh,” he added casually, “something came for you the other day.”

“Not another bill for that sodding wedding, is it?” asked Rosie. “Two years later and I’m still paying it off! £85,000! Never again!”

John faltered. “What do you mean, never again?”

“I’m never spending that much money, on what was essentially a party, again.”

“But you’d get marrried again,” asked John, hope in his eyes.

Rosie hit him with a cushion. “Yes, you daft bugger. Just, when the time is right.”

“Is the time right now?” asked John.

Rosie looked at him. 

“Yes,” she finally said. “The time is right.” 

“Good,” said John, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a little box. “Because this arrived the other day…”

“Oh it’s perfect,” said Rosie, as John slipped the ring on her finger. “Of course I’ll marry you. But on one condition.”

“What’s that?” asked John, feeling nervous all of a sudden.    

“That we do it cheap.”

John laughed, relieved.

“The cheapest in Yorkshire,” he promised. They clinked coffee mugs. “To cheapness!” they toasted.

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