Daffodils – Part 5

Work crawled by. I swear the clock was going backwards. All I could do was to torture myself with images of Millie’s hate-filled face. I was aware that my boss, Mr Lyons, was watching me closely. He was a kindly, old man, with a wrinkled face and feathery white hair. He had lived in the village for 60 years and had inherited the store from his father. Unfortunately, none of his offspring had shown any interest in carrying on the family business. It was a quiet afternoon and the few customers who ventured into the store seemed to pick up on the fact that I didn’t want to chat.
It was during one particularly silent period, that Mr Lyons decided to find out what was bugging me.
‘What’s up? You don’t seem your usual chipper self?’
I could feel uncharacteristic tears beginning to well up. It was rare for me to be asked how I was feeling and I could detect real concern in his voice.
‘Nothing, just Millie is a bit out of sorts.’ I was going to leave it there. I wish I had, but a lack of adult company and my run-in with Millie, left me with a real need to talk. ‘it’s just that she seems so obsessed by the chapel graveyard and I really don’t like it there. She got really difficult when I said that we needed to go home.’
‘The chapel graveyard? You mean St Mary’s?’
‘No, the chapel in the fields, as you go out of the village towards Knutsdown.’
Was it fear that glanced across his face? It was hard to tell. He regained his composure quickly.
‘The Barnley Chapel. Why on earth did you visit there?’
‘We were out for a walk and saw it, so we took a closer look.’
‘It’s just….I suppose that I am old-fashioned. Places like that are not for children to play in.’
He looked uncomfortable. He was lying. I knew he was, but why?
‘We weren’t playing there. In fact, Millie took flowers there today.’
He went ashen under the strip lights. For a moment, I thought that he was having a heart attack. I went to reach for him, when the phone in the back office rang. Wordlessly, he turned and went to answer it, leaving me; heart racing, in turmoil.
‘It’s for you.’ He said returning, handing me the receiver.
‘Mrs Jones?’
‘Hi, it’s Sarah from preschool. I’m afraid Millie has been taken poorly. She has a temperature and we were wondering if you could come and pick her up?’
‘Oh dear.’ I’m ashamed to say that I felt relief. It explained why she had been off with me that day. ‘No problem, I’m on my way.’ I walked back into the shop. Mr Lyons was adjusting some tins on the shelf in front of him. ‘Mr Lyons, Millie is ill. I’m afraid I’m going to have to head off.’
‘Oh dear. The poor child. God bless her. You take care my dear.’
He touched my arm, and to my alarm, he seemed very upset.
‘I’m sure it’s just a bug.’ I added as I swung my handbag over my arm.
I opened the door and the bell tinkled. As I did so, I could swear I heard Mr Lyons say.
‘Let’s hope so.’


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