Writing

Reading Sundays: THE MARRIED MAN (Part 3) a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

“It would be an intrusion,” I countered. “It would be more money than we can afford. You know that.”

Emmy, like the good girl she is, dropped the matter, and that was that.

***

She picks up a curled yellowed clipping, a listing for Probate. Running her finger down the crinkling page, she sees:

CAVELEY, Robert Prisley of 38 Derby Road Grays Essex died 17 January 1962. Administration London 6 March to Florence Emily Caveley widow.

Effects 1443 19s. 11d.

“I should give an account of how I met my girl. During the war, I was assigned to the Labour Corps. Most men I worked with did hard labour, building roads, and bridges. Several of them were POWs. But my handwriting got me a job as a clerk managing the general stores, taking me everywhere, even near the battlefields in France, to check up on provisions for the war effort. And that is how I met Emmy.

“I was on my way to check out the cement works in Thurrock, when I stopped by a canteen for a cup of tea, and a sandwich. With my home life non-existent I’d thrown myself into my work, and become good at it, good enough to get promotions, and pay rises. I scarcely saw Beat, as I’d started sleeping downstairs in front of the fire, so as not to disturb her when I rose at dawn, or came in at midnight. Of course, I was hungering for female company, so when the young woman who brought me my tea raised her soft brown eyes to my face, I was hooked. Emmy was then about twenty, and was good-looking in a gentle, guileless way. Somehow, I found myself sitting beside her, pouring out all my troubles. Well, not quite everything. A bloke has to have some secrets, doesn’t he?”

“When I think back to the days when my parents were alive, everything seems bathed in a golden glow. I don’t know why that should be because we were very poor, just a notch away from downright poverty. [To be continued.]