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Written by Terry Collett  Edna stood gaping out of the back door at the garden. Nelly stood beside her holding dustpan and brush. Fresh air. Away from the dust and dim light indoors. The gardener was over by the roses, his head bobbing up and down as if he were playing a child-like game. Edna watched; felt the breeze touch her hair; move the dark tresses under her white cap. Nelly sighed. Tired. Up since five. Cold bedroom, Edna snoring, and the bird’s song at first dawn. Mrs Tard bossing at first sight because the ovens were playing up and her bunions were giving her pain.
Edna turned to go her face stern as a bedpost. Nelly followed giving the air one last sniff. Watched Edna’s backside wobble away to the library and the small hands play with her apron as she went.
Nelly turned to the kitchen and got the broom from the cupboard. Mrs Tard gaped, moaned, groaned, and asked for Edna. Nelly shrugged nodded towards the upstairs. Sighed softly out of Tard’s earshot.
Walked along the passage to morning room. Opened the door. The room was empty. Good. Moved about looking around for dust. She put the dustpan and brush down; brought out her duster; moved it briskly over any surface hinting at dust or marks. Rub rub. Rest stared out of the window. Rub rub. Gazed at the painting above the fireplace; smiled. Cost a tidy piece. More than I’ll ever earn. Rub rub. Sniffed. Polish. Duster soaked. Marks on table rub rub. Gone good elbow grease. As Tard says. Sighed. Watched fire settle with small flames on the coal. Warm. Could rest here. Sleep an hour or two.   Edna dusted amongst the books. Picked out a volume. Hard cover. Red. Read the title. Opened a page. Poetry. Wordsworth. Scanned the poem. Shrugged. Closed the book; replaced it carefully. Dusted. Moved books from the table; scanned the titles. Placed the books on the side. Rubbed the table. Looked at the table. Smeared. Rubbed. Breathed on it. Spit and polish. Best thing mum said. Spit and polish.   Nelly warmed her hands at the fire. Job done. Go find Edna. See Tard for cuppa. Rest a moment or so. She went to the door; walked down the passage to the library.

Edna stood to attention when the door opened. Nearly caught out. Nelly. Good. Sighed. Nelly leaned against the door. Looked at Edna with a book open in her small hands. Smiled. Quotes softly. Verse. Highbrow. Shrugged; closed the book; placed it down. They look at each other. Nelly holds up her dustpan and brush. Edna wiped her hands on her black uniform. Her duster poked in a pocket. Polish. Sniffed. Smiled. Edna walked to Nelly; brushed her cheek with her lips. Tea. Nice cuppa. Nelly nodded; opened the door.

They walked slowly towards the kitchen; the soft rustle of their uniforms against the stillness of the passage; the small hand of Edna brushing against the hand of Nelly.

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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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