Mrs. Henley's Window
by Amber Quimby
Lizzie jingled the coins in her blazer pocket. Sometimes she stood outside Henley’s for half-an-hour, until old Mrs Henley began craning her neck to frown at her over the glass jars. Lizzie was entranced by the glass jars. She scanned the row from left to right slowly,
lovingly: sherbet lemons, humbugs, gobstoppers, pear drops, marshmallows, liquorice shoelaces. Last week, Lizzie had bought marshmallows. Kathryn, passing by Lizzie’s desk, had plunged her hand into the open paper bag and crammed a whole fistful into her greedy mouth.
Lizzie’s glance passed over the magic painting kits and the dot-to-dot books. She didn’t buy those any more. But she stopped – she stopped for a long time – at a bright, plump yo-yo, which promised to sparkle and hum as it flew. She’d had a wooden one, until Kathryn (she would not call her Kate) snatched it off her during break and chucked it into the bushes. Lizzie had spent ages crawling through the shrubbery and been late for Maths. And then her geometry set was missing, which meant more trouble. She’d caught Kathryn’s sly look of amusement and satisfaction.
“Stop blaming other people,” her mother had said. “Get another set with your pocket money, Lizzie. Necessities first, luxuries later.” Her mother had little mottos for every occasion.
Lizzie could see the blue-and-gold rectangular tin on top of a pile of exercise books. Nearby were Prittstiks and that new superglue her mother had used to mend her satchel (Kathryn again). She could smear superglue over Kathryn’s desk-lid, she thought. That would keep her thieving fingers still. Or – better plan – give the tube a quick squeeze over some marshmallows in a bag as soon as she saw Kathryn approaching.
There were new metal puzzles stacked up by the comic annuals; Lizzie twisted her head sideways to peer more closely. She was good at puzzles. But her eye was drawn back to the yo-yo: a magnificent object in glittering silver and purple. She could always borrow compasses from Rosie. There was a protractor for measuring angles, but she could guess at those. And no-one ever used that other stuff: set squares and a triangular thing whose purpose she couldn’t even imagine.
Lizzie saw Mrs Henley’s wispy grey head bob into view. She decided to be sensible. A yo-yo was a luxury: she could manage without it. But a bag of marshmallows and a tube of superglue: they were necessities. She gave the door a sharp tug so that the bell jangled loudly.
In addition to short-story writing, Amber enjoys bridge and badminton.