O. The Tiny Garden
#1
She lived in the building next door to the shop labelled 'Blacksmith'. It was a move that she ultimately decided needed to take place. Her uncle was hardly ever in any condition to make the walk from the cottages into town, It was important that on the days his mind was clear enough to work he worked. It was therapeutic for him and a break from her. Not that many of the towns folk even knew she ended up doing a lot of the work. A good handful of them thought she was unclean and unfit to be a mother.

Today happened to be a good day for her uncle and so she walked out to the back yard where she had a box filled with soil for a make shift garden. The three year old, Thomas sitting next to her playing in the dirt as she used what she called a mini shovel to move some dirt around. She looked over to Thomas with a smile and then up to see who was walking toward her. Her hand covered over her eyes, so she might see the face through the sunlight.
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#2
Sal smiled, with her usual bold, cheeky looking expression. Over her arm was the handle of a basket. Inside the basket were bunches of watercress. "Alright, Thea?" she greeted the other young woman, whom she'd known practically all her life. She jiggled the basket a bit by shifting her arm forward an inch or two, as she asked, "Interested in buyin' some watercress? 'Tis fresh, today."

Which was the truth. Sal had just earlier that day plucked it from a stream nearby the village. Although she wasn't likely to volunteer whose farm she'd trespassed on to obtain it.
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#3
(05-17-2019, 03:27 PM)Sal Appleton Wrote: Sal smiled, with her usual bold, cheeky looking expression. Over her arm was the handle of a basket. Inside the basket were bunches of watercress. "Alright, Thea?" she greeted the other young woman, whom she'd known practically all her life. She jiggled the basket a bit by shifting her arm forward an inch or two, as she asked, "Interested in buyin' some watercress? 'Tis fresh, today."

Which was the truth. Sal had just earlier that day plucked it from a stream nearby the village. Although she wasn't likely to volunteer whose farm she'd trespassed on to obtain it.

"Alright" She replied back to the familiar voice. She wiped her forehead but in doing so may have gotten some soil on her forehead. "Thomas and I are just doing a little gardening.." She lived next to the blacksmithshop, trying to make a garden in a place where a garden shouldn't be was a bit daunting,but not possible. Thomas noticed the dirt of his 'mother's' head and a big smile came to his face.

"How much ?"
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#4
Sal shrugged. "Ha'pence?" she suggested. It had been free for the taking. Only her own effort had gone into gathering it. But a nice little bit of green salad never went amiss, when food was so often bland and starchy. "But if'ee don't have it, I'll give it t'ee for free." She made the offer because she knew how hard Thea had to work for every last penny she earned. That no good uncle of hers!

Sal bent and tapped Thomas on the nose. "And 'ow be'ee doin', fine sir?" she asked teasingly. To Thea she observed, "My! 'E be growin' like a weed! I remember the day 'e was born." A sad day surely, for Thea, her uncle, and little Tom too.
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#5
She gave Sal a look that read 'Please, like your leaving without pay'. Whatever Sal had done to get those, it didn't matter to her. "What Thomas for second and I'll just run inside and get it."  She stood up and went up the three mini stairs into the house. The sound of work being done in the shop next door placed a smile on her face. Thea grew a bigger smile when she saw Sal interacting with Thomas.

Thomas giggled and spoke the words "gooood'. He said bashfully. Thea came out moments later with a coin in hand.  Thomas was throwing dirt to the side, which got picked up by the wind. She handed the coin to Sal. "Thomas would you like to pick out a couple from Aunt Sal's basket?"
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#6
Sal smiled and squatted down beside the boy, so he could see the water cress and choose a bunch. It made her happy to see her friend smiling as well. Like every woman Sal had ever known, Thea was weighted down with the burdens a hard life and bad luck had thrown on her - and most of that due to her sodding uncle!

Like Thea, Sal was already beyond a respectable marrying age, but still single. Destined to be spinsters, it looked like. But Sal was quite content to remain unmarried. She wanted no part of men and their stupid, bullheaded, swine-like ways! Well, there was one part of a man Sal could appreciate. But that wasn't anywhere near enough for her to agree to marry and be saddled with a hard drinking, hard fisted brute that she'd have to slave for until she drew her last - and probably premature - dying breath! No, she enjoyed her freedom too much for that. Marriage just wasn't for her, she was sure of it.

Having noted the smile on her friend's face, and the fact that she was outside, in the middle of the day, Sal ventured to ask, "So, is yer uncle at work, then? Getting a moment to yourself, are'ee?"
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#7
"Aye, that he is" He watched her nephew look through the basket. It had been a long three years, coming up on four, but they both had made it this far. She lived for him now, nothing else in the world really to live for but the safety and care of Thomas. Not to say she'd take her own life, just that it was nice to have something to live for.

'This one' the three year old picked out a group of watercress that was bundled together. "Let me see" She inspected it with an over exaggerated face that would make the boy laugh. "Looks like a good one to me." She handed the bunch to Thomas to hold on to.

"I think maybe he'll come around for good this time, my uncle that is." She of course said this the last time he had gotten into a working mood. She wasn't about to loose complete hope, because at one point he had been a good man.
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#8
Sal nodded, but felt no real firm belief that Thea's words held any water. Her uncle seemed just another weak man who'd lost himself in drink, while he let his womenfolk - in this case Thea - see to everything - even his work! God rot the man! But she said, with as much gentleness as she could muster, "Aye. I 'ope so, Thea. For your sake, 'n 'is." She nodded at the little boy.

As a distraction, she spoke to Thomas. "Now, mind 'ee d' take them in out o' the sun." She nodded at the fresh greens. "If 'ee d' leave 'them 'ere, they'll wilt."

She gave Thea a look, as much as to say perhaps she would send Tom in with the greens, so she could have a private word with her friend.
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#9
"Auntie Sal is right" she moved her hands through his hair to straighten it. "Just put them on the low table next to your things, maybe try working on your matching skills like I taught you" She smiled and got up to open the door for him. Thomas gave Aunt Sal a hug and headed inside.

Thea closed the door and sat back down to continue to garden. "What's on your mind?" She understood sending Thomas inside was a single for a closed conversation.
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#10
"You, Thea," Sal promptly replied. "Actually, I'm 'mazed t' see 'ee outside! Look at 'ee! You're pale as a daisy 'n thin as a stick!" Sal's tone was one of concern, and exasperation. "I'm that glad your uncle 'as seen fit t'get off 'is arse 'n do some work today, Thea. But...it can't go on like this! You'll put yourself into an early grave! 'N then where'll that poor little tyke be? 'E'll 'ave no-one to' look after 'im then!"

She tried to keep the anger out of her voice, but she wasn't doing a very good of it. She knew the man had experienced some sort of break down when his wife had died. But that was almost four years ago now! When was he going to pull himself together, and stop relying on his poor niece to do everything?
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#11
"I get where ye comin from Sal, but there isn't much I can do on the matter." She certainly wasn't going to speak of concerns to the man when he was at his best. She didn't need him getting upset and stopping work mid day. She couldn't say he would or wouldn't have a break down if he addressed it now, but she wasn't willing to risk it.

"What would you have me do, to avoid an early grave? It's not like my kin are up to taking Thomas for an evenin or two and with the deaths lately.." she let her voice trail off and decided it was best to hold her tongue.
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#12
"Yes, and shame on them!" Sal said vehemently. "I d'reckon they 'as washed their 'ands of'ee 'n poor little Tom. But 'ee can always bring 'im 'round t'us, Thea. 'Ee d'know that, I 'ope. Me Gran would love t'ave a little one t'tend to 'n cater to. 'N anytime 'ee d'need me, I'll be right 'ere." Sal looked at her friend with compassion.

'N I d'say 'ee shouldn't 'ave t'ide 'n pretend 'tis your no good uncle wot does all the work 'round 'ere! Why shouldn't 'ee get credit for doin' 'is work?!" She was back to sounding indignant again. "There's plenty o'women what works in the mills, doin' the same as men, 'n better too, I reckon. Why not be open 'bout 'ow good 'ee are, with the smithin'?  If your uncle be that lazy as t'live off your 'ard work 'n sweat 'n all - then 'e should give'ee the credit for it!"
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#13
"Thank you " She replied "That's very kind of ya, but I am good" She finished up working on one section of the little garden. Getting to her feet she looked at Sal, who started to speak about her uncle and then about how she should be getting more credit.

"There will be no such talk here" She started to wipe her hands on a cloth. "Men find it better quality when they believe someone with a stick between their legs created their weapons and tools" She tossed the cloth to the side. "So those with no brain will continue to think he is always doing the work.. understand."
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#14
Sal nodded her assent. "Aye. I'll not go against your wishes, Thea. But...if'ee d'ever need me, 'ee knows where t'find me, right?" She smiled at her friend and moved to give the girl a brief hug.

"Best be shovin' off, 'fore these all wilt." She nodded at the bunches of cress. "Take care of yourself, Thea," she said with a smile, really meaning the words, and making a mental note to come check in on her friend more regularly.
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#15
"Yea I should get back to Thomas" She gave Sal a hug "Thank ya for stopping by and checkin on me. It means a lot. Really.." Sal was really an incredible young woman. "you need anything made, you come see me.. okay" She let go of her friend and took a step back. Thea waved to Sal and waited to see her walk off before heading back inside.
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