Promise

Promise by Sarah Armstrong Read Free Book Online

Book: Promise by Sarah Armstrong Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sarah Armstrong
would sit in her mum’s seat – and her dad did a U-turn and went back to where the kid, just a toddler, stood on the footpath. Anna waited in the car while her dad spoke to the boy, then he took the boy’s hand and knocked on door after door of nearby houses, then disappeared around the corner. It was hot in the car, so Anna got out and stood on the footpath. They’d be late picking up Luke from school; for some stupid reason he’d insisted on going. Her dad came back ten minutes later to say that the boy’s family were visiting his aunty and he’d wandered out the back gate.
    Anna never confessed to her father how much she hated it when he stepped in like that. She knew he disapproved of her shyness, her desire to reduce interactions with strangers. He once said that if he got on a bus or train and there was a choice between an empty seat or a seat next to, say, an old man, that he’d always choose the seat beside the old guy because they might have an interesting chat. Anna had been mystified and slightly ashamed because the idea of sitting next to a stranger and making conversation was appalling to her.
    Anna heard the police leave after twenty minutes. Dave was fast asleep, and breathing loudly. Being awake while someone was asleep beside you was more lonely than being by yourself in bed. She closed her eyes and smelt a whiff of dope smoke. The guy next door or Gabby must be awake, their smoke drifting in through the cracks around Anna’s bedroom window.
    She thought of that little wave that Charlie had given her. What did it mean?
I’m okay, don’t worry
or
Please help me, I’m scared he’s going to kill me
?

Chapter Five
    A nna leant her weight onto the spade and it sank into the soil. Her dad had taught her to dig holes, and he’d be horrified she was working in thongs, but she only needed a hole deep enough for the star jasmine that had been sitting in a plastic pot for a week. It would take her just a few minutes to get it in before she left for work.
    She knelt and used her hands to scoop out the last of the loose soil. She’d train the vine up over the bath to give the frog some shade. She should really plant it in a big terracotta pot, in case she had to move, in case her landlord decided to sell to Oliver, who’d already made at least one offer, but the pots dried out so quickly. She’d dig up the bloody jasmine if she had to move.
    If she had her own place, she could create a real garden. But she didn’t earn enough to repay a loan on a house with a garden. Not even a falling-down, tiny cottage like this, on the narrowest block in the street, where the floor was on such a tilt that a ball dropped in the kitchen rolled all the way to the front door. Not even something way out in western Sydney, not even a garden apartment.
    She tipped the pot up and the plant dropped into her hand, the weight of it so satisfying. Her fingers fitted neatly each side of the stem and kept the soil from dropping away. She understood why people gardened, the desire to be engaged in some way with nature’s relentless unfolding. She felt defiant victory whenever she spotted a plant sprouting from a crack in a path, or from one of the brick walls in the lane outside her workplace.
    Squatting there at the end of the bath, pressing soil around the newly planted jasmine, she was hidden from the house next door. When Dave left at 6.30 am, the man’s black ute was gone from out the front. She hated that someone who’d been living next door not even a week had her thinking about staying somewhere else or moving away. Even now – dribbling water onto the jasmine – she was listening out for him. Those people in the house next door were sucking her attention away from her own life, and it dismayed her how easily her life had been destabilised.
    She washed her hands at the back tap and wiped them on her boxer shorts. Inside, as she dropped bread into the toaster, someone knocked on the front door. She stood for a moment,

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