Tall Poppies

Tall Poppies by Louise Bagshawe Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Tall Poppies by Louise Bagshawe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Louise Bagshawe
Tags: Fiction, General
sir. I just need to know.’
    ‘Ah, let me see … I don’t think that’s a good idea. Competition for assisted places is so fierce. I think you’d lose your chance. Better to reapply the following year,’ he said, pushing his wire glasses back up the bridge of his nose, ‘but even that might be a problem. Take your place up this year, young lady.’ He attempted to look stern. ‘Time enough for a year’s fun. after you’ve taken that degree.’
    Nina nodded and rose. Thank you, Mr David.’ She clasped his hand and shook it briskly. ‘Thank you for everything.’
    The teacher watched her go and wondered why he felt so uneasy.
    Nina went to her locker and opened it. The space behind the grille was empty; twice Jeff Glazer had stuffed an envelope full of bank-notes in there, and twice she had returned it. Perhaps he’d finally gotten the message. She pulled out her running shoes and one file of math notes, unzipped her sports bag and packed them inside. The rest of the space was full of the clothes she had taken from her bedroom this morning - two pairs of jeans, her boots, underwear, a few shirts and sweaters and her one good skirt. Her toothbrush, soap and flannel were packed in a side pocket from which she now removed a sealed envelope, addressed to Sister Ignatius, the principal. A similar note was tucked under her pillow at home, for her parents to find when they bothered to make the bed. She
    ‘ didn’t expect them to show any concern for at least a day or so, which would give her ample time to do everything she needed to. Without rushing, Nina stacked her textbooks neatly inside her locker. Then she carried her tote bag into the girls’ restroom, shut herself in a cubicle and changed into her skirt, a neat blouse, dark hose and a lair of flats. She emerged with her uniform folded in a neat pile, laid it on top of the textbooks and closed her locker door.
    The bell rang for second period. Nina ignored the strange looks her classmates gave her as they hurried off to geography. She turned left at the end of the corridor and walked straight through the double doors, down the marble steps and out of the gates.
    The bag was heavy but Nina marched down the street like she hardly noticed it. Yesterday afternoon she had gone to see Jo Kepler, her supervisor at Duane Reed, and explained that Mom had been taken ill. She was going to have to quit her job right away. She was terribly sorry for the inconvenience, but could Ms Kepler give her a reference she could use in the future?
    ‘Sure, of course. I hate to lose you, Nina, but of course
    I understand,’ Ms Kepler said, shaking her head. She was really sorry to see Nina go; the girl had been one of the brightest assistants in the store, suggesting products to customers and helping them out instead of merely ringing up the purchases. She had awarded her two pay rises in two months and had been planning to offer her a place on the trainee management course next year. ‘I’ll give you an excellent reference, and maybe we’ll see you back here when your mother gets better.’
    ‘Thank you, ma’am. Would it be a lot of trouble if I asked you to write it out now? I don’t know when I’ll be able to look in again.’
    ‘No trouble at all.’ Ms Kepler-stepped into the back office, slotted a headed sheet of paper in her typewriter and dashed off a reference, couched in the most glowing terms. She signed it, slotted it in an envelope and handed it to Nina’. ‘There you go, honey. Now you take good care of yourself.’
    ‘Don’t worry, I will,’ Nina promised her gravely. The letter was tucked safely inside the outer pocket of her purse, and now there was only one task left. Nina turned right down a side street and headed for the nearest branch of Wells Fargo. There was an empty teller
    window and she went straight up to the smiling clerk. ‘Good morning, miss. May I help you?’
    ‘Yes,’ Nina said. ‘I’d like to close my

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