Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements Read Free Book Online

Book: Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements Read Free Book Online
Authors: Abby Clements
Tags: Fiction, General
what we’re doing yet.’
    Early the next morning, a Sunday, Imogen and Anna strolled down to the seafront. The sky was streaked with orange, and small sailing boats had been laid to rest in a row upsidedown on the pebbles. A humming and tinkling, like tiny bells, rang out as the rigging on the small vessels knocked against the masts. Further up the beach, a few men lined the shore, holding their fishing rods in peaceful companionship, looking out on the dawn waves. To their right, a weary landmark next to this stretch of the beach, were the blackened, burnt-out ruins of West Pier.
    Sunset 99s was located under the Granville Arches, just past a row of brightly coloured beach huts – a bold wooden sign in sunset colours and a picture of an ice cream hung above the graffitied metal shutter. The Granville Arches weren’t buzzing like the area closer to Brighton, Imogen noted. Here, there were none of the tourists who flocked to the Brighton Pier and the doughnut and fish-and-chip shops around it. Instead, there were a few local boys practising their skateboard tricks, wheels rattling against the flagstones, and a solitary dog-walker. Imogen cast a glance over the other businesses on the parade – a souvenir shop with some inflatables and postcards out the front, a newsagent, and a smaller doorway with surfboards propped up against the wall, with a yellow sign advertising surfing lessons.
    Anna turned the key in the padlock that bolted down the shutter on Vivien’s shop and then lifted it up slowly. Imogen bent down to help her.
    ‘God, this is heavy. How did Granny manage this on her own?’ Imogen said.
    ‘She wasn’t completely alone,’ Anna said. ‘She had that assistant, Sue, and I think her friend Evie would sometimeshelp out.’ Anna pointed over at the souvenir shop. ‘Do you remember Granny left Evie some of her jewellery, in the will, that ruby and gold locket she always wore? They were very close, those two.’
    Imogen peeked underneath the shutter and caught sight of the grubby black-and-white chequered floor, almost covered with dozens of unread letters, leaflets and lolly wrappers. ‘Yikes, it’s a right mess in here.’
    Anna bent down to look at what her sister had seen. ‘Oh dear,’ she said.
    The metal shutter rattled noisily as they wound it right up to the top. Anna opened the glass door with another key and they stepped tentatively inside.
    The marble counters were littered with menus and papers with orders on them – it looked as if a storm had blown through the old ice cream shop. The mirrors on the walls, which Imogen remembered being sparkling and bright – that had once reflected images of her and Anna as children, tucking into Coke floats – were now dark, tarnished and flecked with black.
    ‘Didn’t you say that the shop was only closed for a fortnight?’ Imogen said, opening up one of the freezer cabinets to inspect it and then gripping her nose tightly at the thick smell of sour milk and damp. ‘Yuck,’ she exclaimed, taking a closer look. ‘That smells rank. There’s loads of mould at the bottom.’
    ‘Sue was looking after it on her own for a while before that so Granny could have a break. Looks like she wasn’tdoing a great job,’ Anna said, with a stab of guilt. She should have realised that things had got so bad. Maybe there was something she could have done to help.
    Imogen spotted the Mr Whippy machine at the counter. ‘Remember this?’ she said. ‘Our treat in the summer holidays when we’d come down and visit.’
    Anna walked over to join her sister, running a hand affectionately over the sign on the machine. ‘Looks like it’s seen better days,’ she said. She tried the tap that used to release curls of soft-serve ice cream. A trickle of dirty water came out instead. The sisters looked at each other with the same mournful expression.
    ‘I haven’t been down here for a while,’ Anna said. ‘But Granny would never have let the place get like this. I

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