by Alyson Faye
It was tough trying to decide which shop to steal from. There was so much choice; the Olde Sweet Shoppe with its traffic light arrays of sugar treats, or Mr Holden’s green grocers with its rows of polished fruit and vegetables, or the chemists with its lipsticks and aspirin.
Margie flicked her blonde hair like Diana Dors had done in that flick she’d seen. The funny one with the alligator. Later that same night, ankle deep in rubbish in the alley between the chippy and their local, Joe full of boozy good will had told her how much he loved her. His huge face looming over hers like a giant’s ready to devour its dinner.
Margie shivered at the memory. Or perhaps it was nippy out. She gave herself a mental shake up. ‘Come on, focus.’ She told herself. ‘Time to earn me keep. Else Joe wouldn’t half let me have it when I get home.’
She remembered him towering over her, with his huge hammy fists ready to crush and smash everything. The police she considered useless. She’d no where else to go.
Lilly next door had told her when she’d popped round for help: ‘You got to take your lumps and like it. ‘Cos that’s what women were put on this earth for. Well that and having babies.’
Margie wasn’t sure she agreed. The weekly films she watched showed her doorways to different worlds. Worlds where girls, not that different from herself, could go out with friends, have a laugh, walk out with a nice lad, even secure a proper job and get married. All without getting walloped black and blue.
Margie sidled up to the fruit stacks and began to reach out for the shiny Coxes, when a strange thing happened. Mr Holden stepped outside, shook his head at her, but sad like, and then he handed her a bag with all sorts of fresh produce in it. When she opened her mouth to speak though, he waved her away.
‘Like I’m a bug.’ She thought. ‘But kind like.’
Margie swallowed tears down. She’d tried to cover her black eye with Max Factor but it still showed through. Everyone could see it. She was marked. ‘Joe’s Property’ might as well be stamped on her forehead.
Outside the cinema she watched two blokes up ladders, taking down the posters for that week’s film and start to paste up the next. Another blonde, Marilyn Monroe, was standing in torn fishnets, wide legged, over the film’s title ‘Bus Stop.’
‘Funny title that,’ thought Margie. How could they make a whole film about standing at a bus stop? She’d still come and queue to find out. Those few hours a week were her ‘magic carpet’. She’d not give them up without a fight. She just hoped Joe understood that much about her. Her fists curled around the gift of the bag of fruit and veg. Protectively. Her fingernails dug deep into her palms.