Page 26 - Demo
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showcaseThe scent of orangesbAy PAOLA TRIMARCOnne stopped jogging. ‘Ffff,’ cameout fizzing from her teeth. The rhythmic thumping of her heart went erratic, halting and jumping. She was gulping forair, her eyes fixated on the large sign.She would have jogged the last kilometrealong the river, but not that morning. The river path was slippery with mud after two days of rain. The better route on such days circled along the edge of the town, where fields sprawled across the fens. Not as picturesque as the riverside, with its weeping willows lining the bank. But she liked the openness of the field: always blowy, a sense of freedom, a reminder to appreciate what she had now that she had lost during those years.At first the street had seemed the same, with its newer homes on one side, the vast field of overgrown grasses on the other. But something felt different. More traffic than usual and a buzzing of activity ahead. A few lorries with cement blocks clanked and moaned as they passed her. She watchedas they stopped some 50 metres away and turned into the field. If they were building another housing estate, she would become someone from the ‘old community’, more embedded in it. No longer on its edge.Jogging at a slower pace, she had abetter view of the lorries turning into a square acre of cleared land. Men in yellow vests and hard hats were milling around. The lorries had pulled in alongside some diggers; metal stakes were in the ground, giving the impression of buildings being planned. As she neared the newly-paved road, she could see the sides of billboards planted for cars and passers-by to see. One sign read ‘Murray’s Construction’ with their logo of angular lines suggesting A-frames and rooftops. The other sign said ‘Ethelred Primary School’. That was the one that made her stop.She took in a deep breath and wipedthe sweat from her brow. Her legs startedto move again as if without her control, pushing her away from the constructionsite. Her tall leggy body went from joggingto running. She counted the streets as she raced along their pavements. One-two-three. She would be living just three short streets from a primary school. FFFFuck.By the time she reached her house, she was nauseous. Her mother crying, her father squinting at her – these scenes played and replayed in her mind. She splashed her face with water from the kitchen sink. In the cup created by her hands she held her face until the cold water ran out between her fingers26 Mar/Apr/May 2017 mslexiaand she counted to ten – a trick she had learned in group therapy.In the shower, she felt more calm take over. After all, no one had contacted her about this. And the local authorities knew that she was there. Then a new thought hit her. The school wouldn’t be completed for months and probably wouldn’t open until the following September. In four months, she’d have filled her required seven years on licence, the restrictions would be lifted, and she could apply to be removed from the register. So there was no reason for them to notify her. She wouldn’t have to move.A chuckle escaped from her mouth and echoed off the tiles. Jubilant, she began to sing ‘Ch-ch-ch changes...’ from a Bowie vinyl her parents once owned.Everything would be different – better. She would be free. ‘Ch-ch-ch changes.’ Her voice grew louder, sounding even more cheerful.As she poured the shampoo into her hand, its tangerine fragrance tickled her nose. She was smiling, then recalled something she hadn’t thought of in years: the orangey smell of him.Derek’s mother would pack an orangeof some sort in his backpack; a satsuma, clementine or tangerine, the small easy-peel types of oranges. He would have it with him when he went to her house after school. She would make him some tea or hot chocolate, and he would eat his orange while doing his homework. She hadn’t thought about that detail in years; she wondered if perhaps now she was free to have such memories, her own mental blocks lifted.The clock showed 8.30. Her hair wasstill wet, appearing more like her natural brunette than the blonde shade she was now. She would have to dry it before leaving the house, along with putting on face-cream, eye-shadow, mascara, lipstick. He used to smile when she refreshed her lipstick. One time he said, ‘That colour suits you’. Shejust grinned. Then he asked for her phone number again.She shook her head. ‘No way.’ She was smarter than that: no text messages, no real evidence.Julia and Maureen ran Mo’s Café. The Mo being short for Maureen, who was the boss and official owner. They were a couple, both in their 60s and buxom. They had hired Anne out of pity, knowing how hard it was for her to get a job, to find a place that didn’t employ workers under 18. When she applied for the position of waitress and kitchen helper, Maureen had just opened the café a few months earlier and with summer tourismabout to start knew that she needed to hire someone quickly.Anne had to inform them, as someoneon licence, that she had a conviction, and was on the paedophile register. She’d quickly added: ‘I’m rehabilitated. I’ve served my time. I really want to give this a go.’ They both nodded as they listened and hadn’t turned cold as other potential employers had.She hadn’t waited tables or worked in customer service since she was at university, some 15 years earlier. But Julia and Maureen didn’t seem to mind. They were open to the idea of a person rehabilitated and couldsee that she was clever. Neither Julia nor Maureen ever talked to her about the details of her case. They only knew what she had told them at the interview: he was a boy of14 who lied and said he was 18; and she was a young primary school teacher at the time. He wasn’t even in her class.The truth: Derek had been in her class when he was ten. He was also a neighbour who lived three houses away. While his parents were going through a divorce, his mother had asked Anne if she wouldn’tmind him staying at her house a few days a week. ‘Just for a couple of months. There are custody issues – I can’t be seen to be leaving my boy alone in the house,’ his mother said desperately. So Anne knew that he was 14; that point was inescapable during the brief trial.‘Ah, there she is.’ Maureen still had her cooking apron on and was arranging cakes on trays. ‘Just in time for testing – but just a tiny bit. Don’t want you getting wide like me,’ she said with a wink. Anne was often teased by the pair for being thin.‘Stop that,’ she said. ‘You’re not wide.’‘I tell her that all the time,’ came from Julia in the kitchen.Anne bit into the square of chocolate gateau. ‘Mm. This is dangerously fabulous. Definitely moreish.’ She grinned at her own words, expressions he had used when tasting her fruit bread. It was clear that he was going to be on her mind all day.Setting out the utensils, she remembered how he’d wanted to study history like she had, but that he wanted to become a TV historian, talking to camera about the Renaissance, the Victorians, the Edwardians. One day she dropped into the conversation the age of consent. ‘That was the Victorians. They made it 16 and the laws haven’t changed since 1885.’He nodded. His face widened as he smiled at her and raised his eyebrows, a slight pinkness on his cheeks. She knew what he was going through. His voice had gone from


































































































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