Chapter 1 part 2.

The darkness of the night conceded ground to light as another winters’ day broke to reveal a sparkling carpet of raggedy edged white hoar frost. The weak January sun slowly climbed the brightening sky and warmed the cold still air; leaves on plants and tiles on roofs began to steam, their frosty frozen coating turning to a shimmering vapour. As Edward stood at home dressing, people hurried from home to work, some scurrying along paths to wait at bus stops or railway platforms, others stood scraping car windows, but all with breath puffing out of their mouths like steam from long gone and mostly forgotten trains. An ethereal mist floated, reflecting the red light of the early morning sun, softening the coldness of the frosty start. A fuzzy white line crossed the pure blue heaven growing wider and fainter as it headed west, the tell tale evidence of a fortunate few escaping the cold of an English winters day, heading for hotter climbs, perhaps Caribbean, perhaps not.

Edward stopped to pick up a copy of the Financial Times at the local newsagent, a small garish shop, windows covered with brightly coloured posters tempting shoppers to buy wines and beers, sausages and cheese, magazines and flowers. There was a small red sign, almost lost amongst the advertising posters, revealing it’s identity as a Post Office as well as a general store. Edward was running a little late this morning, having decided that a second coffee was needed, and had stopped to buy his paper in this small outlet, rather than the main newsagents in town as was his usual habit. As he waited in the queue he looked around the store at the few other shoppers. There was a bedraggled unkempt man seemingly intent on buying a small bottle of milk, his body odour invading the senses, a grotesquely protruding stomach escaping between dirty denim trousers and torn sweat top; a smart youth with short spiky hair dressed in pin striped business suit and silk tie, giving away his roots buying a red top tabloid whose cover was dominated by a scantily clad seductress. Apart from himself, the only other customers were a woman and child shopping in an aisle nearby. The woman was a little over 5 foot tall with gold and auburn hair cascading in curls and ringlets over her shoulders. A pink fleshed face, reddened from the exertions and stresses of shopping this early in the day. She was bedecked in smart but not trendy clothes that did little to disguise a trim yet obviously feminine figure. The child was about 14 years of age, a little taller than the woman, with straight ash blond hair and dressed in the uniform of the local school offering private education. The child obviously wanted something in particular that the woman did not want her to have. The woman kept putting whatever it was back and the child kept picking it up again. His interest in the likely outcome of the battle waned as he saw a shop assistant go to an empty till and start it up on the other side of the shop. He hurried across to quickly pay for his one purchase and was on his way. The day wore on and the sun, tired of warming people and of melting ice, returned the earth to a darkness lit only by a pale crescent moon. After a day of toil in a non-descript office behind a tall and very secure fence, Edward felt enough was enough for one day; it was time to return home and do some work in a slightly more relaxed surrounding. Deviating from the direct route home, he went to the supermarket to buy some Scottish salmon, scallions, orange pepper and fresh ginger root. He wanted something quick and decided that a quick pan fry would do for dinner. As he wandered the fresh produce area he noticed the auburn haired woman again. At first he could not place where he recognised her from, and then, chiding himself for not immediately knowing, he remembered. The child was not with her this time, and that was a possible reason he did not recall her straight away. She was pushing one of the new smaller trolleys that supermarkets had recently introduced, and it had the usual stuff in it, bread, milk, supermarket own brand cereal, sliced meat, a few various tins of things, and some fresh vegetables. Typical of any family purchase really. He looked at his own basket shopping, almost a symbol of the single man, and wondered who the woman was cooking for, was it for just herself and the child, or perhaps a man and other children too? With so little evidence to hand it was difficult to guess with any degree of certainty, even though his work often demanded such critical assumptions from even less information than that before him today