The Price

Each day on the way home from school, Carlie stopped at the bakery. She waited at the end of the shop where all the dust accumulated until the baker called her forward. He wouldn’t let her come too close to the loaves and buns and glass-fronted cabinets until every customer was out of sight.

Only then would he call her over, hand her the one loaf he allocated for each of the families on the other side of the tracks. One loaf, yesterdays leavings, and no bag. She had to wrap it in her stained shirt to carry it home.

The shop was busy every day after school. Parents would pick up their kids and stop there for buns and pies and pastries and tarts. Carlie watched each group, how they behaved here compared to how they behaved in other places. Like school.

Peter was the biggest bully, but he wouldn’t go anywhere near Carlie. No one knew why, but he left her alone. And her little group of followers. All the littlies knew if they weren’t in Carlie’s group, Peter pounded the pudding out of them.

It didn’t take long for Carlie to see the pattern of things. She was good with patterns. People were all about habits and rituals and patterns. They felt comfortable in the ways things were done, and preferred that things always be done the same way every time.

When all the faces turned away from the dirty little tyke in the corner, when the baker lifted his nose to greet his real customers, the paying kind, she snuck her arm along the back of the trays and snuck whatever sat on the cooling tray into her rag-bag.

Never look away, was Carlie’s motto, ‘cos she always saw what the patterns allowed to remain hidden, and took the price in kind.


pic from Pixabay


Off the top of the hat, ‘cos still writing, not quite into editing, still plugging away.

Do you want to know what she did to Peter?

Carlie doesn’t tell anyone, but I know. I saw her watch him when he snuck into that place, the place on the wrong side of the tracks where that woman lived, where all the boys went at one time or another. Not what you’re thinking – out the back was the still, in the house was the gambling, and addictions of all kinds create monsters, don’t they? Did Peter follow in his father’s footsteps, or his mother’s, or was Peter so alone and separated by being the only overage boy still in primary school? There’s another story in there, but this was Carlie’s story, and it kept her family alive, and some of her neighbours, and their kids. And it honed her skills for her future career. Now wouldn’t you like to know what that is?

Not telling.


FOWC Tacit


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