That was his answer. Then it’s your dream. No one can take your dream, Brady. They can share it with you or want to be a part of it, but at the end of the day it’s yours. You did it. You achieved it. It’s yours. No one else can lay claim to it.
‘Oww,’ he was saying.‘I thought you did stitches with glue nowadays,’ said Issy, once she’d stopped snivelling.
‘We do,’ said Helena grimly, pulling the needle tight, ‘except when some people sniff glue then think they can fly over barbed-wire fences. Then they don’t get any glue.’‘It wasn’t glue, it was lighter fluid,’ said the pasty-looking young man.‘That’s not going to make me give you any glue,’ said Helena.
‘No,’ said the man sadly.‘I just can’t believe it, Len,’ said Issy. ‘I can’t believe that bastard would let me walk into work in the rain knowing all the time that, one, he was going to fire me, and two, everyone knew we were going out together. They must all think he’s a bell end too.’
‘Mmm,’ said Helena non-committally. She had learned over the years not to diss any of Issy’s men; she often dragged them back in again, and that was uncomfortable for everyone.
‘He sounds like a bell end,’ said the young man.‘I’m going to put some music on,’ said Issy. But when she put the new Corinne Bailey Rae disc in her old CD player, now officially donated to the Cupcake Café, and pressed play, and gentle sweet tones filled the space, the woman immediately got up and left, as if the music were an alarm clock or was going to cost her extra. She didn’t say goodbye, or thank you, and neither did the little girl. Issy glanced at Pearl.
‘This is day one,’ said Pearl. ‘And I’m telling you, I do not want to have to nanny you through this, OK? You are a hardheaded businesswoman and that is the end of it.’But the rain started hammering down, day after day. Pearl’s encouragement got more hollow with every quiet day that passed. Feeling horribly weary, and with Pearl having her day off, Issy was in the shop doing accounts (they were tricky and the figures were terrifying, even though Pearl kept telling her not to worry about it; she couldn’t help it, and it was keeping her awake). She had two customers, which was better than none, she supposed. First of all the woman had come in again with the small child, which had slightly cheered Issy up; obviously she hadn’t been so horrified she’d rushed away, never to darken their doors again. But didn’t she have any friends? Couldn’t she bring them round, with sticky-fingered children who needed a treat before making their way to Clissold Park? But once again the mother had retrieved her small cup of black coffee and perched herself in the corner of the sofa with her silent child, as if waiting outside the headmaster’s office. Issy had smiled nicely and asked her how she was, but the woman’s answer, ‘Fine,’ with a slightly hunted expression, had put her off asking any further questions.
Issy had leafed through all the Saturday papers – she’d thought she’d be rushed off her feet, but instead she was becoming exceptionally well informed about the world – when the welcome sound of the little bell they’d installed above the door rang out prettily. She looked up and smiled in recognition.Des didn’t know what you were supposed to do with a baby. Jamie wouldn’t stop crying unless he was being walked up and down. It was still chilly out there, and Jamie was only happy being wheeled about or lifted. The doctor had said it was just a touch of colic and Des had said, ‘What’s colic?’ and the doctor had smiled sympathetically and said, ‘Well, it’s the word we use when babies cry for hours every day,’ and Des had been taken aback as well as disappointed. He had hoped the doctor would say, ‘Give him this medicine and he’ll stop immediately and your wife will cheer up.’