Lucky Break

Lucky Break by Esther Freud

Book: Lucky Break by Esther Freud Read Free Book Online
Authors: Esther Freud
    â€˜It’s all right. I didn’t take any. But there are such lovely things. A long silk slip with the most beautiful embroidery, and a white fur tippet. I might surprise you when you come home.’
    â€˜Miss you,’ he said quietly.
    â€˜I miss you too. What are you doing there? Have they dragged you up to the office yet, tried to convince you that you’re gay?’
    Dan laughed and looked up towards the gallery. ‘Just tap. Quite a laugh actually. If you’re good later I’ll show you my routine.’
    â€˜Can’t wait.’
    â€˜Nor me.’ They were both laughing. ‘See you later. Or meet me for a drink if you like?’
    â€˜All right,’ he sighed, thinking of the dank comfort of the pub, the cold pint between his fingers, the glass slippery with wet. ‘I’ll come straight home.’
    Jemma and Dan had found a flat to rent from a woman who sold old clothes. Dresses from the 1940s and ’50s, flowered, with coloured piping, made from crêpe, cotton and silk. There were shoes too, faded silver sandals, a pair of two-tone spats, and a bargain basket of roughly knitted berets, children’s jumpers, scarves. The shop belonged to the stepmother of a friend of Jemma’s, and by amazing luck they’d heard about it two days before the start of term. It had a small kitchen at the back, and upstairs were two bedrooms, everything furnished in the same spare tasteful style as the shop, with antique lace curtains and a patchwork quilt across the wide brass bed.
    â€˜It’s so romantic,’ Jemma had said, and Dan lifted a corner of the curtain to stare out at the traffic on the Mile End Road.
    Jemma and Dan had spent the summer travelling, free for a few months from the tyranny of rent. They’d taken the train to Italy, missing their connection at Calais, ending up in Paris, where, with no French money, they’d fled through the Metro, leaping over barriers, dashing to catch up with the right train on the other side of town. But it turned out not to be the right train, something they only discovered the next day when it deposited them at a small station in Switzerland, where they sat for three hours, huddled together against the mountain cold, rewarded eventually by another smaller train with their destination, Verona, listed on the side. Their plan was to camp on the shores of Lake Garda, in a small town they’d heard was idyllic, but by the time they arrived in Verona it was late at night, and the bus they’d hoped to take had long since gone. They sat in the tiled corner of the station and discussed hiring a taxi, but a taxi was inconceivably expensive. We’ll just have to wait here, they agreed, and catch the bus tomorrow, but Dan woke in the early hours to find that Jemma had wandered into the station master’s office, and was demanding someone show her where she could wash her hair. ‘Sorry,’ Dan grimaced at the small crowd of spectators who had gathered, and he took Jemma by the arm and led her back to their bags. ‘Hey?’ he looked into her face, ‘what’s going on?’ and she giggled and said she must have sleepwalked into the office, but when she woke up she’d been so embarrassed she thought she’d better carry on pretending to be asleep. They laughed so hard, stifling their gasps, that Dan’s whole body ached. ‘Let’s stay awake now,’ he urged, ‘it must be morning soon,’ and itchy-eyed, they leant against each other and dealt out a hand of cards.
    It was the following afternoon by the time they reached the little town of Torri del Benaco. They’d boarded a bus, but had fallen asleep almost as soon as they sat down, and only woken, some hours later, to find themselves thundering along beside a lake. Automatically they looked behind them, where the roofs of a cluster of houses were disappearing

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