Esther Newton’s Monday Motivation is to write a story about ‘Cold’
Sunflower Dorito had a contrary upbringing courtesy of two invariably stoned hippy parents and a consistent if irascible grandma. When old enough she left, swearing never to return.
She paid her way through university, focusing on the sciences and ended up at an R&D establishment in California, focusing on work and building an independent life. It felt good; that is until a call on her 28th birthday, while staying in a condo overlooking Malibu beach with her then current squeeze, chosen for his energy rather than intellect.
‘Hi, Sunny here.’
‘Hi. It’s dad.’
She did a double take. How’d he got her number?
‘There’s been an accident. Your mum and grandma have gone.’
‘Gone?’ Sunflower felt the clouds gather and a cold chill slip down her back. She understood, of course. Suddenly all her certainties seemed to crumble. She left that afternoon, taking a day and a bit to reach the house outside Nottingham whose address her father must have given her.
David Dorito studied his daughter; something from a world he abhorred yet his flesh and blood, his only living relative.
She took out her phone and had a brief, angry call.
‘You need to fix the screen.’
She looked at the handset like she’d not noticed before. ‘I dropped it when you rang. I’ll get a new one.’
He shook his head slowly.
‘What? It’s my bloody phone.’
‘Why does it have to be new? That’s easily fixed.’
‘I’ll sort it. Christ Dad, it’s my money.’
‘It’s everyone’s planet.’
Sunflower turned away, mumbling something he couldn’t here but could easily guess at.
‘Can I show you something? It was your mother’s passion.’
Sunflower bit back the urge to ask if it was a drugs lab and let herself be led outside. To her surprise, he set off at a fast walk back towards the shops she’s passed in the cab. He was surprisingly fit and she out of condition. After twenty minutes, he stopped outside a former pub. The sign now said
The Repair Cafe
‘Mum worked here?’ Since when did her mother work?
‘She owns – owned – it with grandma. Come on.’
Inside everywhere there was activity. Furniture and upholstery, household appliances, mobiles and tablets, everything that needed fixing seemed to be there. And along the bar there were people chatting, watching, sipping drinks. Laughing. That was what she heard: laughter and the noise of people working. She looked at her father, looking at her, a wry smile on his face.
‘When did this start?’
‘When she got out.’
‘Out?’ But she knew what he meant and her stomach turned to ice.
‘Patricia told her to get a grip or she’d leave. Your mum doted on her mum, despite warring all the time. She met Chris – over there,’ he pointed at a short dumpy blond woman working on a kitchen chair, ‘inside and they agreed to start this collective. Mostly they’re ex-cons, women but some guys. See that chap?’ He indicated a thin pasty man with long red dreads. ‘He was a right mess before he began working here. Now he fixes anything electronic. Had some battles over parts but now the local mobile shops send customers here who can’t afford an upgrade. Just had his first kid.’ Her father seemed to lose his thread.
‘What’s up dad?’
‘She was on her way to pick up his wife from the station, with grandma, when they were hit by the truck.’ He rubbed his face. ‘Come on. I’ll introduce you to Baz and you can get a new screen. Meet the kid to. They called her Hope. Mum liked that.’
She watched her father walk across to Baz and start talking. Others came over and spoke, hugging him, getting him to smile. And the sun, hidden by clouds all day, broke through the windows, warming the room, and Sunflower, just a little.