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Shattered windows

Posted on Fri Apr 5th, 2024 @ 14:41 by Gabriella Baxter

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: New Cresthill town centre
Timeline: 05:00 Saturday 14th of December, 1992
1079 words - 2.2 OF Standard Post Measure

The winter nights were long, it seemed doubly true in Scotland where aside from less daytime the grey clouds seemed to collude against a nice bright day. Regardless of time of year, though, Grabiella was used to getting up in the dark. She navigated her from here nearby house to the bakery with a thermos of coffee in her hands. Even with her gloves on it was cold and gloomy. The rain from the day before had left a thin layer of ice on the streets. The baker took a very careful sip from her steaming drink as she waddled along the path. She wondered who had decided that bakers had to be open at the crack of dawn. She took no effort to suppress a yawn.

The morning was like any other. It was only when she rounded the corner into the street of her beloved workplace that she realised it was going to be very different. The darkness obscured most of what was going on, but in the gloom of the streetlight on the corner she could see the window had a few more words on it than she had painstakingly restored in the 20s caligraphy style. She closed in, taking another sip of the coffee. More out of habit than anything else. Her heart was pounding loudly in her chest. Hand gripping around the thermos.

In black spray paint there was slang denouncing her preference for same sex relationships. In blue, in shaky handwriting (if it's even called that when applying graffiti), she was slammed for allowing mutants in her store. To finalise their point they had added, in thick bold red letters the four letters in the English language used to slam any woman, a thick line underneath seemingly underscoring how much of one she was.

She clenched her jaw. Tears in her eyes welling up. Taking a breath in through her nose to try and suppress the emotions storming her brain and turning her stomach. She rounded the corner towards the entrance, the large display window lay shattered. A large tile, extracted from the sidewalk right in front of it, triumphantly in the centre of the destruction.

Gabriella's shoulders slumped and even trying to breathe through it wasn't going to be enough to get over this. Tears streaked down her face in silence. Shaking with anger and sorrow she walked up to the door and unlocked it. Hand shaking as she pushed against the glass door. The closed sign tapped as she stepped through. The rain had been pouring inside and she had to wade through shards of glass to get to the back of the shop. A sniff as she wiped a damp sleeve under her nose. She made it to the wall mounted telephone and for a moment hovered over the dials. The digits of her parents' house on the forefront of her mind.

Her gaze went from the phone to the window. She wasn't going to dial 999 for this. She put the horn back on the receiver and looked around some more, pulling the drawer out from the cabinet, the small box intended for change in exchange for use of the phone rattled a bit. The thick, curled, pages of the tome reminded her that the new year usually meant a new book. A weird thing to consider as she leafed through it to find the local police station's number. After a moment of searching she dialed the number she'd found.

The dull tones indicating she was waiting to be connected to the police. It took some time before anyone answered. Gabriella realised that she'd never actually dialed before, wondered for a moment if it was busy or if this was the normal time to wait. A thought cut short when someone answered.

"Yes, hello. Gabriella Baxter. Someone broke my windows..." She looked at the broken windowpane and wondered how much it was going to cost to have it replaced. "The bakery, yes, not my home. They also spray painted stuff on the other window." She nodded along with the person on the other end of the line. "Yes. Hmhm, yeah. Alright. Thank you. I'll have a cuppa ready." The metallic clang when she put the horn back on the receiver was a bit stronger than she had intended. She stopped herself from apologising to the machine.

Still in a bit of a haze from the shock of the state she had found her shop in she walked behind the counter and started up the ovens. Window or not she was expecting people to be coming in and needing their daily bread and weekend treats. The place was very cold from the rain and wind stealing all the heat. The ovens would at least help in the back of the establishment. She probably needed to find a large wooden board as well. She wondered if the hardware store would have something in the size she needed.

Opening the door to her pantry she pulled out the flour and yeast. Putting them on the tray so she could move it all to the mixing bowl. She stood over the ingredients, leaning on the tray, not pushing it in the direction of her worktop. Tears welled up in her eyes. It simply wasn't right, the thing she and her parents had worked for so hard for their entire lives, that people thought it was okay to mess with that. With her branded a mutant sympathiser, as well as queer, by these hooligans (whoever they were) she knew that people still frequenting her store would be automatically 'guilty by association'. Something she had been able to escape during her time away from New Cresthill. Something that added to the pressure already put on her business when the second Greggs opened one street over.

The tears broke the barrier of her eyelashes and once more rolled down her cheeks as she realised she'd have to tell her father. He'd be pissed. It wasn't going to be good for his health. There was no way she could avoid it, he'd normally swing around early in the morning. After forty years of rising before the dawn it had proven difficult to keep him in bed or even inside the house after six AM. The sniffed, wiped her tears on her sleeves, and started to pour the ingredients into the mixing bowl. Bread. Bread was to be her singular focus for now, the rest would have to wait.


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