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  • Writer's pictureBrook Bond

Upton Close And Personal - Part Three of Five

Part three is here! I had a lot of fun writing the dialogue for this one. It's nice writing banter.


20 Upton Close - Jill and Frank Harris

Jill kicked off her work shoes and slammed the door behind her. She looked down at them for a moment, haphazard on the ground, before sighing and placing them on the shoe rack with her husband’s pristine football boots. They had sat there untouched since she last cleaned them, and that had been months ago.

“You like apple crumble?” She called out.

“What?” Her husband, Frank, replied.

She strolled into the kitchen and produced a folded-up sheet of paper from the pocket of her nurse’s tunic, placing it down on the countertop.

“I went in to see Mrs Coates-Lee from next door.” She said loudly, unsure of quite where Frank was in the house. “Gave me her apple crumble recipe. Says its famous.”

Clad in a dressing gown and clutching an empty coffee mug, Frank lumbered into the kitchen. His blondish hair was unkempt, and the bags under his eyes were so dark that he looked like one of the walking dead.

“Not so loud.” He groaned, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Apple crumble. What is this? Nineteen fifty-seven? Who the hell is making apple crumble?”

“Mrs Coates-Lee from next-door. I told you.”

Frank yawned, picking up the kettle from its stand and walking over to the sink to fill it.

“Why are you still visiting her?” He sighed, twisting the tap and letting the steady stream of water fill the kettle. “She’s a boring old bag.”

Jill tapped her foot anxiously. “Yeah, well… She’s a boring old bag with nobody else to talk to. It’s not like her son… You know Will, don’t you? Works for the council, a repairman or something. Went to school with us. Anyway, since he’s gone and moved out, she hasn’t had anyone at all.”

“That doesn’t mean you have to talk to her.” He replied. “Coffee?”

“No, ta. I’m trying to cut back on caffeine, for the diet. Do we still have chamomile tea?”

“La-de-dah. Look at you, all airs and graces.” Frank teased, standing on tiptoes to get the box of teabags from the top cupboard.

“And I’m only being neighbourly. It’s a lost art. Nobody talks to anyone anymore.”

“I talk to people.” Frank said. “In my games. Talk to people all over the world and I don’t even leave my chair.”

“And look at you! Is that why you’re all haggard? You were up all night playing FIFA. You’ll end up nocturnal, Frank.”

“Yeah, well you wake me up at night when you leave for your little graveyard shift. Do you know how hard it is getting back to sleep at four in the morning?”

The kettle gave a resounding click, signalling that its work was done.

“You like the money though, don’t you?” Jill replied.

“Yeah, I guess.” Frank sighed, lifting the kettle from its cradle and pouring its contents into the mugs on the counter. “So, who was on the chopping block today, sawbones?”

Jill headed over to the fridge and fetched the milk. “Same old, same old. Eight-year-old who fell off a bunk bed, and a real obnoxious guy who thought he was having a heart attack. It was trapped wind.”

She poured a splash of milk into Frank’s coffee, before hesitating in front of her own chamomile tea. It smelled like lawn clippings.

“And I saw what’s-his-face, from a few doors down. Just before I clocked out.” She said. “Len, that’s it. Fell over walking his dog this morning. Broke his leg.”

“I hate that dog.” Frank scoffed. “Awful little yapper.”

She gave him a guilty half-smile. “Don’t say that. You’re gonna be walking him.”

“What? Jill!”

Jill took the mug of smelly green liquid and poured it down the sink. “I’m sorry.” She said. “It’s just… He was putting on a brave face, but he was just so worried about the dog and…”

“Well, you walk it.” Frank spat, folding his arms.

“I’ll be at work then. And besides, it’ll do you good. You’ve been looking so pasty since you stopped playing football.”

“Who needs football? I have FIFA.”

“If you just apologise, I’m sure they’ll let you back in the club. I know you didn’t mean to break it, you’re just clumsy.”

“Okay! Okay! I’ll walk the stupid dog.” Frank snapped, before picking up his coffee and taking a deep swig. “Wait, what happened to your chamomile tea?”

“Sod the chamomile tea, Frank. Sod the diet. I’m gonna have a big milky coffee and order us pizza for dinner. How does that sound?”

Frank laughed. “That’s my girl.”

“And I’ll make Mrs Coates-Lee’s famous apple crumble and eat the entire thing!” She announced, reaching for the piece of paper and squinting at it. “What even is apple crumble anyway?”

“It’s horrid.” Frank replied, fiddling with the belt of his dressing gown. “Like… A mix of slodge and crunch. It’s an apple pie with a personality disorder.”

“Come off it, it can’t be that bad.”

Jill scanned the list of ingredients with scrutiny. Flour. Sugar. Butter. Two golden delicious apples, cubed. Gin?

“She puts gin in it.”


Jill tapped the page with her finger. “See, gin.”

“Oh-ho-ho” Frank chuckled in reply. “Mrs Coates-Lee, what have you been up to?”

“I think the loneliness is getting to her. All the more reason to keep on visiting.” Jill sighed softly.


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