Nancy closed her eyes and quickly took tack. She would do the defensive freeze-out. An infallible method of dissociating oneself from an embarrassment who happened to share the same gene pool, the script went, ‘Where have you been, young lady?’ ‘Messin’.’ ‘I’ve been searching for you everywhere.’ ‘What do you expect me to do about it?’ ‘Get into that car right, that’s what I want you do to!’ ‘What, right this minute?’ ‘Don’t try that tone with me; wait till I tell your mother!’
Victims of Nancy’s freeze-out had mounted somewhat in the past few years and Nancy had grown most adept.
‘Hi, Mrs. Clements,’ Mark piped.
‘Hello, Mark. It’s a little cold to be sitting out here like that. You’ve met my niece?’
Nancy peeped at her aunt from between the fronds of her hair.
‘I wasn’t sure what soup you’d like, Nancy so I opted for vegetable.’ Millie proffered a flask – an old-fashioned model with a plaid pattern. Dumbly, Nancy took it. ‘There should be enough in there for two.’
‘Thank you, Mrs. Clements,’ Mark contributed.
Nancy lifted her chin just as Millie’s smile tempered to a faraway kind. The coattails of Millie’s brown trench-coat flapped in the breeze on her retreat to the Smart Car.
‘Is that your aunt, then?’ Mark asked.
‘I’m only stopping a few weeks,’ Nancy found herself repeating.
‘She lives in that weird little bungalow up Stafford Hill, doesn’t she?’ …I mean, it’s not that weird.’
Nancy had to agree, the bungalow appeared to cant to the right due to how the road sloped in front. Idly she opened the flask. A barley-potato and onion infusion eddied into the parky atmosphere. The combination brought piquancy to the other which spurred a deep longing. She poured a little into the plastic cup and took a sip. On its transit, the broth steamed the back of her throat with seasoning and little garlic. In its wake, Nancy felt a fool. Why was she sitting here? Back home, her campaign would have fitted. I’m running away, that’s all. Its shit at home; I don’t wanna talk about it. Her aunt, who happened to be embarrassing, had provided a flask of soup on a chilly evening and possessed a photo of her and her daughter in a mawkish hug. Thanks to Millie, Nancy’s campaign had become redundant.
Mark asked, ‘so, if you ain’t from round here, where you from?’
Nancy shrugged. ‘Oh, just outside.’
‘I mean, Glebe Hollow, a little place outside Coventry.’ A weariness suddenly overcame her. She slipped from the bench.
‘Me and some mates’ll be here tomorrow. Wanna meet up?’
Nancy screwed the lid. ‘To do what?’
‘I dunno, doss.’
Nancy smiled tightly. ‘Yeah. Sure.’
Mark lifted his can to her. ‘See you tomorrow unless it blows a gale.’
Nancy walked to her aunt’s weird little bungalow.
She learned to buy Mayfair or Park Lane first. Next, go for Oxford Street, Euston Road or Piccadilly. Don’t worry if a set cannot be acquired, but purchase to block the other from getting a set. Purchase houses and hotels as soon as the opportunity arises. Acquisition of all four train stations guaranteed frequent payouts. Going to jail isn’t so bad in the latter stages, as payouts can be avoided while the other player remains vulnerable.
Within any nine-square grid, select a square that possesses numbers that lay diagonally, vertically, horizontally or within the grid itself. Eliminate each to find the number that should inhabit that square. Each number from one to nine should only appear once in each grid. If the answer cannot be found, move onto another square.
Do the edges first. Sky, grass and sea colours can easily be distinguished. The remaining pieces can then be more easily found to fit somewhere. Find pieces of similar colours and/or patterns to create blocks that can then be fitted en-masse to the remainder of the puzzle.
Separate vowels from consonants. Use each letter once to make words of four letters or more. No plurals, no foreign words. See if the nine letters contain common suffixes or prefixes such as ed, ing or pre to make additional words. Try spelling backwards as well as forwards to find new words.