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1/9/09 6:53 A

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Chapter One
(Just for starters)

Oh God the kitchen was on fire again! Running across the hall and into the kitchen, Emma grabbed one of Chloë’s tee-shirts from the ironing pile and wrapping it around the handle of the grill pan she dragged the flaming tray out of the cooker. Throwing it into the sink she turned on the cold tap full force. This had the effect of sending a great cloud of black smoke laden with charred pieces of fish finger into the air and all over the tiles and worktop.
“Sh**, sh** sh** ” Emma swore and was echoed by three year old Charlie, as always a step behind her.
“Chit Chit Chit”
“Mum! Charlie’s swearing , Mum did you hear him?”
“Yes Millie I did and to be honest right now I don’t give a sh**”
“Only Miss Davis told us swearing was very, very bad in fact it’s probably illegal”
Emma had a sudden vision of seven year old Millie’s Sunday school teacher, a grey dried up stick of a woman with as much warmth as a bag of frozen cauliflower. She hoped fervently that Lily would soon grow out of her religious phase and want to stay in her pyjamas to watch Spongebob Squarepants on a Sunday morning like a normal seven year old instead of traipsing half a mile down the road to the local church.
At least she had escaped having to take her there herself. Thankfully Mrs. Lacey next door had been more than happy to oblige when she took her own seven year old grand-daughter Holly. The two girls were inseparable both at school, where they were in the same class and whenever Holly came to visit her Grandmother; which was just about every weekend.
From the living room a loud wail erupted a bare nanosecond after the strident tones of the smoke alarm did.
“Oh for crying out loud” Emma unwound the tee-shirt from her fingers, and threw it in the sink after the grill pan. Almost tripping over Charlie she turned and went back into the other room where Charlie’s twin sister had suddenly realised she had been abandoned. Scooping her youngest daughter up with an effort, both the twins were getting too pick to pick up now, Emma yelled.
“Lily will you get the tea towel for me – now please”
Back in the hall, child on hip, tea towel in hand Emma was frantically trying to disperse the cloud of black smoke that hung like a pall just below the alarm when Tom came through the door mercifully early for once.
“Burnt offerings again I guess?” he said and reaching up promptly silenced the contraption by removing the battery.
“Take away again tonight then?” he smiled at Emma. “Chinese or Indian?”


MAGS


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