Climb to blackened injury (2)

We parted from our two pals on the long walk home. We must have looked like a comical pair, {almost} clean clothes covering coal blackened skin ! Lorraine had hurt her elbow and she began to cry, partly from her pains but mostly from the fears of what mother would say when we both got home. As we got near to our back gate we had decided that whatever happened it was probably the best idea to just tell the truth & take our punishment, well that was the plan.  As we stepped into the back kitchen we could feel our hearts thumping, I think the ‘anticipation’ of what mother would do was possibly exaggerated by our own fears. Then I saw a note on the table, I quickly read through it and my voice trembled. ” Just gone out with Mrs Gledhill, we’re at the village hall until 6 o’clock, so get some bread if you’re hungry and I’ll do tea later.” as I read it we both glanced at the clock, it was 5:15pm, our minds raced.. Lorraine spoke quietly almost as if our mother might hear us, “What if… what if we go and get bathed & put our clothes in the washer and put some other clothes in aswell “? I looked and just stared at the worry in her eyes. I knew it was deceiving our mother but maybe not getting her rage lashing us was a great reason to do as Lorraine had suggested. Almost within minutes our clothes were off, in the tub and we were climbing into a bath of very soapy water! It was probably the first time we had bathed together in years, as fairly tall teenagers we struggled to get in together and we actually began to laugh! As we washed off the coal dust Lorraine almost forgot her elbow was injured, we helped each other get as clean as we could be then a thought hit me, I said to her “Won’t it look odd that we’re so clean after being out all day”? Lorraine stopped washing my back and my rear end! “oh yeh” she gasped “we’ll have to try and keep mother off the subject” she hopefully suggested, I knew that wasn’t really going to work, I told her “Look, I’m clean, so are you, we’re both naked, don’t you think we’ll be spotted instantly”! We tried to wash down the bath tub but the coal dust was difficult to rinse down. As we carefully put wet towels in the wash tub mother came home!

We both dashed and sat at the big solid kitchen table, mother was at first busy emptying her two bags and telling us about her afternoon with our neighbour Noreen Gledhill, probably the only true friend we had, her three children often came into our house to ‘play’ and the fact that we were likely to have no clothes on wasn’t an issue for them at all, in fact Susan who was my age stripped naked once or twice, until her younger brother David threatened to tell their teacher.  We sat at the table trying to butter some bread and not look too guilty, then in an instant mother stopped talking, the kitchen was quiet, she came around the table to where we sat, we could feel her eye’s on our backs, she said in a quiet but firm tone, “Stand up you two, I think I need some explanations” We stood and faced her like two lining up for the firing squad. Mother looked us over then asked “How come you two at 15 & 13 have got so clean after a day out… something needs saying doesn’t it”?  As we stumbled for words she went to the wash tub and lifted out our coal blackened clothes, we knew it was quite literally ‘time to come clean’ !

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