But I’ve never seen my name in The Daily World, says a little voice in my head. I’ve never seen it in a national newspaper.
This is killing me. I can’t wait any longer, I’ve got to see it.
Abruptly I get out of bed, throw on my clothes, and tiptoe down the stairs. As I close the door, I feel just like the girl in that Beatles song about leaving home. Outside the air has a sweet, new-day smell, and the road is completely quiet. Gosh, it’s nice being up early. Why on earth don’t I get up at six more often? I should do this every day. A power walk before breakfast, like people do in New York. Burn off loads of calories and then return home to an energizing breakfast of oats and freshly squeezed orange juice. Perfect. This will be my new regime.
But as I reach the little parade of shops I feel a stab of nerves, and without quite meaning to, I slow my walk to a funereal pace. Maybe I’ll just buy myself a Mars Bar and go home again. Or a Mint Aero, if they’ve got them.
Cautiously, I push at the door and wince at the ping! as it opens. I really don’t want to draw attention to myself this morning. What if the guy behind the counter has read my article and thinks it’s rubbish? This is nerve-racking. I should never have become a journalist. I should have become a beautician, like I always wanted to. Maybe it’s not too late. I’ll retrain, open my own boutique. .
I look up and feel my face jerk in surprise. Martin Webster’s standing at the counter, holding a copy of The Daily World. “I just happened to be awake,” he explains sheepishly. “Thought I’d just come down, have a little look. .”
“Oh,” I say. “Erm. . me too.” I give a nonchalant shrug. “Since I was awake anyway. .”
My eye falls on the newspaper and I feel my stomach flip over. I’m going to expire with nerves. Please, just kill me quickly.
“So — what. . what’s it like?” I say in a strangled voice.
“Well,” says Martin, gazing at the page as though perplexed. “It’s certainly big.” He turns the paper round to face me, and I nearly keel over. There, in full color, is a picture of Martin and Janice staring miserably up at the camera, below the headline couple cheated by fat cats at flagstaff life.
Shaking slightly, I take the paper from Martin. My eye skips across the page to the first column of text. . and there it is! “By Rebecca Bloomwood.” That’s my name! That’s me!
There’s a ping at the door of the shop, and we both look round. And there, to my utter astonishment, is Dad.
“Oh,” he says, and gives an embarrassed little cough. “Your mother wanted me to buy a copy. And since I was awake anyway. .”
“So was I,” says Martin quickly.
“Me too,” I say.
“Well,” says Dad. “So — is it in?”
“Oh yes,” I say, “it’s in.” I turn the paper round so he can see it.
“Gosh,” he says. “It’s big, isn’t it?”
“The photo’s good, don’t you think?” says Martin enthusiastically. “Brings out the flowers in our curtains beautifully.”
“Yes, the photo’s great,” I agree.
I’m not going to demean myself by asking what he thought of the article itself. If he wants to compliment my writing, he will. If he doesn’t — then it really doesn’t matter. The point is, I’m proud of it.
“And Janice looks very nice, I thought,” says Martin, still gazing at the photograph.
“Very nice,” agrees Dad. “If a little mournful.”
“You see, these professionals, they know how to light a shot,” says Martin. “The way the sunlight falls just here, on her—”
“What about my article?” I wail piteously. “Did you like that?”
“Oh, it’s very good!” says Martin. “Sorry, Becky, I should have said! I haven’t read it all yet, but it seems to capture the situation exactly. Makes me out to be quite a hero!” He frowns. “Although I never did fight in the Falklands, you know.”
“Oh well,” I say hurriedly. “That’s neither here nor there, really.”
“So you wrote all this yesterday?” says Dad. “On my typewriter?” He seems astounded.
“Yes,” I say smugly. “It looks good, doesn’t it? Have you seen my byline? ‘By Rebecca Bloomwood.’ ”
“Janice’ll be thrilled,” says Martin. “I’m going to buy two copies.”
“I’m going to buy three,” says Dad. “Your granny will love to see this.”