Mind The Gap

Entry by: writerUQKFDSEJQX

1st April 2021
‘Come along, dear. Get a move on and MIND THE GAP.’
The apprentice had dragged her heels ever since they’d landed.
Most of her students couldn’t wait for this part of the course when they could return to the classroom and flap their certificates in the faces of their friends.
She watched the flighty thing dawdle across the stepping stones, pearly white in the moonlight.
‘Did you hear what I said? Mind the gap.’
The apprentice reached the edge of the gap and stared, horrified, into a chasm. Warm, moist air wafted up frizzing her hair and dampening her cheeks. She could see a shapeless monster sleeping in the semi-darkness. All the training in the world could not have prepared her for this hellish experience.
‘I can’t do it, Miss. Can’t I use my …’
‘Certainly not. You know the rules.’
The youngster stepped back trembling. This was not a career she would have chosen but it was tradition. The first daughter of the first daughter, yada, yada, yada. For heaven’s sake, she thought, many of her friends were applauding the feminist movement, striking out for independence and freedom from outdated folk law. Would she be brave enough to face her mother’s wrath?
Miss was losing patience. ‘I must not fly off the handle,’ she repeated like a mantra.
‘I could really do with a cigarette,’ she muttered. ‘Or a stiff drink.’ Both were frowned upon but was there really any harm in herbal cigarettes and a glass or two of elderberry wine? She guiltlessly indulged in secret. Sometimes to excess. This was enough to drive anyone to drink.
Perhaps it was time to retire. She didn’t hanker after foreign holidays or stress-free knit and natter groups. What rocked her boat was the thought of relaxing in a garden, dabbling with her water colours, in the company of her pet, Worm.
It was time for a display of tough love.
‘Right. Enough of this nonsense. Let’s get it done. Five minutes and we’ll be homeward bound. JUMP.’
Miss held out her hand. The apprentice shook her head.
A wet, slurpy sound and groan from the chasm put wings on the youngster’s feet and she fairly flew across the gap, landing safely on the stepping stone. She squealed as the stone shook and dropped a short distance into the chasm.
‘We must hurry.’ Miss pulled a thread in her skirt and unraveled a long thin cord. ‘Help me tie this around the thingumajig.’
‘Isn’t this stealing, Miss?’
‘No, just taking it early.’
‘It’s not normally done like this, is it, Miss?’
‘You have to know how to deal with emergency situations, and this is becoming one of them.’
Miss pulled the cord tight. The stone sank lower. Grasping the end of the cord she jumped up onto a rubbery wall. ‘Move yourself and help me.’
The apprentice clambered onto the wall and together they pulled the cord until their booty suddenly popped free and hung, swinging over the chasm.
‘Ugh!’ The apprentice felt faint. So much gore. She really wasn’t cut out for this.
The monster reared up and wiped itself against their prize. The sides of the chasm contracted, drawing in air with such force and horrendous noise, that Miss and the youngster dropped to their knees, gripping the wall for all they were worth.
‘Don’t let go,’ yelled Miss above the noise. 'We don’t want to lose the thingumajig,’ and together they yanked on the cord until it was resting at their feet.
There was a moan and a strong gust of wind whooshed up from the depths.
Everything settled.
Miss gave herself a shake. ‘That was a close thing. Come along, dear. Home.’
As she dragged the object of the exercise along the stepping stones, pearly white in the moonlight, the apprentice happily skipped alongside her.
‘Am I a fully-fledged Tooth Fairy now, Miss? Am I, Miss? Am I?’