Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Finding Dada. By Hazel Stevens

The night echoed eerie sounds, Annie pulled her cloak closer, if only she could see through the dark. Why had Mama sent her out into the street at this time of night? Why couldn't Alfred go, he was only a couple of years younger, but he was a boy. She stamped her foot with anger and cold. The damp cobbles seeping their way through her thin soles made Annie shiver. She trudged slowly along.

Passing an alley Annie jumped, a dog barked from within it's dark recess. Annie hurried on. She knew which direction to go, Mama had explained it in great detail. Annie had opened her mouth to complain but dare not, her Mama's eyes emblazoned, daring Annie to disobey.

Round the next corner dim lights filtered from windows onto the cobbles. Annie breathed a sigh of relief. Not far now.

'Now then here's a fine beauty if ever I saw!' A man fell on her from the doorway of a tavern. 'How much my honey?' he slurred.

Annie screamed as she smelt alcohol on his breath and tried to struggle free from the arm round her shoulders.

'Nay Robert, she's nobbut a child!' Another man fell out of the doorway, pushing the first man to one side.

'All the better.' The first man roared.

The second man pulled his arm away from Annie. 'Run girl,' he whispered.

Annie nodded, she picked up her skirts and fled. She didn't really know, until she was older, what the first man had been offering her money for and although for half a second she wanted to ask what he would give her. He'd gripped her shoulders so tightly and this frightened her greatly.

Round the end of the street Annie came upon the entrance she'd been looking for. It was another tavern, but this time Annie stuck out her chin and pushed the door open.

The smell from inside almost made her retch, she peered round the smoky interior.

A man behind the bar called out, 'Joseph Walker, isn't that your lass?'

Another man pushed his way past others, he gasped as he saw Annie. Her face pale and her eyes watering, he thrust her back through the doorway.

'Now then lass, what you doing here?' Joseph cried, wiping beer froth from his chin. He held Annie close.

She breathed in the familiar smell of fish, salt and beer. 'Dada,' she said, returning his embrace.

Joseph held her away from him. 'What is it child?' he asked.

'Dada, oh Dada, it's Mama she said to come... I nearly got lost... it was so dark and a man....'

'What man? Mama is all right isn't she?' Joseph asked fearfully.

'Yes Dada, she said to come and find you to tell you the baby's coming.'

Joseph laughed, he picked Annie up. 'We'd best get home then.'

'Yes, but Dada, where is the baby coming from?' she asked innocently.

Joseph laughed again, 'You'll know soon enough girl, soon enough, let's go home and see!'

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