Autumn is the most magnificent season to behold, with its warm hues and cooling breezes piercing the air. This isn’t because she gets to wear warm knitted sweaters and thick leggings to hide her fading sun-kissed tan; it’s because this is Ruby’s favourite season. It makes St. James Park a wonderful place to walk through every day as she walks to and from school.
Sometimes her hands feel a peck of ice chill and a visit to the small coffee stand at the end of the road with the most delightful man serving his small range of coffee and pretzels. It became apparent that her familiar face, including her sweet smile, attracted his attention every day as she walked by, made it a pleasant welcoming upon his early mornings and greeted him with “Morning Mr Yung.”
She hid her neck with her thick scarf and her cosy burgundy knitted jumper, black leggings, charcoal skater skirt, and beige ankle boots. Her strawberry-blonde hair was perfectly styled into a high top ponytail, with a strand on each side curling around her rosy cheeks.
The dark mustard 17th-century church chimes by the hour on one side of the park with the sun awakening behind it. On the other side of the park, a small street beside a busy road containing a long-running family business with huge surprises hidden behind each window. Knowles Street is a small, close-knit neighbourhood that considers itself a family to one another.
Ruby lives on a posh estate on the outskirts, with big SUVs parking on smooth white driveways with jet black PVC windowpanes. She never goes into these stores, but she can’t resist a quick glimpse as she walks along.
As she crosses the road, she meets her two friends next to Maggie’s Knitting Galore, which marks the beginning of her glimpsing and strolling past the insufficient quirky shops.
The old mechanisms singed inside Pete’s Toy Shop’s window of a puppet waving away. The essence of a delicious sensation from the Chocolate shop, Jacksons and sons. Ruby’s instinct was to go in there frequently, but she realised that trying one wouldn’t be enough; she’d have to try them all. The same with Claire’s Bakery, with fresh-cut sliced bread and small cupcakes, are proudly shown through the glass.
Each sign has a personality that has existed since the beginning of time, and changing them would be drastic, in Ruby’s opinion. Aside from one that seemed new, Ruby didn’t think the Charity for Dogs and Cats Rescue was a bad thing. It results in a sweet gesture. It leads to a good motion. At the end of the road is a small Italian restaurant called Donati.
‘Doesn’t it smell lovely?’ Ruby said to her friends.
‘You say that every morning.’ So says Lucy, her tall, slender friend, openly imitates the little things that make her happy.
Lucy’s dark waves on her face swing softly in the wind, and her slender figure complements the camel overcoat perfectly with her stylish mid-thigh dress and black tights.
‘Why don’t you try one?’ Gabby says while clutching her books to her chest and dressed in a warm mustard jumper and denim dungarees.
‘No, a lifetime on the hips and that’s not included in a ballet dancers diet.’ Lucy firmly addresses her rules, particularly when exams are looming.
‘I have to agree with her on this one.’ But, despite Ruby’s response, the temptation remains.
They met at the Dance Ballet school when they were three years old and formed a beautiful friendship and bond through dance. They all look out for one another and live with their wealthy parents, who pay for a high-achieving private school that money cannot buy. Ruby is oblivious to the fact that her upbringing has impacted her lifestyle.
Her father, Mr Stoke, owns the country’s biggest construction site and has no plans to slow down. He has a classy 80′s American look with high waist jeans and a tucked-in checked flannel top, beige ankle boots, and smooth coffee-coloured hair geld back.
Mr Stoke would desire his company to continue and want his children and grandchildren to continue onwards. He secretly wishes he had a son, but Ruby and her sister Effie are his only children. Her sibling looks more like her father and has the same career-driven features as him, while Ruby thinks she looks more like her mother.
All the things she remembers about her mother were loving, caring, and loved baking on rainy days. Ruby inherited her mother’s golden blonde hair and sky-blue eyes. Effie has no recollection of their mother, which breaks her heart because she would have loved her as well.
The only woman Effie views as her mother is Cassy, their stepmother, who lives with them. Ruby wasn’t keen on the idea, as she would never replace her. But, on the other hand, Effie grew to love her and saw the joy in her eyes. As a result, Ruby couldn’t hate Cassy for trying to be a mother despite her lack of experience with children.
Ruby had a suspicion that Cassy was only around for her father’s money and spent on plastic surgery for the first two years. She keeps her distance from Cassy, just enough for her to believe they are bonding.
Warmth seeps through the thin, cheap fabric too quickly for his eyes to adjust, so he opens them and checks the time, noticing there’s only an hour before the heavy siren beeps for a sign to emerge. Nathan has never been an early riser, even though he gets up at 5 a.m, while most of his mates would be awake at 6 or 7 a.m. He gets up early because of the business he lives below, Jacksons and Sons.
His parents poured their hearts and souls into it and continued as his dad promised his dad. He tries desperately to sleep but finally gives up and heads to the kitchen, his dark hair messed up from rolling in his sleep and the t-shirt he never took off the night before.
His father was already there, mixing the chocolate and smoothing it out before moulding it into the desired shapes. Nathan picks up his apron and arranges the trays on the table, and he never talks with his dad, Thomas, as it’s best to ignore Nathan in the mornings. With his short fibre and heavy top moustache, he resembles a 1920s Victorian butcher, complete with pinned striped apron.
Nathan is in the middle of his teenage phase, and Thomas wishes his mother was still here because she had a gift for calming him down when his temper flares. But, unfortunately, since Nathans’ mother passed, his bold attitude towards others has caused Thomas more hassle than he needs. Thomas hopes that if the teenager inside of him fades away, so will his temper.
Nathan makes the chocolates the same way he does every day, and he expects to get sick of the smells, but he doesn’t because they remind him of his mother.
Nathan prefers to be alone and only has one friend at school, Declan, and keeps his head down throughout the long six hours he dreads, then works with his father for several hours in the evening. At the very least, he’s grateful to be paid and now owns the motorcycle he’d always wanted. It’s his pride and joy, and he knew his mother would like him to have a car, except he’s a lone wolf and always will be.
Basic t-shirts, hoodies, hip denim jeans, and converse sneakers were appropriate for attending school and ensuring he passed sufficiently without trying too hard because he anticipated his future to be; the owner of Jacksons and Sons.
Declan is a social butterfly with a close group of friends, thanks to his success on the football team. His muscular frame, self-confidence, and short-styled shaved hair appeal to all the girls at school. Nathan hasn’t seen Declan since he started dating the women’s football team captain, but he doesn’t mind.
Nathan always fantasised about talking to someone about his feelings and desires. He’d dated a few girls before, but only because they fancied him. The attention he received gave him hope for a few weeks, but it soon faded, prompting him to call it quits.
After school, Nathan weaves through the congested roads, with his standard route taking only fifteen minutes. But, before he goes home, he takes a turn before and picks up daffodils from the petrol station and parks in the local towns hall car park.
Even on the most blustery days, he makes his way up to the clifftop and overlooks the coast. He’ll sit on the bench at the top, clutching the plastic-wrapped daffodils and recalling the last days he spent with his mother. Some days he would weep, but he has grown stronger as he sits there.
When he returns to reality, he replaces the flowers that have finally withered and fastened the new ones. Then, he turns his attention to the bench, where he sees a plaque with his mother’s name engraved on it, with his father’s nickname for her. “Mary-Anne Jackson, my shining flower.” He kisses his fingers and touches her name.