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Mother's Day at the Petrol Pumps

A short story by Leo Cullen


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There was still this thing that drew Olive Brett to Jackson's petrol pumps whenever her driving took her near that town. Here she was again on the shabby courtyard at the town's edge, the two pumps standing like figures on a raised dais of concrete, scallop-shells for heads; the blue one dispensing 'premium' petrol for drivers of more opulent cars, the grey one dispensing 'regular' for drivers of Morris Minors, Anglias, scut-trucks. Olive sometimes wondered if she got regular instead of premium would her brown Ford Cortina break down, but not often - she was far too busy with other things. And now the young lad was running out of the ivy-clad old house to serve her, his white shirt open, a little Jack Russell at his heels. She knew him, Willie, first born of Lily Jackson, grandson of old William Jackson who had installed the pumps where once had been a privet-hedged rose-garden.

"Little man," she said, "will you fill me up?"

The petrol seemed to empty endlessly into the tank and the day was glorious and long. The small mountain behind the town faced the sun and appeared to be balancing on its peak a large Marian Cross that shone like a sword. These impressions merged in Olive's mind as she sat in the warmth of her seat and bees drifted above the escallonia beside the dustbin and the numbers clinked on the petrol gauge - three and elevenpence, four shillings, four and a penny - passing like the dates on a moving calendar.