Jam Jars

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I was sat in my car on Monday morning, trying to find a radio station that didn’t have some overly chirpy DJ presenting the breakfast show… No luck.

The close was empty at 5am, peaceful and free of family morning mayhem; i’m going to miss it when school starts next week.

There is a door slam, i look up and see a small figure outlined by a street lamp glow. Mrs Dorset, the 57 year old spinster. I’ve never really spoken to her but she always throws a smile when you walk passed her rainforest of a garden; Lucy my cousin used to say she lived in the garden most of the time, slept under the over grown plants.

Not sure how much I believe that but she is always going somewhere in her car, an old renault clio that was now more a redy orange than white with all the rust.

On her childlike back was a hesian bag bulging with something, no what she could be trying to shift at almost the crack of day. Well actually my mind did wander with a few ideas, the conversation about Fred West came to mind.

She struggles as the weight drops off her back and swiftly to the ground.

It was left to rest by the back passenger door as she climbed in to the drivers for something;  her one foot placed on the edge of the car by the foot well, the other in the air, hovering for balance. The rain has made the bottom of her converse damp a causing her grounded foot to slip and the other kicked the side of the bag. The disturbance makes the move sideways and it’s contents starts to drop out on to the pavement.

Amazing, they say that a butterflies wings in New Mexico can start a hurricane in China, it seems Mrs Dorset’s foot can cause an avalanche of glass jars to roll down the pavement towards my car.

Thankfully the majority are halted by the barrier my the Lessens house; they are having there sewage tank sorted, their 5 year old keeps flushing electronics down the toilet.

I spot one rogue tumbling further and grab it, she’s obviously collecting these for the glass bank on west wimble street; created to make the people in the area to recycle more. Each glass item is worth a certain amount of money depending on it’s weight; think it is something that has been done in America.

“One wanted to escape over the border” I said as I handed her the old Hartleys strawberry jam jar. Haven’t had jam for ages, might get some on the way home.

“Oh thank you dear, this ones passport would be quite out of date, 1984” she points to the expiry date etched on to the bottom.

“You’ve been storing these up for a while then, i’m sure the jar bank will be thankful for them.” I say, helping her lift the bag in to the back seat, it was heavier than I thought.

“I’m not taking them there my dear, no no no, don’t need the money and I have a better use for them… would you like to come with me and find out?” She asked, the words whistling through the gap in her false tooth. Part of me was intrigued and wished I didn’t have work, the other part of me went back to the thoughts I had about Fred West earlier, what if she jars parts of her victims. Trying my best not to let my thoughts show, I smile and make sure my voice is steady enough not to launch the 800 volts of fear out my mouth.

” I’d loved to but the office is calling” the one day i’m glad the office knows how to pick up a phone.

“Shame, maybe another time” she says looking in to the distance “i’ll let you get off, the sun is almost rising and need to beat it” strange, why would she need to… never mind, I told myself to just leave it.

That day at work all I could think about was what Mrs Dorset’s day consisted of.

I pondered what the jars were for on my lunch break and all the way through the afternoon, staring at spreadsheets I tried to figure out what beating the sun meant, whether i’d heard it in a song, poem, book or film… nothing. Well apart from that song by the wanted and Adele chasing pavements.

Like anything Mrs Dorset and these thoughts like the sun got less and less, I no longer saw her before I went to work and hoped she was keeping well. It’s ridiculous, she only lives 5 doors down, not a world away.

I had also developed quite a fondness for jam as the nights drew in, so much so our collection of glass jars had filled two storage boxes under the stairs.

“Why haven’t you taken those to the glass bank?” Josh asked one evening when he was under the stairs trying to find the set of Christmas lights that actually worked.

“I don’t know, keep forgetting” I answered

“Well there is definitely  better places than here for them to be, i’ll take them down tomorrow” as he said it I thought about a place they would be better suited.

“No i’ll do it” and I did. The next morning, crisp and dry thankfully. I put the boxes on a box trolley we’d acquired from mum when Josh moved in, and walked to Mrs Dorset’s front door. The rainforest had sunk to the ground, probably battered by rain, wind and the hail we had in November.

The bell rung, the door was knocked on but no answer, maybe she’s still out….the sun is shining, why did I think she would be in, not evening yet. Not wanting to wait in the cold anymore I Left the boxes on the front step and made my way back to the blueberry jam Josh had brought home from his trade show.

Weeks later, while watching Love Actually for the last time before it became unacceptable to do so, the porch light sprung to life, set off by a sensor on the corner of the house.

Curious I made my way to open the door. No one was there, just the faint sound of tv’s and families in the cold night air.

I stepped outside just a few steps down the path,  just to double check no one was lurking around.. I know kind of stupid when all I have to protect myself is my cookie monster slippers.

Still nothing so I start walk back towards the house, that little kid is about to sing ‘All I Want For Christmas’ and not to brag or anything but my routine to it is pretty on point, even the backup vocals are nailed.

On the step by the door I see a little brown box. It’s got red and white striped string and a festive tag.

‘Collect your moments of sunshine, for in the dark times is when you’ll need that warmth and glow’

I sat on the sofa and opened the box, inside was a jar, small and curved but it wasn’t the jar I was awe of. Inside something was glowing, no beaming. Turning the jar in my hands, feeling the warmth from inside there was something etched in the bottom, 1984.

She was actually chasing the sun, harvesting it.

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