Chapter Two

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His mother's head shot up in the direction of the store door as a jingle sounded and her oldest son walked in. Covered in a layer of mud from head to toe, Brett Donne wiped his boots as best he could on the mat before smiling in his mother's direction. She had gone back to sorting the stock as he approached and Brett could tell that his mother was struggling severely with back pain as she attempted to lift a crate of jam onto the counter.

"Let me help," Brett said and lifted the crate up and onto the counter without straining a muscle. Maggie, Brett's mother was rubbing her forehead when he finally turned back in her direction. She was feeling the effects of running a farm alone as she always did around that time of year. She had been running the farm alone with her two sons for the past five years since her husband died at the young age of fifty-five, the same age Maggie was now and it was the reason Brett didn't want his mother over-exerting herself on a daily basis. But he would never tell her that because he believed that speaking a haunting thought would make it a reality and he couldn't bare the thought of losing another parent so soon. "Where do you want this one?" Brett asked as he gently kicked the side of another crate.

Maggie checked her watch. Her movements then became frantic. "In the back. I don't have enough time to unload everything before we open."

Brett sat at the computer, as he did most mornings checking the withstanding online orders- a new feature they'd recently invested in for the small farm shop- but was soon pulled from his work when the sound of glass shattering and his mother yelping startled him.

Brett rushed to his feet and comforted his mother who had tears beginning to fall from her cheeks at her ability to not do things as she once had. "You okay?" Maggie shook her head looking down at the cut on her hand. "Go and sit down, I'll clear this up," Brett said gesturing to the broken jar on the floor but Maggie shook her head.

"I need to open up. There are people waiting."

"Mom, you're early."

"I like to open up five minutes early," she said in way of an explanation. "The customers expect it."

"We still have five minutes," he repeated and began to clear the spilt jam from the floor and sweep up the broken glass. "You should really think about gettin' some help around here. This ain't doin' your back any good."

"I've put out flyers but no one wants to work for $7.50 an hour in a run down farm shop twenty minutes out of town."

"What about kids lookin' for jobs, fourteen, fifteen years old? What about Jane's daughter?" Brett suggested as he remembered a local at their church mentioning that her daughter had a habit of spending her mother's money as if it grew from a tree.

"Nicole already got a job at the cafe otherwise I would've offered her a place here. Besides, we're managin' just fine and Jamie helps out in here all the time."

As his name was mentioned, Jamie, the younger brother of Brett walked into the shop. His physical appearance was different to Brett's. He was dressed in a clean pair of dark blue jeans and a long-sleeved grey shirt that was turned up to the elbow. His boots were polished and there wasn't a single speck of dirt littering his clothing, however the dots of paint that covered his forearms, neck and face indicated that he'd been busy that morning.

"How's the piece coming along?" Maggie asked her younger son.

"Good Ma, it's nearly done. Gotta add the final details then I'll send it off and hope for the best," Jamie said with a smile, obviously proud of himself. "You know there's a queue of people waiting outside."

Maggie rolled her eyes and turned to Brett. "This is why I open early."

"No Mom. This is a long line of people, more than usual," Jamie said emphasising how far the queue stretched.

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