Blog Tour: Stay | Alexa Milne
Blurb for Stay:
An act of kindness is never wasted.
Ben Harwood loves his grandmother. When he visits her in the hospital, another old lady, Ivy, expresses a longing for an orange, so Ben, who works in a supermarket, takes her oranges the next day.
Later, after attending his grandmother’s funeral, he discovers that Ivy has died too, and decides to pay his respects. There, he meets Ivy’s grandson, Martin Riley, and the attraction is instant. To his amazement, Ben finds he has become a bit of a hero to the Riley family, who have traveled over from America. For Martin, Ben breaks his three-date rule more than once. Is this simply a holiday romance with great sex, or can he and Martin build something more permanent?
Oranges are not the only Fruit - A piece by Alexa Milne
In Stay, Ben buys Ivy, an old lady in the same small hospital as his grandmother, some oranges after she expresses a longing for them. He later finds out that oranges hold a special place in her heart, and that she has told all her family about the kindness of his gift. Through this act of kindness, he meets Ivy’s grandson, Martin.
This event is based on something that happened for real over thirty years ago when I bought some oranges for an old lady in a similar hospital. I will never forget her smile. She remembered a time when oranges and other fruits were hard to come by, especially if you didn’t have much money.
I have to declare that I don’t like oranges, and they don’t like me, but I am very fond of bananas. If you’ve ever spoken to an older person who lived in Britain during World War II, you will know that fruit, especially bananas, was scarce. In fact, the import of bananas into the UK was banned by the Ministry of Food in November 1940. The ban was partially lifted on 18 September 1945.
Lemons were largely unobtainable for most of the war, but oranges continued to be sold. Greengrocers usually kept them for children and pregnant women, who could prove their status by producing their distinctive ration books. They did try to produce powdered orange in the same way as they produced powdered egg, but it didn’t catch on.
The first load of bananas arrived in December 1945. Each child was supposed to get one to try. Many had no idea they needed to be peeled and some bananas went off while people looked at them rather than eating them. My mother remembers her first banana. She was seven when the war ended. A neighbour brought the fruit to her street and she eagerly peeled and ate hers. She still loves banana and custard. As a child, I had lots of bananas because they were imported and my father unloaded them on the docks. He used to bring some home and tell tales of the tarantulas they found in the holds among the fruit. These days, it’s hard to imagine not having the huge variety of fruits available from all over the world, which simply weren’t available in shops when I was young.
Ivy loves her oranges in the story, and Ben loves making her happy with this small act of kindness. Is there a little thing someone you know loves? Maybe on the way home you could stop off and get one and give them a reason to smile. Believe me, it can make your day.
Excerpt from Stay:
Ivy opened the bag and peered inside. “Oranges, you brought me oranges!” she exclaimed excitedly. “I thought we’d have some in the store. Would you like me to peel one for you? I’ll find Mary and get a knife and plate.”
When he returned, he watched from the doorway as Ivy rolled the fruit around in her bent fingers. She looked up at Ben’s gran. “He’s such a lovely, kind boy, Sarah. You must be so proud of him. Fancy him remembering about the oranges. I haven’t had one of these in ages.”
Ben smiled to himself then took the chair next to his gran once more. He peeled the orange then split it into segments then handed a piece to Ivy. She managed to hold it and bit through the flesh, sucking the juice. Prepared, he’d brought a napkin to wipe up the excess liquid.
Ivy moaned with enjoyment. Ben dabbed at her chin, making sure the juice didn’t drip onto her clothes.
“Such a thoughtful young man,” she said when she’d finished the first segment. “Any woman will be lucky to get you.”
His gran chuckled.
“He doesn’t like girls, Ivy, he’s gay.”
Ben gazed at the ceiling, trying to hide the blush that had sent heat to his cheeks. “Gran. Do you have to?”
“Well, you are, aren’t you? I may be getting old, but I’m not senile.”
Ivy patted his arm and said, “Doesn’t bother me, lovey. So, some young man will be lucky to get you. It’s a pity my—”
One of the other ladies interrupted her to ask if she could have some of the orange. For the rest of the hour, Ben listened to them reminiscing about their childhoods and how good it had been when rationing ended a few years after the war. He’d never realized fruit had been so important. They talked about tasting their first bananas as if it were a religious experience. He supposed people took so much for granted these days. He listened and asked questions until he had to go. Ivy thanked him once again. He knew she would be leaving the next day and was glad he’d been able to do this small thing for her.
Like the sound of Stay? Buy it here.
About Alexa Milne:
Originally from South Wales, Alexa has lived for over thirty years in the North West of England. Now retired, after a long career in teaching, she devotes her time to her obsessions.
Alexa began writing when her favourite character was killed in her favourite show. After producing a lot of fanfiction she ventured into original writing.
She is currently owned by a mad cat and spends her time writing about the men in her head, watching her favourite television programmes and usually crying over her favourite football team.