|Room vacant. (standard:mystery, 1073 words)|
|Author: Bryn Pearson||Added: May 07 2001||Views/Reads: 1900/1224||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|When Will and Beatrice find they cannot pay the bills, they advertsie for a lodger. The year is 1911, and life will never be the same again.|
Room Vacant. By Bryn Pearson His coming was a Godsend that winter: Keeping a house was more expensive than we had thought and without his rent each week, we could never have afforded to buy coal. He simply replied to our advert by appearing one Monday evening wit a large suitcase. “I’ve come for the room, if you still have it?” he said. His voice was educated and his clothes looked quite dapper to me. I couldn’t imagine what he could want with out small back bedroom, but I didn’t argue. In the first week, he never went out and we only saw him at meal times. While I was ironing or making bread during the day, I would hear him softly pattering about the room in his socks. He told me he spent his days reading, on one of those rare occasions when he spoke. For extra money, I washed his clothes, which were much better than anything we had. That he had money was very clear. At first Will was none too happy leaving me alone in the house with our guest, Mr Angarth. I could see it in the slow clenching of his fists during meal times and hear it in the silences where before we would have been talking. But Mr Angarth meant no harm and bit by bit he started talking himself. His tales were strange and didn’t make too much sense. They were fragments of a life lived all over the place, lived with more money and enthusiasm than we were used to. It was easy to be enchanted and to feel quite whisked away, but I never let it show too much because out of the corner of my eye I could see Will’s white, clenched fists hovering above his lap. Will had come from Bristol looking for work. He’d found a job in the factory, he’d harassed me into walking out with him and then we were wed and that was that. Neither of us had tales about parties in London or exotic travels in foreign parts. It had never mattered before, and I thought it shouldn’t matter at all, but sometimes it did. It mattered to Will that he couldn’t keep both of us on his wages and that this wealthy, worldly stranger was flirting with his wife. I never encouraged him. I never stepped out of line, but none the less he would keep flattering me. I was never pretty, but he talked about me as though I was some sort of beauty. He said he would get me a seal skin and have a coat made, but I never really believed him. It was him that introduced me to poetry. Of course I’d read the odd bit at school, but had forgotten all about that. He gave me a slim little volume of Tennyson. I read it through and read it over until I knew every word. I fell in love with ‘The May Queen” and it delighted him, as though I was a child who had taken to a new toy. It was a cold winter that year and the snow drifts were deep for several weeks. Mr Angarth kept us in coal and never complained once about the cold, although he clearly wasn’t used to it. Then early in the New Year, even before the snowdrops had come, he said he was leaving. “I shall have to procure that seal for you.” He announced, “to make a coat fit for a goddess.” I laughed at him - there was nothing else I could do. When he left, I missed him, missed the quiet patter of his socked feet and the fabulous tales. The year was 1911 and I had a child on the way. I had no idea how we would find the money. In May, a letter came from North Africa; just a few lines from Mr Angarth to say that he had not forgotten about the seal coat. I held the paper in my hands, thinking about how far it had travelled to reach me. In August I had a son, and there was no time for thinking about anything else. The letter from Africa lay hidden in the bottom drawer and I stopped dreaming about distant places. Enough happened to fill a book, but that’s not want I want to set down. In 1912, a little parcel came. A card to say that Mr Angarth was in Click here to read the rest of this story (30 more lines)
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