She starts on the bookcase. It’s been emptied , sorted , packed and unpacked before of course.
Moves to college, back home and then away again have meant that the books have travelled to, but there have always been the ones that got left behind, left here,safely with some vague thought that at some point in the future, there would be a child, children, someone she would read her complete collection of Enid Blyton to, would share the joys of the pony stories, the plucky sailors and the girl detectives.
Now, knowing there hasn’t been and probably wont be, not now, not ever, anyone to read to, to read with, pauses her as she runs her finger over the battered, many times read stories and she pulls them off the shelf in wobbly armfuls, pitches them into a bin bag she has already, in her head, labelled Charity shop.
She tries hard not to look at the individual titles, the drawings on the covers. All of the books have memories, little messah=ges written in the front covers, each book a specials occasion, from the days when books were bought for birthdays, christmas, not ordered casually from somewhere out there on the internet.
She has a sudden clear memory of a Christmas, wet, grey, damp and her fathers’ outrage about the speed with which she has read her new book, unwrapped only that morning and completed even before they have tackled the mound of turkey sandwiches and mince pies which each year signal the end of christmas day.
She wants to share the joys of a new book with her father, wants to explain that speed reading is essential, a gorging on new words. That it has not taken away the glory of the small stack of books in her christmas pile, but he, a man who reads the local paper from cover to cover each day, even the small ads, is, she knows, somehow disappointed, had hoped that she would ration this gift, make it last, get her moneys’ worth.
Even now she reads quickly, cramming the words in. She reads the way other people eat fast food, mouth busy while they arrange the next mouthful, she is almost turning the page as she reads the last but 3 sentences, desperate to know what happens next.
As she pulls books off the shelf, she knows that she is also looking out for another newspaper cutting, she cannot imagine that there will not be one here, is sure that whoever has left these , has left them for her and will of course have left one here, in her own bedroom for her to find.
The book shelf yields nothing, she has a couple of false alarms, but they turn out to be ageing scraps of paper, old bus tickets used as book marks.
She is still optimistic, even when all the books have been bagged and she has managed to resist the lure of half an hour curled up on this bed, the once centre of her world, with “In the fourth at Mallory Towers”, bu t she has stayed strong, consigned the book to a black bag and is now ready to start on the wardrobe.
She has no real idea of what will be in there.She cannot imagine that her parents have kept any of her teenage clothes, they seemed to cause enough offence when she wore them, tried her best to put together some form of suburban punk sensibility without going too far, getting too much attention.
She remembers her Doc Martens, ox blood-red, many laces and actually so painful that they made her heels bleed for weeks, she washed the bloodstains from her socks, never complained, the agony was bearable only because she knew how much they offended the very core of her mother, what was a little blood, a little scarring when everytime she left the house, she saw her mother wince.
The wardrobe has become a resting place, midway between proper rooms and the forgotten corners of the spare, spare room.
The top shelf is piled with bedding, old coverlets, soft fuzzy blankets, the ones she can just remember from poorly days off school, wrapped and cossetted on the sofa. There are pillows, bolsters and a neat pile of sheets, all folded, edges lined up against the back of the wardrobe and as she pulls them out, wonders is any will be useful, worth taking home, she can hear her mothers’ voice
“You can never have enough towels or bedding”
As they fall onto the floor, so does another slip of paper, another newspaper cutting.
This one is larger, a headline, a photograph and a short part of longer story.
“family get new home – first family to move into brand new corporation homes”,
the photo shows a couple, looking older than she knows they really are, man in suit and brylcreemed hair, the women all peroxide and hard line lipstick.
He is staring at her, whilst she is looking out, directly into the camera.
The Next Narrative – In my fathers house there are many bathrooms.
( to be continued )