The house isn’t the same to her any more.
The vacuuming stripes on the Berber rug no longer run east to west. There may, possibly, be dust on top of the door frames – she doesn’t know – she hasn’t checked for at least five hours. The black granite kitchen sides are clean, but she hasn’t yet polished them with a new duster, folded into a triangle. And one of the Royal Dalton figurines on the mantelpiece is facing fractionally the wrong way.
She relaxes on the white leather settee, hugging her floral mug of latte, and sighs, a broad smile spreading across her beautiful, lined face. She might go in the front garden after her coffee, do a bit of weeding. She noticed a single leaf peeping up from the gravel at the side of the block-paved drive. Or, she might leave it. See what grows. She might even leave the few grains of gravel disturbed by her second trip to B&Q yesterday. A thrill of guilty pleasure runs through her and she giggles like a young girl. So many things she could do now – or not do. She could even open the teak doors of the television cabinet and watch Good Morning on ITV. But that might be the beginning of the slippery slope… No, she wouldn’t go that far.
She drains the last drop of her latte, walks into the kitchen and turns on the tap. Then turns it off. Places her mug in the sink – and leaves it there. She steps back and decides to visit the garage again – just to make sure everything’s still tidy.
She lifts the bunch of keys from their hook (marked “keys”), and walks down the flagstone path to the garage. She unlocks the side door, wiping her feet on the mat before she enters. Switching on the light, she sees, for the third time that day, that everything is in order. The power tools hang, pristine and glinting, in the rows that Derek assigned for them, each with a careful label above. Some of them have new blades from B&Q; the young man had been most helpful yesterday showing her which ones to buy. “Big job on?” He asked. “It’s for my husband,” she replied, smiling.
The large work bench is clean again, scrubbed and bleached almost white. She looks at the cracked skin on her hands; it’ll be a while before they recover from that. The tarpaulin from B&Q, thoroughly hosed down and now dry, is folded neatly in a corner. And, of course, the chest freezer – she pats it – is full. She’ll have to buy a new one. An upright, perhaps, for the kitchen. It’ll be much more convenient for her, anyway, not to have to dash through the rain every time she wants frozen peas.
She switches off the light and steps back outside, locking the door carefully behind her. It’s a lovely day, a drying day, and she ponders putting up a washing line in the garden. Yes, why not?
Certainly, the place isn’t the same any more. She smiles.
Part Two: “Locally Sourced“…