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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Paint Job (Part 2)

Tomato promise

The vegetable garden is looking good but there’s not much produce. I only plant for the summer of the year we stay home for Christmas: tomatoes, basil, chives, and self-sown pumpkin (there’s always some of that going from the compost). We’ve had a few tomatoes, and the basil has been magnificent, but there just hasn’t been enough out of the vegetable garden yet to justify all the water and work that goes into it. Maybe with a few weeks of summer left we’ll start to get the productivity I’d hoped for. But maybe just having a happily growing green patch of garden is worth it anyway.

Here is the second instalment of Paint Job. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to the final part in two weeks’ time.

Paint Job (Part II)
Something wasn't right. Ma wasn't one to back down like that, even though it had her characteristic sarcasm.
            Pete was cutting himself half a loaf. 'Want some, Mattie? There's enough for both of us.' But I wasn't hungry.
            I walked into the lounge room, reaching for the light switch in the dark. The room glowed in its new rich colours, friendly, although it looked unfamiliar with the furniture missing or covered. We'd done a pretty decent job. Okay, we hadn't asked Ma's opinion before we'd launched in but that wouldn't usually send her off the deep end like this. There had to be something I didn't know that would make the equation work.
            And then I saw a piece of paper on the floor where Ma had stood to survey our handiwork. It had fallen, presumably, and had slipped most of the way under the dropsheet. I picked it up, and took it under the light, looking over my shoulder momentarily to be sure I was alone.

On behalf of our client, Mr Roderick Sidney Halston, we are informing you that the property in which you now reside at 14 Delamere Road, Davenlea, and which was solely owned by our client, has now been sold. You received notification, sent from this office on 23 September to the effect that the house was on the market. At your request, no signage was put up at the property, and a buyer was sought and found by a more discreet method. That sale having now been finalised, you have thirty days to take up residence elsewhere. The new owner will shortly contact you to make final arrangements. . .

            I also dropped the letter. It had to be a hoax. Why would my father sell the house from under us? We hadn't even known where he was; he'd never called or written. He might as well have dropped off the edge of the world.
            I couldn't begin to think about what this meant for me and Ma, and Pete. There were no words, so I just watched TV with Pete for the evening and said nothing.
            Ma appeared at breakfast the next morning looking her usual immutable self. She didn't mention the letter so neither did I. Pete and I spent the day on the second coat of paint, putting the furniture back again in the evening. The room looked fresh and warm. I felt I'd been evicted already.
            'He does a good enough paint job, for an electrician,' Ma commented, and Pete beamed. I looked out to the plain, neat front yard, imagining the 'For Sale' sign that had actually existed but been invisible to me and Pete.
            'Good enough to sell,' I mumbled and walked towards the kitchen. I saw the letter where I'd dropped it last night and I kicked it into a corner.

There wasn’t time to fix up more of the house before we had to leave, and why would we want to improve it for the bloody mystery buyer anyway? There was no time for anything except packing up my life into a few battered boxes. Ma wouldn’t let me take half my stuff.
            ‘How big do you think your aunt’s house is, Matthew? You’re lucky you’ll have a room. If Shane hadn’t already left home, you’d be sleeping in the shed with your boxes.’
            I wasn’t looking forward to moving three hours north to Ma’s sister Ruth’s. At least my cousin wasn’t there. Aunty Ruth was all right, but leaving Pete behind in exchange for a second mother wasn’t my idea of a move in the right direction.
            We didn’t see much of Pete in these last weeks. I was trying to work out how I was going to say goodbye to him, daydreaming that he might move somewhere near my aunt’s, knowing that he had no reason to leave this town with all the contract work he was getting. I wished we could have had longer together before life busted us up.

See you next time!
Claire Belberg

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