Saturday, January 13, 2007

Haunted houses

Apparently, while I slept last night, the baby was weeping uncontrollably and went to look for me under my pillow. "You'd have caved," my husband boasted manfully this morning. "She was utterly pathetic." He sobs in imitation of her over the breakfast table and she gazes at him from my arms as if she hates him.
Next door is hardly a haven. It has become a strange, silent place. A house which is ours but is not a home any more. It is not that it is hostile. I was perfectly easy as I slept in the high wooden bed we have set up in the frontroom infront of the coal fire. But, even with the fire flickering, the air in the house is catch-your-breath cold and still and the rooms feel like they are waiting for something or someone - us hopefully - or, at least for us to send round a man with a mallet. It wants to be a home again I think as it was for 47 years, to the elderly couple who used to live there. Perhaps it misses them. The chap was lovely. He was very kind and welcoming and used to be the farm manager here. The cottage was tithed and when he died, only a matter of months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, his widow went on living there for a couple of years. She didn't drive and it is an isolated spot and lonely. I think too, it must feel very odd to sit as a silent widow with your puzzle books and jigsaws. In the same chair, in the same room, just as you have done night after night but without him. You must look up expecting to see him, you must think you hear him moving about upstairs but, ofcourse, he is not there. It is just you and your plastic-wrapped library book. She decided to move into the village when another house became available. Every week or so, I drive down to the new estate where she lives in a warm and cosy bungalow and I drink her tea and eat her cherry cake, her puzzlebooks resting by my plate on the tiled coffee table.

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