Saturday 26 June 2021

'Fresh Air' by Philippa Hawley

Our together home has long forgotten us Norman but I’ve not lost the memory of the haunted air it held within, redolent of kitchen sink and dank walls. However much I cleaned and bleached, the odour of overcooked vegetable water lingered. Even the untamed winds, gusting through the hull of the farmhouse, failed to clear it.

We had some stories to tell from those days, didn’t we? Like that time you were in the cellar searching for fish knives and a sharp breeze slammed the door shut. I heard you call for a wizard or sorceress to let you out and thought it a facetious joke.

I happily entertained my bohemian friends that day and gave them a fine lunch, despite skipping the fish course, having no knives with which to dissect the soft flesh. Your absence went unnoticed, the smell masked by their sweet herbal cigarettes. I was distracted by the songs they shared and their chants in tune with the whistling wind.

You were never fond of that crowd were you? Said they were a bunch of layabouts and ne’er-do-wells. Perhaps you were right, they don’t keep in touch now I’ve downsized.

Still, the removals men were polite about the stench in the kitchen when they came and I’m sure the demolition squad, making way for the motorway, finally resolved the issue. I did wonder, dear Norman, if it was caused by your rearrangement of the radiators and the plumbing in the basement. I know how sad you would have been to think of me in this modern bungalow, disappointed to be unable to help or adapt my central heating.

The air here is pine tree fresh, the wind is gentle. I never found the fish knives Norman. I miss you.

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