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U3A Writing: The New Carpet

Monica Duckering's story tells of a conflict over a carpet.

"Darling, don't you think it's time we got a new carpet?"

Dora was dusting the ornaments on top of the piano. She turned her head and raised her voice.

"Gerald, did you hear me?"

"What, dear?" Gerald looked at his wife over the top of his spectacles.

"I said, I thought it was time we replaced the lounge carpet," she said, rephrasing

"Oh!" The short sound escaped his lips, but he was concentrating on his favourite hobby so it was taking awhile to register what she was on about.

"Well?" she demanded.

By now the subject had penetrated his consciousness. "What's wrong with this one?" he asked tentatively.

"Oh, Gerald, you know Tina and Thomas knocked the radiator over and burnt a hole in it,'' and added, "over a year ago!" Dora was becoming exasperated, but her husband didn't notice. He was thinking about their lively grandchildren and chuckled.

"Ah, yes I remember. The little rascals.''

"So what about it?" The lady was not amused.

"Well,you covered it up with that pretty mat," he said reasonably. "I'd forgotten about the hole till you mentioned it.''

"But I hadn't!" Dora exploded. "I know there's an ugly patch there and I don't like it!" She took off her apron, the one she had embroidered, and flung it down on the sofa.

"Mmm, haa.'' Gerald had switched off her voice as he was wont to do occasionally, and looked down at the book open on the table in front of him.

"What's that suppose to mean?"

"Sweetheart,",he tried placatingly, but too late. Sweetheart was loosing her temper.

"Don't sweetheart me! You are sorely trying my patience.'' She stood with her hands on her ample hips.

"Oh, come on, Dora", he pleaded. "It's not that important". Absentmindedly he smoothed down his sparse gray hair.

"Not imp....!'' Dora is ready to bite his head off.

" Now, wait a bit, love. I haven't finished. I know we've been saving up for the reservations but now...''

"Now we have enough, so...''

"So I've been thinking. Why don't we spend the money on a trip to Europe instead?" There, he congratulated himself. It's been said. Not the best moment perhaps, but when would that be, he wondered wryly? There was a few seconds hiatus while Dora's eyes widened and her mouth opened.

"You can't mean that!" she managed to gasp.

"Yes I do,'' Gerald declared, briefly emboldened while his wife was off-balance.

"I've been working out a great itinerary. Wait till I tell you where...''

"I do not wish to know," Dora cut in.

Poor old Gerry. His words had been ruthlessly flung aside. "I've been checking out prices in all the carpet stores for weeks,'' Dora's lower lip was petulant. She pulled out the hanky tucked in her sleeve, preparing to cry but she was too angry for tears. Gerald is hurt as she meant him to be.

"Well, why didn't you ask me to go with you?"

"You're always busy with your damn stamp collection. And you're always busy phoning your blessed sister!"

"I am not..''

She retaliated swiftly, knowing it was true, " and don't change the subject. I do not wish to go traipsing around Europe, and that's final!"

But Gerald had still not capitulated.

"You'll love it when you're there, Dora, besides think of all the photo's we'll take to show your sister and our friends; and the wonderful memories we'll have".

There was nothing more to be said. Dora sat down heavily on the sofa and blew her nose. She was already devising ways in her mind to save more of the housekeeping allowance to pay for the new carpet.


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