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U3A Writing: The New Carpet

Monica Duckering's story features an exchange of words that has happened in many a household.

“Darling, don’t you think it’s time we got a new carpet?”

Dora was dusting the ornaments. 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 got new carpet.”

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

“Well?” she demanded.

By now the subject had penetrated to his consciousness. “What’s wrong with this one?” he asked tentatively.

“Oh Gerald, you know Tina and Thomas knocked the radiator over and burned a hole in it … 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 until you mentioned it.”

“But I hadn’t!” Dora exploded. “I know there’s an ugly patch there and I don’t like it!”

“Mm … ha…” Gerald had switched off her voice and had looked down at the book on the table in front of him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Sweetheart” he tried, placatingly, but too late. Sweetheart was losing her temper.

“Don’t sweetheart me. You are sorely trying my patience.”

She stands with her hands on her ample hips.

“Oh, come on Dor” he pleads. “It’s just not that important.” Absent-mindedly, he smooths his sparse 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 for the renovations and now …”

“Now, we have enough, so …”

“So, I’ve been thinking – why don’t we spend the money on a trip tom 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 moment’s 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 thinking about it – working out a great itinerary. Wait till I tell you where …”

“I don’t wish to know”.

Poor old Gerry. His words have been ruthlessly cast aside.

“I’ve been checking prices in the carpet stores for weeks.” Her lower lip is petulant. Gerry is hurt, as she meant him to be.

“Why didn’t you ask me to go with you?”

“You’re always busy with your damned stamp collection!”

“And you’re always busy phoning your blessed sister!”

“I am not” she retorts – although she knows it’s true. “And don’t change the subject. I do not wish to go to Europe.”

Her husband has still not capitulated. “You’ll love It when we’re there. Think of all the photos we’ll have. And memories!”

But Dora is not yet on his wave-length. “I can’t believe I’m hearing this!” She is shaking her head in wonderment. “What better than making the home we spend 99% of our lives in. what’s better than making it a place of comfort and beauty? And you want to blow all the money on a few weeks gallivanting around dirty old buildings in overcrowded cities, surrounded by foreigners? No thanks! We are not going, and that’s final!”

After this outburst there is heavy silence. Gerry breaks it. “Well, I can dream, can’t I? I suppose I could go on my own. That way I’d only spend half the money, so you’d still have the rest for the carpet.”

Dora, completely taken aback, blurts out “You know you couldn’t possibly manage on your own. I guess I’ll have to come with you, since you seem so determined.”

“Yes dear. As you wish, my love” sighs Gerry.

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