I’m so excited. I’ve just found Chapter Two of a novel that I am having real trouble writing. I didn’t even realise I’d managed Chapter Two. It needs some work, but would you like me to write some more?
Every day she’d count the boats. See which ones were in and which ones were out. Imagine what it would be like to be on holiday. Some people led different lives.
Simon and Sarah weren’t poor. Not at all. But they didn’t go on holiday any more. Simon had decided that they should spend all their money on nice things for the house. Sarah just wanted him to be happy. So they lived a simple life in their Grade II listed converted farm house.
The house looked like a show home. Sarah always thought show home was a silly phrase. There’s no home in show. Showing is all about having nothing on your tables, nothing on your surfaces. Everything the appearance of clean. Sarah knew that things were filthy underneath.
But it was the way that Simon liked things and that was important. It was silly of her to leave the knives the wrong way round in the drainer so the water spilled out of them. She should have known where to leave the cloth. She should have known him by now. They had been together for years. Since Sarah was 22 but felt longer. Ten whole years to get to know each other.
Now they had Louis and Sarah worked when they could. They couldn’t pay childcare and Sarah certainly couldn’t have paid it out of her unstable freelance wage. So Sarah had no money.
She mainly stayed inside with Louis, so they would be in when Simon came home. He was a lively baby and didn’t sleep much so Sarah found it hard to get all the housework done and her work. Simon couldn’t stand it if he got home and the house wasn’t tidy. His main priority when he got in was to clear away all Louis’s toys so there was order in the living room. He never helped her with making dinner any more. He did enough with working.
Every day she would take Louis for a walk to get him to sleep, as he didn’t seem to sleep otherwise. And she would go the same way at the same time. Rain or shine. Like a zombie. It was something she did. Like breathing. She couldn’t afford to do much now they had Louis, but at least she could walk.
It was a solitary thing. The whole of Shardington seemed to be asleep as she walked. She rarely saw anyone. But she used to talk to Louis and that was something. He was ten months old and still not sleeping properly. She was worn out. But out she would go to count the boats in and out.
They were narrow boats at the new marina that had been there a matter of months. Sarah always took the path down there. There was a tea room, but she never stopped for a drink. She couldn’t afford it. She could barely afford to text these days, money was so tight.
The boats were all the names of Shakespeare characters or plays. They reminded Sarah of another life when she studied literature. She never really did Shakespeare in her degree as it didn’t fit, but still the names of the boats gave her a thrill of recognition. Ophelia. Cordelia. Henry V. People hired them out to go on holiday. But this was the recession, so most of the time they were all there to count. Today Portia wasn’t there. The quality of mercy…