Room (now)

I stare up at my bedroom ceiling, high and wide and white, the smoothed-off icing of a wedding cake. Curly Victorian cornicing marks its borders, knotted squiggles in plaster. The centre has a moulding like a giant Marie biscuit painted over. From this hangs a light fitting with shell shades enclosing difficult-to-acquire bulbs. Red and black satin curtains caress two big sash windows, which look out into the branches of a lime tree. During springtime, blue and yellow finches nest at the same level at which I lie my head on the pillow; they chirp-chirp-chirp.

The opposite wall has a rectangular Dickens and Jones mirror brought from the flat. Built-in cupboards too shallow to hang much and reeking of invisible moth balls, flank either side of an 1865 ironwork fireplace, which, according to a local dealer, is unusually complete. On the stripped wooden floor is a camel hair rug bought on our first foreign holiday - to Egypt, 25 years ago. The rug’s coarseness against the bare soles of my feet helped me hold on. 

This is the room where dust gathers most, is permanently mid-air suspended. When we moved here, I climbed a stepladder and mounted a cherub ornament on the ceiling above our bed. Call it superstition. It was this infantile face that watched over me as I lay here all the years of my illness. At times the face jibed at my invalid state and our excited anticipation of a happy home, thrown aside. But otherwise it comforted. This room, my cell; house so admired, which became a prison. 

We marked the end of my suffering by having a deep clean, symbolically turning the mattress, and exposed a long dead mouse.  

by Bren Gosling


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