A short story inspired by the stream-of-consciousness opening of “Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf
I gazed down at a crumb on the oatmeal-coloured carpet, picking it at and brushing it under the sofa. The table and chairs above me were grey. A heavily made-up women leered down from the television. It was cold; maybe it was a wet December day? On the wall was my mother’s home-made advent calendar of matchboxes and ribbons. An old, black music player — dust gathering in between the buttons — blared out Boney M Christmas carols from a tape. I was fascinated by their photograph on the box. There was something exotic, foreign, exciting about their hair and clothes. Cheap sausages cracked and sniggered from the grill pan, wafting meat and fat into the living room. Rewind. I looked down at the tape case, the dust between the buttons of the music player. It all seemed so sickeningly normal. What once was reassuring — the small, average house, ten miles to Taunton, two up, two down, brown window frames, cracking paint, the plum tree in the garden — now disgusted me; the sheer revolting boredom of it all. Rewind. I remembered the doors the best. They were cheap and lightweight with flimsy aluminium handles. The screws never lined up properly. Stop. Play. Was it December? Yes, it must have been. 1992? 1993? Those years hardly mattered. Rewind. Part of her was left in with that tape case, with Boney M and Slade. I look at her face and the lines map the journey of those years. She’s still the same. But different. Less sure of things, more clumsy; slower; timid. Stop. Play. “Adam! Sit down for your tea!” The little metal table with its pale blue legs and teddy-bear chair stood in the middle of the living room. Sausages and peas on the plate. Boney M jingled through their next song from the tape. Rewind. She’s sat beside me, fiddling with her phone, struggling to send a text, little notes of recycled paper on the table to remind her of appointments. The house: Taunton, three up, three down, oatmeal-coloured carpet. Sometimes I can’t look at her because the tape keeps turning forwards and forwards and I can’t hit…Stop. Rewind.