Hello lovely Readers!
First, apologies for the ‘gaps’ between postings, especially when the next instalment of a short story is due. Some of you may know my lovely husband and I are in the process of renovating an old warehouse. In the meantime, we are housesitting all over Adelaide, South Australia. It has been (and still is) an amazing experience and I never cease to wake up without thanking God for the opportunity and privilege of looking after somebody’s home and their precious fur-children. Sometimes, however, moving from house to house takes precedence over my writing and my blog doesn’t get updated.
So, to remedy that, I’m committing to getting my story Karma out in three parts. Part One includes the earlier section I released three weeks ago to avoid confusion.
So dear Readers, please enjoy Part One of Karma…
“You’ll never guess what,” Hamish said. Celia could hear the excitement in his voice.
“We’ve got ourselves a beach house… we’ve got ourselves a beach house,” he announced in a sing song voice. “I’ve found us a buyer for Queen Street!”
Celia’s stomach turned over. “No way!”
“But I thought we’d lost the house by the beach. What happened to the other buyer who wanted it?”
“I’ve just spoken to the agent. He says if we sign the agreement in the next few days, it’s ours.”
Celia dropped her pen to the desk and watched it roll off the table onto Sam’s head below. The border collie had been sleeping at her feet until the telephone rang. Celia leaned back in her chair and stretched her legs. She still couldn’t believe it. After six months on the market, somebody wanted to buy their house! Now they could buy the gorgeous, ramshackle house by the beach they’d fallen in love with last summer. After the tense waits, the disappointment, the dashed hopes… it seemed too good to be true. “So who is it – the buyer I mean?” She pushed her marking to the side. Grade 4 Creative Writing could wait.
“Just a guy. He called the agent and said his father used to live in Queen Street. Apparently he has happy memories of visiting his Dad when he was a kid. And C—” Hamish’s voice lowered to a whisper, “he’s going to offer us even more than we asked for. There is something else though…”
Celia’s heart contracted. So it was too good to be true. She straightened her back. “What is it?”
“We need to be out of the house in a couple of weeks.”
“Hamish!” Celia moaned. “How are we possibly going to manage that? You’re spending countless hours at work to drum up your business and I’m right at the end of term – my busiest time with reporting and parent-teacher interviews—” Celia slumped back in her chair and yanked the scrunchy off her ponytail.
“And your Mum! What are we going to do about her. I won’t have a spare minute to go and see her—”
Celia could feel Hamish shaking his head in frustration at the other end of the line. “Don’t worry about Mum. She won’t notice you’re not there. She barely even recognises me anymore – her only son.”
Yeah, right. And when was the last time you visited your only mother? But Celia banished the uncharitable thought from her mind. It was the first time in ages Hamish had sounded so upbeat. They’d been waiting on tenterhooks trying to sell the house with not even a whiff of an offer and then Hamish had been knocked off his bike and injured his knee. Karma, Celia had thought at the time. They’d been greedy – wanting more than the Universe was willing to offer – and Hamish falling off his bike was their punishment.
But now this. The answer to all their problems. What did it matter if it was the end of term and she’d be horrendously busy packing and moving in fourteen days? A mere blip on the massive television screen that is life, Celia decided. She swallowed and tried to inject the right amount of excitement into her voice.
“You’re right darling. Tell him Yes. We’re going to get ourselves a beach house!”
“Once upon a time there lived a dog who was very hungry so he went in search of some food. To his great delight, he found a big, juicy bone.”
The temperature was in the mid-thirties and her legs were sticking to the seat through the fine cotton of her skirt. The kids had been fractious all day so when Harrison Reynolds asked her to read them a story instead of practicing subtraction, she’d relented and gathered them around her on the floor.
“So the dog – let’s call him Rex – happily trotted home with the bone in his mouth. On his way, he had to cross a creek and, lo and behold, when he looked down from the bridge into the clear, glassy water, he saw another dog with what looked like an even bigger bone! That bone looks even juicier than mine, Rex thought. I want that one too!”
“So he barked at the other dog in the water to try and frighten him into dropping it so he could have two bones instead of one.”
Celia paused, enjoying the look of eager anticipation on her students’ faces. “So what do you think happened?” she asked.
Marion Chan’s hand shot up in the air. “He dropped it in the water!” she said triumphantly.
Celia nodded in mock sadness. “That’s right. When he barked at the other dog, he was barking at his own reflection in the water and the moment he opened his mouth, the bone fell into the creek. So Rex not only didn’t get his second bone but he lost his own bone and had to go home hungry. Girls and boys: What do you think that story is trying to tell us?”
Marion’s hand waved in the air again but Celia decided to ignore it. “Raoul?” She addressed the small, dark-haired boy sitting quietly at her feet. “What do you think it means?”
Raoul closed his eyes and did not speak for several seconds. When he opened them again, he spoke in halting English. “It means that if we are greedy, we lose the things we love.”
Celia nodded, smiling.
Ever the pragmatist, Harrison Reynolds piped up. “But what’s wrong with getting more of what you want?”
“I saw Sarah today,” said Celia.
Hamish, his fork midway to his mouth, put it down and wiped his mouth with a paper napkin. “How is she?”
“Not one of her better days…I’m sorry,” Celia added as though it was her fault.
“It’s never one of her better days anymore,” Hamish muttered. “When did you find the time to go and visit my mother?”
Celia smiled. “I fitted it in after school – and before boxing all the books in the office and making your dinner—”
“Ok, ok,” Hamish held up his hands. “Look…C…I know it’s tough on you. I’m so busy at the office and I know it must seem I’m leaving all the hard work for you…but what can I do? Slowly but surely I’m getting more business – we took on another client today, did I tell you?”
Hamish reached across the table and squeezed Celia’s hand so tightly her engagement ring dug painfully into the fleshy side of her little finger. “Don’t think I don’t appreciate everything you do.” Hamish’s voice cracked. “Every day I wake up and thank whoever’s up there that I found you and somehow convinced you to marry me. You’re…amazing. And what you do for Mum…you’re a much better daughter to her than I am a son. And now that business is slowly getting better and you’ve got permanency and our dream house is just around the corner—I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the entire world—”
He broke off and sat back in his chair, gazing in wonderment at her face. “What baffles me though is how on earth you manage to put up with a struggling lawyer with barely two cents to rub together and his mother who’s losing her marbles?”
Her pinky was really hurting now. She pulled her hand away gently. “That’s easy. I happen to love you.”
End of Part One