Tuesday 5 July 2022

It was a dark and stormy night……by Judith Skilleter, Aperol spritz


But the Harker family were safe indoors. Outside it was horrible, the rain and wind were vicious. According to the weather man it was all due to global warming. “I wonder what Donal Trump makes of it” mused dad, Aidy Harker, as he looked out at the wet darkness. The moonlight was making the rain shine as it hit the ground like bullets and then headed off down the hill. “I suppose it is streaming down the hill” mused Aidy “Although rivering down or oceaning down would be a better description.”

It had been a dark and stormy night indoors as well as outdoors. Aidy was not a happy man. His wife Jane had recently had a decent lottery win, not enough to move to the South of France but enough to make significant, and unwelcome as far as Aidy was concerned, changes to their house. They had had words – dark and stormy words.

Her first plan had been shutters - shutters at every window had recently replaced curtains, curtains that had served them well for over twenty years and which had witnessed a lot of his family’s trials and tribulations and adventures. Now they had tasteful dove grey shutters through which Aidy was observing the weather. To Aidy they seemed like parallel prison bars and he hated them.

 His wife Jane’s argument for shutters had been determined, and slowly but surely his resistance had been worn down. Aidy didn’t care that they were the third family in the street to have them and if they did not have them now they would be accused of copying the others and falling behind. He didn’t care that they were the only family to have them fitted to every window, even the bathroom where the window was frosted glass. He just liked curtains. He liked welcoming the day with a couple of swishes of well-loved fabric.

The children were not bothered either way. The twins (Gavin and Paul, aged 12) had their bedroom shutters permanently closed. “I think I’ll start charging them for the electricity they use keeping the lights on all the time” thought Aidy. And as for Alexis, well, she was a very moody teenager these days and he felt safer keeping away from her bedroom. Alexis was particularly moody on this dark and stormy night, in fact she was also dark and stormy because her boyfriend Lee, who was supposed to be in Milton Keynes at a conference had been seen in The Cat and Fiddle pub in town with that cow Harriet Wilson.

And then there is the island, Jane’s second plan. Jane decided that the kitchen table, which had been a wedding present and had served them well throughout their marriage, had to go. It was replaced by an island “more storage space and far less mess “argued Jane. Only the island only had sitting places for two. “But we are family of 5 “argued Aidy knowing all the time that it was not worth the effort. “We can use the dining room, it is never used so now is our opportunity to use the dining table for what it was meant for” replied Jane with total misplaced confidence.

Of course, what happened was that whoever had their meals first bagged the 2 places and the others either stood at the island to eat or dragged in dining chairs which were too short for comfortable eating. It was a disaster.

Jane was currently in their bedroom, ruminating about potential changes and trying to find the best shutter position for the rough outside conditions. Aidy had said “Absolutely no” to her marvellous idea of having an ensuite in their bedroom. “No way are you messing with the only space in this house I can call my own” he had said very firmly. The space Jane wanted to use was currently occupied by his computer and printer and 40 year old Airfix models - it was Aidy’s and it was staying Aidy’s.

“The bathroom is next to our bedroom. Why don’t I just move our bedroom door a metre to the right and then you can have your ensuite with far less fuss” suggested Aidy.

“That is not the point and it is not funny” replied a very cross and frustrated Jane.

Jane then realised she would have to think through plan 4, the loft conversion idea, very carefully. They were doing a conversion over the road at number 64 and the plans looked marvellous.  However, they had a very good reason for their extension plans as a new and unexpected but very welcome pregnancy had taken root in number 64. Jane did not think she could go to those lengths to get a new loft.

The storm continued outside and it continued inside for some time. As for Aidy he vowed never to contribute to a lottery every again.

About the author

Judith Skilleter is new to writing fiction after a long career in social work and teaching. Her first children's novel The April Rebellion, has recently been published. Judith is a Geordie, who settled in East Yorkshire 45 years ago and is married with 3 grandchildren 
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