Christina Coates

The previous family

Say no.
She had to.
Husband, her children were small.
She’d not be able to stay.
What? Maybe she’d love it and maybe
he’d fucked her on the upstairs bed.
There? He’d taken her up to the room,
else he’d come when she was alone.
It happened she’d said something –
to see you. She wondered what
she’d said, ‘Fine. I would love.’
When he was back on business,
after she’d moved in – wanted to come,
when Mrs Jolly Mouse wasn’t around he phoned
her. Mr Jolly. So Jolly.
She hated the way the man had come –
old fashioned and tasteless. She hated it. The
carpet in the hall and up the stairs. It was
heavy, a dark English pattern of the ugly
unhappiness of them. She looked at the
family for a long time. The smell.
The carpets held the smell of the previous.

The carpets held the smell of the previous
family for a long time. The smell and the
unhappiness of them. She looked at the
heavy dark English pattern of the ugly
carpet in the hall and up the stairs. It was
old fashioned and tasteless. She hated it
as she hated the way the man had come
on to her. Mr Jolly – so Jolly especially
when Mrs Jolly Mouse wasn’t around. He phoned
her after she’d moved in – wanted to come
around when he was back on business.
She said, ‘Fine, I would love
to see you.’ She wondered what would
have happened if she’d said something
else, if he’d come when she was alone
there? If he’d taken her up to the room
and fucked her on the upstairs bed?
What? Maybe she’d love it and maybe
she’d not be able to stay with her
husband. But her children were small.
She had to
say no.
 

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