• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 07
Image by

Who’s Counting?

OK, here’s the story; it’s been seventeen weeks since I was let go, seventy-nine job applications, fifteen rejections, two follow-up calls, one bad interview, and sixty-one great big nothings.

I’ve painted the apartment, shifted the furniture around to fill the gaps Maureen left when she took her stuff, hocked anything hockable, followed four online courses: Get That Job, Cooking for One, Mindful Thinking and Makeover Money. Makeover Money was the reason I pulled out the Jigsaw Maureen gave me last Christmas — not the 1000-piece variety — the circular saw, Jigsaw.

Maureen had it all worked out; after a stressful day at the office, I could come home, do a bit of ‘crafting’, making beautiful wooden toys that, one day, the baby we were trying to have, would play with.

That was five months, one week and three days ago. Now there is not only no baby but also no Maureen, and no job (when troubles come…), instead only long days thinking about LIFE: the life I had, the life I have now and then, OK — I admit, it’s a bit of an obsession — the life of the perpetually humming female occupant living next-door, on the other side of the shoddy partition wall of my negative equity flat.

And that’s how it came about. Last Tuesday, after finishing my thirty-first wooden chopping board with rope handle (and no, the plan to sell them on-line hasn’t quite worked out) I used the Jigsaw to cut a porthole from my living room, though to the other side. A perfect job, if you want my opinion; but who does? A kitchen of sorts I thought at first. But no, the layout of the flat mirrored mine, this, was also the living room inhabited by a woman with a thing for ceramics — pots, bowls, vases, teapots; there were hundreds of them, crowded on bookshelves.


Who’s Counting?

Don’t ask me why I did it. It’s like when you walk — one foot follows another — automatic-like. Anyway, I rigged up a grabber of sorts — which given my DIY skills was no biggy — and had soon emptied the row of shelves nearest the porthole, from the top down — carefully transporting each pot, one a time.

The teapot was my Waterloo — the weight too much for the grabber; the noise as it shattered was like having a set of jump leads on my heart. I steadied my hand and quickly superglued the disc back. You’d barely notice from my side.

At 5:45 p.m. her key turned in the double lock; I heard the front door shut, a shopping bag being dropped on the floor and her high heels clip the fake parquet. Then the living room door opened and in the ensuing silence, my heart thumped.

I focused on my sideboard where lined up according to size, sat twenty-seven pots; thirteen with lids, seven vases, four salt cellars, three small bowls and almost a teapot.

But hey, who’s counting?