...But I've just written fix-it fic. For a piece of furniture
, on her birthday:Home is the Sailor
Marlowverse, Falconer's Lure
inspired, future-fic (approx 1970)
No archive warnings apply, unless excess sentimentality regarding household objects needs to be warned for.
Rating: All audiencesAnd there's the hall-stand. Poor old thing. It's not very handsome and I'm sure it'll never find anyone who'll understand it the way we do. It'll probably end up in a horrid sort of boarding house a long w-way from the s-sea...
"Well, Veronica, this looks like it's been a bit of a vinegar trip. I can't see you finding what you're looking for here. I've never seen such a collection of old rubbish. I can tell you one thing, I'd be giving anything you bought here a good going over for woodworm, I would that."
"I'm going to try through here; there's a whole room we haven't looked at."
"Well, I can't think anything you find back there would be worth bothering with. Given what the people running this place put in the front. That mangy old stuffed bird, for instance. Who'd want a thing like that? Those glass eyes would be following you, every time you turned your back. And as for the beak on it!"
"It was sort of magnificent, though."
"When it was flying around, maybe. Hanging off a ring from the rafters of a second-hand furniture shop, well, I beg leave to doubt. Anyway, I don't see why we had to come here in the first place. I've no objection to people being careful with their money, but it's not even as if you'll be saving all that much, once you've taken into account the removal van and all that. The Co-op does some lovely Ercol stuff, brand-new and you'd get the divi, to boot."
"But I've had thirty-five years of nurses' homes and lodgings. I'm sick of them. I'm sick of modern furniture. I'm sick of stuff that's been chosen first because it's cheap and second because it's easy to wipe down and doesn't gather dust. Now I've got my own place, I want to be surrounded by furniture you can tell someone's loved, something that's been part of a family, even if it wasn't my
family. Look, if your feet are getting on your nerves, go and have a cup of tea at the Copper Kettle, and I'll see you at the Rialto, later."
"Oh, let's get on with it. Better I'm here to keep an eye on you. Otherwise, I know you, you'll go buying that motheaten eagle, and I'll end up with it perched on my lap all through Lawrie Marlow doing Catherine the Great. Through here, did you say?"
"Veronica, you're hopeless. Anyone seeing you now would think you needed your head seeing to. What sort of daft ha'porth bursts into tears at the sight of a hall-stand, for goodness sake?"
"But don't you remember? I saw this, and it all came flooding back. All those summer holidays, back before the war. There was one just like this in the passage-way at Mrs Martin's, just next to that gloomy old oil-painting with the stiff old horse trying to run after the hounds -- surely you remember that?"
"Oh, blimey! Too old to hunt
-- wasn't that what the picture was called? Yes; I remember. We always used to leave our sandshoes in the tray at the bottom, when we came in from the beach."
"And we brought in that huge bag of sea-shells that time, and left it there too, only we hadn't washed them off properly, and they stank the place out."
"And there was that lad -- grammar school boy, very uptight and Bristol fashion -- that you were sweet on."
"Oh, God, I've never forgotten that last night of the holidays. Took me out in his father's fishing boat and we didn't get back until gone two in the morning and if you hadn't left the window open so I could sneak back in, Dad would have flayed me alive. Though nothing happened. I know you wondered, but nothing did. Neither of us were that sort. But we watched the moon set over the open sea -- nothing between us and France -- and just as we turned to go home there were two dolphins, swirling around in the still water, fireworks with the phosphoresence; green and blue and sparkling. That was the night that I told myself, if I ever get enough money, I'm coming back here, and this is where I'm going to stay for all the rest of my life."
"Veronica, I've not wanted to say anything, because I know you're set on it and you've bought the cottage, and everything, but be truthful. Are you quite sure you're doing the right thing?"
"Well, you know what they say. It's all very well going somewhere for holidays in the summer. Living there all year round -- retiring there -- that's something else again. You'll be a long way from everyone you know, down there. From me, and Eric, and the children."
"Look, I know you mean well but -- trust me. It's what I want. I'm not expecting it to be blue skies and ice-cream all the time. And I'm not expecting any of the people we knew back then to be there. I've been back once or twice in winter, too. Byfleet's almost better then -- feels more real, if you know what I mean. With the waves breaking against the undercliff, and all the fishing boats crowded into Oldport against the storm. No, Julia; I've been dreaming about this a long time. I'm going, and that's that."
"Well, if that's your last word, then we'd better make sure you've got some furniture to take with you. Young man! Over here. Thank you. We were looking at this hall-stand -- no, Veronica, put your purse away. I'm getting this one. Call it a house-warming present, if you must. Twenty-six shillings and eight-pence? Seems like daylight robbery to me, but as my sister's taken a fancy to the piece --"