fiction

BED-SIT

Chris R-0692 Image by Christine Renney

Following the separation, my very existence seemed to implode, and I had been forced to move into this tiny bed-sit and, for almost six months, I have survived its squalor. I quickly established a routine, determined that my life would at least have the veneer of normality and I hadn’t realised until now just how regimented my life has become.

At night, as I lay in my bed, I listen to the house, the walls closing in around me. I need to kick back and, when I do, discipline will be the key. I share the house with four students and when I leave for work in the mornings they are still asleep. In the evening when I return the house is heaving, a veritable hive.
After pushing through the throng to my room and as I prepare my meal I listen to their laughter, to their music. Occasionally a door is flung open and greetings ring from across the hall. The directness and the clarity always causes me to shudder. But then the door will close and I am able to breath again.
When I have eaten my meal and completed my nightly chores I watch television. I favour the American crime shows and am enthralled by the startling cityscapes and computer graphics. I am easily caught up in the analytical pursuit by the obligatory twosome and their investigative team as they trammel doggedly against the deadline in order to free the truth from the tangled web of little lives.

Summer has reared its head and the party has moved outside. I can now close the door and muffle their voices. I lay on my bed, resisting the urge to rise and glance out at the languorous scene below my window; students sprawled on blankets spread across the patchy lawn.
The air is thin, the scorching sun has drawn most of the moisture out of it and has also taken much of their laughter. To hoot and holler requires too much energy. Their conversation now is consistent, a comfortable murmur. I can tune in and listen or not.
I am reminded of home, of my old home; Clara, in the kitchen, on a Sunday morning listening to Radio 4. Slumped on the sofa with a book I would realise that I had been staring blankly at the pages, not reading but listening, caught up in the broadcast.

An enquiring female voice rises in the still and lifeless air.
‘But what does he do up there in his room for so long?’ she asks.
‘I don’t know,’ after a lengthy pause someone replies. I can hear them shuffling on the blankets, attempting to settle, to get more comfortable on the baked earth.
‘He seems okay. Maybe we should ask him down for a drink sometime, what do you think?’
I roll over and, pressing my face into the pillow, I wait. I can’t be sure if anyone bothers to respond. I try not to hear. I am not sure how long I lay like this but at last I realise the house is now deathly quiet and it has an abandoned air. I cross to the window and they are gone.
In the bathroom I turn on the taps and watch the water spool in the tub and drain away and I wait until it runs cold. In the kitchen, although it isn’t yet dark, I switch on the light. A moth flutters noisily as the fluorescent tube stutters and then bursts into life. The linoleum is split and the pattern and colours are almost worn away.

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10 thoughts on “BED-SIT

  1. Very evocative for me. I lived in a place like this for four awful years. We call that a boarding house in Australia and a bedsit is a flat with one main room plus bathroom and kitchen (area). I have a lovely one bedroom flat now and my mental health has improved manifold.

    Liked by 1 person

    • markrenney2 says:

      Ah thank you Ashley for commenting. You are, of course, right – the environment and our surroundings impact on our well-being. Glad you are settled and happy. Regards Mark.

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  2. Very sad. Doesn’t seem like a homey place for the speaker. Not being a student and having lost his wife, it seems it’s very hard for him to fit in here. He doesn’t really want to, but it also appears he can’t go back to his wife. Well written.

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    • markrenney2 says:

      He cannot find a home without her but cannot be with her, such stuff life throws at us. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Regards Mark.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. thefeatheredsleep says:

    I could really relate to this one. Like many of the others, I lived for a time in a ‘bed-sit’ and it was perhaps the worst time of my life. It is hard to have any hopefulness when you live in not just squalor but such a dank and dreary place. I’d even say a mud-hut has more potential because there is something that drains it out of you about a nasty, tiny, hideous place like that. I also lived in a cupboard but that’s another story 😉 I don’t think if we live in cheap or inexpensive or poor places it’s necessarily a bad thing (I lived in a converted garage once and it was quite fun) but it’s more about the over-all and there’s just something about those types of places. I recall reading Love on the Dole which spoke of such things. If nothing else, we should always be able to feel safe and hopeful. I expect these days for some, that is an unattainable luxury. It is why I am thankful always, even when I feel depressed I am thankful.

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    • markrenney2 says:

      Thank you so much Candice for such a thoughtful and thought provoking comment. I am also thankful to have somewhere that I can call home. Kindest regards Mark

      Liked by 1 person

      • thefeatheredsleep says:

        There is no doubt whomever created the notion of bed-sit did not think well of humanity, for it feels at times, worse than a prison and yet as you say, it can be a ‘home’ and fortress, maybe it is how we shift perspective I don’t know but I really liked the way you evoked some of those feelings so vividly.

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