By Susan Gordon
The little cottage stood on Hampton Way, and as far as the people can remember, there had always been a cottage there. A neat garden front and back with roses and peonies growing up the front. As I am Rose Cottage, I can tell you all about myself:
I was built a hundred years ago. The family who lived in me consisted of a lady and a man and two little boys. The man went out to work each day, the boys went to school and their mother cleaned and dusted and kept me spic and span. She baked and cooked and grew her vegetables and fruit in the garden. I always loved the smells coming from my kitchen as she baked bread and made the dinners.
The family moved away and I was left quite empty for a number of months. I hoped that the weather wouldn’t get into my roof and timbers and my windows not crack with the frosts. My garden borders were becoming weedy and neglected and I was becoming quite depressed. I was a little concerned about my heating and hoped that I wouldn’t freeze over the winter.
Just in time, a lovely old lady called Miss Wells moved in. She had a little car and a bicycle. She was very neat and tidy and her furniture was good and the carpets looked so comfy. She cared for my garden and washed the windows and made me feel so special. I began to feel the way I had before, all shiny and tingly.
Miss Wells was a happy soul. She had lots of friends and I got used to hearing chatter and laughter in my sitting room. ,I liked the pretty curtains and cushions and even the radio programmes that she listened to.
So for several years Miss Wells and I rubbed along very happily. We got used to each other over the years. She never left me for long, though I think that she sometimes visited a sister some way away. Then it all changed, suddenly just like that! She passed away and I was up for sale again.
The estate agents were all over me. It was so unsettling and my nerves were shattered. They parked their cars on my green verges and stamped across the grass instead of walking on the path. They were rough with my front door and always left the gate off the latch. So careless. They never bothered to change their shoes to slippers and my carpets were marked and soiled. They were measuring my rooms and yanking the cupboards open.
My garden was looking weedy and the roses were on their last legs. Nobody lit a fire in the kitchen or the lounge and I was worried that my pipes would burst.
Sometimes the estate agents would bring people to look at me and then go away and think about buying me. But winter was settling in and I think that I heard one estate agent tell another, that people never moved house in the winter and I became really concerned.
There is a small house next door called Everglades. We aren’t especially friendly, but now and then she tells me news of what’s going on. Everglades said that she had overheard that the estate agents were getting fed up.
Then the other night, some rough boys threw a brick through my kitchen window. I had nodded off at the time but the crash woke me up. There was glass everywhere and the boys ran off laughing and shouting. I was up all night after that and my nerves were shattered.
A few days later, on a Sunday morning, I could have sworn that someone had climbed into my kitchen through the broken window. I waited for a while, as Everglades likes a lie in on Sundays, before asking whether she had seen anything odd going on. Indeed she had. She told me that she had seen two people climb into my kitchen.
“They are squatters I think and that’s against the law,” I exclaimed. I pretended that I knew all about squatters even though I hadn’t got a clue. I didn’t want Everglades to think that I was ignorant. So I waited to see how things transpired.
Later that same night, lights began to shine indoors. How wonderful! The rooms were all shining and coming out of the dark at last.
Within the next few days, I was really getting excited. My windows were washed inside and out and were positively shining! A piece of card was taped to my kitchen window so the air didn’t get in. The fires in the lounge and kitchen and hot water bubbled from my taps and I think they were having baths. Whatever these squatters were, they seemed a happy pair.
The man spent time digging over the vegetable patch, finding out what he could rescue and what to plant. I knew this because he mentioned this to the woman called Caroline and they looked over the patch together. His name was Alistair and it seems that he had been a carpenter before the accident. I didn’t discover much about the accident, but it must have been serious because he lost his job.
Over the following weeks, I discovered a lot about the pair. Alastair built up the dining table which had been left to rot. He worked in the shed at the end of the garden and was collecting wood and restoring old tools. Caroline cleaned inside me and lovely smells of jam and bread-making wafted out of the kitchen windows. She gathered all the fallen fruit and made lovely pies and jams.
They had got rid of the For Sale signs and although the estate agents came by occasionally, their heart didn’t seem to be bothered with me. I must say I was becoming quite content with the squatters. Vegetables were growing and Alistair had started to make furniture. Dining chairs, shelves and a lovely coffee table for the lounge. They seemed to be very busy and very happy. They even discovered an old sign with “Rose Cottage” engraved, which Alastair cleaned and polished. Of course, they hung it above the front door. I don’t know what it is but I got a warm and fuzzy feeling as if I really belonged and being appreciated.
While Alastair was repairing and building furniture and Caroline cooking and stewing all the fruit, word of their skills seem to be getting out.
Everglades was asking if Alastair would consider doing some work for her. Her stairs were creaking and the doors were squeaking too. I didn’t say yes or no, but as I was considering how best to approach Alastair, the man who lives in the Everglades came to call.
Caroline was delighted to meet the neighbours and after he had a chat with Alastair, they all sat down for tea and home-made scones. The window was open and I could hear the giggles and laughter and I was much relieved. Mr and Mrs Ellenberry who lived in the Everglades were also saying that they had never tasted such delicious scones. Caroline packed a few scones so that they could take them home and eat them later on.
Life seemed to be chugging along just fine for the couple. There was no money according to Everglades, who seemed to notice fine details. They had no car and seemed to walk everywhere. They seem to dress in pretty much the same clothes, another sign of no money. But Alastair was always in his little workshop, making things for people and Caroline was always baking and selling her cakes and bread in the weekly market. So at least they could afford to live.
Then one afternoon when I was just nodding off, I heard the two quarrelling with one another. Alastair was really cross, as Caroline had spent some money buying a lottery ticket at the post office. He was telling her that they needed every penny especially with the baby on the way. What a surprise! She was sad and mournful and went to sit in the garden even though it was getting dark.
A few days passed and they were hardly talking. Then suddenly out of nowhere, they found out that they had won money. Enough to buy the house and so we were all happy and they invited all the neighbours for a party and were happy ever after.
They may never know how happy I am too. What a surprise.- Total nr. of readings: 410 Copyright © The author  All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.
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