Tuesday 2 November 2010

Every single time (one)

Every evening - late and after a long day’s work in the city - Mr Edwards caught the train to the suburbs.

Every night - it was always dark when he arrived - he walked down the hill towards the home he shared with his sister.

Every time, EVERY time, he stopped and peered into the dusty window of the junk shop on the corner.

It was always closed.

It was always dusty.

It was always interesting.

And amongst the tea pots and plates, picture frames (with and without), coronation mugs, silver cutlery (some that wasn’t), Toby jugs and teddy bears - the ceramic tile ALWAYS made him sigh.

It was beautiful.

And though the tea pots and plates, picture frames (with and without), coronation mugs, silver cutlery (some that wasn’t), Toby jugs and teddy bears were always changing, the ceramic tile never did.


But one night, the day’s work had finished early, the train arrived before night-fall and the junk shop was still open.

“Hello?” his voice echoed around the dusty shop, there was no one there.

He picked up the tile from the window, it was heavier than he had imagined, and he turned it over – there was no price.

“It’s special”, the voice surprised him and he turned.

“Good evening, are you the owner?” he asked politely, “I hope I’m not too late”.

“Yes. No. I’ve been waiting” replied the owner, an old woman as dusty as the shop.

“Em”, he was a little confused, “how much is this?”

“It’s special”, she replied, and then laughed, “and very expensive.”

Mr Edwards laughed too, “it’s an old tile, I’ll give you five pounds.”

The owner laughed even more, but took his money.

For many years the tile lay in Mr Edward’s sock drawer where he put it just before going to sleep that night.
He dreamed of dust.

When he retired from his work in the city, Mr Edwards bought his own house in the country and he set the tile in the middle of the kitchen floor, everyone who visited said it was beautiful.

“It’s special” he told them, laughing.

Years later, when he was an old man, Mr Edwards moved to a small flat and he forgot the tile, which gathered dust.

Before the house could be sold it was burgled and the thieves wrenched the tile from the floor, and just left the dust.

As the thieves fled they were surprised by the neighbours returning home and the loot was later discovered on waste land behind the local supermarket.

No one noticed the tile amongst the other things and so it was left there with the weeds and twisted shopping trolleys.

A small boy found it there one day and took it home to smash snails in his garden.

His sister thought he was mean took the tile and threw it over the garden fence, and for a while it lay at the bottom of a small stream that ran along a ditch.

A traveller found it there, admired the colour and used it as a table for the sandwich he had been given by the woman who cleaned the church.

The lady that looked after the senior citizens traded it for an old thermos flask she was about to throw out and she used it as a stand for the rubber plant in the day-room.

Dishonest traders bartered for it and the other heirlooms the senior citizens no longer needed, and they sold it to the junk shop on the corner.

Of the hill down from the station.

Where Mr Edwards was passing on his way to visit his sister.

And, like EVERY time, he stopped and peered into the dusty window.


Mary said...

Beautifully told tale, Chris.

Seems futile to dream and strive but what else can we do? Your autumn photos have been interesting. Those trees will lose every one of their golden and crimson leaves and yet steel themselves unadorned to withstand the brutal winter.

There is something noble to be found in this humbling experience of life, I think.


popps said...

Thank you Mary - i'm not sure about it (the tale). I found it in an old notebook and tried to put it into better shape.
The autumn though, as you suggest, there's a real tale!