I paused outside my home. It all looked as it should, with a neat step and a bicycle propped outside. I made a mental note to get the ivy trimmed back. The last thing I needed was to look like a haunted house. I picked up the parcel and opened the door. “Hi, I’m home. Jacob, the new polish you wanted has come.”
The sofa cantered up to me. “Darlene, you have to do something! Melinda thinks she has woodworm.”
The hall was wide and spacious, but it was still a squeeze for Cassie to get in. I grabbed the vase on the shelf before it toppled over. “Do you think it’s serious?”
Cassie jiggled awkwardly. “I know that Melinda is very upset.”
“I’ll go and have a look.” I said. “Perhaps I can calm her down.” I waited patiently as Cassie manoeuvred forwards and backwards to get the angle to get back into the drawing room. She wasn’t a very large sofa, just big enough for two, but it was still a squeeze to get through the door. The portrait of my grandmother sniffed.
“That dresser is always making a fuss about nothing. I mean, even if it was woodworm, it isn’t the death sentence it used to be.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.” I watched Cassie wiggling and reversing yet again.
“I know, but I will tell you something to worry about. You don’t have a young man.”
My heart sank. I dreaded coming home to another lecture about how it was time to provide children to inherit the house. “I need to check on Melinda and give Jacob his polish.”
“You aren’t getting any younger.” The portrait called to me as I squeezed past Cassie and into the kitchen. The dresser was looking as dejected as it could, propped against the sink.
“I’m so sorry to put you to trouble.” Melinda said, her voice catching in her throat, “But I’m worried I might be contagious.”
“Let’s have a look.” I pulled out my phone and switched on my torch to get a better look. “Here?”
“Right on the hinge.” Melinda said, “Perhaps if I’ve caught it early enough, I can just have my cupboards removed.” She paused. “Will that hurt?”
“It’s just a speck of grease.” I picked a cloth from the sink and gave the edge of the cupboard. “There you go – all gone.”
“She was really upset.” Leah said.
“I’m sure anyone would.” I told the stove. “Anyway, I’m just going upstairs to give Jacob his polish.” And as I walked upstairs to the wardrobe, I wondered who on earth would be mad enough to bring children up in a house like this.