You know that feeling when you have to move an appliance that hasn’t been touched for years, and you’re a little apprehensive about what you might find underneath?
That was all I needed. The train was late, I got drenched and now the kitchen was swimming in water.
‘What on earth has happened in here? Didn’t you notice this floor is soaking?’
‘Yeah, I nearly slipped when I went to make a sandwich. You’re late. What’s for dinner? I’m hungry.’
Counting to ten wouldn’t have stopped the steam coming out of my ears, so I did the next best thing. Taking three deep breaths, I asked in as calm a voice as possible
‘Didn’t it occur to you to check and see what’s been leaking? How long has it been like this?’
‘I told you. It was wet at lunchtime. By the way, there’s no bread left.’
Not only did he spend all day watching TV or drinking with his buddies, but it never occurred to him to do a bit of shopping or cleaning up. Even ‘manly’ things like DIY or repairs were down to me.
Taking just enough time to change out of my decent work clothes and throw on some jeans and a T-shirt, I got out the mop and cleaned up the worst of the flood. Freezer raided and oven heated, I set about getting a quickie meal ready before investigating the leak. Opening the fridge to get the milk for his cuppa I realised there was no little red light showing. Was it just a fuse?
‘Mark, did you try checking the fuse on the fridge?’
Sighing, I plugged the kettle into the socket to see if that was the problem. No, that was fine, and replacing the plug on the fridge didn’t solve anything. Bending to wipe the floor, I noticed how corroded the base of the fridge had become. Time for a new one.
After serving dinner and washing up, I scoured the Internet and found a local company who not only supplied refrigerators at a decent price, but also did weekend deliveries and disposed of old ones. Selecting a Saturday afternoon time slot, I pressed ‘confirm’ and tried not to flinch at how close to the limit my credit card was this month. At least we would have Saturday morning to clear out the fridge in preparation for the new one, and I wouldn’t have to miss my Friday evening night school class.
The course I was taking was one of my few pleasures in life, and as well as enjoying it, I found I had a natural ability. The tutor had even suggested I was proficient enough to try out some practical homework when the opportunity arose. My exuberance at the praise disintegrated as soon as I got home.
‘Mark. Tomorrow morning can you give me a hand to move the old fridge? I need to give it a proper clean-up underneath before the new one arrives in the afternoon.’
‘Sorry. No can do. I’m meeting the lads for a few jars before the game, then afterwards we’re going back to Phil’s for a poker night. It might be a late one so don’t wait up for me. In fact, it’ll probably be easier if I stay over at his place for the night.’
Typical, all down to me as usual, but this time he’d gone too far. My original idea of packing his bags and throwing him out changed when I made the discovery on Saturday morning. Mark had already left as I struggled with the heavy, old-fashioned fridge, and after an hour I’d managed to move it sufficiently to be able to get in to clean behind it. Years of grease and grime had been turned into a muddy pond by the addition of the melted ice, and I was amazed to discover it was now the home of a newt, and what looked like hundreds of tiny eggs.
Lifting the amphibian out carefully, I put her by the garden pond before returning to my task. Three hours later, filthy but contented, I surveyed the now gleaming floor. Just in time as shortly afterwards the delivery guys arrived, installed my new fridge, and removed the old one. All that was left was the food to be reinstated once the new appliance reached the correct temperature, and the three small glass jars containing some of the things I needed for my homework.
There was only one thing missing, but surprisingly it was Mark himself who supplied it when he returned bleary-eyed on Sunday afternoon.
‘How was the match?’
‘Rubbish. Sheffield won 3-1. We got our own back though. Nicked their owl and I got the wing as a souvenir. What’s for dinner? Is that a stew you’ve made? You know I don’t like stew.’
‘No. I thought a nice bit of cheese might be more to your taste.’
With that I grabbed the owlet’s wing, added it to the eye of newt, toe of frog and other ingredients bubbling on the cauldron, and recited the words from the book. There was a flash, and Mark disappeared.
Not totally successful. Perhaps leaving out the tongue of dog mucked up the spell a bit; mice don’t usually have flippers. Now I had to decide whether to keep Mark in water or in a cage. Still, it was good for a first attempt, and enough to get me through to Stage 2 of my ‘Magic for beginners’ course.
© Voinks September 2017
Books by Voinks