Today was an ordinary day for the Allweather’s, nothing special in any way that the family would have been aware, but then, the family were not renowned for their attentiveness to calendar events.
Ben sat pondering the enormity of the occasion before him. He was comfortable in the hall and, truth be known, was happy to be out of the way of the family. Everyone seemed to be at home, which was unusual. Maybe they were aware of the special nature of today after all.
Jimmy, the youngest child at four, should have been at nursery or pre-school as they call it nowadays. However Ben had seen him only moments ago emptying the crockery from the kitchen cupboards. Earlier he’d noticed him hungrily looking his way while he ate his breakfast. There was something in that glance; evil personified. Jimmy made his intentions clear with his maniacal laugh and persistent finger pointing, so Ben decided to find another room in which to seek peace and quite.
“Not fair!” cried Daisy running down the stairs. “I want to wear my pink princess dress.” She ran into the living room and threw herself on to the sofa, and sulked.
Daisy had seven princess dresses and from what Ben could recall, six hung in her walk-in wardrobe. The pink one lay on the utility room floor awaiting a tumble in the machine. She’d squashed a ripe banana on it yesterday while it lay on her bedroom floor with pretty much everything else currently out of favour. He suspected an elaborate ploy to get Princess Dress number eight. If she kicked up enough fuss about her unwashed dress, then she was likely to be heading for the local shops in around an hour or so. It was amazing how a six-year-old could control so many adults to get her own way.
Apart from the ambient tick of the electric meter, which had been present for the last twenty years, the hall once again fell silent. Almost twenty years had past since Ben first entered the house; he was the second longest serving member of the household second only to Mrs Allweather whom, with her husband, had bought the house from new and watched it being built.
The doorbell rang, and although it should have alerted the household to someone’s presence at the door, the family paid it scant attention. Ben could clearly see the shadow of someone stood behind the glass entrance door, he fidgeted for a moment before turning away as if to eye the surrounding houses while he waited for an invitation into this one. Agatha’s probably waving at him right now, Ben thought.
Twenty years, where had it gone? So much had happened at the house during that time. Three children had been born to the household. Alice, the oldest, had been there for thirteen years, what a wonderful child she’d been. When she looked at him, her blue eyes sparkled like sapphires, her cheeky smile so reassuring, so inviting. However, the moment her father left, the fire in her belly ignited. The tantrums, typical of a child with hair as red and curly as hers, exploded from the dormant volcano, flowing like lava and engulfing anything that got in her way.
He’d also lost the love of his life ten years back. He missed her. Life with the Allweather’s was difficult without her reassuring presence to bring calm to a chaotic life, her smile and laugh to brighten the darkest of days, and her smell… oh what a smell, such an evocative smell. His mind raced, nostrils filled with a scent not experienced in all that time, but the memory of her fragrance faded as quickly as it came. Although the bitch had left at the same time as Alice’s father, Mr Applewood, he’d never made the connection.
The doorbell rang again. Ben wanted to answer the door but it wasn’t his job. As usual, he would have to be a relay for the doorbell, helping the visitor by attracting someone’s attention. “Someone at the door.” He shouted. No reply.
“Is someone going to answer this door.” He tried again. He jumped on the spot with the anger of being ignored, and the excitement of a new visitor, pumping through his veins. He continually shouted for someone to answer the door to the stranger. The way that they kept people waiting annoyed him, no one wanted to take responsibility for the door anymore. The phone was the same, just ringing and ringing. He felt warmth trickle down his leg, stopped jumping, looked down through the dirty matted hair covering his legs, and fixated on the floor tiles that covering the hall.
“Bugger,” He said. “I’ve pissed me self again!”
“Someone shut that stupid dog up, it’s barking is driving me Mad.” exclaimed Mr Allweather.
“Answer the bloody door then Dave.” Cried Mrs Allweather from upstairs.
“Alice. Alice!” Shouted Mr Allweather. “Answer the door love, oh, and get me a beer while you’re at it.”
Alice stamped indignantly down the stairs. “For frigs sake, do I always have to answer the door.” She mumbled. She reached the bottom of the stairs and glared at Ben with angry furnaces, from where sapphires had once been. “Shut it Ben.”
The dog immediately stopped barking and limped off to find another quiet place to relax and ponder the fact that he was nearly twenty years old by human reckoning. “Happy birthday house.” He said.
“Dad, the dog’s wee’d on the floor again.” Alice said.
“Prudence,” Shouted Dave, “Your dog has pissed on the floor again. You’re gonna have to get it sorted. Take it to the vet will yer for Christ sake.”
Alice opened the door and glared at the stranger. “Yes.”
“Hello, is your dad around?” He said.
“Well actually, he’s not. He left us ten years ago for another woman. Thank you so very much for bringing back such a painful memory. Are you this mean wherever you go? Or did you just decide to keep something special back for us?” Alice toyed with the man. Such a master of the art, her mother was no doubt very proud.
“Ah, sorry. Is err, your mother in then?” He asked shuffling nervously. The girl was easily getting the better of him. He felt something brush past his leg and looked down to see a Siamese cat enter the house.
As it passed by Alice, she looked at it and encouraged it on its way with her foot. “She is… and you are? — Dave, your cat’s back.”
“Alice, when are you going to start calling me dad?”
“When you get off your fat drunken ass and start acting like one.” she said.
“My name is Jonathon Maybe.” Said the bemused salesman.
“And you want?”
“Err, I’m from Windows Inc, and I’m here about your err, windows.”
“I presume we currently have some on the house?” Alice asked.
“Err… yes.” The salesman replied.
“Then what would we want anymore for you tool! Can you hear yourself you loony?” With that, she slammed the door and headed for the kitchen to get another beer for her stepfather.
“Who was that Alice?” called her mother.
“No one.” Alice replied.
“Ok, it’s just that I’m waiting for a friend of Agatha’s to call round and give me a quote for new windows.”