It was the first day of a new week in the house. The house that had once been Keith’s. Georgia had moved in couple of weeks ago, carefully going through the place and keeping anything of value in boxes and stashed neatly in a corner of the attic she’d managed to clear a bit of. That monster she’d have to sort out on a much later date. First up on her list was to make the place inhabitable. Not that old Keith had been a terrible housekeeper, but let’s face it, he was a lonely man in a family home he tried to preserve. It had gone through a lot in the years, but the main thing was, it had gone through being stuck back in time. If Georgia had to live in the house, then she supposed she’d need to fix it up, and fix it up she was going to. The first thing she wanted gone was the dog-eared carpet that was balding.
‘All the carpets out, yeah?’ She followed a man out the front door in a rush. ‘How long before the floor is replaced with new ones?’
‘You sure you want to go with carpet?’ He asked. ‘I mean, it’s got nice hard wood floor underneath that we can buff and varnish. Be a beauty soon enough.’
Georgia felt perplexed. Ask her about how she wanted her cafe to be and it would be a piece of cake to decide. Ask her how she wanted her new home and it was as if she were being asked which of her parents she’d loved more. Neither. And both. God, stop with the questions.
‘Well what?’ She rummaged through her bag in search of her keys.
‘Wood or carpet?’
‘I don’t know, Piko. I really can’t decide.’ In fact, Georgia hadn’t been able to decide since she brought in Piko to consult almost two weeks ago.
‘How about you pop back in at lunch. We should have all the carpets stripped by that time and you can see what wood looks like.’
Georgia nodded vigorously. ‘Sounds great.’ She rushed off down the porch steps. ‘And anything else you need…’
‘I’ll send Spanky down by the cafe to get you.’
‘Right,’ she nodded and rounded the corner onto the side step. ‘See ya later then!’
‘Well?’ Piko stood with hands on hip and stared at the dusty wooden floor in the living room. ‘We will sand it back and varnish it. Look brand new then.’
‘I’ve never had wooden floors.’
‘Easy to clean and maintain in my opinion. Sweep, mop, doesn’t stain when you spill things on it. And if you want you can have rugs in the rooms. And save you a ton of cash.’
Georgia’s phone buzzed in her pocket and she busied herself with the message. ‘Yeah, let’s go with that then.’
‘What? The wooden floors?’ And she nodded. ‘And what do you want us to do with the letters?’
Piko held up a hand to signal a moment, then rushed out to the kitchen. He walked back with what could be called a stack of sealed envelopes, old and stained in his hand. ‘We found these under the carpet by the front door. Thought you might like them.’
‘Yeah, leave them on the counter. I’ll check them when I get back home this evening.’
Georgia meandered through the stripped rooms with wine in hand, trying to imagine what they would look like once all done up. She’d thrown away all of Keith’s furniture or given them to St Vinnies where appropriate. Now, most rooms stood empty bar one or two items. She’d kept the old wooden rocking chair for herself though. It looked hand made and from the rumors, might have been something Keith had made for his wife who had been pregnant once. She wondered, as she passaged through each room what life was like for the Richards. Who were they? And most importantly, where were they now? Why had Keith been awaiting their return. That’s when she remembered the pile of letters Piko had told her about earlier.
She found herself soon in the kitchen, going through the pile. They seemed peculiar to her. Aged, grimmed, somewhat damp, and oddest yet, no postage stamp. On the front was scrolled in a beautiful writing: Keith. Some even said ‘Dearest Keith’. And a couple simply said nothing at all. As if the person responsible for these had given up addressing him after a while. She picked one at random with Dearest Keith on the front and ripped the envelope.
I write this with utmost fear that you will not read it. I wish I could have explained to you. To make you see why I did what I did. I know you must be angry. I would too if I were in your shoes. You have every right to shun me. To pretend I do not stand by on the other side of the street waiting for you to open the door. Or some days, you don’t notice me asleep by our door. Please. Please give me one chance. I need to talk to you. Please, hear me out.
Who was Nina? Wondered Georgia. And what had she done? She topped up her wine, gathered all the letters, and made her way to her room where there was nothing more than a queen mattress on the floor and a lampshade beside it. Temporary of course.
Long into the night, Georgia read the letters one by one. The more she read, the more puzzling Keith became. What kind of a man was he in life to do what he did?!