Mr Smith from number twelve should be leaving any minute now.
My arm twitches as I check my watch.
“Mum, it’s 8:26 .. Mr Smith is going to be late!”
She doesn’t understand my distress and instead closes the door to the kitchen. I’m unsure whether the door is closed to silence my narration of the street or to disguise her and my Dad’s heated discussion about the bills this month.
I hear people say that times are hard. I’m not totally sure on what they mean but I have this sinking feeling that I might just find out.
“It’s 8:29 .. 1 minute till you’re late ..” I sigh into my knees as the front door on number twelve crashes open and shakes within its frame. With red cheeks Mr Smith bounds down the pavement casting a glance over his shoulder to check the door has slammed itself shut.
Phew. 8:30. Well done Mr Smith.
What’s next. I glance down the street. Number ten stands alone. The porch is crowded with pot plants that are withered and the paint round the windows has turned from crisp white to a sooty grey over the last year. Mum always tells me not to stare at number ten. Apparently Mrs Pauley wouldn’t like it.I got shouted at three months ago when I sat here and watched two men turn up in black suits and shuffle into her house. Mum told me Mr Pauley wouldn’t be leaving the house at 8:37 anymore. Mr Pauley was dead. My fish died so I know how hard it must be for Mrs Pauley.
A police car.
“Mum there’s a police car”
She’s not listening. Stamping my feet on the step beneath my feet she appears in the doorway growling at me.
I just point.
The car rolls slowly towards the driveway to number ten and a van follows behind it. Both stop. Two police officers step out the police car and a friendly looking man in jeans and a shirt jumps out the van.
“I don’t want to come back into the house. It’s 8:42. Mum .. please.”
She’s pointing at the kitchen and beckoning me in as my Dad appears in the hallway.
I run indoors and the front door is swiftly shut. Mum and Dad stand in the living room watching out the window as I sit on the stairs in front of the grandfather clock listening to it tick. I hear Mum saying how this will happen to us and Dad laugh and say not to be so dramatic. He explains Mrs Pauley hasn’t paid rent since Mr Pauley died and that is why they are evicting her. I’m not sure what evicting her means but it can’t be good. Mum is sighing a lot and shaking her head. I can see her dark brown curls moving through the crack in the door as she tells Dad how her mum remembers Mrs Pauley moving in to that house about forty years ago and that it is so sad that her boys don’t help her out.
“Dad you’re going to be late ..”