Short Story – Changing Times – Part Six
She considered what to do.
“There are few things that cannot be tackled after a bath.” Her mother’s words startled Edith.
“Mum? Are you there?”
“Of course! Go and get yourself tidied up, girl.”
Pleased to be told, Edith retraced her steps, pausing as she reached the half way mark up the stair, gladly removing her clothes which caught round her neck and made her sweat uncomfortably. Her hair could do with a wash, too. She left the bathroom door ajar as she stripped and helped herself over the sill of the bath by leaning heavily on the sink. The old, faithful taps she gripped and turned had never let her down, never dripped, never wasted a drop.
Grey water was clean enough, un-rationed and plentiful, since Edith took few showers lately, more interested in drinking tea and dreaming. She must stop doing that, she reflected, as she washed away the hardness that clung over her face. Must make the most of what I have: a daughter who loves me – a grandson. What was his name? She flushed with shame to have forgotten that. No need now, to ration her soaps, so she fished the almost empty plastic bottle from the cabinet, filled it with water and used that for a body wash and shampoo. The last time she would smell lavender brought tears to her eyes. She wept and washed, combing through her hair and watching everything swirl down the drain.
The authorities would take her house, but she wouldn’t have to clear it. They would salvage what they could, recycle building materials they might need, and leave the rest, or powder it for bricks. All she had to do was pack a suitcase while she waited for permission to move. Their reply would not be long in arriving.
They would be happy to have won a victory. She, on the other hand, knew that she was surrendering little. She would see more of her daughter, now that their conflict was ending, and more of her grandson, since she was about to turn respectable. She would have more to eat, and company.
She could listen to Bach and Chopin on her personal radio. Personal programing allowed that, in between the announcements. She would have help. As she wept for her losses, Edith knew that she would manage. She would make her daughter happy again.