The Inklings: Chapter 38

John was feeling lonely and a bit anxious without D’arby, but tried to make the most of having the flat to himself, starting with a spring clean. John removed every trace of mould from the bathroom then every trace of dust from the rest of the flat. He even wiped the picture rails and skirting boards. When John had finished cleaning the oven he emptied out all of the drawers and cupboards, wiped them all clean and put everything back tidily. It wasn’t until John was bringing in the freshly washed curtains off the line that he thought about doing some ironing.

John hadn’t always liked ironing, and for most of his adult life he hadn’t bothered with it, but he did like the way that properly ironed clothes looked so neat and tidy. Doing the ironing also helped John to feel calm. However, John knew that if he did some ironing in D’arby’s flat he wouldn’t be able to enjoy it because he’d feel guilty and imagine that D’arby would know what he was up to. So John put his crinkly clothes into the bag on his two-wheel shopping trolley and walked to Fanta’s house. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t there – John now had his own key.

When Fanta arrived home she found that John had the ironing board out in the lounge room and was singing to himself as he pressed the button on the iron to squirt steam onto a pair of jeans.

“What’s wrong?” asked Fanta, without really knowing why she said it.

John looked confused at first, as if he didn’t know why Fanta would ask such a question but then he thought again, put down the iron, sat down on the sofa and put his head in his hands.

“Tomorrow is Christmas!” said John in a terrified voice. Then he added “And I have to spend it with my family!”

Fanta couldn’t help laughing.

“It isn’t funny!” said John, although he couldn’t help having a short giggle at himself before adding “Your family loves you but mine hates me and I don’t know if anything I can do can make up for all the awful things I’ve done in the past.”

“They don’t hate you” said Fanta. “They just want you to have a good life. I’m sure they can’t wait to see you.”

John felt much better after hearing that and decided he didn’t need to finish his ironing. He squashed the jeans he had been ironing back into the bag on his shopping trolley and unplugged the iron.

“What are you doing?” John asked Fanta as she turned her computer on.

“I need to print out a letter that was emailed to my Uncle. It is a Christmas present for Syafika’s cousin Ousman.” answered Fanta.

John watched Fanta open up a file containing a scan of a hand written letter. He then averted his eyes because he thought it would be rude to read it and waited as Fanta printed it out, folded the letter up and put it in a red envelope. She wrote “Ousman” on the envelope and then tied a piece of gold ribbon around it.

“Let’s walk to Syafika’s place now and put it under their Christmas tree” said Fanta.

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