Judith took me
to the derelict cottage
just off the wood
in the Easter recess


from school
she opened up
the back door
and into the kitchen


with its smell
of damp and decay
it's been empty for years
she said


my sister and I
used to come here
and pretend
it was our own cottage


smells horrible
I said
ignore the smell
she said


pretend it's our
own cottage
and we have
just moved in


after marrying
when did we marry?
I asked
after we left school


she said
she walked into
a larger room


with wide windows
looking out
onto a large
overgrown garden


we could grow
some of our own food
she said
looking out


the window
I looked at
the hanging wallpaper
and a damp patch


on the ceiling
and our children
could play out there
she said


what children?  I asked
when did they come along?
after we married
she said


I don't remember
I said smiling
you will
if you pretend better


she said
moving through
to another room
at the front


I noticed a space
where a picture
must have hung
because it was cleaner


than the rest
of the wall
I like this room
she said


this is where we will sit
and have our TV
and radio
and the children


can sit with us
and we can cuddle them
I nodded playing along
let me show you upstairs


to the bedrooms
she said
so I followed her
up the creaky stairs


her green skirt
swaying as she walked
three bedrooms
she said


one for us
one for our boys
and one for our girls
she stood


in the front bedroom
looking out
over an untidy hedge
onto the road


this is our bedroom
she said
turning around
looking at it all


our bed can go there
she said
pointing to a wall
on the left


and we can have
a dressing table
and dresser
the room was empty


and smelt
over by the right wall
was a pile of shit
some one's been here


and dumped
I said
probably some tramp
or hobo


she looked
at the shit
and said
who's dumped


in our bedroom?
I laughed
it isn't our room yet


she said
I pretended
the shit wasn't there
and we went


into the other bedrooms
and she said
this was where
such and such


will be
and out of the window
the overgrown garden
seemed vast


with an apple orchard
to the left
she touched my hand
and squeezed it


we will be happy here
she said
I looked about
the room years after  


the cottage smelt ranker
and she was dead.

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