HANNAH BAGNALL

Short Story Writer

Tag: Short Story

Miss Edney

Miss Edney is close to her brother, Phillip. They have lived in the same town their whole lives, just a few streets away from one another. Miss Edney lives in a bungalow and her brother, Phillip, lives in a terraced house. Miss Edney lives alone and Phillip lives with his girlfriend. (He insists on calling her his girlfriend even though he is in his sixties and his girlfriend is in her early fifties. She giggles when he says ‘my girlfriend’. He always says my girlfriend with special emphasis and winks at his girlfriend as he is saying it.)

Miss Edney and her brother are not very similar but they get along nonetheless. There is a family resemblance in the way they look but they are not very similar in their personalities. In spite of their dissimilarity, they like each other very much. Phillip finds his sister very peculiar in a way that he thinks is very endearing. He laughs at her and cuddles her when she is explaining her grievances with her neighbours. Miss Edney finds her brother quite silly and naive and is very protective of him. She is also very proud when they are in public together or when her brother speaks to her neighbours when he visits. She can see that her neighbours are flattered that he talks to them. They smile and look shy and they are soft. When they are speaking to her they are brittle and aloof. They usually exchange cold and insincere smiles from across their gardens. When Phillip is visiting, her neighbours grin and wave at them both and she can see that they mean it deeply.

Miss Edney was in the pharmacy one morning and she was explaining to the pharmacist about her brother’s girlfriend. The pharmacist was very sympathetic. Miss Edney explained to him that Phillip’s girlfriend had not even lived with her own children. She had left and lived on her own, leaving her partner to bring up her children. She wasn’t even married to him and that is why she called him her partner. Miss Edney could see that the pharmacist was quite rightly appalled and that satisfied her. She couldn’t bear the woman, she told him and he nodded. Couldn’t bear her. Just could not bear her. The pharmacist couldn’t see that there was anything that Miss Edney could do about it. These things just are the way they are and what could you do? This response satisfied Miss Edney less. She was sure there was something she could do. It is all fair and well if this woman wants to be how she is on her own but she is not being how she is on her own; she is being how she is with Miss Edney’s own brother.

Miss Edney had also told the postman all about this girlfriend and he had to agree that she didn’t sound altogether good.  He said that she sounded like trouble to him and Miss Edney told him that she was inclined to agree. If there is anything Miss Edney knows, it is what is good for her own brother.

Phillip brought his girlfriend to visit his sister on one occasion. She ate four biscuits from the plate and had looked at all of Miss Edney’s photos, which stood in their frames around the room, as if her living room was a gallery. She asked who everyone was and talked to Phillip about them as if she knew them based on the things that Phillip had obviously already told her. Miss Edney was angry with Phillip for sharing their family with his girlfriend who quite patently did not care for family. The girlfriend walked around their family history and told stories to Miss Edney about the people in the pictures as if she knew them better than Miss Edney did. Phillip sat in his chair smiling and proud of his girlfriend who listened to him and remembered the stories he told her about his family. His girlfriend who made his family seem exotic as they re-emerged filtered through her imagination. Miss Edney did not want to see her family re-imagined, least of all by this stranger.

She told the girl who came to do her hair how this girlfriend might be most happy telling stories about other people’s families seeing as she had deserted her own real family. Miss Edney could see that the girl thought that she was right about that and Miss Edney was content that she had hit the nail on the head.

A Mess

Drawers.

There are lots of ways that drawers can be in a mess. People often think that mess is just mess but like I said there are different ways that a thing can be in a mess. When people talk about a thing being in a mess they are really thinking of general disarray and really have no clear idea in their minds of exactly how the thing is in a mess.

There are obvious kinds of mess. Most people will recognise that unfolded clothes make a drawer a mess. They will accept that empty food wrappers or crumpled pieces of paper create a mess. If a drawer’s contents will not allow the drawer to be closed, most people would agree, that drawer is in a mess.

Most people will think that they know how to remedy these kinds of mess in their drawers. They will be satisfied with their efforts if their drawers are filled with folded clothes, or if they are free from what should rightly belong in the bin, or if their drawers can easily be closed. Although these people have cleared up some kinds of mess, unfortunately, they have not cleared up all kinds of mess.

There is one kind of mess that most people do not understand. This is unfortunate because it is the most important thing to understand about things being in a mess. They may think to themselves that something is amiss but they will not be able to discover exactly what. A clear system of categorisation is needed. Folded garments are necessary to prevent a mess but really they are the very beginning and not the end.

There are broad categories of garment that might go in a drawer: tops, bottoms, underwear. These can be further broken down into daywear and nightwear then broken down further into sleeve-length, neck shape, leg-length, tight-fitting or loose-fitting, patterned or plain, colours, type of fabric, old or new, casual or formal. Each category should have its own folded pile. You must be careful not to cross-contaminate between categories. That will create a mess. If you find that you have an item of clothing that does not belong to one distinct category but could belong to a number of categories all at once, then you must look again at your categories because there must be a flaw in your system. It is important to be distinct with your categories but not too specific. There is a risk of creating a category for each individual item of clothing if you are not sensible. Your categories should be neither too broad nor too narrow. If no flaw can be found in your categorisation, it might be that you need to create a new category. If, however, this one item of clothing is the only member of the new category, it will be better to dispose of the item of clothing altogether. You might be tempted to create a category that you will label miscellaneous.  Do not. With a category labelled miscellaneous there can only be a mess.  Really this is only the start but I think from my example you will see how to categorise clearly and simply.

The same rules apply for other types of contents in drawers. Kitchen utensils, for example, must be divided into categories: slicing, mixing, baking, roasting, frying, etc. Then, handle shape and colour, frequency of use, etc. Again, if you find that one item does not fit easily into any one category, it is better to dispose of it altogether.

Windows.

Most people do not think of windows as being parts of a house that can be a mess. You will see that as soon as you really come to think of windows you can see that it is obvious that windows can be a mess.

Carpets.

People tend to imagine that a carpet that is free of stains and dirt is a carpet that is not in a mess. This is a common conception and one which is easily forgiven. Rarely are people shown the many ways that a carpet can be made a mess.

One thing that can often be seen in the pile of a carpet is footprints. You may have gone to the trouble of hoovering your carpet only then to walk upon it afterwards. It should be obvious where you have made your mistake.

This brings me to another error that can commonly be seen and that is when the strokes of the hoover which should be administered in such a way as to create a clear pattern in the pile of the carpet are in fact administered haphazardly. This, it is clear, will only leave a mess where you have intended for there to be order.

Bed Linen.

Be careful not to sit on your bed once it is made until you go to bed that evening. If you are living your life tidily then you will find that sitting on your bed between sleeping times should not be necessary.