The Rented Room-story taster

For a taster of the first story in my forthcoming collection, The Camera Obscure, head over to Amazon and take a look at The Weird and Whatnot July 2019.

Read a preview:

The Rented Room. (by Virginia Betts 2019)

It is commonly understood that along with a birth, a death, and a divorce, moving house is one of life’s most stressful events. I had no close, personal experience of the first three, but I was ready to risk the last, as the time had come to move on. Feeling the familiar impulse to start looking over my shoulder once again, I sold my place of solitary refuge and was about to take flight to the other end of the country. A writer, always hoping to add one more chapter to my own tale, it was entirely fitting that I was here, almost ready to leave, boxing up my treasured books.

As I picked up the last dust-covered book and placed it carefully into the box, I found myself considering again that night so long ago. I sat surrounded by cardboard vessels filled with printed tales to delight and horrify, but of all the stories I have written and read, none made such an indelible mark on my life as the story I became a part of some forty years ago. It seemed like only days back that the terrible events unfolded around me, although a lifetime had withered and died in those same hours and minutes. 

No, I was not the same person who had embarked on my journey all those years previously. The mirror that once reflected a face full of hope and promise now framed a weary, aging visage with eyes clouded by fear and defeat. I checked the book I had just placed into the box, almost as if it would reveal a secret to me or point me to a destiny I had yet to reach. It was a collection of poetry by Philip Larkin. I knew the poems it contained. One of them, Mr. Bleaney,” beginning ‘This was Mr. Bleaney’s room,’ reminded me of the landlady’s words to me when I’d had arrived in Paradise Street on that fateful day, forty years ago.

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