Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Story 7 - Young Couple Sitting at the Bus Stop

We’re at the bus stop, on our way to Asda. Soon we’ll be lugging back carrier bags filled with various white and green (economy priced) packs. Reduced pasties, beans, frozen ready meals, out of date bread, scones, biscuits, pasta, canned tomatoes and the like. We can usually spend about twelve to fifteen pounds a week on food. Then there’s the bus ticket, rent, milk from the ninety-nine pence shop, and Sheila will get one thing from Primark: something new to wear to keep her spirits up. As for me, a weekly ration of tobacco is enough to keep me going. Tea and coffee are nicked from work. Sugar and ketchup is readily available from the various cafes and pubs we sit in to keep out of the cold (the electricity bill for our bed-sit hits us hard enough without adding extra central heating to the mix).

My boss has promised me more hours soon. We’re not in debt any more, and Sheila has just started selling cakes at a market stool on Saturdays; so things are looking up in some respects. This is what I keep telling myself anyway.

Sheila however is a bit more concerned (to put it lightly). Especially after last week’s interview at the bank, which is what we’re arguing about now. She wants a house you see. Nothing too fancy. A one bedroom would be enough. And I know how much she needs a real home, somewhere to call her own. But the thought of it makes me sick inside with worry. Even with living in the bed-sit and being so careful with money we’re only saving about two-hundred pounds a month; a deposit’s gonna be ten thousand at the bare minimum.

The guy at the bank kept writing out sums for us over and over again. The confusing thing was that each time the figures and percentages were different. “The upshot of it all,” he said finally, “is that you’re not the sort of people we want to be lending money to.”

Or words to this effect, at least. Sheila sat there most likely thinking, “Where do we go from here?”

“Where do we go from here?!” she’s still asking me. I tell her we simply need more time to save more money. Once we have enough for a deposit and I’ve been in my job for longer (touch wood I can keep it) we should be in a better position to apply for a mortgage.

Although the truth of it is, the sickness in my stomach rises up once again as I think about the financial responsibility involved in looking after my own property. There’d be no phoning the landlord over a blocked sink or faulty connection in the wiring. I wonder how much plumbers and electricians cost these days.

Feeling angry I tell Sheila she should stop complaining and go get a cleaning job if it’s more money she wants. She replies that she doesn’t want a bloody cleaning job. What she wants is a baby. Somewhere to live that’d be suitable for starting a family. Where we wouldn’t have to routinely scrape mould off the walls; and lie awake on a futon, listening to the midnight arguments from the couple next door: The screams of frustration, and then the moaning of ecstasy as they’re making up once again.


  1. This is very good Chris, very real, (which I appreciate more than anything in fiction). And it's a place so many of us have been, sadly.
    Great work!

  2. Great slice of life. Like Deanna said, very real.

  3. I think he's right to worry about property upkeep. But it sounds like his landlord doesn't do a very good job maintaining their place.

    Sheila sounds like the kind of person who will complain about not having something else once she gets the house and baby. *sigh*

    Great peek into the lives of a struggling young couple.

  4. Thanks for all the comments. Much appreciated.

  5. Loved it! There's a great sense of reality about this story Chris. I found myself falling right in between them both, and suffocating with them. Great last line too.. There's something of Raymond Carver about their desperate lives.

    Sorry I haven't come calling in the last couple of weeks.. I've been busy chasing my tail and failing miserably to catch it. I'll go back through your blog this week and catch up.

  6. Great slice of life! Reminds me of the angst we suffered about a decade ago when we first started trying to break into the property market...

  7. This just reminds me, once again, that although youth has its advantages, I wouldn't want to go through all of that again. The saddest part, however, is that it seems harder and harder for people of any age to make ends meet and find security these days.

  8. This definitely feels real. Really well done.