The vacuum

Evelyn kept a place set for Hector. Every meal, even if she had friends around, she’d set his spot at the end of the table where he’d once sat to read the morning paper. The marks on the wall were still there where he used to rock back like a naughty child. She’d told him so many times not to do it. But after the accident the last thing she wanted was to fix the dents he’d made in the plaster.

Four years passed before she met Murray. The day he moved in she pushed the table against the wall so that, even if she didn’t set Hector’s old place, it would remain his alone.

One morning, while Evelyn was shopping, Murray decided to vacuum. Not just a quick once over, but a proper job. When she arrived home the table was out from the wall. There was no way of knowing which end was which. Evelyn took one look, walked to where Murray, dressed in her ridiculous cleaning apron, was reaching for cobwebs, and hugged him. ‘Thank you,’ she whispered.

‘No worries,’ he said, a little perplexed. It was just housework after all. It wasn’t as if he didn’t pull his weight.


2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (