From the author: Troubles come in threes, she thought. How would she deal with them?
Three. They come in threes.
In the school of hard knocks, everything comes in threes.
Well there’s covid, of course. Everyone has to deal with covid.
I don’t complain about that.
But my kids are running riot. I can’t call on Arnold to help. I have trouble admitting it, but he’s a bully. He doesn’t hit me, but his constant criticism gets to me. He thinks he has a magnetic personality. Well, I suppose shit does stick to him. Not that he’d notice.
And here on the kitchen table, three bills. Unpaid. The electricity, the rent, my credit card.
Arnold is no help. He doles out my living money, but that doesn’t pay the bills. God knows what he’ll want me to do to get the extra.
So when the door bell rang, I was pretty frazzled.
“Good morning, madam” A small man stood there, dressed in a tuxedo. At 11 in the morning? He smiled at me. His eyes were steady, and I couldn’t stop looking into them. He gave off an odd flowery perfume.
“Yes?” I said. I felt weak.
“You’ve won a prize.” He seemed to grow in stature. I looked down at my shabby dress. I felt suspicious.
“You’ve won a trip.”
That’s when the third trouble started.
“I can’t afford a trip.”
He reached inside his jacket and handed me an envelope. “Good day,” he said, and left.
I stood there, open mouthed. Holding the envelope.
I opened it. Inside was a certificate. And ten crisp $100 notes. It seemed I was entitled to an all-expenses paid weekend in Sydney, at the Intercontinental Hotel.
I stared at it. The kids?
I decided. For once Arnold could look after them. Screw the consequences.
I changed into my black frock, black pumps, and took the bus into town. Showed the certificate at the Intercontinental.
“We are looking after quarantine people at the present,” an officious young clerk at the desk said, after perusing it. He looked up at me. “But, we do have a room available on a separate floor.” He tapped some keys and took my details down. “You’re in Room 3301. Do you need help with any luggage?”
Luggage? I hadn’t brought any. I shook my head.
“Enjoy your stay.”
I went up to the room, ran a bath. Bliss.
I was towelling myself when the mobile rang.
“Where are you?”
“Arnold? I’m having a break.”
You should have heard his language. Most uncouth.
“You can look after things for a change. It shouldn’t be too hard.”
“You’ll pay for this once you get back.”
I didn’t have much money. I had a little in the bank, and then the $1000 in the envelope. That wouldn’t go far. I googled refuges.
The kids wouldn’t like it, but I’d had enough.
I opened the half bottle of sparkling in the mini bar, and toasted myself. “To troubles!”
It would be fun while it lasted.