Mr Harold’s Gift

17

Our short story of the week is a story about an artist by Rosalind Goldsmith.

Rosalind Goldsmith lives in Toronto. She teaches evening classes in an adult literacy programme. During the day she drinks too much coffee, writes, reads, and usually manages to avoid cat videos on YouTube.

Rosalind has written radio plays for CBC Radio Drama and a play for the Blyth Theatre Festival, and has also translated and adapted short stories by the Uruguayan writer Felisberto Hernandez for CBC Radio. She began writing short fiction five years ago. Her short stories have appeared in journals in the UK, the USA and Canada, including Flash Fiction Magazine, Litro, Spelk, Understorey, Filling Station, the Blue Nib and Burningword Literary Journal, among others. New stories will appear this year in the Chiron Review, Fiction International and others.

Mr Harold’s Gift charts a friendship between a cleaner and her unusual employer.

Enjoy!

They were sitting at Harold’s kitchen table under a harsh light. Outside, the London of September 1965 weighed grim and heavy, and rain pelted against the sitting room window. Phillip took a long drink of his scotch.

‘Look,’ he said, ‘it would be easy enough to find another one.’

‘But she left me without any warning – none!’ said Harold.

‘She had a right to, you know.’

‘Yes, but it leaves me completely in the lurch.’

‘Well, why don’t you use mine?’

‘Could I? Would she?’

‘I don’t see why not. I’ll ask her,’ said Phillip.

‘Thank you.’

‘Don’t mention it.’

‘But she mustn’t touch the studio.’

‘No, of course not. You can leave instructions. Or you can tell her yourself. There certainly won’t be much to do here. I mean, look at this – it’s immaculate.’

‘No, there’s dust everywhere. I can’t bear it.’

Phillip laughed.

‘What’s funny?’ Harold said, and poured another scotch for each of them.

‘You don’t see any contradiction?’

‘None whatsoever, no.’

‘But there’s a layer of dust in your studio three inches thick. How could it possibly bother you if there are a few specks in here?’

‘That’s my studio; this is not,’ said Harold. ‘I prefer my living space to be clean – scrupulously clean at all times.’

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