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Torfaen Tales


Jessie put her key into the lock and opened the door, releasing a flood of memories. The day she and Tony had moved into this house, giddy with relief that the purchase was finally completed. They’d had a lot of stuff in boxes but not a great deal of furniture. It had been the start of a great adventure, a learning process of getting to know each other inside out. For this had been the first time Jessie had let a man into the inner recesses of her heart.

She remembered the first time her mother had visited. That they had stood here, in the hall, and Mum had said “I’d hoped you’d get a ring on your finger before living with a man.” She’d had that expression on her face as though there was a bad smell in the room. But over time Mum had conceded that things were a bit different in the modern age, and Tony was, after all, a nice boy from a good family. Still, with the approach of every new year, Mum had voiced her hope that over the next twelve months there would be a wedding to look forward to. For Jessie, just being with Tony had been enough.

Jessie turned left into the kitchen. Ah, those multi-coloured tiles that she had never liked. That they still hadn’t got round to replacing. The walls of the kitchen had seen several coats of paint in different colours over the past ten years. Several attempts to find a colour they both liked. One of the tiles by the sink was cracked. Jessie smiled ruefully, remembering how it had happened. She’d thrown a tin of beans at Tony. There hadn’t been many arguments over the years, but this had been a spectacular one. He’d come in very late and very drunk after a workmate’s stag night, and she had woken to the smell of smoke. Rushing downstairs she’d found the grill full of sausages on fire, and Tony slumped asleep at the table. At that point she’d snatched the unopened tin of beans off the worktop, but fortunately for Tony her aim had been poor. He’d been very apologetic in the morning, and despite a monstrous hangover had cleaned up the mess and repainted the wall above the cooker which had been damaged by smoke. It had taken longer for the smell of burnt sausages to leave the house than for anger to leave Jessie’s heart.

Next, the sitting room, dominated by Tony’s music system and towering racks of CDs. And on one shelf, Jessie’s own, far smaller, collection of CDs. The rest of the shelves in the sitting room were dominated with Jessie’s vast collection of books. She remembered them coming back from holiday a few years ago to find all her books strewn across the floor. At first she’d thought they’d been burgled, but then Tony had pointed out the top shelf hanging away from the wall. “One book too many,” he’d quipped, and they’d fallen about laughing. Ah, many were the nights they’d laughed in this room. Chuckled together on the sagging sofa at comedies on TV. Laughed with friends at the many parties they’d held, always with silly games that had to be played until everyone was exhausted.

Through the door into the dining room. Mostly used as a place to keep the computer, but Jessie had fond memories of the first time she’d cooked Christmas dinner for both their families. They’d ploughed bravely through dry, stringy turkey and overcooked sprouts, polite smiles fixed on faces topped with silly paper hats. And afterwards, Christmas pudding soaked in enough brandy to fuel a space launch. Tony had had to make several attempts before he’d been able to get the brandy to ignite. Ah, happy memories.

Jessie didn’t have the heart to climb the stairs, to listen to the tales that the walls of the bedrooms and bathroom would tell her. That was enough for today. She’d have to come back tomorrow in a more determined frame of mind to start packing. For they were leaving this house full of memories. And memories would be all that Jessie would have of her ten years here with Tony, for Tony had met somebody new and they were going their separate ways. The past few weeks had been the hardest of Jessie’s life. Harder even than when her beloved dog, Cameron, had died. And so, Jessie had come round in a full circle, back to the house where she had lived as a child. Back to a different set of walls which held memories of bedtime stories and playing indoors on rainy afternoons. There would be time to heal while the process of selling the house she had shared with Tony went ahead. Time for Jessie to lick her wounds and decide what to do next. As her father said, she was still young, and the world was her oyster. The fact that she didn’t particularly like oysters was neither here nor there. Jessie knew she was lucky to have supportive parents to fall back on in times of need. There were plenty of broken-hearted young women out there without four walls to hide behind. It was time to count her blessings and stop feeling so sorry for herself.

by Karenne Griffin

Last Modified on: 05-11-2015

Forthcoming Events

Generation Games Exhibition

27/04/2018 - 28/10/2018
This exhibition is a history of home computer games consoles throughout the ages

Amanda Denison Jewellery Showcase

04/08/2018 - 22/09/2018
Amanda Denison is inspired and intrigued by the traces left behind through decay and dilapidation and by the marks stamped on the urban environment. She is drawn to repeated elements that distort and change; her fascination with pattern and surface textures translates into her jewellery.

Leto & Ariadne Craft showcase

04/08/2018 - 22/09/2018
Craft showcaseLeto & Ariadne is the studio label of Nick Ozanne, a handweaver working on hand operated wooden looms. All parts of the process are carried out by hand in the studio, from the initial design and preparation of the warp, through to the final washing and hand finishing of the fabrics.

Portal and One Year On Art Exhibition

04/08/2018 - 22/09/2018
Portal and One Year OnFeaturing the work of this year's top UK graduates in the applied arts
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