Chapter 12:

The Pink Room


"Bobby, do you think she will be okay?"

Shrugging my shoulders, I lock the door behind me and toss the keys in the cabinet. "I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know?"

"Her dad dragged her into his car as if there was no tomorrow."

"Why didn't they call the ambulance?"

"They couldn't wait I guess, still at least her mum is there with the kids."

"I didn't get a chance to say this earlier, but your flat looks really nice."

"Really?" I can't see how this one bedroomed flat could appeal to anybody. It's just an old mouldy flat with dodgy central heating and crappy internet signal.

"Look at all this stuff!" His hand goes straight to the limited-edition boxsets. "This stuff is worth a fortune. You could be minted by selling these. Shame the boxes are opened!"

"I'm sorry, but if I'm going to spend fifty quid on a game, I want to play it." I mean, what's the point in buying these games if I'm not going to use them? Wasting money is not an option especially when the government haven't got a clue what they're doing.

"Do you have any idea how much a boxed version of Pokémon Yellow goes for nowadays?"

"It's not for sale, sorry!" Todd might be my friend, but he is not having any of my games. He can play anything else from my collection, but not Pokémon Yellow.

"Why have you got a CD with Barbie on the moon?"

I end up laughing like my grandpa. "That's not Barbie, that's Olive. And that is not a CD. That is Princess Maker 2 for the Sega Saturn."

He shrugs his shoulders and pops Princess Maker 2 back on the bookcase. "Why is it all in Chinese?"

"That's a Japanese copy," I correct him. "It was made in Japan after all. But it is available to play in Korean and Chinese."

"Where can I play it in English?"

"Online. Do you want to play it?"

"Not right now. I'm more of a Call of Duty and Halo guy." He picks up a black box. There's seven people on it. He strokes his finger on the blonde woman with the large bosom—trust him to do that. "She looks like Kathleen."

"I paid two-hundred-and-thirty pounds for that box."

Todd's pale face is a picture. He looks like he's seen the ghost that lurks in that game. "What's in it that makes it worth that much?"

"A masterpiece featuring a cuddly ghost and shiny arses."

"Why do I have a feeling you're not telling me the whole story."

"That would be spoiling the game."

Everything seems fine until his eyes wander into the blue door with the handle. Silver dust hides the fact that the like the inside of an avocado. I see Todd reach out for handle. All my doors are open, bar this one. The kitchen is to the left and the bathroom is on the right.

"What's through this door?"

"You don't want to know."

Dust covers Todd's fingers as he cradles the handle. "Gosh, you need to get dusting. I hope there isn't a dead body in there."

"Maybe there's dead flies in there, but that's about it."

I don't want him to go in there, nothing will stop him. He's stronger than me, so I won't dare pull him back. He's in for a shock. I'll let him find out for himself. Strolling to the kitchen, I turn the kettle on.

The room's been untouched for a decade. For all I know, it could have been emptied from some robber while I was asleep or in Amsterdam. Whatever I hold in there, I have no use of them.

When the kettle finishes boiling, Todd tiptoes by the microwave.

"Bobby... did you ever have any children?"

The kettle slides back on the stand. "Sort of."

"Did they die? Is that why you're so depressed?"

"They were never mine in the first place. Wife cheated on me."

Todd takes over from the tea making and opens the cupboard. "I'm sorry. Is it something you want to talk about?" I fail to give him an answer. He smiles at me. "It's okay, which tea do you want?"

"Chamomile and lavender please. Take whichever flavour you like."


We take our teas into the room. We brush the blankets of dust off the bed and sit on the pink duvet. I can't believe I'm doing this. There's Harmony's old cot, still in a good condition.

"Did you ever work Bobby?"

"I was training to become a priest. I used to help Father District in all his duties. Unlike all the other kids, I loved going to church on a Sundays. My faith was the only thing that gave me hope."

"I never really understood religion."

"It's not for everybody."

"No, it's not for me. You should be the master of your own universe, not a servant for somebody you don't even know exists."

"I lost my faith a long time ago, but I still like to think that he exists."

"Then what made you stop?"

"My ex-wife and I were childhood sweethearts."

"You must have been together for a very long time."

"We were together for sixteen years, but only married for a few. When we were at school she always went on about our wedding. When I told her I was planning to become a priest, she tried to talk me out of it."

"She doesn't sound like a nice person. No offence, but you're better off without her."

"I didn't think of that at the time," I tell her. "Sarah was one of the few sources of true happiness I ever had. She was the only one from school who accepted me for who I was. She didn't laugh at me for playing video games all the time. She didn't mock me for hating chocolate. When Kathleen wasn't around, Sarah was the one who kept me warm at night. The only person who didn't approve of our relationship was Father District."

"Who's he?"

"He's one of the local priests. He was one of my private tutors. He really helped me understand what it meant to be a catholic. He didn't like me getting too close to Sarah because he didn't want me to be naughty. I killed a part of him when I said I was marrying Sarah, but he did nothing to stop me."

"I hope you don't mind me saying this but he sounds like a total prick!"

"We were happy. We argued all the time, but we were happy. After the Peace and Harmony were born, she started to act strange. She never in the house and wouldn't come back home till late at night. I called the police loads of times, I was sick with worry. She wouldn't answer my phone or anything."

"Was she shagging other men?"

"I don't know what she got up to. But every time she left the house, she took my purse with her. Want to know what the strange thing was?"

"What's that?"

"There would always be more money in it. She always came back with loads of shopping bags, so I don't know where all the money came from. One day I decided to confront her and then..."

"Then what? What happened Bobby?"

"She kicked me out of our home. I was homeless for a few days. It felt like months. I was put in this flat and I did everything I could to see my girls. Even decorated this room. It gave me something to keep me going while Kathleen was ill. As soon as I finished decorating this room, Sarah got in touch with me. She told me she had a new partner, and that new partner happened to be the biological father to Peace and Harmony. Then that was it, I never saw nor heard from them again."

It wasn't long after Kathleen had died. I can't tell him that, he doesn't accept her death.

Todd hugs me. "I'm sorry." Why is he saying sorry? It's not his fault. He puts his empty mug on the floor and lies down. "Here's me thinking that my life sucks, but after listening to you, I realise I've had it pretty easy."

"What makes you think that? Surely you've had your own personal problems too?"

"My father gives me loads of pocket money and my family always gives me nice presents for my birthday and Christmas. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to do the thing that I love."

"What's that?"

"I'm an art student."

"Really?" It sounds like a very exciting occupation. Who would have thought that Todd would be into something like that. "When I first met you, I thought you were some sort of movie star."

"I'm only twenty-four," Todd laughs with me. "I can't do all of that at once."

"Do you work?"

"I've done lots of little jobs here and there."

"Now I'm curious to what you mean by little jobs."

"I took a gap year last year," Todd tells me. I never went to university, so I can only imagine what it's like to take a gap year. "I went on a six-month cruise with my family. And then I travelled again. Volunteered aboard, and during my term holidays I worked in hostels in exchange for accommodation. Whilst I was doing that, I started my own business as a designer."

He's younger than me, but he will achieve much more than I ever will. Who knows, he could end up being prime minister by the time he reaches my age. "That's pretty impressive."

"It's a crazy job to have," Todd tells me. "You can earn a thousand grand one day and then 5p the next. I write poetry as well, well I only write it for Kathleen."

He takes two books out of his bag: one pink, one blue. "These are the poems I sent to Kathleen, and your sister loved them so much she wrote one back to me."

I browse through Todd's written poetry first. Still need more time to adjust to his sensitive and creative side. He's not just all brawls after all. The acrostic poem stands out for me the most, it just seems to capture Kathleen's personality so well.

Kitty wears heart-shaped glasses

A vanilla shade of pink

Takes her teal handbag and

Hot pink shoes wherever she goes

Love is her middle name

Endlessly wanting to meet her

Eternity we've been chatting for

Now the time has come

I take a look at the pink book of poems and find it hard to decipher the curly letters and small font. This isn't Kathleen's handwriting. When she was still alive, I had no problems reading her handwriting. She didn't doodle much either. How am I suppose to tell Todd this? I don't want to ruin this moment between us. It's nice and calm, just the way I like it.

"I can read the handwriting," I confess.

Todd shrugs his shoulders. "I can't either, but at she's sent me the poems in email all typed up so at least I can read them there. But I'm happy with this book because I know there's always a token of her. I keep a lot of things about her in my heart, so it's lovely to have a keepsake from her. This is all her own work. I don't care if I don't understand it, I'm just happy she exists—she loves me, and that's all that matters."

I should be furious. Trying to tell him she's gone won't change anything. We'll end up getting into one of those horrendous rows like an old married couple. I'm in no mood for fighting tonight.

I've been married once, I don't want to live through it again. It's had it's moments, but I know marriage is not for me. I'm a person who likes his own company. I must say that solitude has altered my views of the world directly. I like Todd now, I don't want him to go. Sometimes his brashness is entertaining.

We play Street Fighter 2 for a bit. He goes and tells me he really likes the Street Fighter film that came out in the 90's. I thought I was the only one who liked it. I know it's a terrible movie, but I liked it for Raul Julia's performance as Bison.

We both agree that the film had nothing much to do with the Street Fighter series itself but is a great guilty pleasure. Of course, it is.

I've play against people online all the time, but I've played against someone next to me since Kathleen's passing. My ex-wife's more of a reader, so never got to play against her.

It's nice to have someone nearby for once.

We hear knocking at the door. "Who's that?" Todd stands up.

"I'll get it."

I don't know who would be knocking on my door in the middle of the night. Nobody comes to visit me. My stomach churns with every step I take. Going towards the door I open the door and feel my whole body go cold.

A slim shadow hovers by the window, shaking almost as much as me. I expect the worse. Playing too many video games has given me a vivid imagination. I'm expecting to open the door to dark grizzly creature.

Opening the door, I couldn't be anymore wrong. At least it's not a monster.

It's Sarah! She hurt me in ways that never required a weapon, but to call her a monster would be too much. I should really turn her away, but it would come across as vengeful. Sarah and Todd in the same room is a recipe for disaster.

Flashback: Heartache

"I need to ask you something?" I asked Sarah. We were still married at the time and I was about Todd's age. It was just a curious question. I didn't expect howling consequences. "Why do you always use my money?"

"Why do you ask such stupid questions?" Sarah asks as she puts Harmony to bed. "We're married. Your money is my money and what's mine is yours."

"You always take my purse and at the end of the day, there's more money in it then there was in the morning. But my bank account is always empty. Is everything all right?"

Sarah kicked the chair and threw an ornament in my face. "It's none of your business."

"OF COURSE, IT'S MY BUSINESS!" I didn't mean to shout, but ceramic clash against my forehead hindered my judgement. "You're out all day and you leave everything to me, but still spend my money. We can't live like this. Something isn't right and you have to tell me."

Sarah stormed over to me, grabbed me by the shoulder and dragged me out of the door. "Get out!" she hissed at me. "I don't ever want to see you again."

I knew it was all over. To this day, I still can't believe that she would do this to me. We were best friends and lovers at school. We made a vow that we would be together forever and ever.

Everything I knew and loved was all a lie. I loved Peace and Harmony and I miss them every day. I still think of them as my daughters and I never forget their birthdays.

The worst thing is that Peace and Harmony would have no idea who I am. They most likely call another man their father. I hope their biological father loves them better than I could.