The day passed, full of other matters needed to get us settled in. But when it came to bedtime the ugly sheets were still there.
As I went to bed that evening I realised that I had never been back to the bedroom to change the sheets. I rushed through to the bathroom and then the living area, but Precious had efficiently washed the borrowed sheets; indeed, an afternoon in the sun had been sufficient for them to dry as well.
“Are you sure we can’t risk last night’s sheets?” I asked Stephen, more in hope than expectation. At least they had fitted over the mattress.
“No!” He was quite short. “The putzi flies lay their eggs in the damp sheets as they are drying, and then with contact the larvae bury themselves under your skin and grow to become maggots. They-”
“Enough! Enough! I get it! I’ll buy an iron and, in the meantime, we’ll sleep in these new ones.”
He had the grace to look a bit sheepish. “I’m sorry they’re not right. I bought the nicest looking design there was. And they are a double size according to the label.”
I sighed. “I know. It’s OK. We’ll make do.”
Climbing carefully into bed, so as not to dislodge the sheets such that I ended up on bare mattress, I […] realised, sheets aside, it had been a day full of successes.
The next day dawned, as bright and sunny as the previous three. The bottom sheet was rumpled, coming away from the edge by my head, and the top sheet had exposed my toes at the bottom. Stephen lay skedaddled across the whole riotous mess. Last night’s optimism had vanished.
In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree will be available as an ebook and paperback from 18 March.
(c) Catharine Withenay 2013
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