Better Best Forgotten by Faye Griffiths
We were sitting at the dinner table, finishing off. We were still in our school shirts and skirts, the material of the classic 80´s kitchen chairs digging an imprint on the underside of my thigh. My sister was eating a yoghurt and she was leaning forward, tipping the chair with her. I had seen my father look at this twice and I felt he was on the point of shouting at her to sit properly. That was when my mother announced that we were going to receive a lodger.
“A what?” My sister asked, with the rounded, squeaky vowels of an eight-year old.
“Someone who lives with you for a little while.”
“With us? They´re gonna live here, with us? Yeahhh!” My sister´s face was twitching as she looked from me back to my mother.
“Yes. She´s called Stef, but you pronounce it Shtef,” my mum began.
She explained what was already obvious. The lodger was German and she would have to stay in my room, so me and my sister would share, but it was only for a few months. Stef´s father was one of the partners of the German branch of the factory, and before she went off to university, he wanted her to gain some work experience in an English setting.
“Ummm… Great,” my father said and nodded. “Yeah, great.”
He might have already been drinking a whisky and dry, or a gin and tonic. I wondered whether the information was as new to him as it was to us, or whether they had had an adult conversation about it earlier. It didn´t seem like they had, or even that they likely would have.
I asked a few more questions about how long she would stay and why she wanted to stay with us. It was exciting, but I couldn´t quite imagine how it would be. My parents remarked that I was silly for not having carried on with German at school because then I could have practised with her. Then my dad loaded the dishwasher and did loud impressions of Nazi officers.
“Ve must not speak like zis ven Shtef arrives!!!”
Read this entire gem of memory by Faye Griffiths in the next issue of Sheriff Nottingham – out on September 16th!