The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters


The sounds and the smells snagged and tussled, but struck a precarious kind of balance. She felt herself held in the balance along with them, an infinitely fragile and humble thing.

It has been a snowy, blowy day, but right now we are all tucked in. B is asleep, somewhere upstairs, and T is next to me on the couch tapping away on his own short stories. M and L are on the floor at our feet, playing guitar and singing. M is trying to keep up with L’s fast, light fingers, and I want to tell him it’s no use. These children, they will always be faster, scampering a few steps ahead, smarter than us by half. As it should be. We will grow old and falter while they stay young and sure-fingered. Forever, please.

Can you believe it’s almost Wednesday?

Most of my weekend was spent in this book that I could not decide the shape of. First it was Downtonish, then it was sexy, then it was dark and foreboding, then it was anxious, and then… well, I won’t give it away. It was a shape-shifting sort of book and perfect distraction from the cold, blustery mess that shakes the outside. It was a book that went well with cold calzone and warm ginger ale. That’s totally a compliment. I love cold calzone and warm ginger ale.

It was also…large. Do not drop this book on your pinky finger.

Another thing about this book–I had a dream last night that I’d done something horrible, and then I woke up this morning and I hadn’t, and the delicious feeling of relief was just about worth the however long I spent feeling desperate and guilty in my dream. And I think it was the book’s fault. Conscience is contagious.

Did I mention a cat is curled purring between me and T?

Soon I’ll have to scatter the remaining children to their beds and then a bit later I’ll have to chase the dog off his spot on the couch for one last reluctant walk (me, not him, he’s willing once you wake him up) and then the cats will be dropped in the mudroom for the night like a pair of muddy boots. And M and I will head to bed, where we might try to watch a movie, even knowing it will be only 15 minutes before I’m gone, I’m under, I’m zonked. And that will be a different kind of pleasantness. But right now, this, the music and the kids, and the cat, is just enough.

Goodnight, dear ones.

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