Emily Bauer

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submission from literary team member Emily Bauer, with illustration by Wyatt Radzin

In Trouble

An old English teacher once told me that the etymology of the word Villain (‘the person or thing responsible for specified problems, harm, or damage’ – trouble if you like) derives from the word Villa (‘a large country house’). The exact connection between these two words has slipped my mind, but the fact that trouble can have four walls has not.

So, does trouble have a kitchen table with a flesh-coloured gingham cloth and a touch starved rosary in the downstairs bedroom? Where does the limescale tend to collect in the shower? Please, I beg you, tell me what the fridge holds. Are there anchovies lying across each other on a willow pattern plate in an oily lattice and a half-finished jar of Dijon mustard? I can’t quite recall. On the window sill perhaps there is the drying wishbone of a pigeon, whose blue body like oil on water hit the sitting room window one Thursday morning. There’s a damp patch on the dining room wall isn’t there? Ah yes, I remember how it’s shaped like a dog lying on its back. The window panes in the back hall are amber coloured frosted glass so the light is a nicotine stain at about midday. The shed outside is falling in on itself, but I suppose trouble is just rubble with a ‘t’, like a little crucifix, stuck on the front, so what can one expect?

You do remember it don’t you? You’ve looked through the letterbox a few times and we’ve been inside together once or twice years ago when we were young and weren’t so scared of the landlord. It wasn’t for long of course, we only stayed for an hour or two because we got scared by the portrait on the bedroom wall and we didn’t want to get into trouble.