Three first year students rented the house that year. They were good tenants, kept up with the utilities, paid the rent on time and left the house immaculate.
They hadn’t got a grant so they were very short of money. When the term ended they resolved to go to London for work, but before they went, decided to ask the Landlady if they could come back for the next term.
A neighbour met the old lady while she was out shopping. The neighbour asked about the tenants. “Oh, they are lovely girls” said the old lady smiling. “Ever so polite, and clean too”.
The neighbour smiled slyly. “Yes, they would be. They are very well off. Didn’t you know? I heard they are off to the Caribbean for the break. You know , if I were you , I would ask them for a retainer when they go. They can afford it”.
The old lady smiled. She hadn’t thought of asking for a retainer, but she could certainly use the extra cash.
When the students handed back the keys, one said, ” Thanks for the stay. We are going away for the summer, but can we come back next year?”
The old lady, thinking what the neighbour said, said nothing.
The students looked at each other uncertainly, then smiled and said, “Well, thank you very much”.
As they walked away, one said, “What did we do wrong?”
The other shook her head. “I don’t know. But old people are strange. We”ll just have to find somewhere else for next year. We can’t risk the term starting without accommodation.”
At the end of the holiday one came back early from work and found a cheaper place further out of town.
A few days after the conversation with the students, the old lady met her neighbour in the shops. “Well, how did it go with the students?” she asked smilingly.
The old woman looked abashed. “I don’t know” she said uncertainly. “They said they wanted to come back, but they didn’t offer a retainer”.
“Did you ask for one?”
“Well, no. I thought they would offer. It’s a lovely house and I know they were happy there”.
The neighbour tutted impatiently. “There you go then, you should have asked . But I wouldn’t worry” she added reassuringly. “They’ll be back next year. My tenants are good friends of theirs, and they told me how much they liked your house, and how much they were looking forward to returning”.
A couple of weeks before the term started the Landlady started to wonder when her tenants would return. Then the term started and she still had not heard from them. A few weeks later she was getting worried and wondered if she should forget the students and advertise, when she met the neighbour on the High Road.
The neighbour greeted her with a big smile and they chatted for a while. Just when she turned to go the neighbour stopped her. “Oh, I nearly forgot. My tenants asked me to pass a message on. Your students are coming back, but while they were in London they were involved in a road accident. So they can’t come back right away. They were worried you might not keep the place for them”.
The Landlady’s face cleared. Her good tenants were coming, they were just delayed. “Oh, thank you for telling me”.
As she walked home she felt so relieved. No need to advertise after all. Her girls would be back soon. Oh, she did hope they weren’t badly hurt.
Several more weeks passed. The old lady missed the income from her tenants. The running costs of the house consumed her small pension – so she let to students and lived in an annexe in the back garden. She wished the girls would hurry up and return or at least contact her .
More weeks passed. Then a letter arrived. It was from one of the girls. She apologised profusely for not getting in touch before, and described how the accident had taken place and the car was in the garage getting fixed, but thankfully no-one was injured.
“Well, bully for you” thought the old lady exasperated. She was just about to throw the letter in the bin when she had a thought. She looked at the envelope. It had been posted locally. Then she remembered her neighbour had said the girls were going to the Caribbean. How could the girls have had a car accident in the Caribbean? Wouldn’t they have left their car at home? The old lady sat down at the table, her head in her hands. She felt very tired. Something wasn’t right. Bugger the girls. They were messing her around. Probably they were off having a laugh at the trouble they had caused her. And she had thought they were such nice people. Good tenants. Just goes to show . You can’t tell.
She advertised, but it was so late in the year she got no replies. She lost a year’s rent.
The new place the girls found were happy to let them stay on when the second year’s term ended. In the third year they were at a party and met a student living at their old address. The student looked at them oddly and remarked. “You know the Landlady expected you to come back”. The friends looked at each other in confusion. “We asked her if we could come back, but as she didn’t answer we thought she didn’t want us”.
“Well, the Landlady waited for you and the house remained vacant for the entire year. Your name is mud in that neighbourhood now”.
Copyright Prayerwarriorpsychicnot 2014.