Category Archives: Barbara Churchill

May 24 – Two Spare Rooms

by Barbara Churchill


I am dead committed to writing now. New vows and I’m sticking to them. I write at least two hours every morning, sometimes more, ferreting out journals accepting submissions, and joining organizations. Surely there’s a critique group somewhere that has room. I go to workshops.

I’ve received an unemotional, but polite, e-mail rejection so far, so that means someone actually read the thing, right? My spirits lift. The others are pending.

The really difficult mornings are when I have to find somewhere else to write because my cleaning lady is here–noisy–and lawn services are everywhere. I have Starbucks and noise-canceling headphones for such emergencies.

After my morning’s labors, I have other obligations: making worm casting soup to spread on my vegetables, reading, sometimes a volunteer commitment, and answering e-mails from friends. My spam filter gets rid of annoying email and of course I have caller ID so I only answer the calls I want and block the others. I check the mail and some days there’s the tedium of the grocery store and drug store shopping. Occasionally I reward myself for these tedious afternoons with a pedicure.

Today, for example. I went back to a new place I just found– quiet with brand new massage chairs. It’s second time and I have Tu again who runs me a hot foot bath. I nod, signaling the water temperature is right, and carry on answering e-mails. I have a book in my bag too–just in case.

But today, Tu draws blood. It hurts! I jump a little and frown. She offers a heartfelt apology and pours nail polish remover into the wound. While I writhe, she commends me on how quickly I stop bleeding compared to those who have “sugar in their blood” by which I assume she means diabetics.

Now, much to my dismay and pain, I am stuck chatting with Tu.

She begins:

“You live around here?” Yes.

“House?” Yes.

“You have kids?” Yes.

“They live with you?” No.

“You have husband?” Yes.

“He work or retired?” Works.

“Here?” Here and in LA.

“So, just you in house?” Sometimes.

“How many bedrooms?” Three.

“You want to rent me bedroom?”

Tu is six years in the U.S. from Vietnam, divorced from her second husband, and with no children. Because she lives on a manicurist’s salary she’s forced to rent a room in her ex’s house which they share with his mother. His mother is old, smells, and is mean to her. Her ex sounds like no prize either. Tu does the cooking and cleaning and works six days a week. She assures me she is never home. There’s also a cat who smells.

She needs to rent a room. Why don’t I?

Barbara Churchill is am a retired English teacher trying to make her way back into the world of writing. She has published a little but publishing isn’t really her main goal now. Writing is.