HE sat in his room, an old man, the pain was killing him, his arthritis was getting worse and as he looked at the faded pictures adorning his walls of children far away, his heart ached. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. She stood outside the door of his flat, “I’m Diana’s daughter,” she said looking at him uncertainly.
“Come in,” he said gently, “How’s your mother?” He remembered she was an alcoholic. He’d seen her at her mother’s funeral, her two sisters trying to help her to her feet as she looked blankly at her mother’s coffin. “Can I give you a hug!” he had said, looking at her.
“I smell,” she’d slurred. “It doesn’t matter,” he’d replied. “Ah but your wife will know it’s Diana who hugged you, my drinks smell. Come close and see, how booze stinks!” He’d gone close and hugged her, and her eyes smiled at his own tearful ones.
He vividly remembered that last occasion as now her daughter stood outside his door, a little girl still, “I’m Diana’s daughter,” she said again. He smiled and called her in. She came in, her eyes as bright as her mother’s but no alcoholic haze. “Mummy’s okay,” she lied, and for a second a cloud went past those eyes.
“So, what can I do for you?” he asked. “I’ve got a job,” she said brightly, “I’m a salesgirl, that’s why I’ve come to you.” “You’ll do well,” he said. “You think so uncle?” she asked, her eyes puzzled, “How would you know? I have to sell soap, and it’s not easy.” “You’ll do well, because in your eyes people will see honesty, and they will buy your soap!”
“That’s what mummy said!” “What? That you would sell well?” he asked kindly. “No, that you would look me in the eye and tell me something that would make me a master sales girl. That’s what mummy said you did to her!” “What did I do?” he asked.
“That when everybody called her a drunkard, a boozard, when everybody avoided her, you always hugged her!” He laughed and she got up. “You’re going?” he asked. “Yes,” she said, “You’ve given me enough ammunition for my first sales day, but uncle…”
“Yes?” he asked, reaching for his wallet, “You want me to buy some soap?” “No!” she said. “Then what?” “Just give me a hug for luck!” He did, she smelt of fresh soap. He closed the door as she left and suddenly his arthritis didn’t hurt anymore. He looked up at the photos and felt lonely no more..!