Within a week, Kat was signed up as a volunteer at the op shop on High Street. She had a new reason to get up in the morning. She was making a contribution to the community. The op shop supported a charity that saved animals. She was making new friends. The other volunteers were so friendly and encouraging. They appreciated her eye for quality and superior knowledge of collectibles. She told them about her life at home and what Tiffany was up to, and everybody sympathised with her about Bill and Violet’s betrayal.
Her roster included three shifts – Tuesday mornings, Thursday afternoons, and Saturday all day. Saturday was her favourite. That’s when most people brought in their donations, and she liked to be out in the back room, sorting those donations on Saturdays. She liked being the first to see what came in. She liked to put aside her favourite things and buy them herself.
She couldn’t believe the variety of things that people donated. Perfectly good things, valuable things, collectible things. Honestly, she couldn’t understand some people. What were they thinking? But their loss was her gain. Each Saturday she’d bring home a few more things. She tried to hide them from Bill. He was always so suspicious and judgemental. Sometimes she’d leave her purchases in the car until Sunday morning when Bill was sleeping in, and then sneak out to the car and hide her lovely new things in the back of the garage.
Every cent she spent at the op shop made her feel good. She was helping animals. She was gathering early Christmas and birthday gifts. She was thinking of her friends and family who would appreciate her savvy shopping. And she was gradually replacing all the things Violet had thrown away, filling her kitchen with useful utensils and pretty crockery. Last Saturday she’d nabbed a prawn peeler for half the price it would have cost in a regular store.
Her new op shop volunteer friends knew the kind of things she like best and kept a helpful eye out for her. One Wednesday, her friend Jean was on op shop duty and called to say that a six-volume set of the Encyclopaedia of Sea Life in good condition had just landed, and she thought Kat would be interested. She certainly was. Kat grabbed her handbag and keys and ventured off to get it before anyone else could.
Bill had overheard the conversation and seen the sparkle in Kat’s eyes. He knew what was happening and his shoulders dropped. This was, once again, getting out of hand.
When Kat returned, with flushed cheeks and a big grin, carrying her six volumes, he was ready. “Kat”, he said, “we have to talk. This has gone far enough. You can’t keep bringing in more stuff.”
“This isn’t just stuff. This is an investment. Books are very valuable these days. And Tiffany can use it for her school projects.”
“No. She won’t. Kat, this is ridiculous!”
“How do you know?”, Kat challenged.
“I’m calling Kylie right now and she can tell you herself.” Bill made the call, briefly explained, and handed the phone to Kat.
“Kylie, you won’t believe the bargain I got. It’s perfect for Tiffany. She likes fishing. And she can use it for school.”
Kylie’s response was sharp. “Mum, I’m putting you on speaker so Tiffany can hear this too. You’re not bringing that here. We don’t have room. We downsized for a reason. We want a simple life, with no clutter.”
Then Tiffany piped up. “Why would I want that, Grandma? That’s what the internet is for. Duh!”
Kat was confounded. They were all ganging up on her. She was only trying to help! She hung up the phone, defeated on this one.
Bill took the stack of books and put them on the floor. Then he took Kat by the hand and led her to the dining table. He pulled out the only empty chair and sat her down. Then he freed another chair from its piles and sat down himself. He looked her in the eye and said, “I can’t live like this anymore. Our whole married life has been defined by clutter. We can’t even sit comfortably at our own dining table. We’re always struggling for money because of your bargains.” He indicated air quotes. “We only have a limited time left on this earth and I don’t want to spend it living like this.” His outstretched arms drew Kat’s eyes to chaos in the room.
Kat wasn’t sure where this was leading. What was he saying? Was he going to leave her over a few books?
Then Bill came to his point. “I want us to see a marriage counsellor.”
Kat was relieved. He wasn’t going to leave her. Even better, a marriage counsellor will tell him he’s being unreasonable. He’ll finally see that she does know what she’s doing. Kat agreed to seeing a marriage counsellor.
Bill was relieved. A marriage counsellor will tell her she was being unreasonable.
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here…