Kat had expected Bill to come home by now. Surely he would tire of living in his small caravan with no “facilities”. Surely Kylie would tire of him hanging around. But Bill did not come home.

They spoke occasionally on the phone and Kat had brought it up, trying to not sound desperate for his company. “Isn’t it awkward having to go into Kylie’s little house to use the bathroom?” she asked.

“It’s less awkward than squeezing down our hall to get to the bathroom at home”, he’d replied.

Kat pivoted. “Well, you shouldn’t expect Kylie to cook for you all the time”, she said.

“I don’t. I’m cooking a barbecue most nights, just like I do at home. But here they have a proper barbecue area. At home I just have the back verandah, and … you know”, Bill trailed off. “You’re welcome to come you know”, he offered. But he knew it was futile. Nothing would drag Kat away from her stuff.

“I can’t. Violet and I have a special day planned.” She didn’t really have a special day planned with Violet. It was an excuse. But the lie made her realise she missed spending time with her friend. She hung from Bill and gave Violet a call.

Kat's Death Cleaning EncounterViolet was delighted to get the call. “I’ve just been thinking of you, Kat,” she said.

“Oh that’s nice,” said Kat. At least someone was interested in her.

“Yes,” said Violet, “Let’s go for fika.”

“What the heck is fika? I’m not interested in a new exercise craze.”

“No, don’t worry, it’s Swedish. It means coffee and cake. My shout.”

So the two old friends met at a local café for fika. Kat was surprised to see Violet had updated her look with some very modern glasses and wild oversized jewellery. Perhaps a midlife crisis? Oh well, Kat could probably get used to it.

Violet couldn’t wait to share her thoughts. As soon as the coffee and cinnamon buns had been served, she said, “Kat, I’ve been binge watching a wonderful new show about decluttering. It’s called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning but it’s not as gruesome as it sounds.”

Kat’s first thought was, “How could I fall into this trap again?” Her next thought was, “As soon as I’ve finished this bun, I’m out of here. Why waste a free coffee.”

Violet was not put off by Kat’s facial expression. “Here me out”, she said. “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is not about death at all. Well, one episode was. But it’s really heartwarming. And the people are kind and funny. And all the people they help have their lives transformed by the process. I really think it would help you to watch it.”

Kat kept sipping her coffee and eating her cinnamon bun.

Violet took this as a willingness to hear more. “My favourite is Ella is organiser. Actually, that’s what inspired my new look. Do you like it?”

Kat nodded, sipped coffee. Violet went on. “Like I said, it’s not about death. It’s about making room for life.” Then Violet leaned in and took her chance. “Honestly Kat. You have to let go of your clutter to make room for life.”

That was too much for Kat. “It’s not clutter! And I’m not keeping it for me. I’m keeping it for Kylie and Tiffany.”

“They don’t want that stuff. If they did, they’d take some of it off your hands now.”

“They will one day.”

“Really? Let’s give them a call then. Let’s see what they’ll take away so that you can make room for you and Bill to live in that crammed house.” And with that, Violet fired off a text to Kylie to arrange a FaceTime call for that evening, “just to chat”.

Kat took the last sip of her free coffee, left the last of the bun on her plate, stood and walked out. But Violet was quick to follow her.

Out on the street, Violet took Kat’s hand in both of hers and begged her friend, “You have to stop saying it’s for others. Face up to it. You’re living in the past and missing the present. You’re not dead yet. Death cleaning could help you live.”

And then Violet’s phone buzzed. Kylie had replied. “Sure. 7 o’clock ok?”



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