The Imprint of Stuff.
                     The Imprint 
                          of Stuff. historical stories
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A story of a family, death and life. Their history, their present, and their future.

The Imprint of Stuff.

Susan Hussock's mother had not left her daughter a great fortune. The will was what was expected - no more, no less. There was the old family home, which was split between the three Hussock children; Edward, Susan, and Benedict -the beaten down old car that had more worth as scrap than anything else, a few penny stocks that never quite took off, and some money that their

mother had saved for a rainy day that never did appear. The funeral had been successful (if one may call funerals succuessful) and thoughtfully paid for in advance by Mrs Hussock herself. She had also chosen the flowers (yellow dog-roses, for she never could stand lilies) and the music, which mainly consisted of Take That songs (although the odd hymn was

thrown into the mix by her children for appearance's sake), and left a recipe for her famous and secret treacle tart, which was to be served after the service. Susan had taken great pains to perfect the method and had been through far too many bags of flour and sugar to want remembering. Finally, she conquered her mother's recipe and felt confident to add her own flair to the tarts, which

was to add a politely inordinate amount of marsala to the mix. Solicitors had quietly suggested what bank balances to move where, and happily, on account of Mrs Hussock's economical values that she had maintained since the war, she had not lumbered her children with any outstanding debts. The old home was sold to a young couple who, Susan enviously noticed, were expecting their first child. She

herself was a divorcee, having given up the idea of having children long ago, and egg-freezing for later insemination just seemed far too sci-fi for her liking. Her ex-wife had walked out on her before she could broach the subject of adoption, and felt she would not be able to raise a child herself and work full-time in a job that she loved dearly. But, regretful as she was at how life had turned out, she could not

begrudge the newlyweds and convinced her brothers to sell the house at slightly below the asking price, although that was partly for tax purposes. When all the 'i's were dotted, and all the 't's crossed, loose ends tied up neatly, and thank you calls made to sympathetic well-wishers, Susan was left with some cash, her mother's ancient cat Tiger, the urn that Mrs Hussock was deposited in, and all of Mrs Hussock's stuff.

For every kindly person that would call the late Mrs Hussock's possessions 'pieces of sentimental value', there were twenty more that would dismiss it all as tat. There were cushions, and hats, crockery that would not be amiss in a cheap gastro pub, boxes of bits and bobs, and a few postcards from sea-side towns with illustrations of barely-dressed ladies that Susan's elder brother, Edward, had found

tucked away in the back of the airing cupboard. Presumably, they were not their mother's, having been addressed to their father from his old friends from 'back in the day'. The contents of the letters themselves were clearly not what they had been sent for, and the siblings wondered if their mother ever knew about them - all her friends gave her from seaside visits were trinket boxes with shells unceremoniously glued

to the lid. There were also pressed flowers in old books, handmade scarves, and a lot of miscellaneous items with cat decorations. None of the cat embellishments looked like Tiger, who Susan was not entirely sure was a cat at all. His squashed face and stout body meant he looked like a mildly disappointed duster, that purred on occasion. There were old tablecloths, older tables, and in pride of place

atop the mantel-piece was a ceramic Edwardian lady. She was made of porcelain, with a pure white face with the merest touch of blush. She was attending a ball and wore an exquisitely detailed ball-gown. The dress was a soft rose colour with gold gilt to highlight tiny bows that sat on her hips. At the base of the dress, tucked in amongst all the ruffles and petticoats, her pointed light green shoes stuck

out with a tiny buckle on each one. The lady's face was unreadable - Mrs Hussock said that she was like her own little Mona Lisa. Her husband used to mutter that he wished it was and then he might retire early. The lady was named Doris much to Mrs Hussock's despair. When Susan and her brothers were younger they had decided upon the name after watching a television show with a Doris. The porcelain figure bore no

relation to the on-screen Doris (who was an anthropomorphic purple primate), but the name stuck regardless. Doris had always been in the house since Susan could remember, removed from her perch once a week for dusting, and hidden under the master bed when the family went on holiday. At all other times, she presided as queen of the sitting room, where all the 'nice things' were kept. No one save Mrs Hussock

and her friends were allowed in the sitting room, and even when grown and responsible, the younger Hussocks still felt as if they would be ushered out and made to sit on the step and consider their actions. Knowing that Doris was their mother's most beloved possession (except possibly her collection of Take That C.D.s), there was extra concern taken over where she should be

rehomed to - which child would bear the noble responsibility of dusting Doris for years to come. Edward had no great love for the lady, having once had a nightmare about her chasing him about the supermarket when he was five. In his terror, he had wet the bed, and the embarrassment of it all still plagued him. Susan had no great feelings for the figure either way. It was her mothers, and so she was

attached to it for her sake, but she would never choose to own a thing like that ordinarily. She had finally designed her own home the way she liked it, and little ceramic ladies in pink ball gowns, however pretty they might be, simply did not fit with Scandinavian minimalism. The youngest Hussock, Benedict, had young Hussocks of his own. Unlike his matriarch of a mother, he had never insisted on strict discipline, and his own

children enjoyed the full run of the house. Breakages were common, and so anything fragile had been swiftly packed into old suitcases and stashed in the attic. There was simply no point in him taking Doris. And so, as none could bear to see it donated to a charity shop, Susan wrapped the figurine in an old newspaper and took her home. Somehow she would be

able to fit her into the clean aesthetics of Nordic minimalism. After much debate, Doris was placed in Susan's kitchen, in a funny alcove above her cooker. She was somewhat out of place amongst all the copper pans and bamboo plates and bowls, but she smiled with such a strange contentment that Susan could not help but be content as well. At the very

least she could pretend that Doris was enjoying the scents of her 'cooking-for-one' ready meals from Marks and Spencer. In the end, Doris fell from her shelf. Susan found her smashed to pieces on the stove-top. For a while, Susan could do nothing but stand in front of all of the pretty shards and weep, as if she had lost her mother all over again. She had betrayed her

memory, desecrated it even. Susan mourned all over again, wave after wave of sadness crashed about her. Eventually, she gathered herself and collected all the pieces. She placed them gently in a box lined with tissue paper and called her brothers to tell them what had happened. ***

The next day, the three of them, and Benedict's children, and their own children climbed the hill that was one of the old Mrs Hussock's haunts, and where they had scattered her ashes. With them, they took the box of pieces and an ancient music player. When the C.D. began to play - The Circus, Take That, 2008 - Susan opened the box and each person took a handful of porcelain. As a family they

scattered the shards, and remembered Mrs Hussock as she was, a proud housewife who ruled with a rod of iron, who had a penchant for tat, and who loved her family as fiercely as any woman could. After a while, the youngest Hussock, who would never remember the day, began to tire and cry. Picking her grand-niece up, Susan called the rest of her family back down the hill.

They all made their way to her house (still of Swedish design) for tea and sandwiches, and if the children were very good, there might even have been a bit of Auntie Suzie's secret treacle tart left in the cake tin.

The End.

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