The right and wrong way

It’s the first night in our new home and something doesn’t feel right. I sit in bed, eyes scanning the room, trying to work out exactly what.

‘Something’s not right,’ I say to Chris.

‘I know what you mean.’ He is lying next to me also scanning the room.

Our furniture has been taken down in the old house and put up in the new house. Things seem the same but aren’t.  

‘It feels… wrong,’ I say. ‘The wardrobe looks massive. It didn’t look like that before.’

‘No.’ He looks the wardrobe up and down. ‘It looks huge.’

‘Either we’re really low down or the wardrobe has grown,’ I say.

‘We’ll get used to it,’ he says.

‘We won’t. It has to be right.’

‘Tomorrow. We’ll sort it tomorrow.’ He closes his eyes and within seconds is sleeping.

I manage to fall asleep, but the wardrobe is on my mind, drifting into my dreams. It looms above me, taking on a strange and sinister shape. In the morning, everything still feels wrong.

‘We’re too low down.’ I wake Chris. ‘I feel like we’re on the floor.’

He opens his eyes. ‘Yes, something’s not quite right.’

‘I didn’t sleep at all. Is it the bed?’

We get out of bed and assess the bed — the very same bed we’ve slept soundly on for years at the old house.

‘Has it been put together wrong?’ I think back to the stress of removal day. The removal team had started talking about clocking-off the minute they arrived. They’d obviously rushed it. ‘Doesn’t anyone take care in what they do anymore? If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.’

Chris looks under the bed, pulls off the mattress, checks the frame. ‘Don’t blame them. It’s fine.’

‘It’s not. They’ve put it together wrong. We need to take it apart.’ I look under the bed. ‘There was more space under here before.’

‘There can’t have been.’

‘There was. I know my bed!’

Chris goes back to assessing it. ‘It’s been put together fine,’ he says.

‘It needs to be higher.’

‘It won’t go any higher.’

I check. It won’t. I turn back to the wardrobe. ‘Is that bigger then?’

‘How?’ Chris says, scratching his head.

We go downstairs, make a cup of tea. I call my dad and explain the current crisis. ‘We’re baffled.’

‘I’ll be right there,’ he says. ‘I’ve run out of jobs to do.’

Twenty minutes later, he and Mum arrive. ‘Are we in your bubble?’ Mum says. ‘I don’t want to give you germs when you’ve got asthma.’

‘I don’t care anymore,’ I say, yawning. ‘I just want a good night’s sleep.’

The four of us stand and stare at the bed. Dad confirms what Chris has already told me. ‘The removal man has done a good job of putting it together. It’s fine. Nothing wrong with it.’

‘It’s not right,’ I say.

‘Are you sure?’ Mum says.

‘I’m not making it up. That bed feels wrong.’

‘It can’t do,’ Dad says.

‘It does.’

‘Is the floor lower?’ Mum says.

Slowly the three of us turn to my mother, who is kneeling on the floor, checking what level it is at.

‘Have you really just said that?’ I say.

‘What?’

‘The floor is the floor,’ Dad says.

‘Yes, but is it higher than the old floor?’

‘How can the floor be higher or lower?’ I say and then I start laughing so much, I don’t think I will ever stop.

‘There’s no need to laugh,’ Mum says. ‘It’s these tablets I’m taking — the amphetamines — they make me drowsy.’

‘Antihistamines.’

Mum fixes her eyes on me. ‘That’s what I said.’

We investigate the bed some more. We realise that there are two ways the bed sides could have been put together. The correct way — as they are now — and the incorrect way.

‘Let’s measure them,’ Dad says.

Chris goes downstairs and returns with a tape measure. There is an inch difference between the correct and incorrect ways.

‘I told you!’ I say. ‘I could tell. That inch made so much difference.’

‘Yes,’ Dad says. ‘But whoever put that together the first time, did it completely wrong.’

‘You did it.’

‘You supervised.’

‘Hang on,’ Chris says. ‘So, for years, we’ve been sleeping on a bed that’s not been right?’

‘Yes,’ Dad says.

‘You’ll have to take it apart and put it back together the wrong way,’ Mum says. ‘Or put up with it.’

Chris turns to me. ‘If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right,’ he says. ‘Isn’t that what you say?’

‘It is right,’ Mum says. ‘But she wants it the wrong way.’

‘No,’ I say. ‘I don’t care anymore. I’m that tired, I’ll sleep anywhere.’

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