Normally they did not even think about it anymore. It had become such a part of their lives. Most people probably could not live this way but then that is how they were able to afford a flat with this much space. Edgmond was a lovely place to live but housing was brutal. The houses all belonged to long term owners whose family had lived there for generations and generations and rarely did anyone sell outside of their own family. The few housing blocks had all been built in and upon and turned into tiny spaces that were only ideal for the students who spent so little time in them that anything more than a watercloset, kitchenette and a sofa for sleeping on was wasted on them.
Small families like Nora and Mikes normally could not have lived here and would have had to live in one of the villages further out and Mike would have had to commute every day to his job at the University. Sometimes Nora thought it might have been better if they hadn’t found this place and instead lived in a normal small house where the kids could run around without getting constant warning and you did not have to be so careful all of the time. Things might have been better if Mike had that commute time as well, to wind down after dealing with the students all day, before coming home to the chaos that always seemed to be in full swing as he walked through the door. The twins creating a wall of sound as they screamed and ran to him every day to tell him all of the adventures of their day. Barely registering that he was not realy listening, getting louder and louder as they talked over each other trying to get their fathers attention.
Nora spent most of her time in the kitchen, sitting at the kitchen table reading or playing on the computer while Mike watched television and played on his laptop in the den. The twins split their time between their bedroom, the biggest room in the flat, and playing on the kitchen floor with cars. The old lino was perfect for pretend roads and crashes were always sure to occur with much laughter and sound effects. There was a reason, aside from height, that five year olds were not allowed drivers permits.
They had been here for seven months already and the patterns were well established. During the day Nora devoted all of her time to the kids, schooling and cleaning, and loving and playing. Daytime was for noise and imagination. She fed them their dinner just before Mike got home and that way he could make his own dinner and enjoy it in relative peace while she gave the kids baths and tried to wind them down for bed. The kitchen was so tiny that there really wasn’t space for all of them to be in there cooking and eating, so it worked out better this way. Mike enjoyed his time alone to relax after a hard day.
On the weekends they would sometimes pack everyone up and go down to the playing fields. There was always some kind of game in progress that Mike could watch and Nora could take the kids to the playground and really let them run wild. Sometimes Mike would come over and play with them and then it was a joy for Nora to sit back and enjoy. Mike turned into a kid himself and the kids would become his playmates, doing anything he wanted to keep him playing.
Nora dreaded the cold rainy weekends that were so common in this part of the country, that meant everyone inside all day. She spent most of the day watching carefully to make sure the kids didn’t go into the front room. They knew they were absolutely forbidden but once they ran out of ideas for play in their room and had been kicked out of the kitchen for making too much noise they would invariably start egging each other on to adventure into the living room. It was a big empty space with the beautiful windows looking out onto the street. Even on stormy days, by far the brightest room in the flat. There was just no way to protect them from the bomb though. It had been there for about seventy-five years and probably was safe but the government had made it very clear that they could not guarantee anyones safety if they touched it. So instead they all lived their lives in their individual rooms to keep everyone safe.
*I have watched far too many British shows recently about WWII