Image by Christine Renney
Robert had received one of ‘the letters’ offering him a room. He had been chosen, selected and it was that simple. He had a month in which to decide. Back when the Scheme was in its infancy Robert would not have had this luxury; a whole month to think about it, to weigh up the pros and cons. Then, one of the men would have knocked at his door and stood on the threshold. He would have had only minutes to make up his mind. In those days most people simply said no but this had gradually changed. Nowadays it was almost unheard of for anyone to refuse, to not accept a room and all that came with it.
Moving into a room would mean security and peace of mind and Robert would at least have time to himself. He wasn’t quite sure just what he might do with it but in the room he would of course have access to media. He wouldn’t have to work. In fact, he wouldn’t be allowed to work but Robert, like almost everyone else in the city hated his job and he was all too aware that he was just a cog in a not so pristine machine. Robert didn’t even know what it was that he did nor how nor why it mattered. But he supposed that somehow he was part of it and that he helped to keep the mill wheel grinding, as it were.
Robert had worked at the same office for over twenty years and he was proud of this. He proved himself resilient, hadn’t given in and dropped out like so many in the city had. Robert had always considered himself lucky not to have been placed in one of the factories or the yards or the foundries. The work he did was boring, yes, but it wasn’t physically hard and he had always been able to manage the long hours.
Robert enjoyed having money in his pocket. It had only ever been just enough to pay the bills, his rent and buy his food. Robert had always saved for that rainy day, for when he needed a new shirt and tie or shoes. For when he had to replace a mug or a plate. On the few occasions he needed to replace the bigger and more expensive items, his old armchair or stove for instance, Robert had found it particularly satisfying handing over the cash and filling out the forms, arranging for delivery and installation. Once he had moved into the room Robert wouldn’t ever have money in his pocket again but neither would he have to scrimp and scrape to save.
There was much he needed to do. Robert would have to give notice at work and to the landlord and to clear the flat of his belongings. He would be allowed to take just his clothes but eventually even those would be replaced by the standard issue. The little money he had he would give to his sister along with the almost new stove. Everything else was worthless and he would have to pay someone to cart it all away. And then he would re-decorate, re-instating the neutral colours he had over the years rebelled against.