Stinky McGuirk will not be remembered as an exceptional guinea pig. Never really more than a novice climber, his problem solving skills were in the lower percentiles for the Caviidae family. Averse to water. His aroma, questionable.
He had the appearance of a perpetually shell-shocked rodent — twitchy, trembling. Bug-eyes staring vacantly into the middle distance. His ginger and white hair stuck out at every angle, like some demented throw-cushion.
The last guinea pig in the pet shop, he looked like he needed a good home. And Jessica, suffering twin indignities of living through high-school and her parents’ divorce, was in need of a loyal friend.
The photographs have not done justice to the cottage.
Sarah recalls the website thumbnails: that vibrant red door; those shells, set between the bricks framing the windows; hanging baskets that are an eruption of life and colour… Gorgeous. She’d sent jubilant screenshots to her mother from the train. Yet photographs can’t capture the true allure of this place – the remoteness, the quiet. The trains had taken her only to the nearest village. For the last two miles, Sarah’s taxi was the only vehicle winding down narrow country roads.
“When I was twelve I got lost in the woods.”
“That’s like the opening line to a book. Or a film monologue. First scene, no music. It starts with a black screen and as you tell the story, it opens to a meadow like this.”
“But no music.”
“Fucking exactly. Nothing but the voice.”