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The Collection

Hand hovering over the door handle, Lucy pauses. The smell of burned plastic makes her gag and she winces as she imagines the scene beyond. The fire has destroyed her once-pristine dining room, although she acknowledges, it had been unusable for a while. Six months to be exact. Ever since Tim moved his collection in. “Only temporary,” he’d said when she protested. “Just while I sort them out.”

Temporary my foot. In fact, the invasion had stayed – and spread until the room was overrun with skip-salvaged mismatched shelving bowing under an army of plastic action figures. Not an inch of floor space remained and the pine table and chairs disappeared beneath pots of glue, paint, and dismembered figures awaiting reconstruction.

Lucy slowly shakes her head. She loved her dining room, loved entertaining. And, as she’d already relinquished the garage, study, and spare bedroom to Tim’s obsession, the incursion was a step too far. She’d dropped subtle hints then less subtle demands but the collection grew. Then Tim installed a dehumidifier to protect his pristine models in unopened boxes.

Sighing, Lucy grasps the handle and swings the door wide. Victims of the fire, melted plastic figures drip from charred shelves like stalactites. The dining table is blackened and pooled with liquefied models. Beside it, a congealed lump of plastic and metal is all that remains of the dehumidifier.

“That caused the blaze,” the Fire Chief had quickly declared. “Could have been serious. Catastrophic. Mighty fortunate you were home when it started and had those fire extinguishers to hand. Most people ignore our warnings and don’t even have one.”

Lucy surveys the walls and ceiling: superficial damage. Nothing disastrous. Cleared and redecorated, the room will look good again. New carpet, new dining set. Oh no… Spotting the standard lamp in the corner, her shoulders sag. I liked that lamp. Thankfully, on examination, she determines she can fix it. After all, she’s good with electrical items; learned all about them on the internet. She glances at the remains of the dehumidifier and a smile flickers across her face. She’s grinning broadly as she closes the door.



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