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Commentary

Published on March 21st, 2016 | by Flipside

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The Big Freeze: Part II

Part I finished with Shmyle and myself in London for a weekend after two weeks of unbearable cold. Shmaisie and Shmara stayed in Edinburgh, with additional heaters to ease the pain on their haggard bodies and shattered minds. Here, the saga concludes.

Day 15. Monday:

We are home and the flat is indeed warm. We fret about the electricity bills that will be incurred from running four portable heaters, but push these fears to the back of our minds, remembering the horrors of the previous 2 weeks.

Yes. It has now been 2 full weeks.

The first Boiler Man returns. He is fiddling with the boiler’s innards like there is no tomorrow, spending several minutes on the phone to his boss.

There is a tomorrow, and it will be cold. I wait till he is off the phone and ask the big question: what’s the prognosis?

‘I dunno pal,’ he tells me. He explains it should be working, but maybe it’s the electricity that’s connecting it which is the problem. He can check…but he doesn’t have the instrument on him today.

It’s fine. We’re used to it now.

He says he will be back. Next Monday.

Many days pass. How many? Who knows. Time has become a meaningless concept here.

Day 22. Monday:

The doorbell rings at 11 on the dot, and we all go running to the buzzer, barking viciously, as we have been in a feral state for weeks on end now.

Today is the day. The heating will be fixed and all will be right with the world.

The boiler man enters with his utility belt, a glint in his eye and a spring in his step.

He leaves 2 hours later, a tear in his eye, crestfallen.

The electric heaters buzz away in a mocking tone.

More days pass

Thursday:

It has been almost a month, and we have genuinely lost all hope. It is mid-March, and realistically we won’t even need the heating for much longer. We have made our peace with the situation (except Shmaisie, who has taken to clawing at the walls at exactly 2 a.m. every night).

Our landlord is coming over at 11 to see where a new boiler could be put. The old one is so old that a new one couldn’t possibly go in the same place.

Before all of that, the Boiler Man arrives unannounced, for one final hurrah with the ancient boiler he has grown to know and hate, and the inhabitants who have an increasingly tenuous grasp on reality.

He fiddles. He uses every item in the utility belt. He declines tea or coffee to focus on the job at hand. I’m pretty sure I see him whisper something to the boiler’s circuit board.

An hour passes.

Shmara touches a radiator. Warmth.

Warmth.

WARMTH.

SHIT IT’S WARM.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. IT’S WARM.

HE’S DONE IT. HE’S DONE IT!!!! HE’S ONLY BLOODY GONE AND DONE IT!!!!!!!!!

WE NEVER THOUGHT THIS DAY WOULD COME. BUT IT’S COME. IT IS HERE. THE WARM IS BACK AND ALL IS SUNSHINE, RAINBOWS, PUPPIES AND THE SMILES OF CHILDREN.

The Boiler Man stands up and dusts himself off. Proud, but nearly a broken man, he smiles and says “It was the circuit board. Any other problems you’ll need a replacement boiler”

We know, sweet prince. We know.

Shortly after, Shmonald, our landlord, arrives, and says without a trace of irony “Oh, it’s toasty in here”. I tell him the Boiler Man fixed everything. He seems surprised.

We all are.

Epilogue

The heating is working fine. The hot water is on, the dishes are clean, the flat is once again a pleasant and hospitable environment. But we are mentally shattered, and dreading our next electricity bill for the 2kw heaters.

Integrating back into normal society is hard. We have forgotten how to talk to other people, those who have not been through The Big Freeze. Even our families don’t seem to understand.

We get flashbacks. Shmaisie has night terrors where she wakes up screaming, imagining that she has turned into an icicle. Shmara believes that she is literally a raccoon, and keeps trying to live in the trees as she believes ‘that’s where the survivors go’.

Shmyle and I haven’t spoken properly since I slept on his floor after the Space-Heater Showdown.

But we are warm once again. And on the road to recovery.

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