🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #44
The Restless Tenant
Lying awake in her bed, in a particularly fine townhouse, Mrs Barnaby was both furious and fed up. One of her tenants absolutely refused to settle down. She was so restless that she was absolutely unable to be still. She was so noisy all of the time, and Mrs Barnaby could hear her up there talking, walking, imagining, and reminiscing.
When would she stop?
All night long she continued, and it was driving Mrs Barnaby insane. She went up to speak to the tenant, but the tenant took absolutely no notice. Mrs Barnaby tried honesty, politeness, aggression, even pleading – but all to no avail. Her interventions had ranged from a timid request to a full-blown wrestling match in an attempt to shut up her tenant, but every effort she had made was futile. Even her brutal attempts to go up there and hold her tenant still, had resulted in pain for both sides, as well as an increased post-wrestle restlessness. On speaking, her tenant would rightly claim that she was entitled to remain for some time. No technicality, no legal force was applicable here. The tenant could not be evicted, and would out-argue Mrs Barnaby every time. The tenant was extremely stubborn, clever and quick to give her reasons for staying, which despite Mrs Barnaby’s arguments, always seemed to keep her in place up there.
Mrs Barnaby had even read books on how to evict a noisy tenant like this. People all over the world had advice for her – what techniques were best, precisely what to do. She had tried them all, and none of them seemed to work. Was she doing them wrong or were they simply not helpful?
Mrs Barnaby was kept awake all night sometimes, and she had become painfully obsessed with it all. All she could focus on was her noisy tenant. Even if there seemed to be a brief rest from the restlessness, even then Mrs Barnaby was worried, predicting when the next bout of turmoil would arise. Arguments, hysterics, going over and over the same thing – there was nothing her tenant would not indulge in, and despite the relentlessness, never seemed to stop.
Then all of a sudden, in a moment of exhaustion, Mrs Barnaby gave up her protests. “Just for a moment, just for a moment,” she said to herself, “I just can’t try to stop it any longer.”
And the tenant continued – moving around, speaking, fretting. How pointless it all seemed, how futile. Her tenant never seemed to really do anything up there other than worry or become stressed in some way. An insanity, perhaps, that was out of her control.
Mrs Barnaby could not leave her own dwelling, she could not evict her tenant, technicalities did not seem to work. She simply had to let her be for once.
The restlessness kept on, but Mrs Barnaby realised she could do nothing about it.
Then both gradually and suddenly, everything seemed to quieten down. Not so much by choice or effort – Mrs Barnaby could not be bothered to try to explain it – and yet the tenant seemed to somehow settle. It was almost as if all the fuel had escaped the engine of restlessness. In her silent, empty house, all but for her in her bedroom, Mrs Barnaby forgot all about her mind, herself, her life, yesterday and tomorrow, and drifted into the most beautiful, deep sleep. The person occupying her head – her restless tenant – seemed to disappear.
Story written and read in English by Adam Oakley, Copyright © Adam Oakley