This short tale was written as a response to a writing exercise. The challenge was to write about an old building that had been given a new lease of life , and its history was influencing modern day.
They’d laughed about it when they first moved in.
‘Look at us! Two teetotal sisters sisters living in a brewery’.
‘Can you imagine what Father would say,’ Gertrude said, as she set to work on the first floor windows with a large duster and a king-sized bottle of Windolene.
‘He’d turn in his grave,’ Mary replied. ‘The horror of it!’
The sisters looked at each other and then, in unison, repeated their father’s favourite mantra. ‘Drink is the root of all evil!’
Laughing they returned to their cleaning.
It was Laura who found the stash of old beer bottles buried in the garden.
‘No wonder the roses aren’t thiving’, she said, as she excavated yet another heavy brown bottle from the flower bed.
‘Do you think they are worth anything?’ Gertrude turned the garden hose on and began to wash the soil off the glass. ‘People collect antique bottles, don’t they?’
‘This one might be.’ Laura tugged at yet another bottle until the clay-heavy soil finally relinquished its grip. ‘It’s intact!’
‘You mean full of beer?’
‘Yes!’ Laura rubbed her finger over the embossed neck of the bottle. ‘1921. Is that a good vintage?’
‘Don’t be daft. Beer doesn’t have vintages.’
Laura held the bottle up to the sunlight. ‘Do you think it is still drinkable?’
Gertrude shrugged. ‘Perhaps we could try it on the roses.’
There were seventeen bottles in all. Six empty and eleven full of dark brown ale. Laura lined the empty ones on the kitchen window sill and placed the full ones in the cool of the larder.
‘We should give it a try’, she said as Gertrude washed carrots in the kitchen sink for dinner. ‘Just the once. Just so we know what it’s like.’
Gertrude fixed her with a stern gaze. ‘Drink is the root …’
‘Just one sip, Gerty. It can’t hurt, can it?’
Gertrude shook her head. ‘Best not to find out if you ask me.’
Laura sighed. ‘I suppose.’ But as she closed the larder door she was already planning a secret solitary tasting.
‘Just one sip,’ she promised herself. ‘Just one.’