Surviving the Cold

We had quite the beautiful long hot gorgeous sun-filled summer and I really can’t complain about it. But I can complain about the winter. And I will.

We’re two Australian women living in Croatia. Up until recently, we didn’t know how to operate a central-heating system. Actually, I don’t even know what it’s called. It’s just not something you learn in Sydney. We’re used to t-shirts and thongs (flip-flops, not underwear) and air-conditioning, and, in extreme weather, a jumper and a jacket. How are we going to cope with the winter that has descended upon us? I mean, it’s fucking snowing out there!

There’s an odd dial on our wall. It doesn’t look like much, but it controls the heat in our apartment. Frankly, we find it a bit weird. It’s such a tiny, insignificant, grubby old dial. For something that is separating us from death by freezing, it’s very innocuous. It’s just a dial… a grubby painted-over dial. This is the entirety of our interaction with the central heating system.

the dial

Well… it would have been. But one frosty afternoon recently we noticed that, although we were putting the heat on, no heat was coming out. C consulted YouTube and several hours later emerged to suggest that it was something to do with the pressure. We sought out the thing that lives in the corner behind the fridge – the boiler – to check the bar pressure. Look at us knowing stuff about the boiler! Two paragraphs ago I didn’t even know what it was called!

“I think I know what the problem is,” said C. “We’re below one bar.”

Now if there’s one thing C and I know about it’s bars! I’ve lived above a few bars, but never below one. This sounded pretty serious to me. And a bit dusty.

All of C’s research indicated that this was the root of our problem, though.

“Sounds bad,” I said. “Should we call the landlady?”

“No, no,” said C. “We just have to turn one of these valves, where all these electricity and water and gas pipes are, and refill the bypass blah blah blah… let’s call the landlady!”

We called the landlady to come fix the boiler, but all that talk of bars had made us thirsty. We went out to get drunk. And I suspect that’s how we’ll survive the cold this coming winter.

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.


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