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OK, let’s start the episode.
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for intermediate learners. The name of the story is Beelzebuddy, the Cleaning Demon. This is chapter two of two. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Clean2. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Clean2. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So I’ll just start by summarising what happened in chapter 1. I’ll just start by revising what happened in chapter 1.
So the main character, Rhiana, lived alone and was miserable. She was bothered by loud children next door, a stray dog and yellow envelopes that came through her letter box every Friday.
So she summoned the demon Beelzebuddy, thinking that he could help her get rid of her problems. But actually, all Beelzebuddy knew how to do was cleaning.
Still, she asked him for help, so he made friends with the kids and the dog, and this was not what Rhiana wanted. She wanted him to get rid of them.
At the end of the first chapter, she sent him to the house of the person who sent all the letters to ask them to stop. And there, Beelzebuddy met Evelyn, a middle-aged woman who, it turns out, was in a relationship with Rhiana. So she is Rhiana’s ex-girlfriend.
At the very end of the chapter, Beelzebuddy asked for their story, asked about what happened between them, and that’s where we are now.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
When you pop over to someone’s house, you visit them casually, usually without making plans beforehand. If you’re near your friend’s house, you might pop over to say hello. Or you might pop over to your neighbour’s to ask for sugar when you run out.
When you have high hopes for something, you have a lot of hope. For example, I have high hopes that after coronavirus, we’ll be able to go on holiday again normally!
Your ex-lover is your previous lover, so your previous boyfriend or girlfriend. It is very common to think back on your time with your ex, either positively or negatively. Some people have ‘exes from hell’, an ex-partner who was really awful and they are happy to have out of their life.
A door frame is the frame of a door, the wooden part on the outside of the door. The door sits inside the door frame. If you close the door on your finger and it gets trapped between the door and the frame, it can hurt a lot!
Someone who is hateful is full of hate, so they have a lot of hate in them and they are not very nice. Equally, someone who is joyful is full of joy, or happiness. It’s better to be joyful than hateful, but being hateful can be fun!
When something serious changes in your life, and you have to change yourself as a result, you move on with your life. For example, when two people end a relationship, one person might stay the same. They keep the same job, live in the same place, and act in the same way. They still think a lot about their ex. But the other person changes their life and stops thinking about the other person. They move on with their life.
A wrinkle is a line in your face. People get wrinkles when they get old. People usually get wrinkles around their mouth, around their eyes and on their forehead.
When two people are in love, and they are very obvious about it, you can call them two lovebirds. If two people are kissing and hugging each other a lot, or they look like they like each other, you can say, ‘You two lovebirds!’
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support me on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. This month’s bonus story is The Slave and the Lion. It’s a heartwarming story about a man who looks after a lion, and gets help from the lion when he most needs it. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to my new patrons: Sonia Ponsot, Nadezhda Belekhova and Marita Botzenhart. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Beelzebuddy, the Cleaning Demon Chapter 2
‘You don’t have to eat all those biscuits at once,’ said Evelyn. ‘They’re not going anywhere.’
‘Sorry,’ said Buddy, through a mouthful of biscuits. ‘You were saying?’
‘I was just telling you how me and Rhiana met.’ She sighed. ‘Her grandmother had just died. Everyone in town was talking about it, because the woman was a witch. Nobody wanted to go to the funeral, of course. So she was all alone. She’d lost her parents when she was young. When I heard the story, well, who wouldn’t be moved by that? I went to go see her.
‘I baked some biscuits—better than these ones—and I brought her some flowers. She looked so shocked, as if she couldn’t imagine someone making so much effort for her. I could tell she was miserable, even though she tried to hide it.
‘So every Friday, I’d go and visit her. And then I started popping over a few times a week. And before I knew it, we were basically living together. She found the old house so stressful to look after by herself, and there were bits of old magic on some of the furniture. So I helped her with that, cooked for her, and gradually we just sort of… became a thing.
‘But we were always so different. She pushed the world away, wanted to hide inside with me and nobody else. I wanted us to get out there, to go travelling, meet the world and be its friend.’ She shook her head. ‘We were just too different. I said something awful to her, and she threw me out, and I suppose she’s much happier now.’
‘ “Happy” is the last word I’d use to describe that woman,’ said Beelzebuddy.
Evelyn looked up from her tea in surprise. ‘Really?’
‘She’s the most miserable creature I’ve ever met, and I’m a demon. She spends all her time getting mad at life just for living.’
‘Oh no,’ said Evelyn, holding tightly onto her mug. ‘Then I must have really hurt her.’
‘What did you do?’
‘I told her that if she hated the world so much, she deserved to be alone forever.’
‘Ah,’ said the demon, chewing on a biscuit. ‘Well, she’s certainly doing that now. I would encourage you to keep trying to contact her, but it’s my job to get you to stop. So until you do, I can’t go home…’
Evelyn nodded. ‘You’re right. I should forget about her and move on. She must want the same.’
‘Wonderful,’ said Beelzebuddy, jumping out of his chair. He hated being in the human world this long, and he wanted to get home and ride around on his new doggie. ‘I’ll be going then.’
But when he reached the door, he hesitated. Although he found Rhiana quite nasty and annoying, he could see that there had once been a good person there. And Evelyn had been so nice to him.
‘You know, you could always go and talk to her in person.’
Evelyn shook her head. ‘She used magic on the garden. If I try to get in, the plants will attack me.’
‘That won’t be a problem,’ said Buddy, smiling evilly. ‘You’ve got a demon with you.’
There was a knock at the door, and Rhiana slowly climbed down the stairs. She didn’t have high hopes for Beelzebuddy’s success, but she certainly wasn’t expecting to open the door and find her ex-lover standing there.
Panic seized her stomach. She felt like she was going to be sick.
‘Go away!’ she spat, slamming the door shut before Evelyn could say a word.
Out of nowhere, Beelzebuddy jumped and landed in the door frame. The door closed on him, and he let out a little squeal. Rhiana screamed, but Buddy’s body seemed to be made of rubber, as he wasn’t bleeding at all.
‘You’re a failure,’ shouted Rhiana. She slammed the door on him until he jumped inside the house and she could shut it. ‘I thought demons would be better than humans. I was wrong!’
Rhiana ran through the house, away from Evelyn, as if her eyes could burn through the door.
‘Talk to her!’ cried Beelzebuddy, running after her. ‘Just a few minutes!’
Rhiana turned around so fast he fell over. Her heart was beating like an earthquake.
‘Why should I?!’ she cried. ‘You’ve finished your tasks. Now go!’
She ran up the stairs, but just as she reached the last step, she heard a noise behind her.
She turned around and saw that a letter had been pushed through the letter box. The envelope was yellow.
‘That’s the thing,’ said Beelzebuddy, smiling cautiously. ‘I haven’t completed my task. Until you talk to her, she won’t stop sending the letters.’
‘Rhiana?’ called Evelyn’s voice from behind the door.
Rhiana pulled at her hair. ‘I can’t stand you! Any of you! I wish you’d all leave me alone!’
She dove into her bedroom, locked the door, and hid inside her bed.
‘Well, that didn’t go quite how I’d expected…’ muttered Buddy.
He went and opened the door to Evelyn.
‘This was a mistake,’ she said. She threw the pile of letters she held on the ground. ‘She clearly wants to be left alone.’
‘Wait! You love her, right? I know what we can do for her. To prove it.’
‘And what’s that?’
Buddy smiled. ‘Normally, I would just use a bit of magic. But sometimes, a bit of hard work is the best way of saying “I love you”…’
All night, sounds of moving and banging came from inside the house. Rhiana had no idea what the demon and those awful children were doing, but she didn’t dare leave her bedroom to find out.
Every now and then, she went to the window and looked outside, but thankfully, Evelyn never appeared again. She didn’t know why the plants had stopped attacking her, but she was sure it had something to do with the demon.
Eventually, she got to sleep, and when she woke up she had no choice but to leave her room, as she needed the toilet.
When she stepped out, she gasped.
The whole house had changed. It had been cleaned completely, and she hardly recognised it. Every floor, every wall, every cupboard and surface was free of dust and dirt.
Lying in a pile on the floor just outside her bedroom were Beelzebuddy, Evelyn, the two kids and the dog. Apparently, they’d worked so hard they fell asleep.
Rhiana’s heart beat fast, but for once, it wasn’t with anger.
Evelyn had done all this, for her? She couldn’t understand. This whole time, she’d imagined the letters were full of hateful words, or joyful news about how she had moved on with her life. After all, Rhiana had said such awful things to Evelyn when they were together. She could never be the bright, loving woman Evelyn wanted her to be. She was sure that her ex-lover wanted revenge.
But if that was the case, she was getting revenge in a very strange way.
Rhiana looked down at Evelyn’s sleeping face. New wrinkles decorated it, and Rhiana wondered how many she was responsible for.
Mitsy came and rubbed herself against Rhiana’s leg, making her jump. Evelyn yawned and started to open her eyes. Rhiana panicked, and tried to run away, but she tripped over her cat and landed on the floor.
‘Rhi?’ said Evelyn.
It was too late. She had to face her.
‘Why did you come back?’ said Rhiana, getting to her feet but not turning around. ‘I never replied to your letters.’
Evelyn climbed to her feet and put her hand on the woman’s back. Rhiana shivered.
‘I thought you might still read them. Please, at least turn to look at me.’
By now, the demon, the children and the dog had woken up and quietly crawled away, leaving the two to talk in private.
‘I burned them,’ said Rhiana flatly.
Evelyn smiled. ‘Then you did care.’
Rhiana turned around slightly, looking over her shoulder. Evelyn’s smile burned into her, waking up feelings that had been lost in the overgrown garden of her heart.
‘The Rhiana I know would never make such an effort over nothing. She’d just leave them in a pile on the floor.’
‘Did you come here just to make fun of me?’ said Rhiana, folding her arms and trying to hide a smile.
‘No. I came to apologise.’
Rhiana’s lip shook. She turned around fully. ‘Apologise? Look, I told you you ruined my life, Evelyn, but I always speak nonsense. You never really believed that, did you? I ruined my life myself.’
‘No, you didn’t.’ Evelyn put her hands on Rhiana’s arm. ‘You always knew exactly who you were. That’s what I loved about you. I was ruining your life by trying to make you change.’
Rhiana shrugged and pulled her arm away. ‘What does it matter? We’re too different. You wish to go out and see the world, and I’m happy here. Alone.’
Evelyn bit her lip. ‘I never should have said those words. I’ve regretted them ever since that day. Nobody is truly happy living alone, and yet both of us have been doing exactly that.’
Rhiana’s mouth opened. ‘You mean you haven’t been travelling the country, between sending all those damned letters? You haven’t been taking impressive and interesting guests? You haven’t “met the world and become its friend”?’
Evelyn shook her head. ‘Apparently, I didn’t want those things as much as I thought. I’ve spent the last few years drinking tea and planting flowers. And thinking of you.’
Suddenly, the image Rhiana had of Evelyn broke into a thousand pieces. She’d been just as miserable as she was, even if her misery was more lemon-coloured than Rhiana’s. Her heart sank as she realised that she could’ve known this if she’d just been brave enough to open those yellow envelopes.
‘Oh God, Evelyn,’ said Rhiana, her voice breaking. ‘I’m the one who should be apologising. How could you ever forgive me?’
Evelyn put her hands on Rhiana’s cheeks, and for once, the woman didn’t move away.
‘Let me back into your world. Please.’
Rhiana sobbed and fell into Evelyn’s arms.
They were two old, broken women, but they had each other, even if it had taken a voyage to nowhere and a demon’s magic to bring them back together.
Evelyn lifted Rhiana in her arms and took her to bed.
‘So this is goodbye, then?’
Rhiana raised an eyebrow. ‘I thought you were looking forward to going back to the demon world?’
Beelzebuddy stroked his chin. ‘Well, yeah, but it’s not every day I meet someone as interesting as you.’
The three of them—the demon, Rhiana and Evelyn—were sat around the kitchen table drinking tea. Rhiana had forgotten what the table even looked like, it had had so much rubbish on it before.
‘You know,’ said Buddy, ‘I could give you your blood back, the blood you used to summon me. After all, I never used magic to solve your problems, so really the contract isn’t valid.’
‘It’s just a bit of blood,’ said Rhiana, waving her hand.
‘I know. I just wanted to show off. Most demons can’t even comb their hair without magic. It’s a shame, really. My magic is so good when I’m allowed to use it.’
‘We’re very grateful that Rhiana summoned such a helpful little guy,’ said Evelyn, stroking him on the head.
Buddy blushed and said, ‘Careful, or I’ll set your hair on fire.’
Evelyn laughed. ‘Sure you will.’
The dog barked from the garden, making Rhiana jump and spill her tea. Mitsy hissed and ran at the door, ready for a fight.
‘Alright, alright, I better be going,’ said Buddy, jumping down from his chair. ‘It’s been an interesting few days, Rhiana. Call me again if you ever need cleaning. Seriously. I’ll make this house shine brighter than it ever has, just for a few drops of your blood.’
‘Yes yes, we know you’re powerful, whether it comes to fixing relationships or cleaning houses.’
‘I know, I know. But seriously, some of the people who summon me are so nasty. They just shout all the time, and never give me tea or biscuits. I’d much rather someone nice summon me, like you, Rhiana.’
Now it was Rhiana’s turn to blush.
‘Safe travels, Beelzebuddy,’ she said, staring at the floor. ‘I’ll tell the kids you said goodbye.’
The demon opened the door and the stray dog ran inside. Mitsy jumped forward to attack him, but Beelzebuddy threw half of his biscuit on the floor. This distracted Mitsy long enough for him to climb onto the dog’s back.
‘Well then, this has been Beelzebuddy, at your service! No spill, no stain, no mess is too much for me to clean! And no relationship is too broken for me to fix! Just give me a cloth, a bucket or a broken heart and I’ll get right to work! Do you like that? I’m hoping the witches might update the books, let people know I do emotional stuff as well… Alright, alright, I’ll go! Have a happy life, you two lovebirds.’
And the demon clicked his fingers and disappeared. Mitsy ran into the garden, looking for where he’d gone, and Rhiana laughed so much she cried.
‘Oh, there is such a wide world out there,’ said Evelyn. ‘And we don’t even have to leave your house to see it.’
‘True,’ said Rhiana, ‘but I really need to start doing some exercise. I have a girlfriend to impress!’
Evelyn kissed her on the cheek. ‘Summon a demon to do it for you. I’m impressed with you plenty already.’
If you enjoyed the story and want to say thank you, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and click the orange button that says Buy me a coffee! Then you’ll be able to send me $3 so that I can buy a coffee, but really, I’ll probably get a bubble tea. And I’ll think of you while I drink it! Thank you for listening, and until next week.