Living in a Box


Thanks so much for coming. It’s really lovely to see you. How are you? And your family? I do hope Aunt Celeste feels better soon.

Would you like a cup of tea? Oh, I’m sorry – that was silly of me. I don’t have a kettle. Nowhere to plug it in, you see. I remember you’ve got one of those lovely stovetop kettles. It gives a little whistle when the water’s hot. It took me a while to stop jumping out of my skin every time I made a brew.

There’s no stove here. It’s a bit of a fire risk of course, but even so, as you see, there simply isn’t the space.

You’ve a tickle in your throat? A glass of water, maybe? I’m afraid I’ll have to let you down again. I’d love to have running water in the place, but it’d get soggy.

It gets soggy anyway. We can’t stop the rain, after all! We couldn’t keep the clouds at bay when the day was ours to save, could we? And now, our home is gone and I live, well, here.

It’s cold at night, but I see you know that. Down jacket, woollen gloves. That stupid hat you bought after we laughed at every single one in the shop, then felt sorry for the shopkeeper.

Shopkeepers don’t look at me any more. They scowl somewhere on the floor nearby. Their eyes don’t want to be sullied by contact with mine. I’ve been dirty for such a long time, you see, that even my baby blues bear the filth of the streets. That’s the only explanation, surely?

I’m sorry. I totally understand you have to go, but before you do, could I ask you something? I hate to… Well, you know… But perhaps you have a little spare? No? I’ll spend it on drugs, you say? I was hoping to buy some waterproof trousers, but I’m sure you’ve heard that line before. You always were so clever. Maybe you wouldn’t mind leaving the hat, then. It always did make me smile.


Jack and his Ma: A Dialogue

Look at you, Jack! You’ve got crumbs all over your vest and your laces are untied. If you don’t smarten yourself up, you’ll never find work at the market.

Suits me, Ma. You know those greedy farmers’ll work a man to death and pay them half what they promised! I’d rather stay here.

That’s because you’ve never been hungry, lad. All those years after your Pa died, I went without so’s you’d grow up big and strong and look at you – thin as a ferret and twice as sneaky. I’d ha been better off leaving you out for the crows.

Aah, but then who would be here to soak your bunions and rest his chin on your head when it’s raining?

I weren’t always this old, boy. Once upon a time, I had five different dresses and a comb for Sundays and ohhhh. Look what you’ve done. You’re going to be late if you don’t get going. Let me get those crumbs while you tie your laces. And don’t think I didn’t see that extra biscuit in your pocket! You’ll replace the crumbs before the end of the lane, no doubt.

Nonsense, Ma. You’re going batty.

Less of your lip. And don’t forget to take Daisy to the stream by the church. At least if she’s well-watered, they might not notice how skinny she is and you’ll get a decent price.

Yes, Ma. Bye, Ma.

And Jack?


This is important. You know we’re in trouble. If we have another winter like the last, then I…

I know, Ma. I love you. Trust me.


Day Five: Be Brief

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Who sends letters nowadays? Especially with such an important message. I think of all the “oops!” packages from Royal Mail, when it looks like your message has been snacked upon by a goat. They never stood a chance.