This story is year or two old and has been out to competitions in various forms but never successfully.  So here you go!  Maybe someone reading will like it.


The kitchen tap drips like a measure of some drug.  Sleep has lumbered across the house, tipped each member of the family into its fleshy arms.  Rocking.  Blanking.  But not her. 

In the bedroom she feels her way along the wall, around the bulge of the chimney breast.  The plaster has blown and cracked and she can get the tip of her little finger into the hole.  It is rough and resists but not for long.  A twist and a wriggle and it gives in a chunk as big as her palm.  Soft plaster comes away – clagging her nails and coating her hands.

The brickwork beneath the plaster is regular and convincing.  She rubs at the smooth mortar and is rewarded with a trickling sigh of crumbs.  Determination is all that is needed.  A silent, pleasurable insistence.   The first brick loosens, rocking under her fingers.  She catches it before it can fall into the blank blackness of the chimney.

The smell is intense.  Soot like a childhood fireplace.  Soot of decades, centuries ago.  She presses her cheek against the bricks and sucks at the dark air.

Head, shoulders, leaning into the dark.  The space is thick and still below her but above there is a gustiness.  A finger of white light reaches down and touches the chimney wall.  Not so far.  But it is tight.  Panic simmers, rolls up for a second as she arranges her limbs – shifts her hips into the cocoon.

Then pushing upward.  The bricks catch at her night shirt.  A rip at the shoulder.  A slow tearing as she climbs and a shearing away.  With a last push she feels the fabric slip over her knees and fall, flapping.

Light is seeping through a network of cracks now.  It takes very little in the end.  Rough edges provide the footholds and she simply stands.  Head bowed and shoulders braced she stands up into the space where the chimney touches the sky.  Bricks and render skate down the roof tiles – the old pots rolling, careering over the guttering.


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