“you have five minutes to talk yourself out of a situation”

INT: DUSK, A BARN. Thirty-ish fluffy sheep, sluggish after a long day of sheeping, huddle together. VIRGIL, an officious if none too bright ram, breaks rank and waddles before the flock. VIRGIL Alright, rams and ewes. Farmer Jane’ll be in soon to say goodnight. Let’s make sure we’re all here. The flock, well-practiced at this … Continue reading “you have five minutes to talk yourself out of a situation”

“write something with all the emotion taken out”

A cramped working-class kitchen. Mary, 43, mother of the household, prepares breakfast at the hob; beans in a pan, bacon and sausages sizzling, eggs frying, bread toasting. Peter, 51, father of the household, sits at the kitchen table, but may as well not be for all the attention he’s giving the small telly on the side. We can hear the football commentary coming from it. Mary places some used utensils in the sink and fills it up with hot water and soap. Mary, back to the audience, gazes down into the sink while she waits for it to fill. Smoke rises from the toaster next to Peter. He glances at it.

“secret identities”

Ash Caldwell wakes at 7.13am, though he can’t see the time. All he knows is it’s still dark outside and the house is silent, meaning Mum won’t be up yet.   He wriggles to the edge of his new, bigger bed that he’s not used to. His legs dangle over the side. His toes are still an inch from the floor. He’ll grow into it soon, Grandad says. He’s a growing boy, he says. He takes a deep breath and pushes himself forward… a perfect dismount, a sigh of relief.   He pulls a torch from under his pillow to light the untidy path between the bed and his wardrobe. Having navigated all the clothing and toy obstacles, he starts the transformation.

“invent a character”

Major Henry Caldwell (retd) wakes up naturally at 5:36am. After a few minutes of cognitive reorientation, he pulls back the flowery pink Laura Ashley duvet cover and gingerly swings his feet to the floor, joints stiff from a night of inaction. He pushes himself off the bed with an “oopht” and begins his morning exercises: once a rigorous two-hour routine, now a series of stretches.