This is a short piece I submitted to Shortbread Stories competition 'Shortbread personified'. It didn't win. I think really it's more ME Personified, rather than Shortbread. So, here it is.
'Smells like cats’ feet and wool and soot and stale biscuits and mothballs and bubblegum and lemons and rosewater and cool earth and furniture polish and the apple drawer in my grandparents’ spare room, with a sizzle of bacon and eggs and a skoosh of Lynx.
Looks like something grey and bent over, wearing a floral pinafore (see illustration), perhaps glimpsed from a 1950s railway carriage as one glances up, for no reason at all, from one’s cup of railway tea; or in a fragment of mirror found in a thrift shop or in a skip, then taken home for ‘upcycling’.
Also looks like a baked potato, left to blacken in the ashes of an abandoned fireplace.
In early summer it looks like a brass jam pan, gleaming dully in the late afternoon sunlight, left by a well-meaning friend on the doorstep of a late Victorian ‘pile’ with crow-stepped gables and a croquet lawn.
Feels like a fluffy cat, or the thing that my brother told me was a fluffy cat when he made me put my hand into the loft in the old cottage when I was five.
Sounds like a steam train. Somebody shouting Daddy my daddy, like at the end of The Railway Children, and everybody cries. There’s a kettle whistling, and the ‘snap’ of a chilled Kitkat. And then the soft but deliberate ‘rip’ of paper hankies being removed from their box.
And the crunch of ice as winter boots cross a frozen field.
Can be found, by the way, on Tuesdays and Fridays ONLY, in the newspaper section of WH Smith, Waverley Station, Edinburgh, in between The Lady magazine and Monster Trucks. On Sundays it can be found hiding beneath a grey cat in the gardens of the Palais Royale, Paris, directly beneath the apartment formerly occupied by Colette. On Wednesdays it lurks in Highgate Cemetery, London, near the grave of Karl Marx. At all other times it may be found with the aid of a celestial map and a space rocket.
Third star on the right (as someone once said) and straight on till morning.
Don’t forget the biscuits.'
Read more: Short Story: Shortbread, My Shortbread | Shortbread