We set ourselves this title. My story:
When you buy the miniature toothpaste, it means the holiday has started. Time to pack; time to make an effort for the family.
Nothing looks as lonely as the pier in an English seaside resort, pointing out bleakly to sea. Do you remember the days when you were supposed to sit on the front eating fish and chips out of newspapers? That was such a strange custom. Now it’s all multiplexes with sports and entertainment going on in different rooms. We should really go abroad; we could afford to, but some of us in this family never seem to get around to obtaining a passport.
We got off the train on a Saturday afternoon: Brighton again, and as we wheeled the suitcases along the platform the children shouted, pointing out places in the distance that they recognized from last year. We did manage to find something old-fashioned, donkey rides along the beach, and we’re hoping it will be here again this year. A photo of a child on a donkey looks like it could have been taken any time during the last 50 years. It’s as if time had never moved on. But in another way, that makes it boring.
In the newsagents, buying sandwiches and daily papers, I glance at a brochure for mountain-climbing holidays in the Alps and I want to apply, even though I haven’t got a passport, and we would probably all fall down the mountain.
The children are screaming outside the shop. They sound happy.
She squeezed the toothpaste tube as hard as she could. There was no toothpaste left, and only a thin dribble of minty white stained water seeped out through the end.
How is it possible to empty a toothpaste tube completely? Usually when people throw toothpaste away there is at least some residue of the paste itself at the very end of the tube, or in one of its metallic creases. But her boyfriend John had managed it somehow.
He’d completely emptied the cat food as well. Not even one granule in the bottom of the box for the cat to search for with its tongue. If he was so good at emptying packets, she thought, why couldn’t he at least replace them? Instead he always left all the shopping to her.
She returned to the bedroom, where she not only got dressed but also made the bed and tidied up the room. Then she began to write a shopping list. She went around the house and checked everything that needed replacing, and that was when she discovered that John had also emptied a tin of steel wool. Whatever did he want with a substance like that?
After making her list she went out to the garden shed. She unlocked the door and pulled the battered light cord for the battery-operated light that John had installed. It illuminated a lot of spiders in various corners and strategic spots in the shed, all of which were well within reach to jump on her very easily. Then she noticed the webs were all made of steel wool. That made them strong enough that no casual brushing with a feather duster would ever be able to break them. John was somehow in league with the spiders, and had exchanged unbreakable web material with them, but what had he exchanged it for? How had he managed to communicate with them?
She was afraid to leave the shed to do her shopping. Now finish the story- you know you want to.