Before you go, the box you shoved in my corner contains another piece of you and while I never grow tired of looking at previous pieces of you, it would be nice to chat about which part of your sixty-five years you want to keep, or hide, or forget so I know if it’s a permanent addition to your collection, or if you plan on returning for it in the near future; I categorize the boxes by importance, you see, crucial for my well-being because while I’m happy to guard your precious memories—that’s what attics do, after all—you need to consider that it’s not material items you store in these boxes but emotions attached to memories and the longer a box stays in my possession the deeper I absorb the feelings, and sometimes the melancholy I absorb can get quite bad, though I think that’s partly due to my location in the house; the topmost floor, never thought about until I’m needed, and I’m not the nicest place to visit, I admit, only a vent in the apex which means there’s no wind, and the dust settles, and the silverfish breed and though I don’t mind their company, it is difficult to keep them out of your boxes; they’re the sneakiest things, silverfish, slipping through the smallest of gaps, especially the boxes in my southern corner because the chimney runs up the outside of that wall and in winter when you burn the fire day and night, the area is quite warm, though I must admit, I’d rather silverfish than mice; thankfully they are happy to live in the basement which is a far better place for mice; being closer to the earth they can burrow which is what mice like to do, but it’s worth mentioning while we’re on that topic that I overheard the basement groaning about a crack in the foundations, possibly caused by the burrowing mice, and the area is wet because of a leaking tap outside, which is probably why the mice are there; they’d have a source of water, you see, but that does raise another worry because where’s there’s water, there are termites and you can’t be too careful with termites; I’d die if they ever got into my beams, but I suppose if they made it this far, then the entire house would need to be demolished, which would be a shame because I quite like being here, looking after your treasures, and I’m not sure how I’d feel about another attic replacing me, which is morbid to think about, so if you wouldn’t mind checking in with the basement and fixing that leaky tap, I’d be forever grateful, even though I know you don’t like the basement because it’s dank and cranky and smells like something nasty crawled into it, but the basement has feelings too, and it would love your company, just as I have enjoyed your company, even if only for a moment.
Before You Go was long-listed in the Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction September 2021 Short Story writing competition and required the following prompts:
- Your story must include EITHER an attic OR a basement.
- Your story must include some kind of insect.
- Your story must include the words EARTH, WIND, FIRE and WATER.
To view the winning and shortlisted stories and learn more about the competition CLICK HERE