Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Making a Change By Rachel Henson

From the main road, Sarah could hear the children squabbling at break time. Their volume increased as she approached the school. In the playground, she noticed one child pushing another. She felt her chest tighten as the victim fell, but elasticity is one of the great qualities of little people. He scrambled back up and smacked the aggressor in the side of the head, surprising himself more than anyone. Not quite the solution she would have advised. As the bully lunged for another go, the child darted towards a bigger group hanging out by the teacher. There he hovered, nursing his hand. The bully sneered. There would be another time.

Sarah pushed open the heavy doors that led to reception. A handful of people mingled by the notice board. ‘School play on Thursday’, ‘football club starts again in April’, ‘Vote Here’. She unbuttoned her coat but didn’t take it off. The heat was stifling, but each person that entered brought with them an icy blast of cold air from outside. She wouldn’t be here long anyway.

She wondered how long it had been since she last trod these carpets. They looked the same. Well, she didn’t notice any difference, but life had other priorities these days. She hardly had time to notice her own furnishings, let alone remember her old primary school from twenty years ago. Come to think of it, it had been over a week since she’d been able to see her floor. She mentally put ‘unpacking’ on the list for tomorrow.

She stepped up to the booth. Cordoned for privacy with portable white boards. She could still make out the words that hadn’t rubbed off properly. The accidental use of permanent marker, leaving indelible marks long after the whim of the writing. Tucking her hair behind her ear, she picked up the pencil, studying the names carefully. None of them looked appealing. They never did. The last time she voted she had done so with fervour. An opportunity to change the future, how wonderful! But disillusionment fell with the raining of results overnight. Her independent choice obscured in the mists of big parties.

The next election came and went with little ceremony for Sarah. She tutted and grumbled to the tune of her colleagues, but paid little attention to the world at large. Let them fight it out amongst themselves as she dispassionately peeled potatoes whilst watching back episodes of sitcoms from the nineties. She didn’t have time to get involved in all of that, she dismissed the idea during a two hour catch up with her mum on the phone.

She needed to stretch her legs today, go for a walk. That was how she justified it, not wanting to inspect the sudden change in principle. She caught herself as she absent-mindedly chewed on the borrowed pencil. Disgusted, she crossed the second box and set it down on the table. It may be a faint mark, but that’s how all pictures begin.

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