Showcasing creative writing by university students around the world.

Illustration by Elin Hjulstrom

Published Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

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In Search Of Wednesday

It was 2014, the year when the British government admitted that there was no such person as ‘David Cameron’ and that for the last nine years the leader of the Conservatives had been a balloon with a smiley face drawn on it taped to the top of a suit. The public knew that they ought to feel outraged, but had to admit that it still had more charisma than Ed Miliband.

It was 2014, the year when the British government admitted that there was no such person as ‘David Cameron’ and that for the last nine years the leader of the Conservatives had been a balloon with a smiley face drawn on it taped to the top of a suit. The public knew that they ought to feel outraged, but had to admit that it still had more charisma than Ed Miliband.


It was a Monday.


I knew it was a Monday as I was doing laundry. I do laundry on Mondays. The first step is gathering the clothes. The t-shirt draped over the armchair, the shirt caught in the wheels of the office chair, the jeans at the foot of the bed. Through the week they lie undisturbed where they fell, like soldiers on a battleground, footprints on the moon, or coffee rings on a service station table. Until Monday. There were going to be a lot of white clothes in this wash. It’s strange, isn’t it, that we tend to take a South African approach to laundry? We maintain that, for the good of all involved, it would be best if different colours were treated separately. But as soon as the whites are out of the way, we don’t really care if the blacks and the colours remain mixed.


The pigeons on the windowsill are talking about me again.


I wouldn’t mind, if only what they said were true. But it’s not. “He prefers strawberry jam,” they coo. “I hear he used to work as a fireman.” I wish they would stop. They weren’t here when I moved in, and to be honest I don’t think I would have moved in if they were. The last time I had Steve around, I had to keep saying “That’s not true”, “I didn’t really”. I think Steve was quite upset by them. He didn’t stay for very long.


It was still a Monday, and I was still doing the laundry.
I do the laundry on Mondays.


I like doing the laundry. I like the noise as you feed coins into the machine’s silver gullet. I like the smell of the washing powder on the cuffs of the shirts. I like watching the drum turn. And I like the woman who sits behind the desk at the Laundromat. I often wonder why she works there; she belongs to a class so affluent they use a bespoke set of vowels. I’ve decided that she must like laundry too. I would invite her back to my place, if it weren’t for the pigeons.


I’m looking for my socks.


They’re labelled with days of the week. I own one set, or seven pairs. They all get washed once a week. Except for the Monday pair. Because I do the laundry on Mondays, and I always wear a pair of socks. As I root through the clothes on the ground. I realise – Oh, God – that the Wednesday socks are missing. I throw open the drawers. Not in there. The pigeons are staring. Could I wear a Tuesday and a Thursday? Would that average out? No, I don’t think it would. Oh God. I bet the pigeons will say it was a Friday sock. No, they’ll get it completely wrong, and say that I found a balaclava.


What was I doing on Wednesday?


Oh, God, I can’t remember. What do I do on Wednesdays? Could I ask the pigeons? No, they’d just lie and say that I was ‘eating ravioli with an ebony spoon’ or ‘painting an oil portrait of Al Gore’. I could get the police to check the CCTV. But then I remember that there is no CCTV in my flat. And that the Police have told me to stop wasting their time. They said that if I do ring about my socks again they’ll put me in a cell.


I suppose there would be CCTV in my cell.


The pigeons have realised that something is wrong. They’re looking at me in that way that vets look at injured dogs, or BBC news anchors look at reality TV contestants they’re supposed to be interviewing. A mixture of pity and contempt. But how do they know? The window was closed, and I don’t think I was speaking aloud.


The pigeons, they must have taken them.


I don’t know what to do. A confusion of options present themselves, but they’re all clamouring and I can’t think clearly. I suppose I could go out there and confront them, but I’m not good at confrontations in person. The last time I went downstairs to complain about noise I ended up apologising for not having such good taste in music, and asking if I could possibly borrow the CD. Could I ring them? No, I don’t think I could manage that. Could I get Steve to ring them? No, on second thoughts it was a stupid idea. I hadn’t got their number, and in any case I’d once overheard a conversation in which one pigeon had told another that he didn’t think it was worth owning a landline, what with the high line rental costs, now that mobile phones are ubiquitous.


I could write a letter. Letters tend to work.


I hunted for some paper, and found it in the form of a takeaway menu. It was lying in the pile of unopened letters that had dripped through the slot of the letter box and formed a puddle at the foot of the door. I couldn’t find a pen, but there was a box of crayons on the mantelpiece. I’d got them from a space-themed children’s restaurant. Steve took me there to celebrate when I got the flat. After I had finished my astro-burger, I went to play on the adventure playground. The manager came over to say that I was upsetting the other customers’ children. Steve apologised. They gave me the box of crayons on the condition that I went away.


I decided to use the red crayon. The blue and green crayons were stubby from use, on account of the sky being blue and the ground green. The glossy paper of the takeaway menu was yellow, so that ruled out the last crayon. I decided not to write in capitals. I don’t want them to think that I’m being rude. “I don’t want you to think that I’m being rude”, I wrote. “But do you think you could return my socks, please?” Due to the menu on which the message was written, it actually read “Please – Sechuan Chicken – I don’t want you to think that I’m Special fried rice being £2.99 or two for £5.00”.


I knew that I would need a stamp to send it – I couldn’t just hand it to them, that would look amateur – but I couldn’t find any. I didn’t think I could make it down to the post office, not knowing that the Wednesdays had been taken hostage. But what if I were to dress up as a courier, and deliver the letter myself?


That would make them think I was serious.


I drew a small picture of the queen in the corner of the menu, where the stamp would have been. Only by this time the point of the red crayon was dull and thick, and she looked more like a four-leafed clover than a monarch. To her left was a poorly-lit photograph of a bowl of Pad-Thai noodles (£3.99, not suitable for vegetarians).


It would have to do.


Now to disguise myself as a postman. There was a blue boiler suit in the corner of my wardrobe, folded where Steve had left it when he came over to paint the flat. If I wore that, I reckon I could pass as a courier. I closed the curtains, so that the pigeons wouldn’t see me changing, and made my transformation. For good measure, so that the birds wouldn’t recognise me, I changed the side of my parting.


I was just about to climb out of the window when the phone rang.

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