A ladder story

Here’s a little story I wrote for our Writer’s Drop-in meeting this week. The topic was “ladder”. This comes into my story only tangentially. A few other stories used a ladder as in a myth – to connect one world with another. Interesting stuff. Anyway, this one’s just for fun.

Eb and Flo

Eb and Flo were watching rugby on TV.

“What’s that noise?” he said.

“Eh?” she replied. “It’s the TV.”

“Nah,” he said. “Sounds like Spider.”

Spider was their cat. Flo peered over the top of her specs and around the room.

“He ain’t here,” she said.

Eb sighed and dragged himself up and out of the sofa. Crisp crumbs rose around him in a small cloud as he did so.

“Watch yourself,” said Flo, tutting at the crumbs which were fluttering now onto the floor.“Don’t you go climbing up a ladder to get him if he’s stuck up some place.”

“Nah,” he said with another sigh. He lumbered out of the room and Flo turned her attention back to the rugby.

Outside it was raining. Cats and dogs, some might have said, but peering between the raindrops on the kitchen window Eb could see no sign of the errant moggy. He opened the back door:

“Spider!” he called. A gust of wind picked up his voice and pushed it back down his throat.

“Spider, Spider, cwtchy cwtchy boyboy,” he called, but was assailed by coughing as the words fell to earth.

Eb pulled the door shut, coughed some more, shook himself like a dog – even though he had not stepped outside and was not the slightest bit wet – and set off back through the kitchen.

When he got back to the sofa, a little out of breath, the match had just finished.

“Who won?” he asked.

“Eh?” said Flo.

“Was it our lads, or theirs,” he said.

“Nah,” she said. “Did you get the cat?”

He shrugged, eased himself down into his personal depression in the sofa and picked a few crisp crumbs from amongst the cat hairs on the faux-fur leopardskin cushion.

“Spider,” he announced, “wasn’t there. Now I’ve missed the end of the match.”

Eb glowered at his wife.

“Well, that’s not my fault is it?” she said. “I never said you had to look for him.”

Flo pressed buttons on the remote control at random, scrolling through Kung Fu films, boxing and pouting women until she reached the Shopping Channel.

“What’s that noise?” said Eb.

Flo snapped off the TV and, in the silence, they listened.

“It ain’t nothing,” she said. “You’re hearing things.”

They sat there.

“Well,” said Eb, and his mouth moved as he said something else, but the sound of the words was submerged by an ear-splitting screech.

Flo cowered in her corner of the sofa and Eb blinked. She thought how prominent his eyes were and started to say so, but her words were drowned too as the second screech came, louder.

From the back garden came a sound of breaking glass.

“What’s that noise?” said Eb.

“Eh?” said Flo.

Eb sighed. He went to make a cup of tea for the two of them and when he got back Spider was sitting on Flo’s knee.

“Look,” said Flo. “Spider!”

She stroked the cat and it purred. Eb sat down amongst the crisp crumbs and the two of them supped their tea.

Outside the screeching of the neighbour’s tomcat and the sounds of breaking glass intensified.

“What’s that noise?” said Eb.

“Eh?” said Flo. “Spider’s here. You did a good job rescuing him. Well done, ducks. We can watch the rugby now.”

And she snapped the TV back on, just in time for them to catch the kick-off.

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About Cath Barton

Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in South Wales. She was the first Literature Editor of Celtic Family Magazine and is a regular contributor to the on-line critical hub for Welsh arts and culture, Wales Arts Review. Of her short fiction in print, most recently she has had stories published in the 2015 Flash Fiction Anthology "Landmarks" and in anthologies from Hour of Writes. She is also active in the on-line community of writers of flash fiction.
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