In the back room’s desiccated atmosphere, the spiders stole one another’s shoes and sang their clever songs with their elbows folded. The shelf of hats stood to stiff attention, three coal black and a female in splendid blue that came with a matching clutch bag. A fossilised white rose had flumped for years upon the shelf, grown mauve with dust, and underneath was a caller’s card with the corner folded over.
Peevish between the kid gloves, the moth-eaten face of a mink stole glowered. It was lovely, soft as anything, made only out of fur and with no guts at all. It was slinky and gorgeous and shiny brown. There was a clip where its shoulders used to be, whereby one might fold it about their neck and wear the creature like a shrug. It shivered, very slightly, and with its empty head it plotted mad vermin schemes of revenge. For the longest time that was all it did, inventing curses as the sun grew slant past the window.
Its little round ears were crumpled like road maps; they heard the spiders and their politics. They knew the fur was listening, poor things, and it made them afraid. So they rocked each other and waited for the toothache whine of the milk float. The night fluttered out.
After another age, the fur stole tried to lift its foot, but the little bones were broken and of no use at all, snapped and snapped in all those brutal years. So it slid instead and flopped dryly to the floor, like a wonderful pattern on the carpet.
These glassy beads that lately passed for its eyes, squinted at the window, open to the maddened garden, and it grinned with its little muzzleful of broken teeth, secret and savage like a flick knife.
Now it hunched itself, remembering nerves and muscles, quivering with the sharpness of freedom, the bite of fear. It flung itself at the window; missed. It tried three more times, and on the last attempt it caught the sill and curled around it, catching its empty breath. Then sinuous and snakeish, the fur stole away, leaving only spiders to gawp after it.
Padrika Tarrant was born in 1974. Emerging blinking from an honours degree in sculpture, she found herself unhealthily fixated with scissors and surrealist animation. She lives in Norwich in a little council flat with her beautiful daughter and some lovely stuffed animals. She hates the smell of money. She does not entirely trust her cutlery. She has two collections of short stories and a novel published by Salt, all available: here. Website: http://www.padrikatarrant.co.uk/index.htm