There were more than 50 entries to last year's Creative Writing competition, run by the Medway Messenger and the University of Kent.
Christopher Stock from Medway was one of the finalists in the 2008 contest entertainment the audience with his modern parable of what can happen if your kitchen bin overflows.
Read the story below or click the link above to hear it read by kmfm's Patrick Gearey. • Click here for more on entering this year's Creative Writing Awards
Pride is a sin, or so they say. But is it? Is it really? What’s so sinful about sticking to your guns when you know you’re right and keeping your principles when it would be far easier to back down for the sake of an easy life? It sounds quite noble to me.
It all started a couple of weeks ago after a long and difficult day at work. I admit I wasn’t in the best of moods. I’d missed my lunch break, been passed over for a promotion and had the wing mirror knocked off my car by a person or persons unknown. I was tired , tetchy and not at mybest.
We had finished eating and were clearing away before the end of the evening ritual of watching TV and little else. Claire was washing the dishes as I finished reading the back pages of the paper. I picked up my empty beer can and tossed it into the large plastic kitchen bin which was already overflowing.
“That needs emptying,” she said, “They’re coming tomorrow.”
Now, I wouldn’t say I was a lazy man but there are a few jobs I can’t abide. Changing the toilet roll and filling up the car I find terribly irritating. But top of the annoying hit parade would have to be emptying the bin. Firstly it’s always overfilled and impossible to remove the liner without spilling half the contents onto the floor, or even worse, the thing splitting and spewing its insides all over the place, thus leaving you the awful job of scraping the foul smell mess off the lino.
“I did it last time,” I lied. “It’s your turn.”
“Duncan, since I have been home I’ve done two loads of washing, cooked dinner and now I’ve cleared away, washed and wiped up. You do it.”
“Don’t start I’m not in the mood,” I replied wearily.
“Well I’m not doing it, it can stay there!”
“That’s fine by me,” I huffed and stomped upstairs to run a bath. What she said under her breath I didn’t quite catch.
That was the start..
By Tuesday the bin was full to overflowing. The lid was removed and sitting proudly on top were yoghurt pots, an empty bacon packet, the remnants of an half eaten breakfast, several tea bags and the leftovers of my supermarket Chinese for one. An easy meal option when your significant other is not speaking.
Obviously the sensible thing would be to empty it. A simple two minute job to end hostilities and prove what a grown up adult I can be.
But why should I? It’s always me who has to back down. Why can’t she give some ground for once? Well this time things are going to be different. I’ll get my dinner. See if I care.
By the end of the weekend the bin had become a monster growing rapidly out of control. It sat in the corner of the kitchen dominating the room, stinking and spreading its contents over an ever increasing area. Only now it wasn’t alone. It had spawned a family of garbage children that sat its feet, gradually leaking ooze from their multi-coloured bagged bodies. Next to these were a week’s worth of newspapers and junk mail, take-away boxes and beer cans. It was awful, it was slovenly but was I going to give in? No way.
Come the middle of the following week the situation was totally out of control. I’d hardly seen Claire, let alone spoke to her, and obviously I was far too stubborn to ask where she’d been. Each evening I’d come home, warm up my tray of salty processed slop in the microwave then toss it in the general direction of the mountain of trash where once stood our humble bin. This can’t go on much longer. Something had to give.
By chance I was away on a course for a couple of days and was hoping and praying that on my return the mountain of rubbish would be no more and that a return to our former cosy life would be possible. So imagine my delight then, when on pulling up to the drive I was greeted with the glorious sight of a gang of busy refuse guys loading bag after bag of rubbish into the back of a bright blue dust cart. I cheerily bid them good afternoon and felt a spring in my step as I put my key in the lock.
The kitchen was spotless and gleaming. The mountains of garbage were gone, along with my stack of empty beer cans and pizza boxes. All the spills has been wiped away leaving the only smell - a nice, lemony freshness.
But do you know what was best of all? I had won! Brilliant! She had given in. I remained strong. I am the winner.
Not that I will gloat. That’s not in my nature. No, I will just give off an air of smug superiority.
I flicked on the kettle switch and went to make myself a coffee. That’s odd. Where’s my mug? I entered the sitting room to look for it. The huge CD rack was more than half empty. On closer inspection whar was there was all here. It was the same with the DVDs, even the book case. I felt nauseous, the penny dropping with a resounding thud. I raced upstairs and threw open the wardrobe. Empty!
Feeling I needed something stronger than a cup of decaf I staggered back downstairs and open the fridge, hoping there may still be a beer that had escaped her clutches. No chance.
It was then that I spotted the small post-it note attached to the bin:
I guess this is the end. Things have not been working out and I feel it’s best that we part now before things get any worse.
PS All your stuff is out the front in black sacks next to the rubbish.