The Daddy In The Box Added£1.29
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(A short story of 6795 words)

The Daddy In The Box


by Naomi Richardson

It’s early 1950’s and 4-year-old Ruth is embarking on a new phase of her young life. She’s off to live at the seaside, with her great aunts, Constance, Rose and Pearly Trice. The story covers the next few years of Ruth’s life as she struggles to come to terms with the mystery surrounding her father and the bewildering behaviour of adults.

Ruth sits crossed-legged on a bed upstairs. Fido is standing stiffly to attention beside her. He’s a new toy – a pale blue and white knitted dog she’s been given just this afternoon. Ruth and Fido are getting to know one another and she is telling him about her train journey earlier that day.

“It took a very long time”, says Ruth, “and the train was this big”, holding out her arms, “and ever so loud”, covering her ears and screwing up her nose. “It makes lots of different noises”, she tells him. “Sometimes it sounds like a snake, Hiss-s-s-s, like that, and sometimes it puffs like a dragon – puff-puff-puff”.

Fido’s black button eyes tell Ruth that he is all ears. She continues in a singsong voice, “The train sings clickety-clickety-clack and moves like this”. She sways and bounces up and down on the bed – she wants to find out if Fido’s up for a bit of rough and tumble. “And it whistles – Whoo-whoo!” Corn coloured ringlets fall over her eyes and nose as she slides dramatically from the bed, landing with a loud thump on the scuffed varnished floorboards.

“Be quiet up there”, snaps a sharp voice from downstairs. She thinks this voice probably belongs to one of the aunts – it certainly isn’t Mummy. Ruth decides she isn’t going to cry and picks up Fido, who has also fallen off the bed and needs a hug. Holding Fido makes them both feel better, so she continues in a whisper. “We sat in a room on the train with a man and a lady. It had big red chairs and mirrors and pictures on the walls”.

The stuffy carriage had reeked of wet, rubbery raincoats and cigar smoke and when Ruth held her nose and said “pooh” out loud, Mummy had muttered, “be quiet” rather fiercely and “Be a good girl now!” – and so she was. When they arrived at Broadstairs station, there was a big black and white notice on the platform and Mummy told Ruth the King had died. Mummy seems quite upset about this, but Ruth doesn’t think she knows him...

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