• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 09
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What Tom Found in the Loft

Tom’s wife has asked him to clear some space in the loft. They need more room to store the baby equipment apparently. There’s no point getting rid of it just yet, we might need it again she says. Tom isn’t sure what he thinks about this. His life has not been his own since Millie was born. However, agreeing to move the cot and baby clothes into the loft seems like a good way of delaying any decision-making, and so he agrees.

The stepladder creaks as he climbs up and pushes open the overhead hatch. The strip light blinks into life, illuminating the task ahead. Along with the suitcases and Christmas decorations, there are rows and rows of cardboard boxes crowding the loft space, stacked two or three high in places. Some have marker pen words scrawled across them like, ‘old photos’, ‘files’, ‘misc kitchen’ and confusingly, ‘Tom – stuff’. Some have no clues at all as to their contents.

Tom picks a box at random and pulls it open. It is filled with old cassette tapes. He smiles, and begins to look through them. Old albums by Michael Jackson, A-Ha, Nik Kershaw and the like clamour for his attention like old friends at a reunion. More interesting still are the homemade mix-tapes and compilations. A catalogue of his youth. There are copies of all the ‘NOW That’s What I Call Music!’ albums going from number 9 up to 21. He must have gotten a CD player after that.

Tom looks in a few more boxes and finds what he is looking for; his old portable Panasonic cassette player. Ellie won’t be back from work for a few hours yet. A bit of self-indulgence over a tea break won’t hurt, he decides. He hauls his finds back down the ladder and sets up the cassette player in the lounge.


What Tom Found in the Loft

A pleasant couple of hours is spent reliving his musical youth whilst Tom simultaneously sorts through a couple of the boxes marked ‘files’. He is proud of his multi-tasking abilities. He has nearly cleared a whole three square feet of space and it isn’t even lunchtime yet. He looks again in the box of cassettes, and one marked ‘PRIVATE’ in red biro catches his eye. He does not recognise the handwriting or recall what it might be.

Tom makes himself another cup of tea, then puts the cassette into the machine. For a while he hears nothing but static. He has almost given up when he realises there is a woman is whispering to him. He turns up the volume. She is talking about what she wants to do to him, what she wants him to do to her. She sounds like she is enjoying herself. The language makes Tom wince. Tom smiles, remembering his first proper girlfriend, Vicky Maloney. He rewinds the tape and hides it at the back of his sock drawer, wondering what other buried treasures the loft might reveal before the day is done.