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Fast Fiction: Dust

Remember those brilliant goals scored by Billy Tett?

Richard Mallinson tells of fading glory.

After a while I realised that sunlight had seeped into the house.

‘I don’t like t’sun,’ said Mrs Tett, ‘it shows up dust an then makes more.’

Not knowing how to respond to this I stood up and looked out through the net curtain. Some boys were kicking a ball around. A few seconds later it hit the window.

Mrs Test gave a shriek. Dust rose as she sprinted to the door.

‘Get away, the lot of you.’ I heard her shout, ‘an doan’t come back.’

Grudgingly, the boys moved a few yards along the pavement – just enough to enable Mrs Tett to claim victory when she returned.

At that point her husband began to cough, as if his lungs were going to come up. Then he went quiet and Mrs Tett gave him some of his medicine, which he clearly hated but didn’t dare refuse.

‘Football didn’t do im much good,’ said Mrs Tett as if he wasn’t there.

I sat down again. ‘He used to work in the pit, as well, didn’t he?’ I said.

‘Aye, an that didn’t do im much good, either,’ she said.

‘Well, thanks Mrs Tett,’ I said, getting up and closing my notebook. ‘The article will be in the Saturday edition, as part of our Where Are They Now? series.’

‘Aye. . . where are they now?’ she mused, dusting the window sill. ‘And where would you expect them to be, lad?’

‘Well, er, it’s a very popular series,’ I said, ‘especially among our older readers. Many of them will remember Billy, er Mr Tett, scoring those great goals years ago. . . I’m only sorry that he can’t speak to me now. . .’

The old man stood up and lit a cigarette.

‘An who says he bloody can’t?’ he gasped, emitting no smoke.

For the second time that day, Mrs Tett gave a shriek.

I let myself out.


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