'PLEASE DO NOT BEND' by Rob Walton

If it didn’t say PLEASE DO NOT BEND on the envelope, she would always make a point of bending, creasing, folding if possible. Her ‘bad back’, wear and tear between the fourth and fifth vertebrae, meant that the folding sometimes hurt. But it was worth it.

Parcels could be shoved through the letter boxes, with the possibility of the brown paper tearing, with a smile on her lips, with the muttered, “I’ll give you eBay”.

She thought of herself as Gretel, wrestling control from her incompetent brother, when she left a trail of red elastic bands on paths, roads, occasionally garden gates. She would sometimes try to make it look accidental, haphazard, random if you will. She had absorbed the strange looks when people saw her practising in the sorting office.

Perhaps her favourite was keeping items in her bag if people looked out of windows expectantly.  “No, sorry, Mr Noris, nothing today.”  Going round the corner, “And there’ll be nothing for you tomorrow either.”

On her last round, on her last day, she slipped her own redundancy notice (restructure…efficiency…thank you...service) through the final box. The bag and jacket offered more resistance, but she managed.

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