Saturday 21 June 2014

'No Returns' by Angela Pickering

"I swear that post box just said 'thank you'." Melanie turned a puzzled gaze on Jan as they crossed the road. She giggled a little to let her friend know that she wasn't quite serious.
    Jan laughed. "Modern technology is amazing."
     Melanie slipped her arm through Jan's and they walked on in companionable silence. Now that her letter of resignation had been posted Melanie's spirits had lifted; her only moment of concern was when she really did think the post box had spoken to her.
     Once in the pub with a drink, she dismissed the moment as her imagination.  "Thank goodness that's over," she said.
     "Don’t think about the job any more," replied Jan. "It's time to move on to something that you'll actually enjoy doing." She raised her glass in a toast. "Moving on," she said.
     The two girls settled down to enjoy their lunch and to plan their next adventure together. They had recently returned from a cycling holiday around France.  The break had made Mel realise how much she hated her job.
     "I hope I've done the right thing," she murmured into her glass, as her thoughts returned to her employment problems.
    "Stop thinking about it," repeated Jan. "It's done."
    Mel shrugged. "Sorry, I can't seem to help it."
     Later, as she walked home alone from the pub, Melanie hesitated for a moment at the post box. A flare of panic made her wonder whether she could slide her hand into the slot and retrieve her letter. She stepped closer and peered into the dark interior.
    "Don't even think about it."
     "What?" squeaked Melanie, jumped back from the box as if stung by a wasp.
      A low chuckle emanated from the open mouth of the red box. "I don't do returns," it said.
     Melanie ran all the way home and phoned the doctor. If her job had caused her so much stress that she was hallucinating, then she didn't even want to work her month's notice. If she'd needed any confirmation that she had done the right thing, then she had certainly received it.
     Back at the box, two young boys giggled and high-fived one-another. "Did you see her face?" cried one, his voice cracking with excitement.
     "She nearly wet herself," crowed the other, swinging his microphone around by its cord "She's the best one we've had all afternoon."
     His friend slapped his shoulder. "Too right," he said. He paused and frowned. "Oi, Tom," he said, "'Ow we gonna get your speaker back out the box?"
     Tom stopped enjoying himself and grimaced. "Blimey," he said. "We never thought of that." He leaned in and peered into the darkness of the box.
     "Don't even think about it," said a voice. Tom looked at his microphone in horror. "I didn't say that," he whispered, but his friend was half way down the road and still running.
     Tom flew after his friend and didn't hear the chuckling from the post box. "I don't do returns," it said.


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