Pylon by Alanna Donaldson

There’s a sort of shed at the end of our road with a door made of planks of wood and a gap down one side. We looked in there with a torch once and saw buckets and a thick grey cobweb like a hammock. The door was padlocked with a dull old lock and Lou said you could knock it off if you tried. So the other day we tried and it broke just like that and fell with a clang on the concrete. Inside it smelt of shade and soil and there was nothing else, like I said there wouldn’t be, only two deck chairs against the wall. So we sat on those and closed the door and with the torch on the ground between us Lou told me about her uncle.

He lived on the short street below the railway track and he hung his clothes on the washing line, only his, and he set his place at the table, only his. He washed one plate and one cup, one knife and fork, one pillowcase. His garden grew into one big bramble, half as high as the house, and the more it grew the less he could ever change it. His hair grew long and white and he never combed it and sometimes it stood straight up in the wind.

In the field beside his garden was a pylon. One day it made a buzzing sound that came and went, like a fly against the glass. He said he’d lived there fifty years and only ever heard the wind in the wires and now it buzzed at him day and night.

He got it into his head that the pylon was talking to him. Each day he leaned on his fence and he listened. He stood out there in the dark and he stood out there in the rain. He took out a notebook and drew pictures he didn’t understand. He got through notebooks and he got through pencils and he said he was getting close. He said no one else could understand as it was his garden and meant only for him. He said it was about the old days, that it was helping him to remember. When anyone spoke to him he only half listened, and half listened out for the pylon.

Then Lou’s uncle climbed up that pylon like a climbing frame. His neighbour saw him from her bathroom window when he was halfway up. She said a great white light burst out along the wire and he dropped through the air like a shot bird.

Lou says her uncle was always trouble and was always going to end up in trouble. My sister thinks Lou made the whole thing up or read it in a book. I don’t know what I think. Just then someone looked in at the door and said it wasn’t a playground and we weren’t to sit in there, so we ran, and Lou came back to mine for a while until it was time for her tea.


Alanna writes flash fiction and short stories and works in publishing. She has published stories in print and online at Ellipsis, Blink Ink, 101 Words, Paragraph Planet and 50-Word Stories. She can be found on Twitter here.

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