My Boy Builds Coffins
by Gary McMahon
Susan found the first one when she was tidying his room.
Chris was at school, and she’d been sprucing up the house before popping off to collect him after the afternoon session. The ground floor was done; the lounge was spick-and-span (as her mother had loved to say) and the kitchen was so clean it belonged in a show home. The downstairs bathroom was clean enough for a royal inspection. The en-suite would do, she supposed, and her and Dan’s bedroom was the best it could be considering they both liked to dump their dirty clothes all over the floor and the furniture.
Now it was time to tackle Chris’s room, which was about as messy as any eight-year-old could hope to achieve.
She pushed open the door, holding her breath, and walked into the chaos. His blow-up punch bag had been moved into the centre of the room and left there. The floor was littered with books, magazines, Top Trumps playing cards, rogue counters from board games, art supplies, and – oddly – old cardboard toilet roll holders.
“Jesus, Chris…” She tiptoed across the room to the window, trying not to step on anything that might break. When she got there, she pushed open the window to let in some fresh air. The room smelled stale, as if it hadn’t been lived in for months.
“Okay,” she murmured. “Let’s get this shit sorted.”
First she tackled the floor. Patiently, she picked up everything and put it away where it belonged – or at least where she thought it belonged, or where it looked like it belonged. After twenty minutes the room was already looking much better. At least she could move around without fear of treading on something.
Next she tidied up the top of his desk – where she found old DVDs without cases, more playing cards, flakes of dried modelling clay, small stones from the garden, bits and pieces of magic tricks, and other sundry boy-items.
The desk was almost clear, and she was looking for a drawer into which she could squeeze yet more art supplies, when she found the coffin. (Continue Reading…)