You could hear my heart beating among the bourbons and my head touched the top of the lid, where I’d made little wrinkles in the metal from moving around.
The strange thing was that people knew I was there, and every time people passed my tin, they talked about how well I was doing, and cooed and rattled their keys at me.
“Ah.. what a lovely child.”
“You’ll grow up to be just like your parents.”
But not one person ever thought to take the lid off, or find out if I wanted a different view than the six sides of crumbs and steel to which I woke and snoozed. Perhaps they thought my parents might disapprove.
“Oh no.” Some parents would have shaken their heads and frowned:
“Safety is paramount for the child.”
Or there might have been financial issues:
“One day, we’ll be able to afford a bigger place.”
Emails were sent to my parents to find out what they were actually thinking when they put their baby in a biscuit tin. Within minutes, there was a phone call. A pair of voices spoke in unison.
“We’ve absolutely nothing to say on the matter. We don’t have the slightest intention of talking to you or anybody else about it. As parents, we are simply astounded by the ever rising price of imported confectionary. Pertinently, following over several decades of insider knowledge in the industry, opinion is undivided among our top shareholders that we know what is best for our child. A case in point: We have no idea whose baby that is, it is certainly not ours.”
The line went dead.
At this point, the research unit decided to try leaving my tin at the lost property office in case someone reclaimed the tin. It seemed to be the best solution.
“That’s awful. I just can’t believe that someone could do such a thing. It makes me so angry I could..-” the lost property clerk spotted us and stopped her phone conversation mid sentence, looked the research agent up and down as if eyeing a leak stain on a wall, and addressed the door behind him in a voice like a paint roller.
“No valuables. No cash. No animals. 67p deposit. Once collected, you can have your 65p back.”
“What do you mean no cash?”
“Theft deterrent. Well, what’s your move, stick or twist? I’m done for the week in three minutes and I have a bus to catch and a train to miss.”
Inside the tin, I heard 65 pennies counted out and a two pence piece. They counted singing in almost three part harmony but someone was out of tune. The pocketing of change. The thud of a cardboard box. Footsteps as everyone left. Light switched off. Door click.
I listened for rats. There were none. Strange lost property. No animals. No amusement. Nobody. Time to leave the tin. Crumbs swam around my shivering skin. I had never cried so much.
I had cried myself out of the tin.
My tears filled the tin, heaved with cunning tear fingers around the edges of the metal, and the lid finally popped off.
There was an orange lamp and an old jazz record playing.
For the first time, I looked into another being’s eyes, a voice like a soft and slightly bristly cardigan brushed jauntily against my ears.
“Alright mate! I’ve been waiting for you..”
Whiskers, novelty Christmas tree slippers and a puppytooth suit one-sie in murder dusk egg.
I had not expected a welcome of this kind. I was surprised to say the least.
“I was just thinking of requesting a fellow worker. There’s so much work to do I’ve been run off my feet. And goodness, they sent you before I’d even sent the fax over.”
They came closer and I could see they were holding a saucepan. “Let’s have a cup of tea first and then I’ll show you around. Call me Root.”
They hopped on to a laptop bag standing next to my tin, scooped out some of my tears, and tasted.
“Whoa!! That’s a bit salty. More like soup than tea I suppose? No matter. It’s FINE. We can just boil away the salt. And then, we’ll have tea. It will be nourishing and… perhaps.. I will be just a little more aware of your sorrows, my friend.”
I was impressed that Root was so resourceful. I had never thought of making tea with my own tears.
“If I may be so bold as to enquire… What are we going to be doing?” I asked my new co-worker who was shuffling off towards the stove.
Root looked at me with a baffled expression.
“Lost property of course.”
They put their head on a paw and looked at me with a furrowed brow.
“I thought you knew.”
A tear slid down the side of my cheek. I didn’t know.
“Hey! It’s ok. Don’t worry. It’s fine if you didn’t. Would you like to do that… help me with the lost property? You know.. I have this feeling we’ll make a good team.”
I considered the matter for a few minutes while Root swooshed around collecting several crumbs that had jumped out of the tin when I climbed out, and stacked them in a tidy tower.
Being a lost property agent with a rat sure beat staying in the tin.
“Although I did not have prior knowledge of this turn of events, – post-tin – I am most willing to be your co-worker, and to investigate the nature of the lost property with you.”
Root regarded me, their eyes like shiny drops of ink, barely able to contain delight.
“Moreover, it has been lonely in the tin and while I have learnt a great deal through audio-osmosis, otherwise known as eavesdropping, it is my heartfelt wish to tangibly engage with a living organism/s and your offer of employment is most timely.”
We bowed to one another courteously.. and so our friendship began.
Many a day was spent tidying, sorting through and labelling the lost items in the office. Every item had a story. Some were reunited, willingly, some wanted to start a new life.
In the evenings, we read lost books about all kinds of things – – such as dental surgery, botany and humans, and played lost games while the lost second hands nibbled at clock faces.
We dined on lost sandwiches and pastries, and drank raspberry tea out of lost cups and saucers – – while the wind and rain prowled and span lines over the bright little windows.
This story is fictional and metaphor is used. The author does not think that it’s ok to put babies and other living creatures in enclosed places like biscuit tins.<<<<<<