Monday 25 September 2023

Bags of Room by Janet Howson, squash

 The instructions were clear. One cabin bag and one carrier bag of food. There were five of us so that was the maximum that could be squeezed into a Nissen Micra. I had laughed at first at the concept of cramming my belongings into one tiny suitcase. Then there was the food bag.  What would I need for three days?

The big day arrived. I had finally shrunk my belonging down to the absolute minimum. The rest of the group had hopefully done the same although a couple of sleeping bags a folding beach chair and a rucksack had materialised. We had convinced Ruth she couldn’t bring her Rottweiler with her even though her daughter had let her down on the dog sitting.

At first we all stood round the heap of luggage contemplating the enormity of the task. Would all of that fit in? With five in the car we couldn’t use the back seats.  Kayleigh had always meant to get a roof rack. First we tried the random method of just ramming everything in one by one. This left us with Laura’s case still on the drive and none of the food bags in. We took everything out and decided to think logically about it.

Ruth, we decided unanimously, was the most practical. “You did erect the tent very efficiently last year in that field in Suffolk,” Jessie pointed out.

“That came with instructions though,” Ruth replied.

“Okay, let’s step back and work it out, all cases in first then we will fit everything else around them,” Paula suggested.

That sounded sensible so I tucked mine in first and the others followed. The first step had been achieved. Only five food bags, the chair, the sleeping bags and rucksacks to go. We decided to start with the food bags. These varied in capacity. Kayleigh had brought more but she excused this as she was the driver and anyway it was her car.

On the second attempt we managed everything but two of the food bags which we cracked on the third attempt but that still left the extra items.

“Before you suggest the rucksack I will wear mine on my back.”

“I can sit on my sleeping bag,”

“… and I can wrap my sleeping bag around me.”

“The chair can go along the floor in the back seat?

With this in mind we clambered in. Jane sat with Kayleigh at the front as she suffered from car sickness and the other three squeezed up together in the back seat. They quickly had to get out again as Paula needed a final toilet trip and waited until she returned, not quickly enough for Kayleigh who said they were  in danger of hitting the rush hour .

Jessie got out her mobile phone, “Just ringing Graham to say we are on our way.” Groans from the others nearly disguised her opening comment. “Hi, love. You were wrong. We got everything into Kayleigh’s car. There was bags of room.”

About the author

Janet Howson taught English and Drama for thirty five years and didn't take up writing until she retired. She has had three novellas published, 'Charitable Thoughts', 'Dramatic Episodes' and 'A Cue For Murder' as well as having short stories published in anthologies, including 'Best of CafeLit 8,9 and 10. 


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