Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Category: Letters To…

Rupert: A Letter To The Stuck

Rupert and Piggies

Rupert and his piggy pals, Bilbo, Nutmeg and Cocoa, were stuck in their hutch. Herself had decreed it, since the weather was rainy and windy. He could hear talkative Cocoa chuntering in the hay, Nutmeg sighing and Bilbo rummaging in the dry food bowl. Rupert stared grumpily through the wire meshing, wishing he was outside playing in the grass.

Bilbo failed to find any hidden treat in the food bowl so headed over to the hay to lie down beside Cocoa. Suddenly there was a loud squealing and squeaking. Rupert jumped round grumpily: ‘Shut up Cocoa! You’re such a drama queen!’

‘Shut up yourself!’ Cocoa shouted back, followed by a sudden squeak as she nipped Bilbo, who shot out of the hay in a hurry.

His furry face wrinkled in a deep frown, Rupert lumbered down the wooden ramp to the play area. His paws sank into the soft sawdust and he pushed past some wooden chew toys, heading for the large blue plastic box lying on its side. He jumped up and sprawled across it with a sigh of relief. Peace and quiet.

Rupert awoke to find himself sliding sideways. He tried to dig his claws into the plastic but he couldn’t get a hold. Thud! He was firmly wedged between the wooden wall of the hutch and the plastic box. Nutmeg called from the top of the ramp: ‘Rupert, are you okay?’

He grunted and, with difficulty, turned himself the right way up so that he could stand on his hind legs with his front paws on the top of the plastic box. He looked up to see Nutmeg’s white and cream face staring at him in shock. ‘What are you going to do?’ she asked.

Rupert tried to jump onto the box, but he was wedged too tightly and his paws merely scrabbled at the plastic. Panting, he gazed up at Nutmeg with panic-stricken eyes. He was completely stuck. By this time, Cocoa and Bilbo had joined Nutmeg at the top of the ramp. They could all smell the mess of Rupert’s droppings from fear. The three furry piggies scampered down the ramp and stood on their hind legs to push the plastic box with their tiny front paws. When that failed, they put their heads against it and pushed. They even took a run up and threw their little bodies against it. Nothing worked. Rupert scrabbled frantically against the plastic.

Nutmeg called a halt. ‘Don’t worry Rupie, Herself will rescue you when it gets dark.’

Bilbo brought mouthfuls of hay for Rupert to nibble while Nutmeg foraged in the play area for any leftover carrot or broccoli for him. Cocoa established herself on top of the plastic box, where she stayed throughout the day, nose-to-nose with Rupert, sometimes licking his face and ears. Drama queen she might be, but all her maternal instincts came to the fore whenever anyone was hurt or scared.

As the sun went down, the patio door opened.  All three piggies raced to the wire mesh door of the play area and squealed loudly and urgently. Herself knew at once that something was wrong. ‘What’s up little ones? she asked. She bent down to peer through the door. Bilbo and Cocoa ran in circles between the plastic box and the door, while Nutmeg scampered up the ramp to jump on the box. They kept up their constant, piercing squeals.

It didn’t take Herself long to spot Rupert’s desperate brown eyes peering at her over the edge of the box. ‘Oh Rupie!’ She quickly moved the box before scooping him into her arms. They all breathed a sigh of relief that Rupert was no longer stuck.


A Letter To The Hungry

I’ll just check one more time. Maybe there’s something I missed the first time around….

No, the cupboard’s empty. What am I going to do? There was nothing yesterday either. Or the day before that.

I can’t stand this pain inside any longer. Drinking lots of water isn’t helping. I need help. What if they say I don’t deserve help?  Must try. Surely someone cares?

Wrap up warm, it’s cold out there. At least it’s not raining today.

Feel so lightheaded walking, but got no money for bus fare. Look at all the lucky so-and-so’s on the bus. They don’t know what it’s like to be me.

Here’s the office. Deep breath. Stand in line. Endless waiting. Legs are trembling. That kiddy’s got a bag of sweets. My mouth’s watering. Look away. Can’t snatch from a child. My eyes are burning. I can’t stand this. I’m nothing…

Number 374. That’s me.

‘I’ve got no money.’

‘It’s not my fault I got sanctioned. I was late for my appointment because the bus didn’t turn up. Now my money’s stopped because I’ve been sanctioned. There’s no food in the house. I haven’t eaten in three days.’

‘A referral form? Thank you so much.’

I walk across the city centre, clutching a referral form. Will this church really help?

Oh, here it is.

Deep breath, here goes.

I walk in, head down, and hold out my form to the smiling person on the desk.

‘Hello! And your name is… Angela. Hi Angela, this is Christine. If you’d like to follow her inside, she’ll give you a cup of tea while we make up your food parcel.’

I risk a glance at Christine. She has a friendly smile on her face and she’s looking right at me.

‘Hi Angela. Welcome! Come and have a seat. Would you like tea or coffee? And we have toast if you’d like it.’

I can see other people sitting at small white tables eating toast and drinking from mugs, chatting with helpers wearing name badges. It’s warm in here and the smell of toast is making my mouth fill with water. I swallow hard.

‘Tea please.’ I whisper.

‘And how many slices of toast? We’ve got strawberry jam.’

Christine is smiling at me.

‘Two please.’

Before I know it, I’m sat at a table eating and drinking. I’m warm. Christine is so nice and friendly that I find myself pouring out everything that’s been crowding in on me for weeks: losing my job because of cancer, having my gas cut off, not being able to afford having the electric heater on, getting sanctioned, having no food in the cupboards. I cry, but that’s okay. Christine is ready with some tissues.

Before I go, she offers to pray with me. I nod. I need all the help I can get. She lays a hand on my arm and tells God about me, asking Him to help me. She talks to Him like He’s her Dad. It’s nice.

When I leave, I have a big bag full of food in my hand and a comfortable, solid sort of feeling in my stomach. The pain has gone. I feel like I’ve made a friend. I’m not hungry any more.

© 2024 Mandy Baker Johnson

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑