‘Roots and Bones’ by Anton Rose
an extract


Anton Rose‘s short story Roots and Bones was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2017, and is featured in the London Short Story Prize Anthology. He shares an extract from the story below, and tells us a bit about it.

This story is set in County Durham, where I grew up. Durham itself is a relatively wealthy, middle-class university city, but the county has some of the poorest areas in the UK, including a number of ex-mining villages which have never been able to recover since the callous deindustrialisation of the 1980s. This particular story is loosely based on a true story, and it’s part of a series of short pieces I’m working on, all from the perspective of the same character. As with most of my stories, this one began with a handful of images which sat in my mind for a while, biding their time. When I finally sat down to begin, the story practically wrote itself.

Extract from Roots and Bones

When the coppers came, I was supposed to be in bed. Me and Sean had been playing footy in the living room with this little plastic ball and we’d knocked a picture frame off the mantelpiece and smashed it to bits. Dad sat in his chair, laughing, but Mam went crazy, screaming at us and sending us up to our room like we were still bairns.

The coppers came driving down the street, red and blue lights streaming through the window, blurring in the rain. I pulled the blinds back and pushed up against the glass, Sean right next to me, watching.

“What do you reckon?” I said. “That lass at number eight been thieving again?”

“Or they’ve finally caught Mr. Taylor fiddling little boys. I saw him eyeing you up the other day, you know.”

“Piss off,” I said, and I thumped him on the shoulder.

I watched the car come down the street, curious to see who had got in bother this time. It drove through the narrow gap past Mr. Bowen’s van, heading down the terrace, but then it stopped. Right outside our house.

Down below, two coppers got out, rain spattering against their helmets. They eyed up our front door.

“Jesus,” Sean said next to me. “The fuck have you done now?”

“I’ve done nowt,” I said, and for once I was telling the truth. 

For more information about the London Short Story Prize and details on how to enter, head here.


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