Girl, Boxed

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Our short story of the week is a story about loneliness by Jane Copland.

Jane Copland is from Wellington, New Zealand. After spending her early years almost entirely underwater, she broke a national record in the 200m breaststroke at eighteen and moved to Pullman, Washington to take up a swimming scholarship at Washington State University. Receiving her degree in English in 2006, she moved to Seattle with every intention of working in publishing. Instead, she found herself in tech, which led her to London three years later. She now lives in Reading with her husband, son and large German Shepherd.

Jane began writing aged four, sent swiftly to the headmistress’s office to share her story about a rescue on a mountain. At seventeen, her flash fiction piece placed third in a national Tandem Press competition for under-eighteens and was published in the resulting anthology. However, she only began writing again in earnest in 2019. Since then, her work has been published in Ellipsis Zine, Spelk and Virtual Zine. She was shortlisted in the inaugural Nobrow Prize, the 2020 Fresher Prize, the London Independent Story Prize and the forty-ninth New Millennium Writing Awards.

‘Girl, Boxed’ follows a new mother who is offered a dubious business opportunity.

Enjoy!

The children’s centre sat at the bottom of rickety steps descending from the end of the cul-de-sac. Dark brown brick set on an uneven weedy lawn – it was begrudgingly funded by the council. Everything was rationed and short-changed to the degree that visitors paid 50p for bitter, gritty coffee and the central heating hadn’t been turned on since austerity’s implementation a decade ago. One lonely space heater, surrounded by a harem of dribbly plastic toys, fought a losing battle against draught and condensation. The manager of the centre, a woman in her late thirties called Annette, ruled over the space heater with an indignant rage. The moment the temperature outside hit fifteen, the heater’s stained grey cord was yanked out of the wall socket and it was banished to a locked cabinet. It was the only public place to which Vanessa could walk, and she was afraid to drive. She found herself at the children’s centre so often that she ran out of 50p coins, then 20ps and 10ps, and Annette was extraordinarily salty about giving change for the coffee.

It was at the children’s centre that Vanessa met Martine.

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