Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about kindness by Tim Taylor.
Tim Taylor was born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent and grew up near Leek. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford, then spent a few years playing guitar in rock bands before reluctantly knuckling down and joining the Civil Service. Having since done a PhD in Philosophy, he now divides his time between writing and part-time teaching in Ethics at Leeds University. Tim lives in Meltham, West Yorkshire, with his wife Rosa and fifteen guitars.
Tim has been writing on and off for most of his life, but started to write more seriously when he left the Civil Service. Since then, he has published two novels with independent publisher Crooked Cat, a poetry collection with Maytree Press, and numerous individual poems and stories. He has won, or been placed in, a number of poetry and short story competitions, and came second in the Hammond House International Poetry competition earlier in 2021.
‘The Night Before Christmas’ follows a burglar on Christmas Eve as he questions his choices.
Christmas Eve had always been Matt’s favourite night of the year. The reasons he liked it were not the same ones that appealed to other people. It had never been, for him, an evening of quiet relaxation and festive cheer. In fact, it was always a time of hard work, when he would put in a much longer and busier shift than usual.
But boy, was it worth it! On any other day, you had to go through every room, every cupboard and every drawer in a house to find the stuff that was worth taking, and then when you got it home you would often find that it was broken or otherwise fit only for the skip. Tonight, though, in pretty much every house on every street in any town you cared to visit, you would find a nice big pile of goodies, all laid out ready to collect, everything brand new and still in the box. Oh, and just to make it easier, they put it all under a big tree with lights on it as if to say, ‘please burgle here’. And if you were lucky, you’d even get a mince pie and a glass of sherry for your trouble.
On the down side, it was always something of a lucky dip, since everything was wrapped up in fancy paper, and you didn’t want to waste time ripping it all off before you got out. More than once, he had returned home with what seemed like a bumper haul, only to find that those enticing-looking packages concealed worthless nick-nacks. But Matt was a professional, and over the years he had become pretty good at judging from the weight and feel of a parcel, and the sound it made when you shook it, what sort of thing it might contain.