Chipped and Wandering – short story excerpt

Chipped and Wandering Award-winning Short Story by Scottish Jamaican writer Jeda Pearl
3 min |

Follow the misadventures of a chipped button as it travels from child to child in this award-winning funny, moving short story.

Chipped and Wandering was Highly Commended, The Yellow Room Spring 2012 Short Story Competition.

The Yellow Room ran from 1998 to 2013, publishing short stories by female writers and running seasonal competitions. It was founded by the author Jo Derrick, the former editor and publisher of QWF and Cadenza.


Chipped and Wandering by Jeda Pearl

‘It’ll last another day,’ says Mum, adjusting Timothy Crowther’s collar. The loose button is small, pillar-box red and has a narrow indentation across the rim. She cups his chin, licks her thumb and wipes a smudge of toothpaste off his cheek.

‘Hurry up,’ yells Jess.

Helping Timothy with his jacket, Mum turns to see Jess leaning on the wall outside, looking much older than eleven.

‘He’s never going to learn if you keep doing it.’ Jess spots a friend and marches on ahead with a dismissive wave.

All the way to school Timothy fiddles with the button. It’s his fourth day and Mum’s grip is firm. He sprints off when he sights the gates, leaving her stranded, like a message in a bottle. She bobs forward, finding her way through the shoals of tuna, astute anglerfish and lone whales with their barnacles still intact.

At 11.36am the button falls from Timothy’s neck. It lies on his lap for a second, before he moves to grab a stolen crayon back. It rolls across the floor, between table legs and kicking feet. Nobody notices the missing button, their stomachs rumbling for lunch. While they nibble round teacher’s nerves and reshuffle their hierarchies, it spins to rest under Trisha Schofield’s chair.

Trisha is a marathon daydreamer, who has become mesmerised by a peculiar toy cat peeking out from the high shelf behind teacher’s desk. Mrs Johnson’s soft voice creaks like the old wicker rocking chair at home and with the heat of the classroom, she’s lulled into a hypnotic daze. Slipping her feet out of her roomy shoes, Trisha’s big toe happens upon the button. Alert, she shimmies it forward and waits for an opportune moment to duck down. She runs her finger over the dent and pops it in her pocket. Perfectly timed, her bladder tingles and her arm shoots up.

Trisha likes to use the middle sink in the girls’ toilets, as that dispenser has the highest probability of containing soap. She almost forgets the special red button she’d tucked safely behind the tap. When she puts it back in her pocket, her little fingers discover more forgotten things: a wodge of Blu-Tack for moulding, a spike-less drawing pin, a white feather, one googly eye and a strand of wool. On her way back down the corridor, Trisha winds the wool round her finger, turning it white. The tangled button falls, neglected, as she passes that classroom – the one with the shouty teacher. She scurries back to class.

The button waits on the hall floor for a minute and a half. Joel Charles, released from primary two, spots it. Over the summer he has become obsessed with the ground after discovering his first lost coin. He is now delighted to have gathered exactly £3.17 so far, twenty-three pence of which he found in the school corridors yesterday.

The button is not a penny, but it might just be small enough to fit up his nose…



Buy Chipped and Wandering {with a custom personal dedication} for just 99p!

“I’m still thinking about it. It left such an impression on me.” – Paige Carter

“I laughed out loud!” Claire Humphries

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