Ashen skies throw shadows across from his left-side.  Blue hovers tantalisingly in thin patches, but does nothing to brighten his day, or his mood.  Colin traipses home in the almost-rain, through fields and trees.  Dreading the conversation he knows he must face with his wife when he returns, he slows, allowing himself to bleed into his surroundings.  Emptied.  Feeling blank and wordless – powerless now.

‘Gutted.  How long have I worked for that paper?  It seems like a lifetime.  Just short of full redundancy pay.  Kept me on just as long as they needed me, then dropped me like a stone.  Learned everything I knew on the job, years it took me: and now I’m being replaced by a computer program that can do my work in an instant.  My work.’

Nearing home, Colin diverts his walk towards the river path.  Ordered footsteps help him to recount, relive, remember his career in newsprint; first as a wide-eyed hack, then worked up to sub-editor, now, almost at retirement, the crossword maker.  Peerless he’d been.  Quite the cryptographer.

Retirement looms spectral on his horizon.  Shadows gather in the enforced silence of his world.  Threatening to cloak him completely, erase him and the knowledge of him.

Unknown, unspoken and unremembered he slips into the heart of darkness.

Vanishing point.

Whispers gather, impenetrable to him now.


Yawning abysmal dissolution.


Thanks to David Frankum (@DavidFrankum) for sending me this intriguing image and a 26-sentence word limit!


2 thoughts on “Cipher

  1. As one who has experienced redundancy and associated despair (thankfully only temporarily) I believe you have captured the emotions of the moment expertly, excellent piece Sally. Roger

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