What will become of you?
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This is an exclusive short story published by The Indigo Press
What will become of you?
Take this quick quiz and find out exactly where your life is headed.
You find £7000 on the pavement, in fives, tens and twenties. It’s quite a bundle. There’s no one around. What do you do?
a) Finders keepers. You pocket the bundle. You will fritter it away and not regret a thing.
b) You keep half the money and spend it wisely; you give the other half to the next person you see asking for money in the street.
c) You pick up the bundle and put it carefully on a nearby low wall, as you would a lost mitten.
You are drinking a variety of cocktails, some gauche and some sublime, in a bar with friends and friends-of-friends. When do you leave? Who with?
a) 11:37, alone.
b) 10:08, alone and sober.
c) Sometime between one and half-two, with the Dutch barman.
An old schoolfriend gives you a horse. It is a beautiful grey dappled horse with a long long mane. You call the horse Winnifred and you ride her everywhere, every day. Soon you buy yourself a shotgun, which you sling across your back diagonal and loaded. You and Winnifred mosey along the streets of your town, in charge. In heavy rain, in thumping sunshine, on gentle, breezy days the two of you turn left at the post office, head down that leafy shortcut, stalk the main road, on patrol, keeping a keen eye out for absolutely nothing. Passers-by tip their hats at you. Small children wave excitedly to the beautiful grey dappled horse. Her hooves ca-chun ca-chun ca-chun along the street in a rhythm that becomes the background to every one of your thoughts and feelings. Your thighs become stronger hour-by-hour with all the riding.
One day, another horse da-dun da-dun da-duns into town. In the saddle of this chunky chestnut-coloured horse is a tortoise named Archie. Archie is big for a tortoise but of course still much smaller than the horse. You smile at Archie and his horse as they pass you on Tilloch Street, and introduce yourself. They are heading towards the library, you are on your way to Waitrose. Archie tells you he intends to make this town his own and that you and your beautiful grey dappled horse will just have to get right out of here, scarper, vanish, vamoose. What do you do?
a) Invite Archie to join you for a beer or two in your local pub. There’s plenty of room in this town for two horses, you and a tortoise. Archie will see sense.
b) Tempt Archie to a quiet part of town, promising him a field of dandelions and softest collard greens, then whack him on the back of his wrinkly head with the heel of your rifle. Best to nip this whole thing in the bud. Maybe you’ll steal his horse, too.
c) Shoot Archie and then shoot his goddamn horse. Leave them right there in the street: a sorry sight but a powerful warning.
One morning you wake up and you are a newborn again. You are at once all-powerful and utterly, pitifully helpless. You feed, shit, puke, pee, cry, sleep and snuggle. Your motor skills are negligible. You are adorable except for the times when you seem to commune with the abyss and bring forth noisy gargling messages from therein. What do you think of that?
a) Once there was a way to get back homeward, once there was a way to get back home.
b) Booyaka, booyaka.
c) Like a sweet magnolia tree, my love blossomed tenderly.
There was a young lady from Chester
She loved to wear a sou’wester
She filled up her pockets
With nettles and rockets
a) And danced to the hits of Sylvester
b) Which stung and flew when you undressed her
c) And kumquats which tended to fester
The baby is crying. She is probably hungry and her nappy probably needs changing. She is crying. What do you do? The baby is crying.
a) She is crying. You feed her and then you change her nappy.
b) She is crying. You change her nappy and then you feed her.
c) She is crying. You suspend her from the waist down in softly swirling, warm but not too warm water with just a couple of drops of lavender oil in it, while you feed her ambrosia (the delicious food of the gods, not the delicious custard) using a special pipette that delivers a perfect rate of flow.
A dear friend died last summer, quite unexpectedly. You were expecting many more good times together, decades more. What do you do?
a) You think about him every day.
b) You think about him every day.
c) You think about him every day.
Small penises begin to grow on your body.
They appear first at the tops of your legs and your upper arms. You tie dental floss tightly around them until they drop off, and then you flush them down the toilet. You ask two friends if they have had anything like this happen to them, you’re wondering if it’s to do with the menopause. The two friends look at you as if they haven’t heard anything you just said, and then they carry on talking about the best way to get from Stratford to Nunhead. A few days later, you notice that small penises are also growing on the apple tree in your garden. What do you do?
a) You harvest the penises like a medieval nun. You keep them in a basket, nestled together, pulsing. On Sunday you’ll take them to the car-boot sale and see what you can get for them.
b) You chop down the whole tree and burn it.
c) You gen up on plant husbandry and over the next few years you grow ever more beautiful and delicate penises. Twelve years later, they have their own section in the Princess Of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, just beyond the wet tropical zone.
After years adrift in the desert, you meet a man who slowly, mysteriously and surely reveals to you the fragrant and powerful possibilities of love. Nice. You live together, rarely speaking but frequently communicating, for the rest of your earthly days. You die – old, content, unafraid – within hours of each other. Your beautiful desiccated corpses are discovered decades later, and the two of you inspire generations of folk songs, poems, sculptures and a Netflix drama series.
After years of perfectly okay and yet not quite good enough life you head to the woods and become a bona fide hermit. At first you write beautiful poetry, then you just start to make beautiful things, mostly using a small sharp knife you brought with you. When you have enough beautiful things, you spend your days going for walks, sitting, thinking, hanging out with your dog. When the dog dies, a local wolf becomes your companion. Sometimes you howl together at the moon. It’s hard to tell if this is the wolf humouring you. You have a feeling that when you die, the wolf will eat you, and that seems reasonable.
After years of working long hours and doing very nicely in your chosen profession, you shift gear: you move into a ramshackle house with a garden, and you become a lollipop lady. Your house becomes an informal commune where young people who can’t be at home are welcome to stay. Instead of paying rent they simply have to bring you a decent cup of tea every morning. A few of them become skilled gardeners. You have a Sunday roast every week for anyone who’s around, and your Christmas dinners are abundant and joyful. You also have twelve cats. Your life is at once chaotic and relaxing.
Anna Wood’s debut short story collection, Yes Yes More More, is out now.
About the author
Anna Wood lives in London.
You can buy her book Yes Yes More More here.
Our gift to you…
This essay is part of a series of works exclusive to The Indigo Press. Our authors have written moving, insightful and entertaining pieces in conjunction with and in celebration of the publication of their books with the press.
From passionate and polemic essays to compelling quizzes that reveal who you really are, read about everything from the #MeToo movement to the possibility of starting your life again.