The Best of Times Short Story Competition

Spring 2008 Results

Trolleys International

Copyright © Gayle Beveridge 2008

You may decide that my story is not worth reading. That I, not being human, flesh and blood, as it was, am not important enough to hold your attention. But I am here. I exist. A type P7 Shopping Trolley. Real metal and plastic, craftily arranged.

You might not wish to spend a moment of your time wondering how it came to be, that I am here alone in the middle of the parking lot, basking in the sunshine. Have you forgotten what it is like to bask in the sunshine? You would not have if it was you who was destined to spend so much time chained in a trolley return bay. She was rushed; the lady who used me last. Too rushed to return me, click my chain in, and reclaim her dollar. Strange, donít you think, that it only cost a dollar to grant me my freedom.

Am I rambling. Ouch! What was that? A red car. Am I dented? Oh no, Iím rolling towards the road. How to brake. Turn. Quickly! Turn sideways. My wheels are grating. Iím vibrating from wheel to handle. If I had teeth they would surely be on edge. But I have stopped. In the entrance of all places.

Another car. Another car is coming! Red, like the last. What is it with red cars. Are they made to be cavalier. Perhaps they should have little advertising badges on them saying 'Reckless Inside' since people think they go faster. But wait; Iíve been a bit hasty. Theyíve stopped to move me out of the way. I apologise. I can only guess it was the stress of having been hit as recently as two minutes ago, that made me too quick to judge. When my wires stop reverberating - an experience I can only imagine would be akin to your heart pounding - I will resume my basking in the sunshine.

What was that. I hear something. I must have dozed off. Got to get my bearings. What. Who said that? Oh no, oh no. Three boys on skateboards. Horrible little boys. Take it up the hill and ride it down, did they say. No, youíre much too heavy and how could you control me. We could crash. I could be damaged. Dented. Bent out of shape. No longer able to fit in with the rest of the trolleys.

What. No. Stop pushing me so fast. Canít you see my right front wheel is wobbling? Donít you care? Would I make you run if you had sprained your ankle. No, I most certainly would not. Iím not at all like that. I care. If I were human I would be a practicing member of Amnesty International, the humanitarian organisation. I canít help but wonder why no trolleyitarian organisation - Trolleys International - exists. If it did it would most surely lobby against young boys on skateboards.

Oh my stars. Weíve reached the top of the hill. Get out! Get out! No child over three years old in a trolley. It should be a rule. There should be signs that say that bolted to our sides. Do not, I repeat, do not push us down the hill. Nooooo! Stop! Stop! Stop! Oh, a parked car. Weíre going too fast. Weíre going to hit it. Weíre going to hit it. I canít watch.

My wheels are grating again. Have we stopped. Are we safe. I wasnít watching. Back to the top. What do you mean, your turn. You canít each be going to ride me down the hill. Not so fast. Do I have to remind you about my wobbly wheel. Youíve made it so much worse, I fear it may fall off.

Itís jammed. Well thatís it then, no more down hill rides. Iíll just settle myself now; take a moment to recompose. What a relief. Must you jolt me like that? What on earth are you doing? Stop kicking my wheel, you little twerp. Iíll wager you wouldnít behave this way at home. Would your father stand by and watch while you kicked a jammed wheel on his golf buggy. No, he would want it repaired. Cleaned. Oiled. Properly cared for. Stop, I say. Do you mean to knock my senses clean out of me?

My goodness, it worked. My wheel has freed up. Does it free up when some poor helpless old lady is trying to push me in a straight line. Of course not. But now; now it works, for these pint sized, under-aged hooligans. Oh, do get out. Youíre even heavier than the last one. Oh my, here we go again. Not watching. Not watching. Whoa! Pot hole. Ouch, my chain has flicked up. The plastic on my handle is chipped.

You young barbarians, canít you see what youíre doing? If I was human Iíd be bleeding now. Would that be so funny. Would you be laughing then. I beg your pardon, ride me down the road. There are cars on the road. Are you insane! You could be hurt too. It wonít just be me thatís damaged. Hmmmmm. Hmmmmm. Iím willing my wheels to jam. All four wheels jam now! Thatís an order! Do I not even have command over my own body. That should be lobbied for by Trolleys International. A trolley should be made with the ability to control its own wheels. To jam or not to jam? That is the question that should be left to the individual.

Donít! Do not take me on to the road. Remember the safety poster you little urchins. Look left, look right, see the cars, and donít go. OK. Donít go. Youíre not listening, boys. Bad listeners donít learn anything. All right. OK. Weíre on the path. Path is good; road is bad. Hey! Hey! I said road is bad.

Will you look at the slope on that road. You, not me. Iím not watching. What sort of morbid trolley would want to watch his own destruction. Whatís that small boy saying? Yes. Yes. Thatís right, itís dangerous. Listen to him boys. At least one of you has the brains he was born with.

You canít be serious! Push me down there on my own. Strange, donít you think, that it will only have cost a dollar to send me to my end. Iíll be down there twisted around the front end of some car, probably a red one, all because some lady was too rushed to go back to the trolley return. You donít need to do this boys. Iím begging you. Iím pleading with you. Have you no sense of compassion? Destruction is not fun. It is bad; very, very bad.

No! No! No! Please donít let go. Donít let go. Oh you let goooo! What was that jolt. Whoís got my handle. Have you come to your senses boys? No, youíre running away. Whoís this. A huge towering man in uniform. Whatís that? Come with you. Come where? Where are you taking me? I havenít done anything wrong. It was those boys. Iím not meant to be here.

What. No. Itís too much. Iím not watching. This isnít happening. Whatís that enclosing me. What was that click. My chain. The dollar coin, itís gone. Where am I. The trolley return bay. Hey! Hey! Itís the trolley return bay. Iím home... I am home.

Do you know what else should be lobbied for by Trolleys International: automatic trolley return mechanisms. No trolley should ever be left a sitting duck in the middle of the parking lot.