This is a piece describing being burgled, in about 500 words. I wasn’t a fan of this exercise; I’m quite “macro” in my view of the universe, whereas this piece was narrowing my focus onto the “micro” aspects of an event. However, this is something that I have noticed of late; my viewpoint. I read a short story where a woman is looking around her room, the author describing everything from the wallpaper to the bric-a-brac dotted about the room. That doesn’t interest me at all – sure, maybe one artefact of note, or something that will crop up in the story later, but I don’t want to know intricate details of the carpet. I may be a writer, but I’m a reader too. However, what if people do want great descriptive volumes about the setting? I don’t think they do. It’s all about action, action, action!
Everything was gone. Not just the small stuff, or the electronic stuff – the entire house was empty. I felt numb; who on earth could do this? In fact, why would someone do this? Even the crappy small stuff, the pointless cracker toys and old computer games were gone.
I dropped my keys onto the light circle of carpet where the table used to be and went back to the bare living room. I sat on the carpet facing the spot where the TV used to be and sent a message to my brother; I was too angry to talk to anyone at the moment. I went back to the front door and examined the damage. The uPVC was scraped away to expose the steel frame underneath, which had been warped and twisted by (I assume) a crowbar. A traditional ghetto story; break and entry. What really troubled me was how the entire contents of my house could be removed within 8 hours, and without any of my neighbours noticing or calling the police!
I felt my legs go tingly; the first signs of a panic attack manifesting itself, so I stood up and wandered around the house. Everything was gone. I couldn’t believe it. I’d spent 7 years being underpaid in a job I absolutely hated, struggling to pay off a loan and a mortgage while trying to keep a nice house, and for what? So someone could walk in and take whatever they wanted? And not just my good stuff, but EVERYTHING? I didn’t even have a second pair of socks to my name!
My brother text me some generic words of advice – not helpful, but I really didn’t expect anything better. Would I care if the roles were reversed? Probably not. My pulse was slowing down thanks to the distraction and so I went into my bare kitchen, strangely silent without the monolithic fridge thrumming constantly. I opened the cutlery drawer; empty. I opened my food cupboard; bare. I had to admit; their attention to detail was admirable.
The shock of the burglary was fading; I needed to prioritise and start fixing this mess. First, report the robbery to the police and collect a crime number. Then, call my insurers – although I didn’t have the paperwork anymore – and secure the house, although there wasn’t anything left to steal. Should I start making a list of all my belongings for the insurance claim? Could I remember everything? I needed to charge my phone…somehow, and sort out somewhere to sleep. Maslow’s pyramid appeared in my mind – I had taken a topple from “self actualisation” to “physiological needs” within 20 minutes, and I needed to rebuild. I called my mother.
“Mother? It’s Billy. I’ve been burgled. They took everything.”
“Everything? Even the furniture?”
“Yes. All my rooms are bare.”
“Wow. What about Mr Sniggles? Did they take him too?”
Where was my cat?