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21 January 2021

Posted by Antosh Wojcik

Assignment by Lawrence Nicholas

Children file themselves into number-lines,

stepping forward in slow-heartbeat strides.

“Do not panic, you will find your place

shortly,” says the canned ceiling voice. 

You try not to think that in a few minutes

you will have a name, know where you belong

forever. “Please keep hands and feet

still inside the assignment chamber.

There is nothing to fear: finding your future is

perfectly safe. Thank you. You keep our world turning.”

You are a few steps away now, feeling the chamber’s

single, hum-drill note. Your throat is clogged by heartbeats

until the arms of Assignment Chamber 300 grip

your calves. They tell you not to be afraid

but they never teach you how. You scream

when tubular claws reach into your marrow

and delicate imagery-knives weigh the inside

of your head. Five minutes later, you have a name

a life. You numb-stumble towards a beckoning man.

He asks who you are. You repeat what the ceiling voice said:

‘Alex Maison, farmhand.’ He nods, pleased.

You don’t like grass. The sun makes you sneeze

but the ceiling’s never wrong, so you walk

towards home, trying to understand.

You can listen to this piece here: https://soundcloud.com/mcw-854371942/assignment

The Mayflower Creative Writers January Blog brief is to write a piece of environmental storytelling with use of a central image the evolves and codes the piece throughout.

Lawrence Nicholas is a poet and writer, recently commissioned by ArtfulScribe and English Heritage on The 'Hidden Stories Project' and currently studying the MA in Creative Writing at University of Winchester.


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