Following the ‘write a story about beards’ challenge, my wife challenged me to write one about plant pots. That’s still ongoing though, but should be here soon. In the meantime, I’ve put together this story about Humpty Dumpty, one of literature’s most tragic figures. Get your hankies ready.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, tears streaming from his eyes and down his cheeks. His Mama, his poor, poor Mama. He sobbed some more as he thought about his beautiful Mama.
‘Mama,’ he’d said once. ‘What shall I be when I grow up?’
‘Cluck,’ she’d replied.
He’d always been out of place, growing up among the other eggs at the King’s chicken farm. They didn’t speak, they didn’t run around, they never played with him. They just sat there, and occasionally baby chicks burst out of them, a foul mess of feathers and yolk and blood. The only other excitement was when the farmer came to collect the eggs, and Humpty had to squeeze into the murky rafters of the coop to hide from his dirty, grasping gloves. He didn’t know where the eggs were taken, and he had no desire to find out.
As he got older he grew and grew and grew, which he suspected was down to GM chicken feed his Mama had been given, and had to leave the coop to make his own way in the world. But he didn’t make it very far.
He’d applied for jobs. ‘What experience do you have?’ interviewers would ask.
He never had a reply to that. What relevance would being sat on by a chicken’s bum have to a career as an office clerk, or a barista, or a call centre worker?
Then the interviewers would invariably be unable to resist telling him he wasn’t egg-sactly what they were looking for, and he’d be sent on his way.
Not having any money, he was forced to live on the streets. He’d sit on corners, his bowl in front of him, and listen to the cruel jokes of passers-by.
‘Give you money? You must be yolk-ing.’
‘Stop b-egging and get a job.’
‘Why should I shell out for you?’
That sort of thing.
What little money he managed to scrape together this way, he’d determined to save, but gradually began to spend on cheap cider from the off licence. He’d spend his days sitting on street corners or on park benches, getting thoroughly pickled. In the winter, he’d freeze. In the summer, he’d boil.
After a couple of years of this, Humpty was in quite a state. His shell was cracked and grubby, and he was lonely. So lonely, that he began to reminisce about his childhood. It hadn’t been so bad, had it? It had been warm, and he’d been able to snuggle up to his Mama for cuddles. He decided then and there to visit. Maybe Mama could help. When he’d left home all those months ago she’d said ‘cluck’ in such a tender way, and he was sure she had tears in her eyes. She could do something, he knew it.
He started the long journey across the city on foot. With each step he felt brighter than he had in months, until he was positively sprinting as he turned the last corner.
‘Mama!’ he yelled, as he raced towards the coop.
‘Cluck, cluck, cluck!’ came the sound of several chickens.
At last, he was there. He reached the wall of the coop and cast his eyes over the poultry.
She wasn’t there.
His lip quivered, his shell trembled. Then he spotted his father. He’d never been close to his dad, who’d wandered around like the cock of the walk, ignoring him and his Mama, and flirting with the youngest, prettiest chickens in the coop. For some reason, this had never bothered his Mama, but Humpty had hated it, and him. But now he needed his help.
‘Papa?’ he stammered. ‘Wh-where’s Mama?’
The cockerel looked at him, head askance. ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo’ he said, with a touch of finality.
She’d gone. His Mama. ‘Where?’ said Humpty, dreading the answer.
The news sank in. She’d become someone’s Sunday lunch.
With all the trimmings, apparently. Devastated, Humpty ran, sobbing uncontrollably. He ran and ran and ran until he could run no more, and eventually found himself just outside the King’s private residence. He stopped. He could run no more, but found the energy to scramble up a nearby wall.
He looked out over the royal estate. There were the guards and their big fluffy black hats. There were the gardeners, tending to the crops, and the butlers, walking the dogs. And only now did he feel like he could see clearly. There were no eggs in these jobs. There never would be. There was nothing for him here, nothing for a freak like him.
Humpty stared at the ground, and let himself fall.
Half an hour later, all the King’s horses and all the King’s men wandered past, on the way back from the country show. They looked bemusedly at the eggy mess, and sent for a chambermaid to clean it up.