Under the city

Seattle Underground Tour, Pioneer Square, USA, 2018. Photograph by Tanya Clarke

Seattle Underground Tour, Pioneer Square, USA, 2018. Photograph by Tanya Clarke

Writing Prompt No. 89

“I’m not sure I quite understand. This is it?”

“It’s art, Mum.”

“I was expecting painting or sculpture? I thought that was what you were doing for three years. Painting and sculpture.”

“Art’s about ideas.”

Virginia looked at the piece of work in front of her. The space was gloomy, a single tungsten bulb lighting the small cubicle filled with a toilet and sink.

“It’s bloody rubbish. For God’s sake.”

Adam bit his lip and dug his hands deeper into his jacket pockets.

“Why oh why I listened to you and this nonsense.”

“Philip, he’s trying to explain.”

“It’s a bog. My son has built a bog and I’m expected to to think my money has been well-spent?”

Philip was starting to tremble, his face was red and shiny. Virginia fiddled about in her hand-bag.

“It’s art,” said Adam staring at his father. Other parents, proud parents, mingled with their children, potential art-world enthusiasts. “You’re both so middle-class. So bourgeois.” Adam’s voice was low yet audible.

“Look here you little shit. We’re no more bourgeois than you.” Philip was beginning to claw at his collar and tie. Adam watched him with some concern.


“I can’t breathe,” said Philip falling back and hitting the floor with a heavy thump.

“Philip? Philip? Someone? Please help. Please help my husband. I think he’s dead.”

“He isn’t dead, Mum,” said Adam. “He just tripped over someone’s shoe.”

Underneath Philip’s large bottom was a now squashed sculpture of a neat pile of shoes. The small gathering of concerned faces was starting to turn into a mocking crowd.

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