Short story: The Spinning Top by Stef Nelson

Spinning Top by JanetR3 on Flickr
9 Jul 2013 @ 11.44 am
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Spinning Top by JanetR3 on Flickr
Spinning Top by JanetR3 on Flickr

The Spinning Top
by Stef Nelson


I entered the drinking room. Laying my hand on the peeling door frame, I sighed to myself; I sighed because life would always be the same.

Inside the room, a picture of destitution. The familiar, heady smell hit me, causing me to feel woozy and weak. An array of bottles littered the table; some contained remnants of the devil liquid, others bone dry.

Numerous bookies’ tickets lay screwed up in the ashtray, black and burnt. A stench of smoke spiralled into the air from a recently stubbed cigarette.

The table – once a beautiful writing desk where great thoughts were put to paper and the power of the pen reigned supreme – now stood for nothing. The leather top splashed with spillages that invited dust to stick like flies to a spider’s web.

Gauges dug deep in the mahogany, splinters and shards of wood protruding from the surface. A single light bulb hung from a scraggy cord. It shone dimly, the light so feeble it barely reached the grubby walls. However it illuminated the dust floating in the smoky air.

A gentle crackle tickled the room. The very faint hum of voices. I recognised those voices immediately; they were commentators. That’s where he would be now, at the bookies. Turning sharply I left the room.

I crept to the window sill, my steps (although light) made the floorboards creak in agony. The window sill was damp from dripping condensation. On it were drinking bottles, perfectly arranged in order of height. Each one holding a single wild daisy.

Once when I was little I was sat in the yard, the long grasses an enclosure around me. The previous day we had visited Scarborough – her parents lived there. I liked her dad. He was old and had a bald patch. He smelt friendly – of home cooked meals rather than smoke and alcohol. I remember him because he gave me a little wooden spinning top painted with glossy colours that shone in the light. I loved it, always have.

I balanced a plate on the rocky ground; the spinning top would only work with a flat surface. I lifted my arm, admiring the reflections of light in the paint work. It was beautiful. I raised my arm way above my head – and dropped it. The spinning top missed the plate and bounced off a rock into a patch of wild daisies. I was mesmerized. They were giant daisies, bigger than any I’d ever seen before. They were my two beautiful things. My little spinning top and my giant daisy patch . . .

Delving into my pocket, I reached for my comfort and produced the spinning top. Perching on the bed, I set it spinning and stared. The spinning top my hypnosis, alcohol his.


  • A number of talented Huntington School year 10 students took part in a one-day writing workshop – and YorkMix is delighted to be the first to publish their work
  • To find out more about the creative writing workshop, and to read the other students’ work, click here