Helen Morris

Finalist, 2016


Excerpt from 'I’m not on the tram'

Tam eased his arm carefully out from under her warm body and tentatively emerged from the cocoon of the duvet. He picked up his phone from the bedside table and tiptoed out of the bedroom. It was five o’clock in the morning and, being early March in Edinburgh, still pitch black outside. Tam stumbled into the sitting room and was just about to install himself on the settee when he noticed a mound of blankets and remembered their pal Percy had crashed out the night before rather than face the uphill cycle home.

He had no choice but to make the unheated kitchen his centre of operations. He pulled on an old Aran jumper and some jeans and mismatched socks and sitting at the table, his feet propped against the opposite chair, he typed in the address of the online auction site. It was less than an hour before the auction ended. Six in the morning was certainly a curious time to pick for the bids to end but the seller was in Australia where presumably it was a much more sensible time of day. Offline, Tam checked the Wi-Fi on his phone, switched on but no signal. No need to panic, he grabbed the tablet, nothing, the old laptop held together with duck tape, no signal. He checked the modem, the light was red and solid. He yanked the plug out of the wall, counted one thousand, two thousand . . . thirty thousand, power on, still nothing. OK backup plan, Internet café, library. Not at 5 a.m.

There had to be internet somewhere in the city. The cooker clock showed 0511. Tam slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand. Of course, the tram! First departure York Place 0529....