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Jamie's Mountain

jaxx sullivan

3 Nov 2023

Short Story

It was a fresh autumnal Monday morning in a small town in the West coast of Scotland. Golden leaves decorated the grey concrete like confetti, crunching underneath Jamie’s shabby shoes on his walk to school. The chilly morning sun was low in the sky, shining on Jamie’s concave face, giving him more warmth than he had felt all weekend. He arrived at the school gates feeling exhausted, powered along by the thought of the warm breakfast waiting on him at the base of the mountain he had climbed to get here.


The heavy school door was yanked open. Ms Daly greeted Jamie with the same welcome he received everyday. It was like a mug of hot chocolate for his small heart.


“Morning Jamie, how are you?” She knew.


“Hi Miss. Ok.” Jamie managed an empty half smile. Her stomach churned for him. Monday mornings never got any easier.

Jamie walked through the foyer where the walls were decorated with projects and murals. On the wall closest to the main door, a freeze of pictures and a word salad shouting about the plight of polar bears in an icy land that Jamie or Miss Daly would most likely never visit. On the wall furthest from the door, a collage made from magazine and newspaper clippings. Coca Cola, Fanta and branded water bottles stuck together with glue. Distant oceans covered in plastic idled alongside handwritten pleas from the children, “save our oceans”, and “stop feeding fish plastic”.

On the wall to the right of the entrance to the canteen a blue information board with the words 'Parent Council' at the top. On it, a colony of posters, piercing the foyer with individual messages. A Scottish Government Climate Justice Fund for countries in Africa. A charity showing pictures of children torn apart from their homeland, like aliens wandering in an oppressed land with nothing more to offer than tea and sympathy. A poster for a bank, “MONEY WORRIES? TALK TO US TODAY.” The Citizens Advice Bureau asking, “DO YOU NEED HELP WITH THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS?” A plea for donations to a food bank from the local branch of a supermarket owned by an overseas investment firm. The local MP’s surgery information with an invitation to talk to him about issues in the area. A fundraiser Christmas disco at the end of November, tickets cost £10 and included a finger buffet.


Ms Daly watched Jamie’s feet move quickly towards the meal that would break his 48 hour fast. Mr Grant, the Assistant Head Teacher, arrived at her side, “well the fundraiser went well on Saturday night. Thanks for helping to organise. Another few thousand to add to the breakfast fund.”


“Thanks. It went well. I wish we never had to do it mind you.” Mr Grant nodded in agreement.


“Did you hear about the UK Government setting aside billions to give to companies for carbon capture projects? Could we discuss a project about carbon capture for the foyer with the kids about what carbon capture is?”


“Sure. Sounds interesting.”


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