All work and no play makes Rob a dull boy (Short Story)

Olcan Mc Sparron’s first short story for The Gown. Photo Source: Fresh Eye Solutions.

Olcan Mc Sparron, Contributor. 

Rob knew he was different from other children. He had worked that out a long time ago, he wasn’t quite sure what it was that made him different, but he knew there was something. There was something about him that just wasn’t quite the same as everyone else. He knew he was different from his brother and sister, Rosie and Graham, and although he had never played with any other children he assumed the same was true. But alas, Rob decided he would ponder as to why he was different later, now he had to begin his chores.

Rob stepped out of his bed, well he called it a bed but it was more of a mat than anything else. He looked at the clock in the corner of the room. Rob never actually needed to read the clock, due to reasons really beyond his comprehension he was always aware of the date and time, yet because he saw everyone else do it he felt he should to. It read 06:00 Saturday 20/03/60, Rob looked away from the clock and felt happy, he had always liked Saturdays. Rosie and Graham weren’t at school today, Rob personally didn’t go to school, again he wasn’t quite sure why, yet he accepted it as one of the many peculiarities of his life which he did not understand. The important thing though was that Rosie and Graham were at home and although they never really played with him it was nice to have them around all day.

Rob walked out of his room, walking past the washing machine and the tumble dryer. Rob didn’t bother getting dressed, all his life this had been one of the many things that he had seen as defining him as different, Rosie and Graham had to wear clothes, so too did his mother and father, even people on the television, which he was not allowed to watch were made to wear clothes. Why then wasn’t he? It really was a mystery. Now Rob was not a stupid child, he was aware that he must wash. However, his washing again was slightly different, he had seen the shower many times, he had also cleaned it many times, yet he had never bathed in it. He did remember one time the water came on sprinkling all over his head and how he had the most horrendous headache afterwards. His mother had thankfully quickly dragged him out and he had described to her how his brain had felt fried, he later was told by the specialist doctor he visited that it very nearly was. So, Rob washed differently,  he went to the garage and put on as his father called it his “Special aftershave.” Rob personally didn’t like the smell of it or the black colour, but he was informed it made him smell manly, so he liberally sprayed it around his body. Following this, he again looked at the clock on the wall and read 06:10; it was time to begin his chores.

For the next three hours Rob proceeded to clean the living and the back room, feed the dog and start breakfast for everyone. He had to admit that when he had started the job of making breakfast he hadn’t really been very good at it, but he now believed that his bacon was more than adequate, and his poached eggs were quite frankly to die for. He would admit though that toast was still a bit of a challenge, but he was starting to get the hang of it and as for fried mushrooms and tomatoes well, there was no-one better at making them.

By 09:00 he was finished, his father came down the stairs shortly after. He was dressed in his velvet dressing gown, with blue slippers, he had grey hair and a reasonably large nose. Looking over at Rob he stated, “Morning Rob,” then without saying anything else he sat down pulled a plate towards him and started into his breakfast. Rob watched as gradually one by one the rest of the family came down the stairs for their breakfast. No one thanked him for his efforts, he was of course by now more than used to it but still he couldn’t help but think that some gratitude, just a little, would have been very much appreciated. After the family had finished their breakfast, Rob took their dishes and put them into the dishwasher. As the rest of the family went about their business for the day, Rob proceeded to start into his daily chores. Rob vacuumed the house from top to bottom about twice over just to be sure it was clean, he mopped the tiled floors and dusted all the furniture in the house, again twice over just to be sure it was clean. The rest of the family would often joke that he was just like Cinderella, of course not being allowed to watch television or to listen in on story time, the reference simply didn’t process.

But alas poor Rob was bored, all day everyday this was all he did, he constantly cleaned up after the rest of the family, all the while his brother and sister seemed to enjoy an easy life. Why this was, was in Rob’s mind, the biggest mystery of them all. Rob therefore decided, today would be different, today he would rebel in small ways, of course at first. Perhaps he would only dust the furniture once today or better yet, he would do something truly rebellious. Rob looked over at the television and thought to himself, wouldn’t it be fun just for a little while to watch one of the television programmes. So, as no one was looking, he told the television to put on a show at random. It picked a show from its archives, it was some comedy from the mid 1990’s, Rob of course having not really been allowed to watch television gave up after ten minutes realising he didn’t have a clue what was happening.

Having turned off the television, Rob looked around, he had to find some way to amuse himself, after all surely he deserved some fun. Looking out the window Rob saw Graham playing a game with his friends. Rob knew all too well that he was not allowed outside except with adult supervision but the game the other children were playing did look fun. Rob observed them kicking a ball from one net to the other and one half of the boys starting to yell uncontrollably every time this happened whilst the other half looked a tad forlorn. Rob had intuitively named the game ball foot as he was not sure of its proper title. As Rob watched them play a sneaky, devious yet brilliant plan registered in his head. What if he were to go out and briefly, just briefly, play with them. Rob looked at the game once more, then at his mop, brush and feather duster and decided he would play with them. It was bold, but he couldn’t help himself. He went to the door, entered the code to leave the house and went outside. Rob looked around the temperature was 23 degrees Celsius and there was a wind-speed of five miles an hour, again Rob wasn’t sure why he knew this, he just did. He looked down the street and saw the game being played, eager to join them he suddenly thought to himself that this was the first time he had been outside without adult supervision. Shaking his head and filing away such thoughts he ran to join the boys. Running in between the boys they were all taken aback to see Rob and started to laugh. Graham looked at him shouting “Rob what are you doing out?” But unfortunately for Rob he did not notice as he was concentrating on the game. Charging at the ball.

Rob kicked it, not just any kick however a kick far stronger than one any of the other boys could give. The ball flew right into the face of little Terry Lewis. The last thing anyone heard was a crunching sound and then from little Terry’s nose came a long red river of blood. Rob who hadn’t noticed the disaster was jumping up and down delighted with himself. Then looking round, he saw the boys crowded around Terry trying to help him. Graham shouted over “Nice one Rob go back inside.” With his head held low Rob returned to the house not saying a word and keeping to himself, he didn’t mention it to his Mother but by the end of the evening, she knew. Although Rob didn’t hear the full conversation he heard someone at the door say, “If you can’t control him then he’ll have to be sent off to be fixed.” Rob was sent to his mat and told to rest and recharge. An hour passed and his mother and father came to him. He was not looking forward to this, they would yell at him and they would use his full name. “Oh god no,” he thought “not my full name.” Rob hated to be referred to by his proper title, it was the one thing that in the back of his head was what always would define him as different. His mother and father gradually approached him, his mother had her long skeletal fingers pointing at him and screeched, “Rob the Robot I am very ashamed with you…”

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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