Something Borrowed, Something New | Short Story

Thimbles are old hat. As are hatpins, come to that.

We don’t skirt along wainscots anymore – linoleum and robot vacuum cleaners have made that too dangerous. Nor do we abseil down curtains – blinds are not nearly so conducive to a silent descent. And the pets…People still talk about Eggletina having been eaten by a cat, a story whose horror is not in any way reduced by its being apocryphal, but in modern Borrower life the Human Beans are far more eclectic in their tastes. Ferrets, parrots, tarantulas…my cousin Dimmer swears he had to squeeze through a letter box brush to escape a fucking micro pig. These days it is ventilation grilles, wood burners, and shimmying down USB cables.

As our methods have changed, so have our targeted consumables. Headphones are strung up across the underfloor heating system as washing lines. Fridge magnets adorn our walls as ready-made pictures. A proliferation of dolls clothing means that making do is a thing of the past, whilst Lego and Duplo…well, Mother Homily would have paraded down the dining room table in her nightdress to get her hands on the furnishings we have.

Bourgeoisie Borrowers we may be, but with prosperity has come self-respect. We are no longer content to creep, to cringe. Our families have lived between your walls longer than you have; Human Beans reside here at our discretion. We will take what we wish, and if your incapacitation is a prerequisite for our safety then so be it. I have swapped medicine in the nightstand to ensure a safe borrowing session. I have tampered with fuse boxes to ensure the comforting cloak of darkness smothers us as we work.  I would thrust a needle through your ear drum whilst you sleep to keep my family safe.

On second thoughts, perhaps hatpins are not obsolete after all.

*Thanks for reading, folks. Mary Norton provided me with five wonderful Borrowers stories in my childhood – I would recommend them to any young person. Recent short stories of mine include ‘Night at Kinlochleven‘ and ‘The Inn at Lettaford‘. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.*

Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Close to the Bone, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, Flashback Fiction, Cafelit, Best MicroFiction 2021, and Shooter magazine. He is a doctoral student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father. He blogs at and tweets at

13 thoughts on “Something Borrowed, Something New | Short Story

  1. Ah, ‘The Good Old Days’! The taste of ice cold linoleum on ones feet and the shadows of flickering candles dancing on the walls as one jumped into the pre heated warm womb of a feather bed on a winter’s night.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous, Matthew! I loved the Borrowers books as a child, but I remember only having four. I just popped over to Googleland and I see why I missed the fifth book: it was published so much later. But I shall have get hold of a copy of ‘The Borrowers Avenged’, because I’m sure I’ll never grow out of the Borrowers’ stories. Now, reading the blub, I see that Arrietty STILL doesn’t marry Spiller… You’ll have to write me a ‘happily ever after’ ending.

    Liked by 2 people

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