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The BOX -  a short story

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THE BOX  - A short story in two parts   Part 1 

by Andrew Rossiter

         When Mick got a job delivering a box to a reception at the Hill Park Hotel,  he got more than the fifty pounds that were promised to him .....

    "It's got to be a big surprise, you see," said the man. "I want you to deliver the box to the Hill Park Hotel just when everyone's finishing dinner. Ten thirty on the dot! O.K? Ask for Mr. Ansell."

    "That's all right," answered Mick. "I'll be there."
    "Right then! You've got all the details. Tesco superstore, checkout 24 at 8.50 on Friday. Just say you've come for Mr. Charnwood. They'll give it to you. And don't be late! They shut at nine!"
    "And when do I get paid?" asked Mick.
    "You'll get fifty quid at the hotel."
    Mick shut down the phone; he was glad that someone had noticed the small advert he had put in the shop window, offering to do odd jobs. He needed the pocket money.

    Sophie was not terribly excited when he told her about it.
    "But you said we'd go out to the pictures on Friday night!"
    "There's nothing on this week," he replied. "And anyway, I could do with fifty quid. You can come too, it'll be a sort of night out!"
    "Oh brill! A trip to Tesco's? You call that a night out? "
    "And fifty quid too! It's money for jam!."
    "Are you sure it's legal? Why didn't he get Tesco's to deliver it?"
    "'Cos they shut at nine, I s'pose. That's fairly obvious, isn't it?"
    "Oh well, if you've said you'll do it, you'll have to, won't you?"
    "Of course. And anyway, if we get fifty  quid, we can go for a pizza at Gigi's afterwards."
    "Oh yes, let's!"

    It was dark when they got to the superstore; inside, the day's last few shoppers were pushing laden trolleys towards the exits. Checkout 24 was closed.
    "Ask someone where it is!" said Sophie.
    "Keep cool!" Mick replied in an irritated tone. "What do I ask?"
    "Ask where the box is!"
    The girl on checkout 12 had no idea what he was talking about.
    "I guess we just wait here," said Mick.
    They waited.
    "Hello," said a voice.
    Mick and Sophie, who had been looking into the middle of the shop, turned round. A young man in a white shirt was there, carrying a large box, wrapped up in couloured paper.
    "Are you looking for something?"
    "Yeah!" said Mick. "Is that the box for Mr. Charnwood?"
    "Yes. You'll be careful with it, won't you. It's rather fragile. Don't drop it !"
    "Thanks!" said Mick.
    "My pleasure," said the man. "It's all yours!" And he turned and walked away down the shop.
    "Maybe it's champagne!" said Sophie, as the walked across the almost empty car park. "Shall we have a look?"
    "Come off it! You can't undo all that wrapping paper! "

    As they walked towards the bus stop, the rain began to fall. A bus was approaching. "Come on," said Mick. "That may be ours! Let's run!"
    It was not.
    "What a waste of effort!" said Sophie, pushing the damp hair out of her eyes. "If we've missed it, we've got half an hour to wait."
    But at that moment, the lights of another bus came into view, moving slowly towards them.
    "It's a 34!" said Mick. "That'll do!"
    The top deck of the bus was empty. They sat down in the seats at the front, and looked out onto the wet street ahead of them.
    The pavements, so busy with life during the day time, were more or less empty. Outside a kebab shop, a group of teenagers stood in the shelter of the building, their backs illuminated by the bright lights shining through the window; but the brightly lit windows of most other shops were showing  their contents to no-one but a few passengers in passing vehicles.
    After the bus turned left into London St., the pavements got darker as shops gave way to houses, their curtained windows hiding private worlds from the inquisitive looks of passers-by. There was less traffic too.   
    On Parton Hill, the bus got stuck behind a heavy lorry. Then, at Opie's Corner, the traffic came to a stop.
    "What's going on there, I wonder?" said Mick.
    In front of them at least three police cars were stopped at the roadside, and another was in the middle of the road. Their flashing blue and red lights lit up a group of people standing in the wet, and apparently looking at something on the pavement in front of a shop.
    "Look! It's a man!" said Sophie.
    "I expect he's drunk!" said Mick. "That's the shop where I had my ad!"
    "Get away!" answered Sophie:  "They don't call out four police cars with flashing lights just for a drunk."

End of part 1..  
Continue to part 2


superstore: big supermarket - checkout: where you pay in a supermarket - quid: pounds - advert: advertisement, notice -  odd jobs: small jobs -  brill: brilliant - obvious: clear - laden: full - shelter: protection - no-one but: nobody except - gave way to: were replaced by - inquisitive: curious, searching - passer-by: person going past - is drunk:  has drunk too much alcohol

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The Box - part 1.   Student worksheet  


Replace the missing prepositions and adverbs in this extract from the story. You will need to use:
    of (10 times) in (7) at (5) to (3) on (3) by (2) and into , down, out, onto, ahead, during, outside, through, off, from and behind once each.

     The top deck ________ the bus was empty. They sat ________ ________ the seats ________ the front, and looked ________ ________ the wet street ________ ________ them.
    The pavements, so busy with life ________ the day time, were more or less deserted. ________ a kebab shop, a group ________ teenagers stood ________ the shelter ________ the building, their backs illuminated ________ the bright lights shining ________ the window; but the brightly lit windows ________ most other shops were showing ________ their contents ________ no-one but a few passengers ________ passing vehicles.
    After the bus turned left ________ London St., the pavements got darker as shops gave way ________ houses, their curtained windows hiding private worlds ________ the inquisitive looks ________ passers-**. There was less traffic too.   
    ________ Parton Hill, the bus got stuck ________ a heavy lorry. Then, ________ Opie's Corner, the traffic came ________ a stop.
    "What's going ________ there, I wonder?" said Mick.
    ________ front ________ them ________ least three police cars were stopped ________ the roadside, and another was ________ the middle ________ the road. Their flashing blue and red lights lit up a group ________ people standing ________ the wet, and apparently looking ________ something ________ the pavement ________ front ________ a shop.

 Retelling the story...

After reading the story, students should complete the following sentences in their own words.
1.         Mr Charnwood asked Mick to .....
2.         Since he needed pocket money, Mick ......
3.         Sophie would have preferred ......
4.         There were not many people in the supermarket because .......
5.         The man in the white shirt .....
6.         After leaving the supermarket .....
7.         As it was evening time, there were .......
8.         At Opie's Corner there were .....


For teachers:  using this story in class :

Listening comprehension/ oral expression : 

Have students listen carefully to this story, then, collectively, tell the story orally in their own words. To encourage oral replies, you could ask the following leading questions.
How did Mick get the job? / Why was Sophie not very pleased? / What did Mick have to do? / Where did he pick up the box? / Why did they take a bus? / What did they see while they were on the bus?

    Prediction: What is in the box?" And what is going to happen to Mick and Sophie? What has happened outside the shop? By asking these questions, you should help students to continue the story in their own words.

    Writing activity: completing the story:

The first part of this story sets the scene; there are plenty of ideas that can be followed up, and lots of potential endings to this story. Encourage students to be imaginative as they write their ending.

     Grammar and language:

     There are a number of interesting language points to look at in this story. Note in particular further use of get/got a number of prepositional verbs, and several interesting expressions (in italics) that may need explaining: on the dot (precisely) / I could do with (I would like to have) / That'll do (that is adequate)., etc . Try getting students to guess the meanings of these words and expressions. This exercise  can be well done with stuents working in pairs.

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Reading comprehension in the English class
(Version française : Petite méthodologie de la compréhension écrite )

This teaching resource is © copyright Linguapress 1996-2016.
Revised 2015 . Originally published in Freeway, the Intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Level - Intermediate.
CEFR LEVEL :  B2 intermediate
IELTS Level :  5 - 6
Flesch-Kincaid  scores
Reading ease level:   85  Easy  
Grade level: 6.1

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