The warehouse is one of many. Grass sprouts from trailing gutters, tarmac cracked and veined with thistles and saplings. There is no lock.
Together they push and the massive door grinds open on rusted rails. Air swirls with light-shy dust. Deep rows of narrow boards are stacked high and back into the darkness. Towards the front the piles are untidy, thrown on top in sliding drifts, stacked as high as an arm can throw. Air movement rattles some boards to the floor. The old man steps around the sliding heap looking for easy pickings. The child waves a torch into the depths.
"What is this place?"
"Mm tabletop warehouse kid. Used to be that tabletops were the symbol of our trade, polished and patterned, not anymore."
"Look around you lass, noone wanted them."
They pull out a dozen boards the same size and drag them outside to the trolley. Back as they came, picking smoother country for the trolley wheels, they made it to the river before the sun set.
She tried again. "So why didn't they want them, they look ok?"
The old man sighed "Sure they're alright, sweet work. We all aspired to make tops you know."
They set aside some for the shelter and started breaking up one for firewood, particleboard crumbling like old biscuit.
"Where are the legs?"
"Aye there's the question. We used to get them offshore. Hardwood, blood and sweat, rough finish but sturdy. Noone here would make them. Our schools used to threaten slack students with leg making. But it was a joke, you couldnt live off legs. One day they stopped exporting. Blighters made their own tops and started replanting their hardwood. Should have seen it coming, but in those days we did things all the same. *All chippies are born with the ability to make tops.*" He laughed.
"We used to think it was about the opportunity for all kids to not be forced to take a job that is low-level because they weren't prepared properly. Noone here knew how to make legs, didn't even have the tools by then, other nations wouldn't buy the tops, this particleboard isn't durable, not very waterproof and the designs were 'too parochial'. Damn shame."
"Wasn't just us chippies either. It was not just about wood. Happened to other trades, other countries too. All the glass was sourced offshore, steel, even food. We had cities on most of the arable land by then. Easy to see now with everything in pieces, but it all seemed right-minded when the money was flowing .. what we were set up to make.."
They sit together watching the flames lick the dusty colours, amber glow joining the red skyline.