"17 Worries" by Claire Hennessy

  1. That he hasn’t ever got over his ex (Elaina, twenty-eight, rosy-cheeked primary school teacher, who shook your hand when you ran into her in the pub that one time, and didn’t seem nearly as intimidated by you as you felt by her).
  2. That she’s prettier than you (she does things with her hair, complicated things that other girls must have learned to do in some secret masterclass one day and vowed to never speak of again, pretending it was innate, like how limbs jerk out when a nerve’s been hit).
  3. That he works too hard (his shoulders are always slumped when he comes in the door, and his mouth grim, and when you stretch a hand to it he grabs your wrist and stops you from making contact).
  4. That she would have known the right things to say (you could tell, that one time, that she would soothe him as easily as she might a sobbing four-year-old missing his mother).
  5. That she wanted sex as much as he did (eager and willing and wet; you imagine her energy limitless, her body permanently hairless).
  6. That there’s something wrong with you (it shouldn’t feel like this, as though you’ve signed a contract without reading it in full; you are lucky, special, blessed).
  7. That everyone who sees the two of you together thinks that he can do better (all levels of familiarity, ranging from his mother, who keeps sending you job advertisements neatly clipped out from the papers, to that girl at the party whose lips curled like her hair when you reached for his arm to remind him you were still there).
  8. That all the men before him never loved you (you see them fall like dominoes off a cliff, their laughter or maybe pity echoing upwards into the air).
  9. That this is your last shot at normal (and you can’t keep your grasp on it; what’s wrong with you that you can’t appreciate this man who puts up with so much from you?).
  10. That you cry too much (like a child, he says in disgust, like a fucking child).
  11. That he meant it (that he meant it to be that hard).
  12. That he’s not sorry (he doesn’t always say it, not after the first time).
  13. That she would know how to take care of him better (she’d know how to behave; she has that special girl training you missed out on that makes smiles come to their faces instead of frowns).
  14. That it’ll happen again (tonight, tomorrow; you wait).
  15. That everybody knows (if you had Elaina’s makeup skills you’d hide it better, know how to dab and blend to leave an illusion of smooth skin).
  16. That he’ll leave you.
  17. That he won’t.

(originally published at Indian Summer Quarterly: http://indiansummerzine.com/winter-2015/17-worries-by-claire-hennessy)

FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.


  1. Interesting structure. Love 16. and 17. Love how the story starts off being about one thing and ends up being about something else entirely.


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