"Over Coffee" by Denny Brown
Shirley, stepping away from the window as her husband crosses the road on his way home, hides behind the curtain in her customary position, flicks the television from the American soaps she obsesses over, to the news channel. It is the casual s-e-x (she can’t even think the word without blushing) that fascinates her: the way they swap lovers, share intimacy amongst friends the way Shirley would share a bar of chocolate. Tiny nibbles of someone once swallowed, irreplaceable. Then, as if that were not undignified enough, slumped cross-legged on pumpkin-coloured sofas, they discuss their s-e-x lives over coffee. Easy as what did you have for dinner?
‘I’m home, love,’ Ron calls from the front door. ‘Dinner smells good.’
A bedroom light in the opposite terrace is snuffed, muting the puddles on the pavement. Bleach-blonde Babs keeps her curtains open. Shirley has watched the silhouettes, flagrant, abandoned to the night.
Over dinner, Ron, with his mouth full, talks of risk assessments, near-misses and hazard cards. Shirley doesn’t listen. Ron doesn’t appear to notice. In her head the lights are already switched off, the chocolate half-eaten.
On Fridays Ron stops at the pub at the end of the road, has three pints before bringing home their weekly treat: fish and chips wrapped in greasy white paper. Today is Wednesday. On Wednesdays they go to bed at 9.30, Ron completing his ablutions first before turning down the covers for his wife, like a hotel room bed minus the gold-wrapped chocolate and miniature toiletries. She studies her tarnished reflection in the bathroom mirror; undresses in secret; suffers her husband’s butterfly kisses, with closed lips and eyes wide open.
Tomorrow, she imagines, she might knock for bleach-blonde Babs, invite her for coffee and home-made chocolate cake. ‘What did you eat for dinner last night?’ she might ask with flaming cheeks.
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.