In NovelRacers, Helen Shearer talks about writing competitions. I have only ever entered two: the first, was when I was twelve or so, for a Women's Own competition, which somewhat dates me; the second, for an on-line flash competition, which cost me a fiver. I have mixed feelings about competitions. On the one hand, they motivate you to write, on the other, the chances of you winning are so remote that when you fail, inevitably, you compound your feelings of uselessness and feel less motivated than ever. So I avoid.
However, I still have a fondness for my flash fiction story and will leave it to you to judge its worth:
Everything has its place
“Now where the hell did I put it?” he complained. “I know it was here last night. The bloody thing’s just disappeared.”
With mounting irritation, exacerbated by a hangover of magnum proportions, he wandered from one room to another ineffectually peering behind sofas, into cupboards and around doors. In the sitting room he tripped over a number of empty wine bottles left standing on the floor and sent them spinning across the carpet.
“F**k! Just how much did I have to drink?” he thought.
He looked at the mess in the room. It did nothing to improve his feelings of nausea. He was a meticulous individual who drove his wife to distraction with his fastidious ritual of aligning every object on every shelf every time he set foot in the room. 'Everything has its place and there’s a place for everything,' was his mantra. But now the ashtrays were overflowing, the carpet was stained, there were marks on the coffee table and, most inexplicably, the hammer was lying in the middle of the floor amid the now upturned bottles. He thought briefly about clearing up but then glanced at his watch. It was almost eight o’clock and he had to leave if he was to catch his train.
He went to the hall, pulled on his coat, grabbed his briefcase and, with one last glance back in the vain hope that he’d find what he was missing, left.
It was a bright morning. The air was so crisp it crackled, and, on the pavement, the frost was just beginning to retreat before the sun. Three doors down from his house he passed a skip. Something in it caught his eye and for a mere fraction of a second he paused – he had discovered the object he had been searching for.
"Good God, so that’s where I put it,” he muttered, as he continued on towards the station. “Tidy in thought, tidy in mind.”
It was only as he was feeding his ticket into the barrier did he wonder whether his neighbour would have any objections to him throwing his wife’s body on the skip.
“Well it’s not like I’ve dumped an old mattress,” he reflected, “that would be really annoying.”
© David O'Connor Thompson