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Flash Fiction: "Old Drum" by Christine Twigg


His old drum rested against the battered leg of her 1960s pea green couch. It was the first time she had really looked at that couch in decades. From this close position, lying on the carpet and looking up, she could see the loose threads hanging and the sag of the springs. For a brief moment, her mind wondered how she could have ignored the ugliness of her furniture for so long, but that thought was quickly shuttered and she momentarily came back to her present sense of dread.

     The carpet needed cleaning; not just vacuuming. It stank. She could hire a cleaner, or maybe rent a carpet-cleaning machine—she’d seen them near the entrance at the grocery store—but that thought made her feel even more lethargic.

     Overwhelmed.

     That was the word. She said it out lout, but hearing the disuse of her voice brought her back again to her situation. She’d been lying here for much of the afternoon. Her lower back was stiff and her feet were cold. Her stomach clenched. Was she hungry? She had some almonds on the counter.

     She took a quick mental inventory of the fridge and cupboards but before she could settle on anything while her mind’s eye traveled over to the coat rack, just beyond the kitchen, in the mudroom.

     George’s red coat. Why had she ever bought him a red coat? Red coats don’t look good when they’re dirty. They just look dirty. Panic made her sit up. She would wash the jacket. She had some sort of stain remover spray she was pretty sure. That might help.

     With a croak, she fell the two inches back to the floor.

     That fucking jacket.

     She stood, bending over briefly from the sudden light headedness, then walked with purpose to the mudroom. Without any thoughts, she yanked on the zipper of the left pocket. When it didn’t open easily this time, she shouted obscenities. She was still shouting after she’d practically torn the zipper from the pocket and was holding its content in her hand. There was no satisfying crash when she flung it onto the floor, nothing to break when she ground her heel into it.

     She was fifty fucking years old. They didn’t use condoms! The thoughts were coming again, too fast to be able to catch any more than the tail end of them before they were gone, replaced by the next. A crushing note. A severely embarrassing scene at his office. A glorious display of a violently destroyed cherished CD collection.

     Blood.

     Screaming.

     Her blood rushed, the ennui completely gone. It was her who was screaming.

     She shrugged into the jacket, put the almonds in the pocket and left, locking the door behind her.
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