Furious Fiction is a fun little writing competition run by the Australian Writers’ Center each month. The brief is posted on the first weekend of each month, then you have 55 hours to submit a story of a maximum of 500 words. (See their website, https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/ if you’d like to have a go yourself.) This was my entry for the month of April. The cues were: The title had to be ‘The Elephant in the Room’, the story had to use the words key, busted, and emerged, and the last phrase had to be ‘the clock struck four’. I actually left it very late this time around, so I managed to whip this story out in around 20 minutes, submitting it just seconds before the deadline.
Her skin itches. It crawls and it tickles, and she does all that she can to stop from scratching herself raw. Food? No, not hungry. Plus, there’s nothing in the cupboard. Brush her hair, tidy the kitchen bench, water all the potplants. Huh. The one in the corner, the spiky one with the long leaves, it’s starting to go yellow around the edges. Too much water perhaps? She’s never been good with houseplants.
She looks at the clock again. Still way too long to go. What else to do? The key is on the benchtop, and she picks it up, plays with it. Puts it down and picks it up again. No, no, she can’t go yet. Way too early. The interview is at three o’clock, and it’s only just gone one. It’s very important that you make it to this one. That’s what her counselor had said. She knew that. Oh of course she knew that. So much on the line. Her job, for one. She needed to keep that job, it was so important. Without a job, where would she be? Well, right here where I am now, she thought. Going a little crazy, as I watch the shadows crawl across the wall. The wall. She looked again at the big crack, James had busted two chairs, plus made that hole right there, last time they’d had a fight. And an inspection in only three weeks. Oh, the very thought made her heart race. Made it race more, anyway.
A thought emerged from the depths of her mind. There was still some left. Still some in a little bag in the toilet cistern. No one would know. Just a little bit, to calm her down. It was such an important appointment. Just a little bit. And then she was heating the spoon, dipping the needle. Oh, so good to finally be free of the anxiety, the terrible terrible anxiety….
The clock struck four.