General Fiction posted December 31, 2010

This work has reached the exceptional level
A girl phones home

A Girl's Best Friend

by snodlander

Flash Fiction Contest Winner 
Muriel removed an earring and lifted the receiver to her ear.

"Hello? This is -"

"Muuuuum." It was not so much a word as a wail of pain.

"Darling? What is it?" Muriel sat heavily onto the couch.

"Oh, Mum, everything's gone wrong. My life is over. I want to die."

"Hush. Stop being so melodramatic. Tell me what's happened."

"I've lost my job. I'm penniless."

"They sacked you? My daughter? But you were doing so well. What did you do?"

"Nothing, it's just, they had to make cutbacks, and I was downsized. Last in, first out, they said."

"Ha! Idiots. Worst out, it should be. Well, if they're that stupid, you're better off without them."

"But I don't have a job!"

"We sent you to the best school. You went to university. You've got an -ology, for heaven's sake. You'll get a job in no time."

"Then on the way home my car broke down. It just made this horrible noise and died. I had to leave it by the roadside and walk home."

"You walked? What have I told you? You want to be raped and murdered? Get a taxi."

"And then when I got home, there was a note from John."


"He's left me, Mum. He couldn't even tell me to my face. Just a note, with spelling mistakes and everything. He's left me. I bet it was that cow from deli counter at the supermarket. She was always slipping him an extra slice of salami."

Muriel bit down the host of told-you-so's that rose in her throat. "Men," she said. Then, because that didn't quite seem to explain it all, added, "They're animals. They don't know when they're onto a good thing. You wait, darling. In a couple of weeks he'll realise what an idiot he has been, and when he does, you make him crawl. You make him beg. Don't settle for anything less than a ring on your finger, and an expensive one at that."

"What? You think I want him back? After this?"

"Well, you're upset he's left." Muriel's shrug travelled down the phone-line in her voice. "I just thought, if it upsets you that much, he must mean something to you."

"What? No! I mean, he did, of course he did, but I'm upset he's made such a fool of me. How can I ever go to the supermarket again, with her smirking behind the brisket? What will my friends think? Oh God, I can never leave the house again."

Ah, pride. Muriel checked her hair in the mirror and wondered where her daughter got it from.

"Listen, sweetheart, this is what we're going to do. I have some chicken soup in the freezer. Your father, he doesn't have the appetite he used to. Do you have a local paper?"

"What? No, why?"

"Okay, I'll get your father to drive me over with the soup and the newspaper. Then while he goes and sorts your car out, not that he's any good at that sort of thing, but he can call a garage, you and I can go through the jobs section of the newspaper, drink some of momma's soup, and curse what's-his-name from here to the deli counter and back. You know, if you want, your room is always made up here."

"Oh Mum. That's wonderful. I love you. You don't have to." But Muriel could hear the plea in her voice.

"I'm your mother. Of course I have to. When, God willing, you have children, you'll understand. Let me get Saul and we'll be there in a flash."

"Who's Saul?"

"Saul? Your father, Saul. What do you mean, who's Saul?"

"Dad's name is Michael."

"I think I know your father's name. I have to use it every day."

"Um, is this five-six-two-four-eight-four?"

"No, this is five-six-two-eight-four-eight."

"Oh." There was a long pause, and then the voice on the other end of the line, pregnant with hope and desperation, said, "So, does this mean you're not coming over?"

Flash Fiction
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