Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Terminals By Felicity Fey

She threw the rag and slumped onto the ground, wincing as she rubbed her temple. After an hour of scrubbing, she finally had to accept defeat; she’d lost the battle of the baby food stain. She supposed that’s what she deserved after allowing her youngest to take control of the feeding station.

And yet, with the carpet stain, sink filled with last night’s dishes, and the dire need to shower and remove the layers of stink she had just built up, she was smiling.

She was happy.

It wasn’t long before she heard the clunky sound of boots slowly making their way down the stairs. A bearded face poked his head around the corner, looking puzzled when he saw her sitting there surrounded by cleaning supplies and the darkness of early dawn.

“You a’right, love?” He asked breathlessly, patting himself down as he made final checks. “How long’ve you been down here?”

“Not too long.” Her stomach churned as she got up and carefully adjusted his hat. “Are you sure you have to go today?”

“You know how it is, ‘not a minute on the day, not a penny off the pay’ and all that.”

She sighed, but nodded. “I just wish things could change. You’re out more now than when you were actually working.”

“Don’t worry love, it’ll all be over soon.” He gave her a quick kiss on her forehead. “We live, we adapt. Soon enough, we’ll be able to fix up the house and get every couch cushion and frying pan you’ve ever dreamed of.”

She rolled her eyes. “Make sure you stay warm.”

He was gone a few moments later, coat zipped and sign slung over his shoulder. She watched the door sling shut, locking her inside. She didn’t know how long she stood there for; looking at the door, watching the light creep slowly into the hallway. It was only when she heard crying that she realised that she still had to make the school run.

Up at six, tidy and wake the kids up by seven, breakfast by seven thirty. On a good day, they’d be out the door at eight fifteen. She wasn’t so lucky this morning. The boys wouldn’t stop arguing, the baby wouldn’t stop crying. She almost felt relieved when she finally sat down into a plastic chair and only had to deal with the latter.

She didn’t like white rooms – they felt too bare, too empty. She’d been meaning to paint the kitchen for months because of it. She’d brought it up once, but it ended in an argument. He wanted new tools for work, she wanted a nicer house to live in. Eventually she kept bringing it up because it was the only thing that felt normal.

“Mrs Soo?”

She looked up, swiping away tears from her eyes. She bounced the baby on her knee, praying the crying would stop soon.

“You’re treatment starts next Tuesday. We usually recommend you bring a friend or relative, the first session can be especially challenging. When undergoing...”

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