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'Rude Awakening' by Hilary Ayshford


I am deeply asleep when the phone rings, and it takes me a few seconds to shake off the disorientation and calm the pounding of my heart before I can answer it and it is Mrs Williams who lives across the hall you and she thinks you might have been burgled but she doesn't want to go in in case the intruders are still there but she doesn't want to call the police unnecessarily so could I possibly go round and check, and she hangs up before I can tell her that we broke up two weeks ago, but because I walked out on you without giving your key back I pull my coat on over my pyjamas and force my bare feet into cold trainers, arm myself with a can of deodorant, grab the car keys and drive over, not hurrying too much because I know you are at a festival with your new girlfriend – the one you dumped me for – and it takes me ages to find a parking space and when I go up the stairs I see that your door is open, but you never bother locking it anyway because you don't believe in 'stuff' and you have nothing of any value and, honestly, when I go in I can't tell if you've been burgled or not because as usual your clothes are in crumpled heaps on the floor, there are piles of books and papers on every flat surface, the kitchen is littered with dirty dishes, half-eaten food and discarded pizza boxes, so it is not until I go into the bedroom that I realise there has been an intruder, not because of the obscenities spray painted on the walls, which is the way you always mark your territory, but because in the middle of the bed, nestled snugly on the grubby sheets is an enormous human turd curled into the shape of a question mark asking 1) why do you never lock your door? 2) what's so wonderful about her anyway? and 3) what am I even doing here? and since I have no answers, I leave everything exactly as it is and go home, locking the door behind me and posting my key back through your letterbox so you can give it to your new girlfriend when you get back.


All Rights. Hilary Ayshford.


Hilary Ayshford is a retired science writer and editor living in rural Kent in the UK. She is a devotee of short-form fiction and her work has been published by Retreat West, Funny Pearls and Pure Slush, among others. She has also written two pantomimes and is currently writing her first novella-in-flash.







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