Flash Fiction: The Mirror

Fractured Faith sets a flash fiction challenge, based on receipts that he picks up (we all have to have our hobbies!!) asking people to write fiction based on what is shown on the receipt.

This week he offered us this receipt:

This really is “flash fiction” – I wrote it, and didn’t really think much about it. I haven’t even tried honing it or editing it in any way.  I just thought I’d write and then (near enough) press “publish”. It was a bit of fun. And it is based on a real experience that I had…

 

It had been the morning from hell – yet again.

PE really was her least favourite subject to teach her Year 6s – and it was bloody football this term. What did she know – or care – about football? The kids knew more about the off side rule than she did, and were always whining.

“Miss, it was a penalty. Did you see the way Kevin laid into me?” (I know how he feels, Dean)

“Miss, I hate football.” (I know how you feel, Gary)

“Please can we have Marie on my team, Miss, she’s better than Harriet…” (I couldn’t care less…)

Finally, she trailed them all back to the classroom, where she suggested they had silent reading for the last ten minutes before lunch. She was really looking forward to the cheese-and-beetroot sandwich that Steve had prepared for her, particularly as she’d not had time for breakfast. As usual, she’d not had time to finish all her marking the evening before, so she’d had to leave early to complete the task at school. Five sets of thirty books took too long to mark, especially as one set had been creative writing, so she had had to wade through thirty rambling, badly spelled stories, which showed a remarkable lack of concern for any form of grammar. And, of course, each required an encouraging comment from her at the end.

The bell rang for lunch, interrupting her thoughts.

“OK, class,” she raised her voice to be heard above the sudden rush of noise that greeted the sound of the bell. “Enjoy your lunch, and see you back here at one o’clock”

Blessed silence descended as the last of the class slammed their way out of the room. Laying her head on her desk for a moment, she breathed deeply and savoured the momentary relief of quiet. Then, re energised, she reached into her bag for her lunch. Nothing, except her purse, her phone, the usual detritus…But no sandwich.

Reeling her thoughts back she reviewed her morning rush: grabbing the foil wrapped packet of sandwiches, she had noticed a stain on her skirt. That had required a rapid change of clothes, and a speedy exit from the house, forgetting to reclaim her lunch.

“Dammit!” she muttered.

Luckily, there was a baker’s near to school, which made good, but expensive, sandwiches. She rarely bought them, as she and Steve were saving for a deposit on a house, and every little economy was another tiny step further away from their squalid rented apartment. But today? Well, today she deserved a crusty cob, filled with something delicious – egg mayo, perhaps, or tuna and sweetcorn.  Considering the choices, she hurried towards the main entrance. On a whim, and feeling generous, she opened the staff room door, and spoke as she went in

“I’m going to the shops. Anyone want anything?”

A pause. Great, there was only Gerry in there. Greasy, slobby Gerry who made her skin crawl every time she saw him. Every time he brushed past her in the corridor, just that little too closely.

“Yeah, love,” he said, “You can get me a paper.”

“Sure thing – what do you read? Guardian? Telegraph? Times?”

Gerry gave a snort.

“Nah. The Mirror. I’ll give you the money when you get back”

Taking a slurp from his cup of coffee, he turned back to the books he was marking – but not reading -with a rapid tick, and scribbled “Good” on each page.

The pleasure had gone from the idea of a shop bought sandwich. She had to go into the newsagents and buy a newspaper she wouldn’t be seen dead with. God, she thought, it’s even worse than buying The Sun….And they know me in that shop… What will they think of me buying The Mirror?

Finally, knowing she was being stupid, but unable to stop herself, she pulled her car keys out of her bag, and drove the five miles to the big, anonymous Tesco outside of town. There she rushed in, and grabbed the last, slightly dog-eared copy of the despised newspaper. Glancing around to check that there was no-one she knew, still painfully aware that she was acting in a ridiculous way, she handed the paper over to the cashier together with a £10 note. She kept her head down, avoiding eye contact – please, don’t let her meet one of the parents from school…

After what felt like an eternity the cashier handed back her change and the paper. She folded it carelessly and shoved it into her bag; then, with a glance at her watch, she realised that there was only ten minutes before the end of lunch time. With a suppressed scream of annoyance, she screwed up the receipt and tossed it in the nearest trolley. No-one need ever know about this, she thought.

As she drove into the staff car park she heard the bell ring, signalling the end of the break. Gerry met her at the front door.

“Thanks, love,” he said, passing her the unpleasantly sweaty coins he was holding in his hand. “You took a long time. I hope you didn’t go to any trouble finding a copy…”

 

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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: The Mirror

  1. Oh, this made my mouth water! After a morning of restorative practice training, that woman and Gerry needs a bit of restorative conference, methinks. Fractured Faith had a receipt from Tesco in the centre of MY town! I have never encountered a blogger from here. Must investigate…

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