Flash Fiction: "Broken Boiler"

Broken Boiler

Her head hurt from the perfumed candles. Fresh cut roses crept synthetically up her nostrils to sit just behind her eyes. Cotton and vanilla hung heavy on the other side of the room. She frowned, only to intensify the pain in her forehead, and sat down on the sofa. The room was cold and had that strange, rented bareness to the walls. A clock ticked besides two framed posters: one of a moustached man stood in front of a poorly-sized silhouette of the Eiffel tower; the other of a big yellow sunflower with Shine Bright My Darling written across it in cursive lettering. Above the TV and the boring beige sofa were empty hooks, painted over pale green between tenants. She hugged a blue corduroy cushion and hunched into the corner of the sofa where the arm met the back and held her breath a little. Then she relaxed her legs, stretching them out on the sofa cushions, and dropped the blue cushion onto her lap. She reached down, picked up a June RHS The Garden magazine from beside the sofa, and opened it in the middle. The clock on the wall continued to tick. It was round, with a plain black frame, gold hands, and roman numerals instead of digits. She liked it because it had a classic style to it. It looked expensive and tasteful. It was twelve pounds from Tesco. She flicked over a few pages of the magazine, paused, flicked a few more over and then closed it and dropped it onto the brown carpet. It landed awkwardly, spine upwards, squishing pages. She nudged it with her foot, flipping it over. She pushed the blue cushion aside and stood up and strode across the room, out into the hallway, into the bedroom, pushed open the difficult sliding wardrobe doors that swung from their runners, pulled down a hooded jumper and stretched it over her head and over the cardigan she was already wearing. She pulled shut the heavy doors, strode back into the living room, slumped back into the corner of the sofa, and retrieved the blue cushion. She hugged it to her chest and checked her phone. One new text message. Bob – Plumber: HI LINDSAY ON WAY TRAFFIC TERRIBLE. FIFTEEN MINUTES OUT CHEERS BOB. Received twenty minutes ago. “Fuck this.” Lindsay blew out the most offensive smelling candle, the freshly cut roses (freshly cut my arse). She took a sniff. The burning plastic stench seemed to have almost disappeared. She looked outside. Sleet splattered against the window. She looked back at the sofa with its huggable blue cushion. Lindsay curled up in defeat and learned to prune clematis.

Rebecca Shoulders is a short story writer and novel attempter. She has been previously published by Fincham Press. She likes to write realism flash fiction focussing on the details and sensations of everyday life, and is also working on a comic fantasy novel. She’s in her final year of her BA in Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton. She likes writing, plants, and her boyfriend. She lives in Lewes, East Sussex. You can follow her on Twitter @rtheshoulders.