Flash Fiction 2nd Place: Hand-Delivered by Julia Anderson
If you ask what sort of person I am, I’ll say I’m the kind type. For example, up until I was told not to bother, I cooked three-course meals every evening for my husband Keith and our two children.
I also like buying kits from the craft shop and making birthday cards for friends, family and neighbours. I don’t leave anyone out. If I know you, I’ll add you to my card list. I’ll even post them through your door myself because I think hand-delivery adds a nice touch.
This makes me a good person, right?
Eight months ago, if I’d greeted you with, ‘Hi, Jenny—’ (pretend that’s your name for a moment) ‘—it’s lovely to meet you,’ I bet you wouldn’t embarrass me in front of all the other parents picking their children up from school, by snapping, ‘I don’t like being called Jenny. It’s J-e-double-n-i-f-e-r.’
I mean, it’s not normal for a person to spell out their first name, is it?
That weekend I told Keith I wouldn’t be adding her to my card list.
‘Don’t be petty,’ he said.
Last week, I saw J-e-double-n-i-f-e-r flashing her expensive smile at a group of mums in the playground. She was boasting about her holiday to Kenya.
‘We stayed in a luxury rondavel. Every morning of our three-week vacay, we woke to cooling air creeping over the rural hills.’
She moved her hand to mimic the delicate mists rolling in. It reminded me of the Queen waving at crowds, circling her wrist round and round.
I walked across the schoolyard shouting that despite J-e-damn-double-n-i-f-e-r’s stupid marvellous holiday, I had something she didn’t – a marriage certificate to Keith. And even though Keith and the kids moved in with her last month, she’s only his mistress. I’m still his wife.
I bet if I ask what you think about this situation, you’ll say, ‘It’s totally wrong and unfair on you, Tessa.’ And then add, ‘You should do something about it.’
Good, because I’ve been pounding on J-e-double-n-i-f-e-r’s door for five minutes.
Finally, the door opens part way.
‘What are we going to do about Keith?’ I ask, shoving my way in.
She gasps, stumbling backwards into the hallway.
I stand over her smelling her spearminty breath. I try hard to keep my stale breath to myself.
Her mouth is open with shock. I stare in, amazed at how white and straight her teeth are. Nothing like my stained ones. Maybe if I had veneered teeth like hers, my life would be better ‒ I could’ve moved on from Keith leaving me and got the kids back.
‘Do you want to keep my husband?’ I yell.
‘Let’s do a swap. Your teeth for my husband.’ I pull the pliers from my pocket, ripping the lining of my coat as one of the rusty pincers catches on the material.
This exchange means I’m a fair person too, right?