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Furious Fiction - February 2019

FICTION - I was lost.

I battered at the steering wheel in frustration, peering through the fogging windscreen as rain poured down the glass, turning house numbers into melted caricatures of their daylight selves.

I was late, I was lost and I was surely making a terrible first impression on my boyfriends family. Boyfriend, I marvelled. The word was delicious on my tongue, as he had been earlier today.

He insisted on facing the assembled masses of his tribe alone to spare me their scrutiny, however I already knew where they lived and planned to surprise them all.

But the weather had turned against me, and was washing the suburban facades into sameness as I drowned in frustration.

By the time I found the house and raced through the downpour to the timber front door I was sodden. Gone was the painstakingly styled hair and I shuddered to think where carefully placed mascara now sat.

I lifted the large brass knocker, smiling at the warm glow through the frosted window panes of the door, before knocking proudly. I may be a sight, but what a story to tell and retell their friends and family in the future. “Like a drowned rat, she was,” I imagined his father recalling foundly. He would probably pat me on the knee as he said it.

A slight, very pretty woman in stylish yoga pants and a fitted tee answered the door.

“Yes?” she asked. “Can I help you?” She peered behind me into the night. “Have you broken down somewhere?”

Her voice was kind, her demeanour caring and her hair - God it was gorgeous! If this was his sister I just knew we would become fast friends.

I laughed. “No,” I said shaking my head and releasing a stream of droplets. “I’m here to see Simon.”

Her look of puzzlement increased, and she called behind her “SI?” Can you come here please.”

He looked gorgeous when he popped his head into the hallway laughing.

“I kind of have my hands full sweetheart.” He held aloft a cake covered in chocolate curls, with a circle of dancing candles atop it, but his smile dropped when he saw me.

“Katie? Shit. Fuck. I mean...,” he was uncharacteristically flustered and from somewhere in the next room a child’s voice cried out gleefully.

“Daddy said a BAAAAD word.”

Daddy? Sweetheart?

In an instant I was backing away from the door and into the rain. I stumbled blindly, berating myself with every stumbling step.

How could I have been so stupid? The unexplained absences and the text messages that went unanswered; it all made sense now. As I ran down the slippery footpath the horrible truth of Simon's deception flashed into my soul as brightly as the lightning that split the sky above me.

I don’t know how long I ran, but eventually I was spent. I blinked away the last tears and peered around me, though the still thundering downpour.

Shit, I thought.

I was lost.

Each month the Australian Writers’ Centre sets a 500 word writing challenge. This month each story’s first sentence had to contain EXACTLY THREE WORDS, had to include A FIRST of some kind (open to interpretation) and had to include A CANDLE.

This was my first Furious Fiction entry and from 1100 submissions I was one of the ten shortlisted authors.

"Some lovely rain-soaked descriptions set up this suburban dose of awkward. With just the knock of a door we get to witness the penny drop, as this particular woman (let’s call her Penny) stumbles away from sudden realisation. Nice use of repetition – albeit with different meanings – on the first and last line."

You can read the winning submission by Shirley Kent here:

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