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This is my “reject” flash-fiction that I wrote for the Flash-Fiction South West anthology* and submitted anonymously. The readers put it through but, as editor, I rejected it on the grounds that it was not quite good enough!
Oh, the thrill of wielding my own power over myself! 😉


This one was more like his mother, he noted, tasting ironing starch on the air and inhaling the heady commercial washing powder aromas rising from his crisp shirt as he tightened his tie. He didn’t have to do anything for this one.

He thought back to the times he used to take breakfast up to his first wife in the mornings and the way she planned her gardening jobs in bed, her soil-ingrained fingers curled around the tea-stained mug; long, dark whorls of naturally moulted hair decorating the pillows and un-vacuumed carpet, washing left uncollected until the weekend.

These days his dirty underwear, toilet splashes and still-warm, half-drunk coffee were disappeared before he had a chance to feel mortal. Artificial scents masked the “real” and the repeated pish, pish of ‘A hint of spring breeze’ into the air replaced opening a window. Vases of plastic flowers sat watching Gardener’s World with them each week, while this one tutted at the women with filthy fingernails.

‘Just like “she who must be obeyed” hey, Tony?’ She would dig him in the ribs with her elbow. ‘Just like your ex with her filthy boots in the house and inability to do her own laundry or cook a decent meal.’ Echoes of his mother’s ‘Above and beyond the call of duty – what you do for that woman.’

Now the slap on the back of the hand, dressed up as playfulness, when he was caught making a sandwich in his own zero-point-zero-zero-one-percent-chance-of-germs-kitchen.
Now the silence of invisible glass doors, once noisily, nosily marked by playful dogs.
Now polishing the cooker hob with a tissue for fear of being discovered if he fried an egg when she was out, and hiding the frying pan before it could be used in retribution.

Oh no, he didn’t have to do anything for this one.
He didn’t dare.

As he walked to the bus stop the crack of his backside itched, raw with dermatitis.

(*The chosen flash-fiction, written as our contribution to National Flash Fiction Day can be read here:

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I really liked this – how you made the traditional housewife’s husband the slave and turned her into this domineering, sinister character.


  2. Jim Bronyaur #

    I liked it. A deep story, at least for me.

    -Jim <— where my #FridayFlash lives! 🙂


  3. Phew! Glad I gave this one a ‘yes’ now I know it’s yours. 😉 Seriously though, Rachel … it’s a good story.


  4. Ooooh, sounds painful, squeaky cleanliness is not necessarily next to godliness.

    I bet he misses seeing those soil ingrained fingers wrapped around the mug now. Be careful what you wish for sir, you just might get it. 🙂


  5. Good way to recycle content that didn’t quite make your “editor’s” cut, Rachel. Though what an unfortunately sterile existence, in more ways than that of the germaphobe.


  6. Amanda O'Dell #

    I like that this is such a good story, but I find it really hard to properly ‘like’ it because it makes me quite uncomfortable – but it does that because it’s so good. Comfortable isn’t really the point is it? I’m confused! But in a good way 🙂


  7. Love the obsessive nature of this piece..A complex difficult and toxic relationship that no detergent will cleanse or the last line..


  8. m #

    What the hell happened to his bum?

    I love this story, it’s hilarious and a little bit chilling — plus, I think I might BE that first wife… did she write?



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