ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Write...Edit...Publish February challenge -- Back of the Drawer. My #flashfiction, The Avalanche

Howdy!

January has scuttled off into history and here we are, February 2017! Un-be-liev-able! February is kick-off month for WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) where a friendly group of like-minded bloggers astound each other and random readers every second month with wit, wisdom, talent, sincerity and dexterity, depending on choice of subject.



February WEP is entitled 'Back of the Drawer'. Wide open to interpretation and genre. Everyone's welcome to have a crack at it. It's too easy. 

We accept flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photo essays, artwork...1,000 word limit (but who's counting?)

Amazon.com gift card design

We offer an Amazon gift card of $10 to the winner (sorry, folks, that's all we can afford on writer's incomes) and fabulous badges to the winner, runner up and an encouragement award. These visual delights created by Olga Godim, badge-maker and cover-maker extraordinaire, can be posted on your blog to show everybody your brilliance!

As per usual, I've gone the flash fiction route. Sit back and giggle along. I guarantee you'll be reaching for the duster if you make it to the end...

All characters and events in this story are fictitious, and any resemblance to a real person is deliberate. 

The Avalanche

I’m one of those people who can’t throw anything away. You’ve seen me on telly. I'm called a "hoarder". They say I'm suffering from anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Whatever.

They don't understand that having my things around me makes me feel safe, secure, euphoric. Woooooo! But. God. I’m shaking when I remember this, but recently my husband gave away a box. Our daughter was moving out and needed some things.

I was furious.

Ranted.

Raved.

No. One. Takes. My. Stuff. Pfft!

When I came home from work, I noticed straightaway that a box was missing. How, you might ask? Well, every day I check my stuff when I leave and when I return. The coffee cups he gave away were in that bright orange box of six I bought in the sixties. The illustration on the side showed the cups were orange stonewear with lime green stripes. I’ve never opened the box, but one day I might need them.

My husband told my daughter to bring my coffee cups home.

And she did.

Ungraciously.

She’d opened them! I ran for my packing tape as soon as she was out the door.

***

Today I worked overtime at the warehouse when the fork lift driver who relieves me didn’t turn up. 

By the time I get home, I'm in a high state. My stuff’s been untended for ten hours. There’s construction in our street. My boxes will be covered in dust…again.

I drink one restorative glass of bubbly after another, loving the pretty French wine glass from a new set I just opened. My old glasses finally carked it. Well, I do like my after-work swig. But the euphoria of opening that box that was three layers down for, what, twenty years! I recall the trip to the Champagne region where I bought boxes and boxes of the glasses over my husband’s protests.

‘Rachael, Rachael, think of the excess baggage charges!’ Pfft!

He doesn't understand. I have to collect things or I’d go crazy.

Drinkies done, I wobble to the spare room vacated by my daughter and hunt for the stepladder. It’s not easy, cuz I’ve been on a spree. I have this eight by twelve space to fill. There was a linen sale in town yesterday and I went crazy seeing all those gorgeous Moroccan-styled bedspreads. 

I go to the corner where I’ve stored them and pat the boxes. My husband better not think he's giving them to our daughter. I know she doesn’t have much, but she’s not getting my stuff. Why did she have to move out anyway? 

Kids these days.

I slip my hand under my daughter’s old creaky bed and pull out the little box of drawers I hide there. These treasures got me started. My husband would rant if he found it. And my daughter hasn’t done a day’s housework in her life so no chance of her finding them. She says she can’t work in a junk house. Junk house! Youth is wasted on the young! Pfft!

I plonk down on the threadbare carpet and open my box of odds and ends right at the back of the tiniest drawer. I’m not sharing this stuff with anybody. It's mine, mine, mine.

I pull out the napkin, now falling apart, but I can still read the poem my first lover wrote me when we were celebrating Valentine’s Day at Billy Bob’s. The words don’t quite rhyme, but they still make me cry when I read them.

"Will you be my Valentine?
The answer my friend
Is blowing in the wind."

(((sniff, sniff))) I still miss Willie. He blew off in the wind shortly afterwards.

Then I find the "Dear Rachael" note from my next lover who said he’s leaving me cuz I’m not right in the head. That really hurt. Then there’s the rusty old hotel key from that dirty weekend with Krispin. I don’t know why I want to be reminded of that disaster, but that's what happens when you can’t throw anything away.

Without my stuff, I wouldn’t know who I am.

I close the lid and slide it back into the bottom drawer. My daughter’s only been gone a month and already my stuff is growing up the walls, on top of her dresser, even in her bathroom. Soon, I’ll love this room as much as I love my living room, my kitchen and my garage. Surrounded by my stuff, I’m so happy. I’m never happy in the bedroom, though, because my mean husband won’t let my stuff grow in there.

‘We’ve gotta have one room in the house where I can breathe,’ he’s always said. Just yesterday when he left for work, he waggled his finger. ‘If you ever put stuff in there, I’m outta this tip.’

It’s getting late. He should be home. Maybe he’s found the stuff I hoarded in the back of our wardrobe. I tossed out some of his old shoes and suits to make room.

Why isn’t he home?

I need to move some of my stuff off the stove so I can throw dinner together. He rolls his eyes if I haven’t got dinner on the table when he walks in.

Where could he be?

I go to the kitchen, but I’ve forgotten to dust my stuff. Back in the spare room, I pat my new boxes, then drag the stepladder into the kitchen which gets the worst of the construction dust. I move to the living room, but it’s so full of my lovely stuff I can’t quite reach the top of the pile. I stand on a tall box of wooden toys I’ve bought in case my daughter ever has children. 

Damn. 

It’s flimsy. 

Everything comes from China these days. It wobbles under me. I lurch to the side, but there’s nothing to grab except boxes. I end up horizontal under a ton of stuff with boxes raining down on me.

Plop! Thud! Flop! 

How will I ever pack them right again? Ouch. That hurt. My poor head. Probably the box of tools I’ve been hoarding for my husband in case he turns handy. Then more boxes, and more... Another bang on my head. Oh, sweet boxes, don’t do this to me.

I’m completely squashed. I’m buried in an avalanche like those poor people in Italy last week. I hurt. All over. I can’t...breathe. I’ll have to conserve oxygen until my husband comes home.

I’m drifting into unconsciousness, then a terrifying thought hits me.

‘What if he found my stuff in the bedroom?’ 

Pfft.


WORDS: 1091 - sorry, but it was so fun you didn't notice, right?
FCA

With thanks to songwriters: Chely Wright / Liz Rose, for your inspiration. And a young friend who told me the coffee cup story (her mother is a hoarder).


CLICK on the list in my sidebar to read more entries...

Thank you for reading!



54 comments:

  1. Being buried by a bunch of stuff that you collect...well, there could be worst ways to go, right? lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sort of served her right, but extreme hoarding is a mental illness and hoarders have been buried under their stuff and died. :-((

      Delete
  2. OMG, that made my day! Too funny! I probably should have been a hoarder but having moved so many times, I learned to get rid of things, now though, I sometimes think about those things and wish I still had them. :)
    This was great! And you hit Valentines Day too! Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Movers can't be hoarders. I still remember the nightmare of moving house after 23 years in one place! Ugh. Never again.

      Delete
  3. That was truly funny. And it resonated. I'm not a hoarder myself but I do love my things and I'm never willing to give them away or share them. I'm ashamed to admit it, but even when I was a kid, and all the girls in my class loved to share their clothing and hair clips and stuff, I hated it. The words "... having my things around me makes me feel safe, secure..." might be about me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh heh, Olga. I'm definitely not a hoarder, but as often happens, just after I've gotten rid of something, I find a use for it! I'm glad this story resonated with you!

      Delete
  4. Wow, that was scary; funny, but also a little scary. I kept thinking the husband was stuck behind some boxes until the mention of his bedroom rule. So sad, but I bet even under all "her stuff" she's happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, Toi, it could have gone either way. She's either happy or dead.

      Delete
  5. This is just too funny, hilarious! And I know a couple of people just like her. Well, maybe the husband can breathe now and will turn handy haha - love the way you worked in V-day too, kudos!

    'Without my stuff, I wouldn’t know who I am.' Underneath the hilarity, this though is so very very true!! This MC may be an extreme proponent of the hoarder's art, but our stuff totally defines us, what we choose to keep, what we choose to let go. Be careful what you keep? Better go check up on my own hoarding quotient now - yikes! :-)

    Thanks much for the laughs Denise, enjoyed it so thoroughly! Lifted my morning here no end. Esp after Heba's never ending situation :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found it hilarious, Nila. I had such fun writing it, but it would not be such fun being an extreme hoarder. Loved Heba!

      Delete
  6. How ironic! A hoarder done in by her own stuff. ☺ That was a thoroughly enjoyable read, Denise. Hubby and I are both packrats, well on the way to becoming hoarders. Time to start sorting through some things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd better start cleaning out those cupboards, Debbie!

      Delete
  7. hahaha so awesome. I loved the story.
    Felt a bit like that when I was downsizing for the move. I need this stuff!! Okay, so I didn't need the stuff and it became easier over time to get rid of it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love downsizing. It does become easier over time!

      Delete
  8. Hi Denise - most of us are hoarders ... such a nightmare - but I do not have boxes clambering up my walls thankfully ... I thought she was going to find her dead husband behind a pile of boxes. Poor woman - nuts as you mention ... fun reading ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Usually our homes restrict our tendency to keep everything, but there's a great freedom in passing things on or throwing them away.

      Delete
  9. Well, when he didn't make it home I was sure he was buried under the secret stuff in the bedroom. Hehehe. A funny story that highlights a serious disease. You did justice to the mentality and needs. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting that a few of you were sure he was gonna be buried under her stuff. That could have made it interesting.

      Delete
  10. Ah, how the things we love can often destroy us.

    As someone who does find it difficult to throw things away (with that old gem of an excuse: what if I need it some day?), I identified with your protagonist's annoyance about the cups. I'm not really a hoarder, as such, but it's easy to see how a collection can turn into a stockpile.

    I love that the story kept its fun tone, even with a dire ending. A great read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Arpan. And I tried to keep it fun although it is a deadly serious addiction.

      Delete
  11. I have to admit that I laughed almost all the way through your submission because I know someone just like that. I am not a hoarder, so I have seen this person fall in a state of anguish just because a box or a plate is missing.
    Excellent writing. I was very much engaged in what you wrote.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I know someone like that. Her grandchildren aren't allowed to visit as it's unhygenic and dangerous. Imagine that.

      Delete
  12. haha well she got what she deserved in the end. God, I could never live in a house like that. I'd "accidentally" set it on fire and watch delighted as it burnt to the ground.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now Pat, I'm getting worried about you. What is it with you and fires lately, LOL!

      Delete
  13. Great story. You're right I didn't notice those extra words and would have kept reading. It was funny, but in a sad and scary way. This is a disease that I fear almost anyone could slip into. Fortunately, I move too much to be a true hoarder, but I could relate to that 'what if I need it one day' thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it's obvious I wasn't poking fun at the disease as it's deadly serious. Those hoarder stories really disturb me.

      Delete
  14. "Oh sweet boxes, don't do this to me!"

    Denise, this is great! It is a very sad disease, but your story was hilarious. I had to stop drinking my coffee I was laughing so hard in some parts :D I suppose Death by Box Burial would be Poetic Justice in this instance.

    We do collect random odds and ends, and of course I have a TON of books.
    Thankfully I've not had my stuff fight back. Still...I should find that duster!

    Great story!!
    ~Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you reacted exactly as I hoped readers would Jen. It was such fun to write.

      Delete
  15. Lovely story, I am a bit of a hoarder, things go up in the attic never to see the light of day again, out of sight and out of mind but I do know there is 'stuff' up there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What fun to go through your attic, Sally. Maybe another story?

      Delete
  16. Yes, Denise it was a fun story getting into the head of a hoarder. I might have been except I have moved so much by now that I've had to get rid of so much stuff as I downsized. It's that idea that they might need that someday which fuels the hoarders. A great story about an addictive condition. . .!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks DG. Addictions aren't fun and can often lead to tragedy. Moving keeps us honest.

      Delete
  17. This is great, I've heard stories before of people being buried beneath their stuff because they had so much of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So have I, Laura, which is why I thought of this with the prompt.

      Delete
  18. My mother used to watch hoarders a lot so I get that this can really happen to people. It is sad but I really think you got into the mind of a hoarder very well Denise. Excellent work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sheena-kay. There's plenty of them out there.

      Delete
  19. Fascinating read specially because I think there's a little bit of a hoarder in me too so I could empathise with her feelings, thankfully not all. I think she had no fear of being buried under her stuff because she wasn't aware of how out-of-hand it had gotten. Most of us on the other hand are worried we'll be that person found hoarding EVERYTHING. Great story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kalpanaa. It seems like a lot of us have this hoarding secret!

      Delete
  20. hi miss denise
    yikes! death by hoarding. what a way to go. i bet she didn’t believe the saying “you can’t take it with you.” i laughed my way through your story. i like a story where i don’t just read the words but can see what’s happening and you did just that. for me, i’m not a hoarder. i’m just plain messy. lol. thanks for a fun read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lenny and Denise - so good to see you here and laughing at Denise's sad story (and what if her husband found her stuff - bound to, as she'll be injured lying underneath or dead even perhaps {good grammar?!})... and it's great Lenny said he could see your story ... love his comment he's just plain messy! Boys ...

      Bye for now - and have good weekends to you both - Hilary

      Delete
    2. Hi Lenny! How wonderful that you visited me again! I'm glad I gave you a good laugh! I will be over when I can to see how you're doing.

      Delete
    3. Thank you Hilary. No doubt you sent Lenny my way. Was a lovely surprise. And yes, I'm glad he could SEE my story.

      You have a great weekend too! My Saturday if flying by fast!

      Delete
  21. Hi Denise
    I think you captured the mentality of a hoarder. Well done. I will think of this story as: Murdered by Stuff.

    Love it.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow. You really nailed what it's like. The idea that something might be needed someday. Great work.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great story. Not watching any more hoarding stories on TV.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh heh. It's not so fun if it's this extreme, is it?

      Delete
  24. Could not locate the listing of the other entries?? Did not see it in side bar.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Sorry, Linda, I'd already deleted it as the challenge was over. I've put it back again.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great story...hooked me in!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Wow, a proud hoarder. Loved the: Pfft!

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you! Hit me with your wisdom!