Family, Fiction, Health and wellbeing, Melbourne, Relationship and marriage, Writing

A show for the neighbours (short fiction)

Her tummy feels off. It’s gurgling, churning, blustery like a storm’s brewing. She doesn’t have a high temp and she’s otherwise fine, so she leaves the house to make her way to the train station.

Work has been busy lately, her boss all over her in the way only a micromanager can be. It’s better to be there, put in an appearance and, if her gut worsens, come home. Yes, that’s the best option.

She makes her way down her street to the busy strip shopping centre; it’s just a short walk from there to her closest train station. Before she gets to the main street, though, the churning threatens eruption. Does she have time to go home, or will it be the gutter?

Oh fuck, it’s the gutter.

By the time she stands upright, her hair is covered in her vomit. She wipes her mouth with the sleeve of her trenchcoat. She’s wobbly, unstable. Leaning on a tree she tries to find the strength to make her way home. From under her lashes she spies Mrs Boyne staring from her window. Is she shaking her head? Then, she hears a door slam shut and footsteps approach.

‘Bindy, are you alright?’ asks Angelina. ‘Come inside, let’s get you cleaned up.’

‘Thanks Angelina, but I can make it home.’

‘No. Come on inside,’ Angelina states firmly. ‘It’s not an offer, it’s a directive. Mrs Boyne is watching in her judgy manner.’

Angelina rubs Bindy’s back and guides her inside. Bindy looks back at the mess festering in the gutter.

‘Don’t worry about that,’ Angelina says kindly. ‘Bill’s home today, I’ll send him out with the hose and Pine-O-Cleen.’

Once inside, Angelina takes further charge. She offers Bindy a shower, fresh clothes, and phones Bindy’s boss. A few minutes later, Bindy limps down the stairs and into the open living area. Angelina’s in the kitchen, the kettle loudly making its way to boiling point.

‘Now, you just lie on the couch, Bindy,’ Angelina states, while placing her arm around Bindy and moving with her. ‘There’s a blanket here. I’ve cleaned your coat, but it’ll need dry-cleaning. The rest of your things are in the wash. Bill’s taken care of outside.’

‘I need to phone work.’

‘Done it already. They’re not expecting you. Please stay here for today, so I can keep an eye on you.’

Bindy has always liked Angelina, since she first met her six years ago when she moved in. Angelina and Bill’s kids were in their late teens. They were good kids, she remembered, always well-mannered, said hello as she walked by. Bindy often saw them sweeping the front porch, or washing the cars. Now, she wonders when they moved out?

Her eyelids are heavy; the sound of the kettle lulls her into a dreamy, heavy state. It’s been so long since someone took care of her. She snuggles under the blanket and sleeps.





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