Friday, April 1, 2011

A New Box of Business Cards - #fridayflash

There’s a new box of business cards on the table. It’s been there for three days. It arrived Monday morning and what with everything else there simply hasn’t been time to open it. Not that I actually want to open it. I mean, what will I do with all those new business cards? Everything’s changed now.
The house is tidy today, possibly for the first time since the twins were born. Sean’s always going on about how our house lowers the tone of the neighbourhood.
“Only if you bring other people inside,” I remind him.
“If you cleared up I could bring other people inside,” he always says. Then Clara or Jason or one of the twins walks past leaving crumbs or pieces of homework or dirty clothes in their wake. An effective way of ending the conversation, although over the last few years he always manages to give the impression that I somehow plan for the kids to walk past dropping evidence that I’m not the only one living in this house. He still always seems to think that it’s down to me to clear up.
Monday also revealed the document I had successfully managed to hide for two weeks. I picked up a pile of papers to make room for my tea and there it was. Formal Petition for Divorce, it said at the top in curly copperplate. As if anyone cares what font it’s written in. It still means the same thing.
You failed at your marriage. Whatever the reason, that he was the wrong guy, or you were the wrong girl, or one or both of you grew up and changed into the wrong guy or the wrong girl, you still failed. It’s ALL YOUR FAULT.
I didn’t really care that it said that. I’m only sorry he didn’t get his before I got mine. His arrived that morning and he opened the envelope standing by the kettle in his dressing gown, halfway through adding the correct number of sugars to his coffee. I’ll never forget the look he gave me when he read the papers, realised what they were. I had to laugh.
“Ironic, eh?” Then I couldn’t stop laughing and he threw the papers at me and stormed out of the kitchen. Some work in the garage kept me busy for a few minutes and when I got back to the kitchen he was all dressed up for work, dark suit, tie perfect. I’ve often thought, over the years, that I fell in love with him for how he looked when he scrubbed up. All the time we dated he never looked less than perfect. Now, with the flesh starting to hang on his frame, he still looks great in a suit. Everything’s covered up, you know? Put him in any other clothes and I just shudder.
He says I’m cold towards him. Can you blame me? I married a sophisticated older man. Admittedly he was twenty-five years older, but what does that have to do with anything? Power is an aphrodisiac, everyone knows that. He’s still powerful, but not where it counts. Ordering waiters around doesn’t impress me anymore. He’s not even sixty yet, but increasingly it’s all show and no go.
The police knocking on the front door later that morning was a surprise and for a moment I was terrified for the kids.
“Are you Mrs. Barnham?” the taller one asked and my stomach clenched.
“I’m afraid we have some bad news. May we come in?”
“Who… who is it? I… my kids, my… my husband…”
“I’m afraid your husband has been involved in a collision with a truck. It looks like he fell asleep at the wheel. I’m terribly sorry.”
I couldn’t speak for a moment. I truly didn’t know what to say.
“Who fell asleep? The truck driver?”
“No, ma’am. Your husband.”
I only started crying when they told me that the truck driver had survived with barely a scratch. You could tell they just wanted to leave so I let them. After all, none of it was their fault.
Of course, they didn’t understand and there was no way I could tell them that I was crying from relief that the truck driver would be ok. I managed to get myself under control before going back into the kitchen where I took one of my mother’s aluminium pans down and put it on the cooker. Then I picked up Sean’s scattered divorce papers and lit each one individually, making sure they all burnt down to ash. Then I did the same to mine. I flushed the sleeping pills down the toilet, pulled the label off the bottle and burnt that. Then I dug the ash into the flower bed outside the back door.
The police aren’t even going to investigate. The explosion must have burned the wreckage too badly for the damage to the brake lines to show. Once all these people leave I can burn that box of business cards, too. Sean Barnham, Director. I only kept them around because looking at them made me cry. They reminded me of how we felt about each other when we first met, the day he gave me his business card at my father’s funeral.
It’s important to look devastated at family funerals. I saw the way his boss looked at me when he handed me his business card. Black does me justice. He’s even older, but he’s also the CEO. As they say, power is an aphrodisiac. And he doesn’t have his own children, so all that money’s got to go somewhere.

April Fools! 
The awesome story you just read is written by the lovely and talented Anne-Mhairi Simpson and it appears here as a part of the Great April Fool's Day FridayFlash Blog Swap, organized by Tony Noland. You can find my story for today at Anne-Mhairi's website. To read all the dozens of stories swapping around as a part of the GAFDFFBS, check out the GAFDFFBS index over at Tony's blog Landless. For hundreds of thousands of words of fantastic flash fiction stories, check out the FridayFlash hashtag on Twitter. It happens every Friday!
Anne-Mhairi Simpson has lived in four countries and is still trying to work out how she ended up back in the UK. Fluent in three languages and decidedly not in three more, she has taught, administrated, sold, receptioned, marketed, waitressed, bartended, guided tours, liaised with clients and written content for the internet. Whatever was earning the pencil-money at the time, she has always written fiction prose and poetry (when she wasn't talking, reading, dancing or buying brightly coloured clothes and handbags). She is currently working on her second novel, a YA paranormal fantasy, which she hopes to publish later this year.

She can be found via Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and her blog.

Twitter: @AnneMhairi
Facebook: Anne-Mhairi Simpson
Goodreads: Anne-mhairi

P.S. from Cathy - Awesome story, Anne-Mhairi. Really enjoyed it and really enjoyed "meeting you." Thanks, Tony, for setting this all up.
Also, a big, mushy Happy birthday to my son, Angus, who turns 14 today. I never used to like April Fool's Day but, since he was born, it's one of my favourite special days. oxoxox

P.S.S. Today is also the first day of the Blogging A-Z Challenge. Almost 1,000 people all over the world will be blogging every day during the month of April (except on Sundays) with each day starting with a letter of the alphabet (in alphabetical order, of course). I was worried about how I was going to tie in Tony's April Fool's Blogswap but that wonderful Anne-Mhairi called her story "A New Box of Business Cards," which absolutely covers the A necessary for the first day of the swap.
Yeah.. I can relate...
Since my April Fool's Knocked Up Door Contest is coming up, I think I'm going to post all the door entries on the 'D' day. Y'know, D? For Doors? heh. 
You are SO going to enjoy seeing everyone's doors. Look for them on D-Day, next Tuesday.


  1. What a fabulous story. Terrific voice, engaging the whole way through. I'm glad to have "met" Anne-Mhairi as well.

    Cathy, looking forward to everything you have coming up, and a big Happy birthday to your boy.

  2. Great story and, along with it starting with an "A", it's also written by "A"nne-Mhairi!

    Will be looking forward to "D" for doors. ;)

  3. Great story Anne! I wasn't quite sure how this swap was supposed to work, thought we might have to guess who did what. Glad we didn't! April Fool's Day is a friend of mine's birthday too. Happy Birthday Angus!

    Off to Anne's to read the other half of this swap. No foolin'

  4. You could start to get suspicious this was an April Fools story when it remained focused four paragraphs in. Unless it's in dialogue, Cathy usually meanders from the central premise at least a little. Neither is wrong - I enjoy both approaches and tend to enjoy writing Cathy's way myself. Just what helped me suspect I was getting Fooled again today.

    And happy birthday!

  5. Hahahahaha I'll take John's comment as a compliment!! :D

  6. I went from feeling bad for her to absolute shock by the end -- well played!

  7. Great story! Held my attention to the end. Well written, true or false, reality or April's fool joke you caused me to keep reading where normally I just move on. Good job!

    Gregg Metcalf
    Colossians 1:28-29

    Gospel-driven Disciples

  8. Oh, this was a terrific story - so cold and calculating!

  9. HA! I read that entire thing thinking it was you. First prank today that I fell for. Dang.

    I pulled an April Fool's Day prank today on some students. Come by my blog to check out the video.

  10. It WAS a great story! Thanks Anne-Mhairi! It was a lot of fun "switching voices" - you with marital strife and dead husbands; me with fantasy and some elves. Thanks to dear Tony for coming up with the great idea!
    John - HA! You made me laugh out loud at work today. (off to see what the man of cheese if up to...)

  11. Great story! And happy birthday to Angus (another A). Looking forward to all the good stuff coming up (sorry no door from me, the last 2 weeks have been insane, anything that could go wrong has). Off to check off Anne-Mihari's blog and your story! Peace...

  12. That was a really great story!! Found you from the A-Z Challenge, sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun, with maybe with a little bit of stress thrown in!! I’m now following you on GFC and I hope you have a chance to check out my blog!

  13. Wow... This rocked! And took such a turn. Nice one!

  14. A clever twist, bending and manipulating the reader's emotions and perspective. Well done.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  15. Oh so devious and clever! awesome!

  16. Wonderful. I loved the way the plot points were doled out in little tidbits. Great job.

  17. Nicely done! I love the way it wraps up so cleanly at the end. Great twist.

  18. I loved this! And despite it all, I actually really liked the narrator.

  19. Kudos to Anne-Mhairi for a nice tightly written piece. A black widow, it would seem… but hey, someone's gotta make sure the kids are set.

  20. Sorry I'm late stopping by for this ... terrific story, Anne-Mhairi - that's a whole lot of anger and frustration for one little woman - the narrator, I mean. I wonder if the second time will be the charm ;-)

  21. cool traffic story! i like the script.

    Clear business cards

    plastic card


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