Monday, 22 September 2008

Claustrophobia (flash fiction)

Every morning was a race for Harold. As soon as his alarm went off the walls started closing in; the white plaster walls, the photograph of him and his mother at the Uni Graduation Ceremony. That seemed so long ago, now, he thought as it edged towards him steadily, while to his back the window and photograph he’d taken of ducks on a pond pushed his bed forward. On slow days he had to jump out the window to avoid being crushed between his bed and the wall. His bed was battered and bruised; the frame long ago splintered to bits and the mattress could bend in ways his bones could not. Every day he grabbed a tie and trousers from the floor beside his mattress and rushed to the door. Every night the room was back to its original size. He’d tried to sue his landlord for breach of contract but the claims adjuster told Harold that was clearly ridiculous.
So Harold had no choice but to save up for a better place. He was doing alright, working in a call center, but the hours were long and some mornings he barely made it out of the window, rolling in his pyjamas on to the garden before the room was pinched tight. One day he sprained his ankle jumping out and spent the next week crashing at his friend’s place until his foot recovered. No one believed him, but they humoured him because they liked his mustache. He got a promotion at his job and went out to celebrate, drinking shot after shot of gin. When he got home he was so drunk he forgot to set his alarm and was crushed to death the very next morning.

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