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Flash Fiction: Downing Tools


This short monologue was originally written for a competition last year but didn't win, but I thought I'd dust it off and post it in time for Christmas. I wonder if anyone can relate to the narrator...?

 

Downing Tools


Just one year. That’s all. One little year out of all the rest. Is that really too much to ask?


When I made the suggestion to the family as we all sat slouched in the living room, bellies bloated from the big meal, an old Pixar movie on the telly, you’d think I’d just suggested we start singing Christmas carols.


“Oh no,” said Auntie Jean, who’d been coming to ours for Christmas ever since Uncle Phil passed away nine years ago. Invited herself, of course, even though she has eleven other nieces and nephews she could bother. “I don’t fancy that, at all. Going out for Christmas dinner? Oh no, no, no.” It was alright for her. She never lifted a bloody finger to help, just spent her time moaning and hogging the remote control.


My brother Jason and his latest girlfriend, Jackie, a beautician half his age, were aghast. “But Jacks and I have been having Christmas dinner here for years,” said Jason, helping himself to the last two mince pies. “It’s tradition.”


“Babes,” Jackie said, in a low murmur. “We only started going out in June. This is my first Christmas with your family.” She looked across at me and smiled, revealing unnaturally white teeth. “And I’m having a great time!” She raised her glass of Prosecco, the smile vanishing as quickly as it had appeared.


The twins were no help. I thought they’d like the idea of going to a restaurant for Christmas dinner, but Hayley and Sam both pulled faces. “But we’d have to change out of our onesies,” Sam pouted, glancing up from his phone.


“I’ll stay here,” said Hayley, who was lounging next to me, staring glass-eyed at the telly. “I’m not going nowhere at Christmas.”


“It’s not going anywhere,” Auntie Jean corrected her. Hayley rolled her eyes in response.


Dave was just as bad as the others. “Why don’t you want to have Christmas dinner here, love?” He was sitting in his armchair, rummaging through a box of chocolates and taking out his favourites. “It’s better to have it here at home. I won’t be able to drink if I have to drive.”


I waited.


I waited for someone, anyone, to say it. To make the offer.


We can lend you a hand if you’re struggling to make a three-course meal for seven people all by yourself while constantly being interrupted for stupid reasons that others could easily deal with.


But no one did.


I sat there fuming for the next hour while everyone ate and drank and farted. Then, just as the movie was coming to an end, I got up from the sofa and, grabbing the remote from Auntie Jean, switched the telly off. Then I said in a loud voice: “That’s it! This time next year, I’m going to be sitting on my arse, drinking, and eating chocolate while you lot take care of dinner. I’ll have no protests, and you won’t change my mind. Next year, I’m going on strike.”


I left the room to absolute silence and went through to the kitchen to pour myself a large glass of wine. Then I heard Auntie Jean pipe up with: “well, maybe going to a restaurant isn’t such a bad idea, after all.”

 

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