This quirky piece of flash fiction is loosely based on a true story.
“Well, you know what men are like.” Mum turned to me, broad smile on her wrinkled face.
After half an hour of silence, the remark made me slurp my tea. Somewhat bemused, I scratched at my greying beard, “Do I?”
She nodded knowingly, “Yes, of course you do. They have needs…”
“Mum.” I put my cup down, picked up a newspaper from the shiny coffee table, flicked through it trying to think of a response.
“Take my Tom…” she giggled, eyes twinkling with mischief.
“What…Dad?” I squeaked in surprise.
“My Tom, I said.” Mum’s eyebrows knitted in exasperation, “He has needs…”
“I really don’t think…” I breathed deeply, taking the smell of wax polish into my lungs.
She leaned towards me conspiratorially, “He always likes me to tie his hands together. You know, when we’re in bed.”
The walls of the communal lounge crowded inwards. The chatter of other residents and their visitors hushed. My neck flushed with heat.
“What are you saying, Mum? You’re not talking about Dad, are you?” I saw my father sitting at the kitchen table, balding and plump, working on The Times crossword puzzle, “He’s not here anymore, is he? You must be confused.”
“I’m fed up of people telling me I’m confused. I know what I’m talking about.” Mum shouted, “Who are you to say I don’t?”
She pushed her cup of tea away, milky brown liquid slopping onto the saucer and perfectly vacuumed floral carpet. Embarrassed, I looked down, noticed the pale band of skin on my newly naked ring finger.
“It’s all right, Mum. Don’t get upset.” I reached across to pat her veined hand but she withdrew it in disgust.
“Don’t touch me…” she spat, “If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s strangers touching me.”
“I know, Mum.”
I sipped at my cold tea. Perhaps I should shave this beard off, I thought, it might make me look younger.