Everything was going well until the internet died. Of course, that depends on one’s definition of “well”.
Bruce set up a home gym in lock-down, and the daily workouts which at first excited his wife now perfumed the flat in eau de sweat. Ten minutes of grunting and crashing was enough. Ten minutes of spit-filled exhalations coating every surface of the room that had once been her lounge.
‘No more TV. Need to keep active to get through this,’ Bruce said.
His wife Delilah turned away, chopped onions in the kitchen. The chemicals burned her eyes to tears.
Bruce did well. He kept fit. Delilah?
In the before, Delilah binged the Cooking Channel and old gastronomic movies. She spent hours practising, planning and prepping, gazing out the third-floor window at the rat race below, timing it “just right”. When Bruce came home he’d have a fancy veal and apple casserole, or a berry parfait with pistachio cream, or a home-baked roll, viande du jour. Delilah carved up recipes, murdered ingredients, and planned to write a book for “discerned tastes”. She did well enough. Kept busy.
But Bruce’s work moved to out-of-home and everything changed. Delilah couldn’t leave the pressure cooker of the flat often enough. She kept the local businesses afloat with her coffee habit; she donated sourdough and pies to the (struggling) Mothers Group. She wore her mask and practised smiling and used up every byte of data watching MasterChef alone. She did well as could be.
Then the sun expelled a huge coronal and killed the internet with its geostorm. Satellites, phones, GPS: all went down. TV, and spy drones, and airlines: down. The heart of the solar system had a tantrum and the whole world lost its temper.
Bruce couldn’t work out without Spotify, and raged.
Delilah couldn’t order groceries online. She raged.
He cracked it over washing left undone; she clarified she wouldn’t touch his stinking clothes. He barked about fancy dinners with the wrong calories. She screamed about months of untouched meals.
It spiralled; they spiralled. The storm had entered them.
They came undone.
‘It’s like I’m always sitting on the fence waiting for you,’ Bruce said.
‘I hate allegories,’ Delilah replied, and ‘Housewifing was never my picket fence anyway.’
‘That’s right, your dream is to cook and grow fat.’
‘Oh yeah? Yours is to be more boring than an uncooked slab.’
Bruce knew where to hit the hardest. ‘Why can’t you be more like Tara instead?’
Delilah knew just what he meant. ‘I’m not your personal bloody trainer, I’m your wife!’
Her husband snarled. ‘Seems like you’re just my chef. And not even a good one.’
But Delilah knew a useless hunk of meat when she saw one. She grabbed her kitchen knife and showed him her mind.
The one she could no longer keep busy.
In the after, Delilah sold recipes by the dozen. Discerning tastes had became more common in a world where rules had changed. The Mothers Group especially loved her “Casserole du Jour”.
Everything went well after the internet died. Of course, that depends on one’s definition of “well”.
And which end of Delilah’s knife you held.
A bit of a silly one this week. I wrote an earlier version of this for May’s Furious Fiction competition, which included constraints such as ‘being set in a storm’, using the phrase ‘sitting on the fence’, and adding the words ‘apple, mother, yesterday’ (I took the last one out in the most recent edit, which also switched the POV to third. If you’d read the first iteration you’d understand why it wasn’t even longlisted… Sorry, judges).
Hope you enjoyed it anyway – sometimes a bit of flash fiction in the form of a cosy murder is all we need. Right? 😉