Flash Fiction: Bent by Elizabeth Reeder
An ultra-short story from the Chicago-born, Glasgow-based author of Ramshackle and Fremont
He’d toed the line for years - he’d drawn it across the same patch of worn carpet, for the same audience of one - his younger, arrogant, flaunt of a sister - while their mum was in the kitchen making tea each Sunday. It was a duel of sorts: he drew the line, his sister moved it. The first rule? Just don’t do it. Actually, Don’t even think about it, should have been the first one but by the time he’d thought of it, she’d already crossed both lines, and so it became If you do it, don’t brag about it, and when she’d done that too many weekends in a row it became, If you continue to flaunt it like you’re hell bent on doing, definitely don’t do it where our mum or any of her friends can witness it, and then it became, if her friends see you, be sure to let them know that it’s not really what they think it is and you’re not what they fear you might be and, if mum finds out, apologise without using any inflammatory language but if you don’t apologise definitely don’t bring your girlfriend to dinner, but, if you bring your girlfriend home, don’t profess your love for her at a birthday party or any other holiday and definitely don’t pull out a ring and propose, definitely not in the living room where we both grew up and when mum throws her glass at you, duck and don’t talk back, and definitely don’t call her a homophobic old cow and even though you’re angry and in a rage definitely don’t bring me and my boyfriend into your battles.