Flash Fiction

Submitted on a forum to address the prompt: WITHOUT A TV


My parents think they’re doing what’s best. I had told them: don’t let me out of my room until I’m clean. Now, no matter what I say to them, the bastards won’t listen. When you can go 24 hours without crying, we’ll consider it. I’m a prisoner in my own home.

Even prisoners get access to television.

I stare at the wall where the screen had been, the paintwork a shade brighter, the quadrilateral outline still there, taunting me.

It feels like flu at the minute: cold sweats, nausea, headaches. I try to combat it by reading novelisations of my favourite films and just try to picture the scenes, but then the letters all swirl on the page and the headache gets worse. Then I tend to resort to shouting out lines from my favourite shows, which ultimately leads to the crying. It’s a vicious rectangle.

They feed me, of course they do. I’ve got unlimited snacks and soda in here but every evening they tag-team me. One of them will come in with a mobile phone and offer me thirty seconds of a Youtube video, while the other places a microwave meal on my bedside table. I know I could rush the door, burst past them, charge down the stairs and flee this place… but what if it’s a really good video Dad has found for me? Maybe some idiot embarking on an epic fail. So I watch, and they leave, and I’m left with steaming hot plastic compartments. Ironically, some people call these TV Dinners.

I sleep intermittently and my dreams are peculiar. I walkthrough some of my favourites: Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Big Bang Theory… but the characters dismiss me, like I have affronted them in some way. Jon Snow is being uncharacteristically unreasonable. Will says he’s intentionally going to go missing if I keep showing up. Penny literally throws cold water over my fantasies.

I have a form of tinnitus also. It’s a theme tune that I can’t get out of my head, but not one I’d want to play. It’s a day-time soap from the nineties. Mom would watch it constantly, and pin me down on the sofa with her, not wanting me to toddle off and get into some mischief that would mean she would have to leave her favourite show to do some actual parenting. Now that tune is stuck on a loop, like a nagging devil whispering in my ear.

I could make it stop. I could make it all stop. And don’t think I haven’t considered it. I could smash the glass in the window, which would give me a couple of options. I could fashion a noose from my bedsheets.

But Stranger Things 3 is out in the summer. And if I can beat this fully, if I can stop crying, then maybe I can convince them I am clean.

Then I can just sneak round to a friend’s house in July and binge watch. yperli

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