The House Rules

The House Rules
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Photo by Sara Richards
Photo by Sara Richards

It is a model of Victorian architecture – solid with foundations of moral fibre; unlike modern houses.  Mike said he didn’t fit in with the house. He said it didn’t like him.

You let Mike go because you love the house, because you think he will return, because you don’t realise how weak you are. The house lets Mike go because you aren’t married, because he abbreviates his Christian name, because he wears white Nike trainers.[private]

The house spits the flat-pack blonde wood and plastic furniture into the front garden – done with the sin-eating of Scandinavian deforestation Chinese workhouses and. Inside, the furniture is all Victorian – sobriety-heavy oaks and drapes. The house will not allow the enlightenment of electricity, so no one comes round for Friday night drinks anymore; they say it is too dark, too dingy. You find temperance in solitude framed by the leaded windows; the stained glass shadowing the blush of a brazen sun attempting friendship. You hand in your notice at work. Victorian ladies do not lower themselves to menial tasks; they marry. Now you live in a Victorian house, now you’re Victorian, you need to find yourself a Victorian husband – one with an exterior of genteel manners and a seedy alter ego that frequents brothels and expects you to stay at home with needlework and Bible readings. But each day the industrially-revolutionised bricks girdle you into submission. The house expects you to marry, but the house will not allow you outside. Not without a chaperone.

If Mike – or anyone – can decode the language of flowers in your window boxes, will they see your SOS? Zinnia thinks of absent friends, whilst purple hyacinth weeps, until Virginia Creeper snakes around them, asphyxiating. [/private]

Jane Roberts

About Jane Roberts

Jane Roberts is a freelance writer living in Shropshire, UK. She has been published in magazines (including: Litro, Bare Fiction, Firewords Quarterly), ezines and anthologies – including: “Subtext” (2009), “100 Stories for Haiti” (2010),“New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan” (2012),“Dark Clouds by Collective Unconscious” (2013), “Stories for Homes” anthology (2013), and NFFD Anthology "Eating My Words" (2014). Upcoming story in Unthology 9 (Unthank Books, 2016). Long-listed, Fish Publishing Flash Fiction 2013. Shortlisted, Bridport Prize Flash 2013. Winner, Writers' and Artists' Flash Fiction 2013. Shortlisted, National Flash Fiction Day Micro Fiction 2014. Honourable Mention, Retreat West "Fear" Short Story Competition 2014. Shortlisted, "Flash 500" Second Quarter 2014. Shortlisted, Fish Publishing Short Story 2015. Twitter: @JaneEHRoberts / janeehroberts.wordpress.com

Jane Roberts is a freelance writer living in Shropshire, UK. She has been published in magazines (including: Litro, Bare Fiction, Firewords Quarterly), ezines and anthologies – including: “Subtext” (2009), “100 Stories for Haiti” (2010),“New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan” (2012),“Dark Clouds by Collective Unconscious” (2013), “Stories for Homes” anthology (2013), and NFFD Anthology "Eating My Words" (2014). Upcoming story in Unthology 9 (Unthank Books, 2016). Long-listed, Fish Publishing Flash Fiction 2013. Shortlisted, Bridport Prize Flash 2013. Winner, Writers' and Artists' Flash Fiction 2013. Shortlisted, National Flash Fiction Day Micro Fiction 2014. Honourable Mention, Retreat West "Fear" Short Story Competition 2014. Shortlisted, "Flash 500" Second Quarter 2014. Shortlisted, Fish Publishing Short Story 2015. Twitter: @JaneEHRoberts / janeehroberts.wordpress.com

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