Writing

Short Story: ‘Zipper’

My Furious Fiction https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/ entry for August. The requirements for the month’s competition were all adjectival! Our story had to include these words and phrases: shrill, piercing, cold and greasy, ink stained, sweet and pungent, scratched and weather worn, shiny, silver. Using this many adjectives in a 500 word story is harder than you’d think!

My story is a little ode to the Sydney building industry in 2019.

ZIPPER                                                                                 by Denise Newton

The noise was shrill, piercing. Anna sighed and pushed aside her uneaten toast.
“God, I’m so sick of that sound.”

Blake nodded in sympathy. The work in the apartment upstairs was unrelenting. Drills, nail guns, electric saws. Lucky for noise regulations, or they’d be at it day and night.

“Not long now, I hope.”

Anna just shrugged and Blake knew she was right. The people upstairs were very strange. He looked down at his plate. The fried eggs, that had smelt so delicious earlier, had turned cold and greasy. His stomach turned.

When they’d seen the ad, they’d been so excited. Their dream of purchasing their own home could finally come true. The asking price was within their reach. Hell, it was far below what they’d budgeted for. They’d grinned at each other and he’d called the agent straight away.

They should have known better. Hadn’t Mum always told him that when something seemed too good to be true, it usually was? But their excitement got the better of them and they signed the contract two days later. The vendor, a short man in an overstuffed suit, had signed with ink- stained fingers, as though this was the last of a long series of contracts he’d signed that day. Perhaps it was. Each one as dodgy as the last.

So. Here they were, enduring the constant assault of noise from the building works above, the croaking pipes, the ominous rumblings from somewhere in the building, that always began in the deep quiet of early dawn.

“Like the building is haunted,” Anna said, only half joking. She’d made a pot of herbal tea and she passed him a cup, a sweet and pungent brew that he found strangely relaxing. Anything to take his mind off the mistake they’d made in buying into this building.

He began to ready himself for work, collected his coat, and tied the laces on his scratched and weather-worn boots. He’d just kissed Anna goodbye and was making for the front door, when the floor moved. It actually moved, right under his feet. The jolting was accompanied by a louder version of the rumbling that woke him at night. A grinding, unearthly sound. He froze.

Anna stared at him. “What the hell…?”

“Get under the table! In case it’s an earthquake…”
“Earthquake, here? That’s…”

“I’m going downstairs to see,” he interrupted.

 “I’m coming with you.”

He knew better than to argue. She followed him down twenty flights in the gloomy stairwell. They exited onto the street with shaky legs.

Hand in hand, they gazed, incredulous, at the huge crack that had appeared in their building. It looked like a giant zipper. An ugly, misplaced zipper.

Their shiny, silver dream of owning a home disappeared into the morning light.

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