“Remember, You’ve Got Tenure” by B F Jones

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“I quit!” she says barging into my office, unannounced.

I recoil, for her appearance will never cease to surprise me. We’ve been working together forever but I can’t get used to how emaciated she is, her black dress clinging in all the wrong places.

I’m used to those outbursts. Every now and then she has a crisis of conscience and decides that she wants a change of career.

I blow one last smoke ring, put my cigarette down and lean forward, chin on hand, feigning an interest.

“What’s up? Did anything happen?”

“Yes something happened! The same shit as usual happened! There was a malfunction on a school bus. There were 57 kids on it for fuck’s sake! Fifty. Seven.” She leans across the desk, bony finger outstretched and face too close for comfort, and I draw back. I don’t like her face. I don’t like the way she points that finger at me.

“That’s just too much. I can’t take it, I quit.” And she pounds the desk so hard, her dress slips off her skeletal shoulder.

“OK. OK. I feel your pain. Let me think of a solution. Because quitting would be a shame. Remember, you’ve got tenure. And you’re pretty damn good. And it’s not like you’re qualified to do anything else. You’re probably tired, I get it, you’ve been working endlessly, and it’s repetitive and sometimes gruesome. How about I give you the afternoon off? I know it isn’t much but you’re kind of indispensable.”

She paces a bit, thinking, rearranging her cloak.

“OK. But a complete half day. No last-minute emergencies. I’ll be off this afternoon. The world will keep on turning. The world might actually feel grateful for it.”

And she grabs her scythe and walks out, slamming the door.

 

B F Jones is French and lives in the UK with her husband, 3 children, and cat. She works as a digital marketing consultant and moonlights as an aspiring writer. She has flash fiction published in The Cabinet of Heed, Spelk Fiction, Storgy, Idle Ink, Train Lit Mag and Bending Genres. 

“Roasted Turnips” by B F Jones

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The feud started months ago. 

Neighbourly pettiness, all too common. The aggravation of those that didn’t choose to share a fence, and things thrown over it.

Couple against couple. Both draped in their own righteousness. 

But one couple doesn’t want to carry on. So they bow out; “It’s not worth it,” they decide. 

 

But the ceasefire doesn’t stop the war and from the other side of the fence the offensives carry on. 

“Pathetic,” they mutter, while they sweep the broken flowerpots off the ground, piece together their shredded mail. And they shrug their shoulders and move on. 

 

But at night she’s wide awake, the desire of revenge nibbling her dreams, pecking away at her mind. 

 

That evening she sits on the sofa, clutching the small box in her hands. “Don’t,” he says. But it’s useless. 

She slips out at dusk, and he lets her.

 

The allotment where the wife grows her prize-winning vegetables is just down the road. Why grow turnips when you already look like one? The small dishevelled shadow giggles into the darkness.

A spark and the smell of sulphur crowds her nostrils. 

The small hiccupping flame grows.

 

Soon the entire neighbourhood bustles and scrambles while sirens fill the night. What has happened? Where is it coming from? But it’s promptly all over, only the acrid smell of roasted turnips a fading testimonial of the incident.

 

She shoves the box back in the kitchen drawer and sits on the sofa. He can hear her knuckles cracking.

“Nobody saw me.” 

 

That night her dreams are stolen from her once again. 

The next morning there is a knock on the door. Is it them?

“Don’t open it.” In her eyes, sleeplessness and fear. 

Let’s not open the door. Not now. Not ever. 

 

 

B F Jones lives in Surrey with her husband, 3 children, and cat. She has stories in (or soon in) STORGY magazine, The Cabinet of Heed and Spelk Fiction.