Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about worry by Anne Dorrian.
Anne Dorrian is an emerging writer who grew up in Oxford and now lives in Germany.
Anne began writing a couple of years ago, while on maternity leave. She then took creative writing courses at the University of Oxford and the University of East Anglia. At first she simply enjoyed writing, and this year she was finally happy enough with what she was writing to begin submitting her work for publication. She has two previous publications to her name, also short stories, which were published on Funny Pearls and The Pigeon Review.
Anne is currently working on her first novel and more short stories.
‘Babushka Forever’ explores the strange relationship between a woman and the man she is catfishing.
It’s March and still the snow is falling, thick sooty flakes of it. It settles on heaps of slush, growing out of the ground like mould. Treacherous grey puddles line the road and a passing lorry leaves Vasilisa drenched. The driver speeds away and Vasilisa gives him the finger. She knows that in his rear-view mirror she’s just an angry Babushka. Vasilisa tries to pat herself dry with a handkerchief. Even her headscarf is wet. She feels the urge to do something drastic. It’s that kind of day. She straightens her coat and wipes down the plastic bag she is carrying. The bag is taut with food, bought with her employee’s discount at Centralny supermarket. Bread, milk, cabbage, a little mince, a tin of peaches. Her sons will moan, but it will feed all four of them. And Vasilisa will tell them: If the young Messieurs don’t like the fare, they are free to go marry an oligarch’s daughter. Then you will have steak and caviar every day. Mind you change out of those stained underpants first though.
Ingrates, the lot of them. Four grown sons plus a husband who hasn’t left his armchair since a work accident twelve years ago. Not a job between them. Vasilisa dabs the last of the slush from her face and hurries towards a Soviet-style apartment block. It’s twelve stories high, but the fifth floor is where the magic happens, where yet another job waits for her. The plastic bag’s handle is cutting into her hand. She pushes the door open and finds the lift broken. The stairs smell of piss. By the time she reaches the fifth floor she is struggling for breath. She pushes her headscarf back – it’s uncomfortably hot. Vasilisa you need to lose weight, she tells herself. The carrier bag handle is about to give out. It’s a matter of seconds now. She reaches the door with the sign ‘Forever Love Babes & Co’ and rings the bell, panting.