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The problem with thinking

Ruth Brandt

Woah, OK so it’s like dripping. Plink plink plink. Get what I’m saying? Plink plink. And I’ve got to get off to work and it won’t stop. Oh my days! So I stuff my hoodie over it because a) a hoodie can absorb a lot and b) if you can’t see something, it’s not happening. Sorted. And I’m literally out of the front door, literally, when I glimpse the puddle. I go and lift my hoodie just to check, and it hasn’t stopped, so I hold it tight but I can’t do anything if I’m holding onto it. And I’m stuck there in the toilet holding my hoodie tight to the bit by the push flush thing and it’s all quiet which gives my head space to think. The problem with thinking is that you need to know what to think, and I’m like what? So I think about Mum, and I think about I can budget, Mum and Sure I know what an alarm clock is, and I get my phone out, just to check the time, and before I know it I’m, Mum it won’t stop dripping, Mum, and she says, Sit down, hold on to the bridge of your nose and relax. What’s that about? Is there some surreal plumbing spirit that gets the zen thing. Really, Mum? And she says, Yeah, deep breaths. So I perch on the toilet seat for a little and do it, but it’s still pouring and I tell her it’s not working and she says she’s there for me, which is great considering she’s two hundred miles away, but it’s good to know she’s there for me. Like really gushing, Mum, I say, and she says, Gushing? Not dripping? And I’m wondering if there’s a difference? I don’t know, Mum, I tell her. I don’t know stuff like this. You usually sort out stuff like this. What do I do, Mum? Gushing, she says. What exactly are we talking about? And I say I don’t know because I don’t know what it’s called but it’s the bit by the push flush and now my hoodie is all soaked and I’m late for work, like really late, well a bit late, sort of. Have you called the landlord, she asks, or the agent? I tell her she’s got a point and couldn’t she have said that before. And even though I have to make that call, I tell her a little bit about my pasta and rice dinner last night and a little bit about my boss, and she tells me I’d better get a move on. And I say, OK, OK, Mum, and I tell her she’s got to get off the phone so I can call the landlord. And she says, Do it. And I say, Thanks, Mum, and I say, Bye. And she says, Bye, love. And I say, Love you, Mum.

Ruth Brandt’s prize-winning short story collection No One has any Intention of Building a Wall was published by Fly On The Wall Press in November 2021. She won the Kingston University MFA Creative Writing Prize, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Write Well Award and Best Small Fictions Award. She tutors creative writing and tweets @RuthABrandt.

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