Bathroom Suite

by Anne Goodwin

27 Welbeck Road

Dear Esme,

Such a hectic weekend! Trailing round the showrooms looking at bathroom suites. Far too exhausted to cook tonight so said goodbye to my diet and went down the chippy.

What’s this about you missing school? Have you been ill? Is it your mother?

Write soon. All my love,

Sheena.

*

Zokandu Secondary School

Dear Sheena Auntie,

I did not go to school today but you must not worry. I am not sick.

It is true my mother is sick again but I can nurse her before and after school. I rise early and help her wash and she can eat a little ugali if I sit beside her and hold the bowl.

I hope you and your family are well. I thank you every day for your kindness,

Esme.

*

27 Welbeck Road

Dear Esme,

Another weekend looking at bathrooms. We can’t really afford a new one but our old suite is an embarrassment when anyone comes round. Still, we can always put it on the plastic. The Sales are on at the moment so it’s a good time to buy.

I’m glad you’re keeping well and sorry about your mother. Let’s hope she’s better soon. But I’m disappointed in you. If you’re not ill, why are you missing so much school? Girls often lose interest at your age and fall behind. We can’t let that happen!

All my love,

Sheena.

*

Zokandu Secondary School

Dear Sheena Auntie,

Please don’t be cross with me. Believe me I stay home for a good reason. And only for three or four days each month.

They say my mother needs the hospital but it is too costly. When I am a proper nurse I will make her better.

Wishing health and happiness to you and your family,

Esme.

*

27 Welbeck Road

Dear Esme,

The new suite is sitting in our garage waiting to be installed! The car is sitting on the drive. It’s a nuisance as we often have to scrape the ice off the windscreen these frosty mornings.

It’s no good missing nearly a week of school a month! If you’re going to train as a nurse you need to complete your education. Isn’t that why I’m sponsoring you?

Don’t let me down!

Sheena.

*

Zokandu Secondary School

Dear Sheena Auntie,

I am embarrassed to write you why I cannot attend school sometimes. But better this than you think me lazy and ungrateful.

My monthly bleeds keep me from my lessons. That is all. My teacher gives me extra work so I don’t fall behind.

Please believe me I am very serious about my studies,

Esme.

*

27 Welbeck Road

Darling Esme,

You have become a woman! Why didn’t you tell me earlier?

Should that keep you off school? Are the cramps very painful? Are you struggling to find the right sanitary protection? Your mother won’t have been well enough to help you and the choice can be overwhelming.

Like choosing our bathroom tiles. Andy wants one thing, I want another. It might come to war!

Remember I’m here to help. Anything you need, anything you don’t understand, just ask.

All my love,

Sheena.

*

Zokandu Secondary School

Dear Sheena Auntie,

It is kind of you to ask about the cloths for my bleeds. Don’t worry, I have many. I wash them in the river when it is dark.

Please write me how is your bathroom suite and your windscreen and other news.

Affectionately yours,

Esme.

*

27 Welbeck Road

Dear Esme,

What a nightmare getting the new suite installed! Dust everywhere! Then they took the old loo out and couldn’t fit the new one till the next morning! We were reduced to using a bucket!

Did you ask about this to shut me up about school? Your period isn’t a good enough excuse not go.

I only nag because I care,

Sheena.

*

Zokandu Secondary School

Dear Sheena Auntie,

I have many questions of you but first I must explain why it is impossible I attend school during my bleeds. No girl goes at that time because we cannot change our cloths.

Our school has no latrines. We must relieve ourselves in the woods. And change our cloths. The boys follow us and spy on us. There is no secret place. It is better we stay at home for our bleeds. So that is why. Sorry for the embarrassment. I do not like to write of such things.

Better my questions of you. You see I always try to learn.

Dear Sheena Auntie, tell me, what is a bathroom suite?


Anne Goodwin writes all kinds of fiction from flash fiction to full length novels, some of which is showcased via her website here.

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  1. #1 by Angela Wray on November 24, 2012 - 10:11 am

    Puts it into perspective – thank you for giving me my thought for the day.

  2. #2 by John Ritchie on November 24, 2012 - 11:46 am

    I realised where this was going from the second paragraph, but that in no way distracted from the poignancy of the piece. Skillfuly done and thought provoking

  3. #3 by Sal Page on November 24, 2012 - 1:36 pm

    Excellent work. Good point well made … love that last line!

  4. #4 by jennypellett on November 24, 2012 - 4:16 pm

    I love this and hate Sheena – I hope that’s what you intended!

  5. #5 by Annecdotist on January 14, 2013 - 1:00 pm

    Thanks so much all of you for your comments and glad you connected with the story. But aren’t we all a bit like Sheena?

  6. #6 by Annecdotist on November 19, 2013 - 11:29 am

    If you’re interested in the issues behind this story, do call in at my blog
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2013/11/whogives-a-shit-for-world-toilet-day.html

  7. #7 by TanGental on November 20, 2014 - 10:40 am

    Cruel and crucial story. Made me irritated with myself for being petty. Thanks for the jolt from my complscency

  1. November 19: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Communications

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