Wake up alone in a bed that isn’t yours with your eyeliner melted down your cheek and one false eyelash fluttering by your left ear.
Smooth the silky covers over your frizzled head. Realise you lost your sequinned dress and found some boxer shorts. Boil with embarrassment. Hope you dressed yourself.
Smell the coffee by the bed, know it’s exactly the way you take it, feel for the fizzy water and paracetamol that will be there, and drink them. Remember the time you put a fingernail through the crimson paper lampshade hanging from the ceiling.
Make it to your feet and aim for the wardrobe that’s new to you, searching for any item of your clothing. Open a drawer full of expensive lace. Under a red satin teddy, see a photo of a delicate-featured woman. Find one of your stockings from last night laddered from heel to toe.
Know you’re supposed to drain the coffee, be grateful for the paracetamol, and evaporate into a taxi until your ex-boyfriend wants to ignore his engagement again, kiss you in an anonymous nightclub and dissolve your reclaimed self-respect.
Instead, this time, solidify your resolve. Leave your stocking in the pristine underwear drawer, grab your coat and shoes from the hallway.
Stomp down the road waving to all the neighbours you can spot, and wish, wish wish this time he won’t be able to wash you away.
Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently by Fractured Lit. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer. Her debut flash collection, Families and Other Natural Disasters, is available from Reflex Press, and links to her stories are at https://coffeeandpaneer.wordpress.com
Header photograph and artwork by Jordan Keller-Wilson