Olwen Wilson June 2022 Highly Commended

The Shape of the Situation in Apartment 23C on a Sunday in September

by Olwen Wilson

Sick of soup-stained shirts, unending heartburn, and his wife’s attentive new friend from down the hall, the Horizontal Man decides to attempt standing up. He declares this to the Parallel Woman while reclining on their contorted couch, and out of earshot of their Upside-Down Child. She doesn’t ask why. She hasn’t asked him anything at all since that tall, hot-liquid-loving neighbour moved in.

“I’ll get the Vertical Vixen to help!” the Parallel Woman says through her gummy-grin.

“No! Not her! Ask the Spiralling Boy in 17D,” the Horizontal Man shouts.

His wife’s cheeks blush pink as she flees from his side. Then red when she knocks their Allen-key-assembled coffee table with her knee.

He hears her send the Upside-Down Child to fetch his foe from the Perpendicular Widow’s old apartment. She adds a lunch invitation as thanks before pushing their child toward 23E.

The click of the stove coming to life tells him his wife’s serving soup for their midday meal. He notices his antacids toppled on the table in front of him, beyond his reach.

When the Vertical Vixen arrives, the Horizontal Man can’t get up from the couch to greet her, nor does he want to. The Parallel Woman’s fawning over the Vertical Vixen’s towering frame reminds him of why he does.

Neither of them offers him any help in getting to his feet. Not even when he won’t contain his grunts and groans while scooching himself higher on the cushions.

They’re too busy swapping stew recipes.

Too busy complimenting the other’s smile.

Too busy declaring their undying love for the world above his view.

All he can do is stare at them sideways as his Upside-Down Child joins them to form a new trio.

About the Author

Olwen Wilson is a writer from Canada whose enthusiasm for finding joy in ordinary moments is contagious. She loves to be surrounded by loud laughter, unread books, paint and pens, cuddly cats, warm blankets, and birds singing outside her window. Her first published story, More Sludge Than Pink Popsicle Sticks, is in the Flash Fiction Festival Four anthology. Find Olwen online at olwenwilson.com and only occasionally on Twitter @Olwen_Allwen

share by email