TIM’ROUS BEASTIE by Charlotte Mitchell (2nd place, Flash Feb22)

Maisie Gibbins went to make banana bread and discovered that a mouse had shit in her flour.

“The wee fucking bastard, it never has! Jesus, can’t I have anything to myself?”

She looked at it mournfully. She was hungry and craving something sweet, but there was nothing in the house save the ingredients for banana bread. Could she order a take-away? No, she was abysmally skint. She could afford to buy new flour but that would require leaving the house and she hadn’t left the house in four days. She hadn’t left the house in four days because she hadn’t washed in six days, and technically she could wash and then she could leave the house and then she could buy new flour and then she could make banana bread and then she could eat it and not be hungry or craving something sweet anymore. But that was easier said than done.

How much damage had the bugger done anyway? A lot. It was everywhere, there was shit in the sugar too. And the oats. It had gotten into every bag on her cupboard shelf. She looked at it all. Filthy mite. She’d have to replace the lot.

Although, she could just sift it out. She wrinkled her nose up. That would be pretty disgusting. Although, was it disgusting? Apparently mice ran all over your cheese in the barns or wherever cheese was made anyway. And their shit can’t be that dirty. Really it was probably no worse than eating without washing your hands after going to the toilet. Although, that was also pretty disgusting, she never did it. Sometimes she would deliberately not wash her hands after wiping her arse because the feeling of uncleanliness gave her some freaky little thrill, but she couldn’t bring herself to eat again until she’d actually washed them. This seemed less dirty than that.

She carefully sieved the sugar first, creamed it with the butter, then sieved in the flour. Fuck, there really were a lot of droppings in the sieve. But they were dry. Probably hardly any germs had been passed on, look how small and round and dry they were. It was fine. She’d never be able to tell once it was baked, she’d forget completely.

It came out extremely well, turned out to be one of the best banana breads she’d ever made. Then there was a knock at the door and in came trundling her gran.

“Maisie I just thought I’d pop in because nobody’s seen ye in ages, where have ye been keeping yerself? Look at ye yer hair’s a state, go wash it the now and we’ll do something nice fir oor tea. I’ll get us a fish and chips down the bowling.” Maisie assented. She was feeling a little better, anyway, after eating. Washing would be easy now. She watched her gran busying herself with making a cup of tea and cutting a slice of the banana bread. She didn’t say a word.

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