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by Mary Thompson

My landlord has started washing my underwear. He just wanders into my room when I’m at work and plucks my dirty knickers from the laundry basket then hangs them like bunting above the bath. I haven’t the heart to say anything as his wife died from MS at 43. The bath was especially designed for her with a long, low handrail. She couldn’t do much towards the end, he says. Sometimes I lean on the rail and manoeuvre my body into the lukewarm water then pretend I am her, all helpless and dependent. I can’t imagine that happening to me but maybe it will. It’s best to be prepared.

It’s quite chilly tonight so he’s lent me her Arran cardigan. There’s a chocolate stain on the sleeve and a faint whiff of Cool Water or is it Obsession? As we watch the X Factor together, I breathe in her smell and try to work out which one it is. I think it’s Obsession.

Mary Thompson lives in London, where she works as a freelance teacher. Her work has been shortlisted, longlisted and published in various journals and competitions including Flash 500, Fish Short Memoir, Writing Magazine, Retreat West, Reflex Fiction, FlashFlood, Ellipsis Zine, the Cabinet of Heed, Memoir Mixtapes, the Fiction Pool, Marauder Literary Journal and Fictive Dream, and is forthcoming at Ink in Thirds, Firewords and Funicular Magazine.