The Flat (True Life Short Story)

Ellie was nine and didn’t want to go. She never liked going there. The dog always smelled and was continually bothering the cat. All that meowing, hissing, growling and barking made her feel anxious. Surely, keeping two animals in such a tiny flat is cruel, especially with six children there, too. No wonder the cat and dog are so discontented and fractious – hardly surprising.

Ellie’s aunt, Lily, was strict and unkind. Ellie never liked her. She was harsh and emotionless, or so it seemed. She had a wicked streak in her, always telling off her young niece for biting her nails. She would rub nasty Germolene* onto the ends of Ellie’s fingers, so every time Ellie started to nibble her nails, she got the disgusting taste of the ointment. Why didn’t Lily understand how traumatised the child was? Ellie was always crying – she was missing her mum, naturally, with her being in hospital again. Why didn’t Lily see that?

Ellie got on reasonably well with her two older cousins and one of the twins, but the other was domineering and a bully. Ellie was scared of Amy, who always made a point of saying she was twenty minutes older than her twin, Kate. She was glad to have her own sister, Jill, there with her. Although her sister was one year younger than her, she was a fair bit bigger and would often stick up for Ellie if there were arguments or a lot of bossing going on.

Ellie hated going to the twins’ school. She was in a different class from Jill, and she also didn’t understand the language in Hebrew classes, as her own family didn’t use it, not being religious. She had no friends and always stood alone in the playground corner during break times. She felt so isolated and very much wanted to go home. She wondered how many weeks she’d have to stay at the flat. However long it was going to be, it was far, far too long.

*Germolene is a strong-smelling antiseptic ointment.

Photo by Help Stay on Unsplash

Author: Ellie Thompson

Writing my memoirs, musings, a little fiction and a lot of poetry as a way of exploring and making the most of my life ... ... Having had a break from writing my blog for more than three years, I decided to return to write my memoirs, some day-to-day observations, views and feelings. My passion is non-fiction poetry. I have a disability and use an electric powerchair called Alfie and let nothing get in the way of living life to the full. I believe that you can never do a kindness too soon and should give credit where credit is due. A smile or a kind word could make the difference between a good or bad day for a person - we never know what's going on for another soul. Those little things, perhaps, practised daily like a mantra, could mean so much to someone else. Thank you for visiting my blog and reading a little more about me. Please, make yourself at home here. You are very welcome. Ellie x 😊

47 thoughts on “The Flat (True Life Short Story)”

  1. The ending made my heart bleed. I’m sorry you had to go through this.
    I remember spending my summer time at my grandma’s place with a few of my cousins. I was from a big city and all they knew was a tiny village. It was such a weird experience and I often dreaded going there. I don’t see my cousins often these days, but when we do get together, we have a lot of fun. Are things better with yours?

    1. Thanks for your comment and kindness, Sam. I’m sorry you got packed off to your grandma’s. I’m glad you get on well with your cousins now, though. I grew up in North East London, and my aunt lived nearer the city than we did. My aunt (and uncle, who was like a little mouse because aunt ‘wore the trousers’) have died now, many years ago. I haven’t seen my four cousins for decades! I think the last time was at my sister’s wedding (and that was a long time ago, too). I think my sister, who’s in Australia, keeps in touch with one of the twins – the nicer one, Kate. I daresay, Amy is a nicer person by now (I’d like to think so anyway). I have many cousins, but haven’t seen any of them for years. How are you doing? Xx

        1. Glad you’re well, even though you’re busy. I’m not great at having a routine, either. I don’t have a set time to write or read or even eat. I write when inspiration strikes. I’m a lot better than I was, thanks. It’s kind of you to ask. I’m keeping busy, too. I have my class on Thursday mornings, and I’m then involved with a community group from XR (Extinction Rebellion), doing good work in the community, like litter picking in our local Central Park. We also have a drum circle (open to anyone) that I go along to once a week. It’s great fun. We also talk to the community about the climate emergency. We had good feedback this weekend. There’s no sign of a new counsellor yet, although, I will have to pay when the time comes, and I’m not sure now whether I can afford it. It could be months away yet anyway. I’ll wait and see. Xx

          1. Thanks, Sam. It is definitely helping. While working in the community, it keeps my mind focused on the work and being with like-minded friends helps a lot, too. Xx 🌷

  2. May I reblog this on Ideas from Outside the Boxes, please? It is an almost perfect companion for the post I wrote this morning: When It Is Safer to Be Homeless Than It Is to Be At Home.
    This cannot be a coincidence, even though we live on different continents, in completely different situations. Excellent writing. Great courage!

    1. And here’s another coincidence (at least that) – I’d just opened a tab to read your blog post from today. I had got about two lines in when your comment flashed up on my screen. What a small world we live in, even though we are far, far away from each other. You are very welcome to reblog my post. I always value your opinions on my work, as you know. Thank you for your kind comment on my writing, J. It’s much appreciated. 💜💚💙🤍💙💚💜

  3. So strange clicking like when it’s clear how traumatized you were. Although I know your mum recovered and lived a long life. That flat sounds like hell.

    1. Thanks, Jeff. I was already going through the trauma of abuse before going to the flat; in a way, it was like going from one trauma to another. The only good thing about the flat was that I wasn’t being sexually abused by my teacher. ‘Out of the frying pan, into the fire’ springs to mind. My childhood was tough, but so were many people’s lives. Yes, thankfully, my Mum, having been so unwell for most of my childhood, lived to almost 86. I was lucky to have her as long as I did. I miss her being with me every day.

  4. For you to comment that we all have things that happen to us, given what you experienced is truly amazing to me. I have read so many stories of women over the years and I use their stories for inspiration and strength. My wife is one of those strong women too. Your story took me to the flat and drew me in to the experience that you were a part of. Very well done, real, raw, and authentic. Sending positive vibes to you from a long ways away.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Tommy. Being strong was something I had no choice over when I was young. The only advantage of being at the flat was that I wasn’t being abused at home and school. I’ve written much about my child abuse on my blog over the last year, much of it poetry. Being at the flat was a bit like ‘jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.’ When I write, I always write from my heart – it’s the way my soul breathes. Thank you very much for your positive vibes. I can feel them from here in the UK.

    1. Thanks, Devang. Fortunately, I can write now without feeling the trauma as much as I was before. I think that writing in the third person detaches me from my true story a bit, so I’m feeling better. Thank you for your concern, my friend. X

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words, dear Pamelap. I am honoured to have you and my other readers giving me so much support. It really helps me to be able to share so honestly on my blog, and I am blessed to have you here as a friend, and your support means a lot to me. Thanks again. Xx 💛🌷💝🌼💖🌹💛

      1. You are so welcome my dear! I apologize for late reply, it has been snowing the entire week here in Texas! And, we are off from school, but I’m working from home. Safe and warm and just finished my last report card and replying to my blog posts! I hope you are well my dear friend! 🙏😊💖

        1. Thank you so much for getting back to me when you’re so busy, Pamelap. I didn’t realise you had snow again out there. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t get anymore in the UK. We had some a couple of weeks ago, which melted and then, froze into solid ice – it was too dangerous for me to go out in my wheelchair. Today, it is a lovely, sunny day. I’m glad you are safe and warm and are catching with a few jobs that you need to do. I am well, thank you, my friend. I hope you are, too. Xx 🌷😘💖

          1. Hi my dear! Yes, it was a interesting week, but glad to be back at school for the week!
            February can usually bring ice storms to Texas!
            You stay safe and warm too and spreading your wings with your writing! 💖🤗💝

    1. Thank you, Ann. It was pretty grim at the time. The odd thing is that it hadn’t crossed my mind for a long time, and then, suddenly, I found myself ‘back there’ in my mind. It always helps me so much to write about my experiences. I don’t know what I would do without all the wonderful and appreciated the support I get on my blog. I am very fortunate to be on this platform and to have made so many friends, you included. Thank you X. 🌼

  5. I feel like there might be a Part 2 for this…?

    Thanks for sharing some of your formative story, even some of the painful bits.

    1. Thank you for reading my story and commenting, David. Everything I write (and have always written) is my true life story, apart from a few pieces of fiction quite recently. I’m only just beginning to explore fiction, but I find it more challenging than my own story. Nevertheless, it’s fun to try to write in a different style sometimes. You’ve got me thinking now – I hadn’t thought about Part 2, but I will give it some thought. Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. Thanks, Mick. I’ve rarely tried writing in the third person before (apart from my little gos at fiction). I think it does make it easier to distance myself, and I’m therefore less emotional, although I also think emotions lead to some powerful writing, too. I will try it again on another piece soon. I might give something else a try today if I have enough time to plan and write it. I have an idea, but whether it materialises remains to be seen. I hope you and your family are well. X

      1. Look forward to hearing the new piece, then. Yes, emotions do lead to powerful writing, but obviously that’s not always what is needed. But knowing you’ve got that as a writing tool is useful.

        All well here, thanks, Ellie. Hope you’re doing okay at the moment.

        1. Glad you’re okay. I’m doing pretty well at the moment, thanks, Mick. I think keeping busy with my XR community work and the drum circle is giving me a lift and a different focus in my life 😊.

  6. What a terrible place. Ugh. I hate that you had to go there at all. I wonder if you could write a story where Ellie returns and changes things up a bit. Perhaps she lets the dog and cat go, or puts the germolene in her aunt’s tea…

    1. It was pretty grim. I really hated it there and was there for weeks at a time while my Mum was in hospital. I love the idea of revisiting the flat and making my own rules. I will give that some thought. Thanks for the suggestion, Bridgette. Xx 💜🌼💕

  7. A great story told Ellie and what a mean aunt. I wouldn’t want to go either. Oh ugh, I remember stories like this I had to deal with too when I was growing up. Fortunately, they have faded with time. I hope that happens to you too! 💗

    1. Thank you very much, Cindy. She was really mean to me when I stayed there. Sorry, you had to deal with similar experiences. I don’t know why this memory returned to me when I wrote this. As I always feel, writing is very cathartic for me, so writing this has helped enormously. I’m glad your memories of these sorts of things have faded. I’m sure they will do with me eventually. Thank you for your kindness. Xx 💓💛💓

      1. You’re so welcome Ellie. Oh that’s such a-shame! Life deals and we learn and grow and heal. Sadly, it takes time and those kind of wrongs should never have been made. You will continue to let them go and writing is soooo cathartic. You’re most welcome! 💞

    1. Thank you very much, Henry. I’m still thinking about how to follow on from that story and share the story of what happens next to the main character. Thank you for your kind comment.

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