Short Story Challenge Week 19: Sofa Surfin’

I’m not doing Nanowrimo, but my quest to write a short story each week for a year continues onwards.

For those coming in late, I’m challenging myself to write a short fiction piece each week for fifty two weeks. More details and links and such below the actual story, if you like it, buy an eBook, etc, etc…

Sofa Surfin’

“I guess it all started back when I was a kid. Dad had left, and Mum had… issues, you know? She liked a drink, but one became two, and two became the bottle, and before she knew it, full blown alcoholic off to rehab because the court said so.

Which left me shit out of luck, because I was only six at the time.

So off I went to live with my Great Aunt Margaret.

She was an odd duck, never married, lived in this tiny house on the edge of town. The roof was full of holes, always used to leak down when the rains came in.

She used to get some old handyman bloke in to pour tar over the holes every summer, stank to high heaven and never lasted. But that’s the way her dad did it to that same house, so that’s the way it was done.

The point was that it was her house and only she lived in it now, only one left of her generation and only Mum and me as her living relatives.

So one day Mum and I walk over there, because the car was busted after Mum had pranged it into that tree.

I thought we were just going to have tea or something, that they’d send me out to the back yard to play and we’d go home.

So off I go, footy in hand, kicking it around in the dust for a while… but I got a bit bored, because it felt like it had been ages.

Usually, Mum would have called me in and we would have driven home before the sun started to set. Huh. I guess we should have set off even earlier, what with the lack of the car and all.

Anyways, so I head back around to the house and knock, because Great Aunt Margaret was very particular about the kind of manners that children should have, as I was going to discover.

Only Mum’s not there, and Great Aunt Margaret tells me that I’m going to “stay” with her for a while.

Only problem is… well, one of the only problems, there were plenty of those in the years that followed, but that’s another story… was that she only had the one bedroom, and she slept in that.

So all I got was the sofa that lived out on the verandah to sleep on, with a little grey blanket that was more hole and dog smells than it was warmth in winter. Great Aunt Mildred insisted that I couldn’t sleep in my school clothes overnight. Bloody miracle I wasn’t taken off by the flu for all the nights I spent in my singlet, shivering while the rain came down.

That sofa didn’t help none for sleeping either.

It must have been a hundred years old, maybe more, and Great Aunt Margaret was always on about how it was ‘a family heirloom’ that I was lucky to have even touched, let alone slept on.

Not that the sleeping was easy, because whatever they made it out of those hundreds of years ago wasn’t comfortable. Great Aunt Margaret said it was finest horse hair, but this must have been one stringy old nag, because it was lumpy, and scratchy, and hard in some spots too.

Five years I slept on that sofa, and it never got any better, though it did mean I was always up when the sun rose. I mean, who could sleep on a sofa like that?

I was at school, not learning much when I got called to the office and told about the fire.

Whole house gone in a flash, they never did work out why, but I reckon all that tar in the roof didn’t help any when the firefighters arrived, because that stuff can burn and burn and burn. They found enough of Great Aunt Margaret to identify her, but everything else, from her ancient quilts to that ancient sofa was gone.

That meant I was off to a foster home, because they couldn’t actually find Mum. Never did, neither, after she’d escaped rehab. Guess after all these years she must be gone too, mustn’t she?

Anyway, that first night in a foster home, I cried. I cried buckets, and I think they thought I missed Mum, or maybe Great Aunt Margaret.

No fear! I cried, because I had an actual bed to sleep in. Sure, it was a wire frame, and the mattress had a bit of a smell to it if you know what I mean, but it was a bed. A real, honest bed, which meant I could sleep again.

Yeah, same again thanks..”

“Couple of years out of school, and I’d just broken up with… what was her name?

Big mole on her left cheek, liked a vodka and tonic on a Friday night but swore blind at her church on Sundays that she was still a virgin… damn… Sally? No, not Sally, she was the motor mechanic, this one worked in that lawyer’s office doing the typing… Susan?

Susan… no, not Susan, she was that lass who worked down the supermarket, got done for nicking that load of chops and trying to flog them down the markets… Sharon! That was it, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth Sharon!

Let me tell you, a few other things would melt in there… but that’s not the point right now.

So, Sharon broke up with me, because… ah, it doesn’t matter, she wasn’t right for me anyway… and I was down the pub working out where I was going to kip for the night because I’d been staying at Sharon’s long enough that I’d stopped paying rent on my own place and the locks had all been changed and that.

So in walks Michael. You remember Michael, right? Big tall lad, mop of orange hair, works as a welder down in the shipyards. Been there for years and years.

Anyway, I got to chatting over a few drinks… yeah, another one would be great, thanks, if you’re going… and I told him I was probably going to have to crash out in the street and try to avoid the cops when he tells me that he’s got a spare sofa at his place, mine any time I like it.

So I was onto that like a shot, went round to Sharon’s to grab my guitar and a few clothes only to find her doing the deed with her lawyer boss… yeah, that’s right, she’d said she needed “space”, you know?

What she really meant was “she thought she traded up” for some rich bastard with a Mercedes and a degree!

I’m better than to start a fight, so I just got my stuff and got out of there.

OK, maybe there might have a been a big key scratch down the side of his fancy Merc that read “Tiny Cock”, but who’s to say who wrote that? Kids get up all to all sorts of things these days, don’t they?

Anyway, so I walk round to Michael’s place, figuring I’d be there a night or two while I sorted myself out somewhere to stay and somewhere to work so’s I could pay for it.

Five more years I slept on that sofa, although there wasn’t a whole lot of sleep to be had there. Those welders must get bloody thirsty putting metal to metal all day, because they can drink, let me tell you. And when they drink, or at least when Michael and his mates were drinking, they’d get very rowdy.

It’s pretty hard to sleep on a sofa when there’s a burly Scottish welder trying to light his own farts a metre from your face while five other blokes chant “GO DAVE GO DAVE GO”.

Why did I leave?

Well, Michael had this lady friend, and they were pretty serious about each other, long term stuff, you know?

Problem was, she wasn’t exactly the settling down type, or the committed type, and more than once I saw her giving me the eye, know what I mean?

I kind of ignored it, because you don’t betray your mates like that, do you? But the other night, I’d gotten back from work, cracked open a bottle of red because it was payday, you know, and had a glass or two… or was it three… while watching the telly.

Nothin’ really interesting on, just really crashing out and ignoring the world, stretched out on the sofa… and I fall asleep. It had been a long week at work, you know?

Anyway, I wake up, and she’s all over me like a rash.

I can smell the booze on her breath, and at first I figured she must have me mistaken for Michael.

I’m busy trying to work out how to hoist her off the sofa, without causing a scene or two much noise, she’s busy grabbing at my pants, but then she starts moaning my name.

She wasn’t mistaken at all, oh no!

She knew what she was doing, alright, and not too boast too much, so do I.

It’s her choice, and all that, so we do the deed and fall asleep.

Only I forgot that the sofa is in the living room, and Michael sometimes works Saturdays if there’s a big job on, and you’ve got to walk through the living room to get to the kitchen to make breakfast.

So he gets up early and we’re still collapsed on top of each other, sticky with the evidence if you follow me.

So, yeah, I’m a little down on my luck right now.

Any chance I could crash on your sofa for a couple of nights?”


I’ve challenged myself (once again) to come up with a short piece of creative writing — typically a short story, though I’ve already deviated from that form — every week for a year.

If you click on the short story challenge tag you should be able to find everything that I’ve tagged that way.

If you’d prefer to hunt and peck and choose, here’s what I’ve written to date:

Short Story Challenge Week 1: Before The War

Short Story Challenge Week 2: Apples Cannot Scream

Short Story Challenge Week 3: Blankets

Short Story Challenge Week 4: Charles Leadworth

Short Story Challenge Week 5: Cloud Running

Short Story Challenge Week 6: The Bowl

Short Story Challenge Week 7: Mr Breckinridge

Short Story Challenge Week 8: Inspiration

Short Story Challenge Week 9: FreeDog

Short Story Challenge Week 10: Black Dog

Short Story Challenge Week 11: I Don’t Know What To Do

Short Story Challenge Week 12: Sacrifice

Short Story Challenge Week 13: Oak House

Short Story Challenge Week 14: Inside The Tube

Short Story Challenge Week 15: Sackcloth and Ashes

Short Story Challenge Week 16: Comedy Isn’t

Short Story Challenge Week 17: The Joint

Short Story Challenge Week 18: Small Steps


Want even more reading material? The last time I did one of these challenges, it ended up being an eBook all of its own, called Fifty-Two:


Buy Fifty Two through Amazon for your Kindle e-reader here.

Buy Fifty Two through Apple for your iPad or iOS devices/Macs here.

Buy Fifty Two through Smashwords for any other e-reader format here.


And if you want something entirely different, there’s also my B-movie novel, Sharksplosion. Yeah, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d think a book with that title might be like:

Buy Sharksplosion for Amazon Kindle

Buy Sharksplosion for iBooks (iPhone, iPad, etc)

Buy Sharksplosion for all other e-readers through Smashwords


About the author

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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