Life or Death

300 words? Evil. So. Evil.

Red Writing Hood

Flash Fiction can be fun and a real challenge. This week focus on the words and the strength of each to contribute to your story. Write a 300 word piece using the following word for inspiration: LIFE.


Life or Death

She knelt in the soapy water, knees aching in her wet jeans. She stared down at the white kitchen floor.

It had been an hour, but it wasn’t clean.

She started again, methodically scrubbing the tile in front of her.

Top left corner, down the side, across the bottom.

It had to be right.

It had to be clean.

She pushed the rag hard against the floor, scraping her knuckles in the grout and gritting her teeth against the sting of soap on her raw skin. She rocked back onto her feet and fought through the ache spreading through her back. Darkness creeping in.

There was still a spot. She abandoned the rag and scraped with her fingernail. Imperfections would not be tolerated. She would have to start again.

Top left corner, down the side, across the bottom.

If it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t right.

And it had to be right.

A bead of sweat ran from the base of her neck to her waist.

Harder. She had to scrub harder.

In her mind, she saw the crash. The metal crumpled like paper, erupting into flames. Cars twisted. Faces cut by shattered glass.

People lying bloody and broken.

Flashing ambulance lights.


No. She wouldn’t let it happen. She had to make it right.

It wasn’t rational. There was no car. There were no people. But what if there were?

The breath caught in the back of her throat.

What if she was wrong?

What if she missed a spot?

She knew it was the OCD. But she scrubbed, because she couldn’t be sure that spotless tiles weren’t a matter of life or death.


This is fiction based on reality.

It isn’t the OCD you see in Monk. Television shows you the cleanliness, but never the thought process. This is called flashing. For someone with OCD, it can feel very real. The magical thinking that you know is completely irrational, but you still feel compelled to do the ritual anyway, because if you don’t, the pictures in your head might come true.

My best friend still teases me about her all-powerful broom. I rarely sweep to prevent car crashes anymore. Though I did clean my door jambs before my niece was born. Just in case.

Thanks for reading! Concrit WELCOME and Appreciated!