Flash Showcase: Bridget Set the Table by Elyse Russell

Bridget set the table because she always set the table.

Every evening at six o’ clock, she laid out the dishes, the silverware, and the glasses. She put out a fresh vase of flowers for a centerpiece. Every evening at six o’ clock for the last forty-seven years, Bridget set the table.

Then she would go into the kitchen to bring out supper. A roast, stew, or ham; she had several cooking staples and she rotated through them like clockwork.

One day, she brought out a salad with homemade dressing, chicken parmesan, seasoned green beans, and warm rolls. Bridget made everything from scratch; there was nothing out of a box on her table. She was a wonderful cook: she knew it and took a measure of pride from it. That was why she worked for the most prosperous man in the county. And Mr. Tiller liked his dinner to be punctual.

After serving, Bridget would be off to the kitchen to prepare dessert: peach cobbler a la mode, in that instance. She would clear supper and serve dessert, then make herself scarce in the kitchen. Then it would be time to clear the table and wash up.

Another day: vegetable soup, assorted fruits, and miniature grilled sandwiches. Homemade lavender ice cream for dessert.

The next: brick oven pizza and assorted finger foods. Banana pudding dessert.

And so on. Every day.

Until that routine was interrupted. As Bridget was laying down the plates at six o’clock sharp, she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. Odd: Mr. Tiller was never early.

An indecently-clad woman stood in the window. Her head was cocked to one side in a questioning manner. Bridget moved towards the door, meaning to go out and ask the impertinent girl just what she was about, staring in people’s windows. Before she could take two steps, the stranger simply walked through the wall to stand at her side.

“Hello,” the woman said. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Bridget replied. “I’m setting supper.”


Bridget put her hands on her hips and tapped one foot erratically.

“Now, what does it matter to you what I do or why? Don’t you have anything better to do? Mind your own business, young lady!”

The woman shrugged.

“Alright,” she said. “Just seems like a boring way to spend your afterlife, is all.”

Bridget sniffed.

“Well,” she replied, nose in the air, “there’s comfort in doing what you’ve always done.”

“But there’s so much out there! Why stay in the same loop?”

With that, the younger woman drifted away and dematerialized.

For a moment, the room around Bridget flickered in and out of focus. She caught glimpses of other people and other worlds.

Then everything was solid and tangible again. Bridget cleared her throat, brushed imaginary dust from her apron, and continued with her routine.

Bridget set the table because she always set the table.

Elyse Russell is a writer of short stories and graphic novels. She has works accepted with: Mermaids Monthly, Outcast Press, Crone Girl’s Press, Last Girls Club, Hyphen Punk, and several others. Her horror graphic novel, “The Fell Witch,” will be released in 2022 with Band of Bards comics. Follow her on Twitter: @ElyseRussell13 (BraveLittleTeapot).

For details on how to submit your own flash piece to our Showcase, please visit our Submissions page. We are also now accepting short fiction and CNF.

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