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Short Story Orgy #2: Genocide Charlie Hill adds to Outsideleft's Short Story Orgy Series

Short Story Orgy #2: Genocide

Charlie Hill adds to Outsideleft's Short Story Orgy Series

by OL House Writer,
first published: April, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

It was nothing personal.

Short Story Orgy #2

Charlie Hill is an Outsideleft favourite, and an internationally-acclaimed author from Birmingham. He has been described by Natalie Haynes as 'the chronicler Birmingham needs' and compared by his fellow writers to Kafka, Beckett and Georges M Perec. As soon as we approached Charlie about our Short Story Orgy series, he got involved. So great. Thanks, Charlie!

 

GENOCIDE

He wakes in the bedroom he shares with his wife. He is refreshed and pleased that the feeling is becoming familiar to him. Only recently has he been able to sleep through the night. He puts the turnaround down to a change in his routine; he has begun taking a hard-boiled hen’s egg with his nightly draft of mint infusion.

He shaves in the sink in the corner of the room. There is cold water. This is satisfactory. It is easier to maintain a supply of cold water than it is to fuss over a supply of hot. When he has shaved, he dresses, taking his clothes from the chair next to the bed. He tries to be quiet.  His wife is still sleeping and he doesn’t want to wake her. She is talkative in the mornings. He loves his wife but he prefers to get ready for work in silence. ‘Quiet is good,’ he thinks, ‘and besides. I have nothing to say to her in the morning. How can I have? I have been asleep. Nothing has happened to me since we last spoke.’

He pads through to the kitchen to make his tea. He starts by boiling just the right amount of water. While it is being heated, he slices a finger of ginger and puts it into his favourite cup. The cup is earthenware. When the water is boiling he adds it to the ginger, stirs in a spoonful of honey and swallows it in sips before it gets cool enough to gulp. The ritual of the tea-making agrees with him. He can do this in the dark. In the winter he often does.

He picks a piece of fruit from the bowl on the table. There are pears. He used to take a cereal cake from the cupboard too. But he has discovered that the sugar from the fruit works adequately with the honey and the spice and he has no need of anything further to get him through the morning.

He leaves the kitchen, pulling the front door shut behind him.

---

He walks to where he is to be picked up and taken to work. There is a woman waiting there. She works in the same building as he does. The woman used to acknowledge his presence on the street with a curl at the corner of her mouth. She has stopped doing this because he never met her eye. It was nothing personal. In the mornings he thinks about things other than work. Sometimes it is his digestion. Sometimes it is the plumbing or the ritual of tea-making or how tricky it can be to get hold of ginger or fruit. Sometimes it is his wife.

On the journey he sits opposite the woman and looks out of the window.

---

He arrives at work early. He works in a room in a building. His job is to put together a list of names. He types the names from lists that other people give him. They are handwritten on scraps of paper. He does not know where the names come from or what is done with those he transcribes. He does not need to. It is nothing personal. He sits down and begins to compile that day’s list.


essentials
Charlie Hill is great friend and favourite at Outsideleft. Check out his recent books - I Don't Want to go to the Taj Mahal, The State of Us and Encounters With Everyday Madness - available now, from Waterstones and all good bookshops.
Charlie's website is here→

Find Charlie at Outsideleft right here→

←Previous Short Story Orgy #1: Kiah Cranston

OL House Writer

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