Flash in the Pantry: Looking ahead (with dread) to turning forty by Angela Fitzpatrick

Holding up the champagne flutes, Di and I looped arms and tried to take a drink, laughing.

‘Happy New Year!’ she said.

‘Here’s to turning forty,’ I replied.

‘Oh God. Don’t remind me.’ She covered her eyes. ‘I’m dreading it.’

I knew she was. ‘I’ve had an idea. Let’s make it a celebration, a joint party. And I challenge you to do forty new things before you’re forty.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do, but not got around to, or been too chicken? Well, now’s the time. You’ve got eight months to do it in. Make a list.’ I opened the kitchen drawer to pull out a pad and some pens.

Di thought for a moment. ‘You mean like belly dancing?’

‘Yes. Exactly like belly dancing,’ I handed her a pen. ‘You’ve been saying for years you wanted to learn. Write it down.’

‘Okay, I’ll do it. What about you? Back atcha.’ She pointed. ‘You’ve got to do it too.’

‘Alright…I’m going to get a second piercing in my ears.’ I touched my earlobe. ‘My mum never let me when I was young – said it was cheap – and I forgot about it till now. I’m going to buy myself some tiny diamonds, stylish ones.’

‘Good choice. I’m going to read War and Peace. Always intended to, but never found the time.’

‘Good luck with that,’ I replied. ‘Life’s too short! I’m going to volunteer on a charity project for a couple of weeks, somewhere in Africa or maybe India.’

‘Great idea. I’ve always fancied seeing Dubai, so I’m going to quit my job and go work there.’

I frowned. ‘Won’t Jack have something to say about that?’

Di shrugged. ‘I don’t care, he’s never home. I think getting a divorce will make it onto the list too. How many are we up to?’

‘Oh, not even ten yet. Miles to go.’

‘Right then, I’m going to get myself arrested. Never done that yet.’

‘Too drastic! I’ve never even spoken to a policeman in my life,’ I said. ‘Don’t get arrested in Dubai – they still have death by firing squad. You might not even make it to forty.’

She thought for a moment. ‘I’m going to try smoking pot, or maybe something stronger. Pop some acid and go to a rave. Do they still do that?’

I shrugged. ‘No idea. It sounds a bit extreme. It’s not really what I had in mind…’

‘Well, now you’ve started me off. It’s your fault.’ Di laughed.

I tried to bring the conversation back to sense. ‘Is there any food you’ve never tried that you like to?’

‘Hmm, magic mushrooms. What’s that called? Psilocybin, yes that’s it. I’d give that a try.’

‘No, I mean like…trying Japanese food, for example.’

‘Nope. Though I’ve always wanted to own a katana: one of those curved, razor-sharp blades…’

‘Oh, well we can put that on the list.’ I smiled.

‘…and to behead somebody with it. Somebody famous, or obnoxious. Jeremy Clarkson, perhaps.’

‘Maybe this is getting a little out of hand.’ I put the pen down.

‘I’d like to learn to fly,’ Di said.

‘Oh, that’s a good one. Do you mean like a Cessna; pilot lessons?’

‘No. I mean like, flap-my-arms-and-launch-off-the-balcony. Fly. Like this.’

She lifted her arms like a football supporter watching a goal scored, then stepped right out of her silver glitter shoes and ran through the living room, her chiffon dress trailing and rippling like the skirt on a hovercraft.

Di shouted, ‘I’m going to fly!’ then crashed through the patio doors and straight over the balcony rail.

‘Wait!’ I sprinted behind her, almost grabbing the fabric of her dress as she slipped on the smooth floor where the snowfall had melted then refrozen into a thin sheen of ice.

I couldn’t bear to look over the edge; I live on the sixth floor.


The policeman passed me a tissue and patted my shoulder. ‘Don’t blame yourself, Miss. A lot of people take it hard at this time of year. Even closest friends often don’t see it coming.’

‘She was depressed about turning forty this year. I can see now: she was acting strangely all evening.’ I sniffed.

‘I’ll break the news to the husband. Are they separated?’

‘I think they were having trouble. I don’t know why he didn’t come to dinner with her.’


It took me an hour to clean up all the broken glass from the patio door.

I was tempted to text Jack, but it was too risky, so checked my online banking instead and was satisfied the police had already broken the ‘tragic’ news.

Then I flushed away my insurance policy: the psilocybin container with Jack’s fingerprints on.

Angela mostly writes short stories and has been published in Café Lit and Backstory Journal as well as shortlisted in various competitions. She is currently working on her debut novel having recently completed an MLitt in Creative Writing with University of Glasgow.

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