Last Straw

By Courtney Shepherd

I cross the street as quickly as I can. The cold air sweeps across my body, making me shiver. Cars come dangerously close, not daring to slow down for one second. I don’t even care at this point.

I make it across to the other side of the road. I’m panting now, my body is aching. I wipe cold sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. I realise my shirt is soaked through, as if I’ve been experiencing a fever for the last three hours.

I push on, marching up the driveway towards my unit, as I notice assorted papers, bottles and boxes scattering across the yard from gusts of wind. It’s as if my physical reality is exampling itself to what is happening inside of my head. A scattered, littered mess of thoughts and experiences. I stop in my tracks as I notice the indoor recycling bin by the front door, laying over on its side, rubbish spilling out onto the concrete.


Why did I leave it outside?


Why do I have to clean it up myself?


I knew it was going to be bad weather today.


I’m on my lunch break, I don’t have time for this.


My confusion turns to anger, as if the gears in my brain have suddenly shifted. I throw my purse and coat onto the gravel in frustration. It keeps building up, piling like the rubbish by my door.


I cannot seem to catch a break.


There’s a lump forming in the back of my throat as I march up to the kerbside recycling bin, throwing its lid wide open.

The fence behind the bin rattles loudly from the impact and I begin picking up the rubbish around me, a small pile collecting in my arms. The front screen door swings open and out comes my boyfriend, a confused look on his face. I narrow my eyes at him.


“Can’t you help?” I snap. He peers down at the small recycling bin in front of him.

“I didn’t know it was like this.” He says, then leans down to clean up the rubbish.

“Well then look!” I’m yelling now.


I pull a milk carton from my bundle of rubbish and slam it into the bin with every bit of energy left inside of me. There’s a loud thud as it hits the bottom.

“I have had. The WORST day today!” I yell again but realise he’s not there. My teeth clench. I throw in more rubbish, at full force, yelling out with each throw.


“I’m treated like I’m stupid, but I just can’t hear properly!”

“You need to answer the phone!”

“Okay, then make things easier for me when I do!”

“I’m trying my best, but it’s never good enough!”


I peer at all the rubbish I’ve just thrown inside, then slam the lid shut.


“NOBODY CARES THAT I’M DEAF!” I yell at the top of my lungs.


My throat feels hoarse. My stomach feels like an ocean in a storm, choppy and unpredictable.

I feel sticky from sweat, dizzy and exhausted. Ripped paper tumbles across the gravel from another gust of wind. He’s back outside now, stepping cautiously. I meet his gaze.


“I’ve had a really bad day.” I say, my face crumbling into tears. The fire of my rage is snuffed out by the sadness now washing over me. I feel as if my brain’s decelerated, the racing thoughts hitting the breaks for a brief moment. My sobbing breaks the silence between us. Without hesitation, he steps towards me and hugs me, tight. I wrap my arms around him.

“Let’s go inside. Sit on the couch, I’ll get you something to eat.” He says, then releases me from his grip. I wipe away tears with my hand.

“I’m sorry for yelling at you.”

He smiles sympathetically. “I know.”


I pull one of my hearing aids from my ear and cradle it in the palm of my hand. The thought of stomping it to pieces intrudes me.

“I don’t want to wear these anymore.” I say quietly.

“I’m tired of trying. I thought these things were meant to help, but all they’ve done is given people a reason to bully me. This is the last straw.”


I pull the other hearing aid out and shove them both in my pocket. The world around me is muffled and quiet from the sudden change in amplification, like a setting that dials down the chaos of the outside world.

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