GO AWAY • by Tania Hershman

Knocking. It’s him. I’m behind the sofa quicker than blinking. Harder now. Go away, piss off. Wearing his knuckles out and bothering my doorbell too.

I try to avoid his phonecalls, but can’t keep that up for ever, so once in a while I give in.

“How are you?”

“Fine, all’s well.” I try to sound cheery so he’ll stop bothering me, praying he won’t start in about the moron wife, the garden, his work.

He’s an actuary. Like an axe-murderer but without the thrills.

Few minutes later and…

“They’ve put me on this new project, really fascinating…” Swallowing yawns, I send my mind strolling, a beach or some foreign city, alone, nobody knowing me, while he mewls on. How did it come to this?

Knocking stops. Don’t breathe.

One minute.


I straighten up, hankering for tea.

Then I hear him.

“Mum?” he’s calling. “Are you there? Mum, it’s me.”

I freeze. Give in now and you’re done for. An hour of torture, his stupid fat face, whining on, and you itching to grab a frying pan and end it all.

Then he’s gone. Birds sing again and I’m towards the kettle.

Sometimes I think about just upping and leaving. Not very nice, eh? There’s probably groups for mothers like me, crying and working out where we went wrong. That’s a laugh.

“I’m not the problem,” I tell the robin on the windowsill, and I sip my tea, For Sale signs dancing in my head.

Tania Hershman is a former science journalist who lives in Jerusalem. She is a founding member of The Fiction Workhouse, and her first collection, The White Road and Other Stories, will be published by Salt Publishing in 2008. Tania is the editor of the recently-launched online publication The Short Review, which reviews short story collections and anthologies.

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Every Day Fiction

  • Brilliant, Tania. Bleak and funny and courageous because it’s too easy to write about Mother Love but the honesty of this story shone through. I especially liked, ‘He’s an actuary. Like an axe-murderer but without the thrills.’


  • Oonah V Joslin

    Tania – nice shot of real parenting.

  • Elizabeth

    Loved it!

  • An interesting twist. Don’t most mothers usually complain about how their children never call? Now the children have a chance at revenge! Ha ha!

    A nice, clean write. Well done.


  • This is just too good!

  • Brilliant. I wish I’d written it.

  • Thank you all for your lovely comments, glad you liked it!

  • hahaha good stuff,
    thanks !

  • Iloved this bit. So cynical, and yet so believable.

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    Tania – good stuff! I loved the reverse mothering. we can’t chose our relations, and feel guilty when we don’t like ’em. Black, black humour.

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  • gay degani

    How in the world did I miss this story?? It’s terrific. Love the style, content, tone.

  • Just happened across this a year late. Forgive my tardiness, but I can’t resist saying this is five-star writing…and you’ve given me an idea for a nagging problem in a story I’m writing. Thanks twice over!

  • Paul McVeigh

    Lol Fantastic.