Fiction · How to be British · Language · mystery

Flat

Thursday, July 13, 2017. Daily Brit Wit.

Flat: 

Noun

BRITISH for apartment. A set of rooms that forms an individual residence, generally within a larger building and on a single floor.

"He's turning the final corner toward home when he notices two things nearly simultaneously: a large horde of jabbering busybodies all clumped together and flashing lights. Startled, he peers around the bodies and toward the street, spotting police cars, fire brigades, and ambulances. Immediately, he begins elbowing and shoving through the crowd, unable to pass politely, until a yellow police tape hinders his progression.

'I'm sorry, sir, but this area is closed. Please step back.' A bored, monotonous female officer parrots to him when he tries to slip under.

'You don't understand–' he starts.

'Sir, I'm going to have to ask you–'

'Ma'am, I live right there!' He loses his temper and points left in the general vicinity of his complex.

His outburst grabs the attending officer's attention. She pierces him with a sharp, scrutinising examination. He can't read it but notes a glint of something gleam in her honey-coloured eyes.

Finally, she replies, 'What's your name?'

He fishes out his wallet and slips over his identification while giving his first and last name. 'Pasha,' he clarifies his first name with ease. Gives up repeating his surname after the third attempt and assumes the officer will show his license to her superior either way.

She radios first, waits ten or fifteen seconds before receiving a scratchy answer. She excuses herself briefly.

Pasha waits, anxiety clutching his belly and throat. He can't explain it. Something unsettling and acidic unfurls inside him.

The officer returns with a male colleague and he hands back Pasha's license.

'Sir, do you live with two females?' The male officer, a sergeant or detective judging by his attire, inquires.

Pasha shakes his head. 'No, I live alone.' He answers quickly. Then pauses. 'Well, my sister and sister-in-law are in town. They've been staying with me for several days. Why?'

The officers exchange a flickering glance. Pasha's anxiety rockets upward into his throat, not unlike heartburn, and downward into his legs like partial-paralysis.

'Officers, look, I just want to get inside my flat. May I?'

Another quick exchange, the female uncertain by her scrunched nose and the male resigned by the set, neutral expression.

'Duck through, sir.' The male bobby guides Pasha under the caution tape.

He shocks Pasha further by conveying him through a new maze of people; only this time he's escorted up Marylebone's street and through personnel instead of civilians. His disquietude triples yet his cotton stuffed mouth refuses to ask the circling questions taunting him on repeat.

Immediately upon seeing his front door wide open with various professional types walking in and out, Pasha halts.

The officer must notice and about-turns to behold Pasha.

'When were you last home, sir?'

Pasha focusses on the question, locking eyes with the bobby to anchor. 'Half-seven this morning. I work down at Westminster University as a professor,' he offers.

He's unsurprised to see the other man jotting notes. 'And when did you last speak to your sister?'

'Last night,' replies Pasha. 'She wasn't up when I left. She came down with food poisoning two nights before, we think. Could you please inform me what's going on? Is my sister in some kind of trouble?'

He levels Pasha with another unreadable evaluation.

'Sir, I'm sorry to inform you…but we believe your sister and sister-in-law, you say? Well…we need you to identify the two. Your sister's dead.'

And Pasha's anxiety shudders and shakes and freezes him, repeating over and over and over the officer's statement until he's sobbing."

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