Signing Off by Dan Brotzel


Just to say I’m off. You’re all old enough to hate me independently now, so my work here is done.

You’re probably thinking this is a bit unfair on mum, and no doubt it is. Sometimes it is useful to have another body around, to put out the rubbish or empty the dishwasher or top up the screen wash. But let’s be honest – I think we all know I’ve been a bit shite for some time now. I’ve been dialling it in for years. And when I do do any housework, to be honest, it’s only to get away from everyone.

Don’t worry – this isn’t a suicide note or anything. I wouldn’t have the balls or gumption to do anything like that. I don’t feel despair, or even guilt. I just don’t really feel anything. All I do feel, strongly in fact, is an intense desire not to have to pretend to care any more. I owe it to you all to be straight. Once I’ve gone, you’ll find you don’t feel that much about it either. After all, it’s not like I was ever really here.

I just want to do my own thing. Now you’re probably thinking: What is your own thing, dad? Checking the football scores and bidding for shite on eBay and hacking your way round a golf course? Making fried egg sandwiches and playing Candy Crush and slouching in front of any sport that comes on the telly (even bowls)?

And I would say: Exactly. This is exactly my thing. And now I think it’s best for all that I go and live somewhere on my own, where I can focus on this stuff without misleading others I care about their lives.

You mustn’t feel bad about yourself either. It’s nothing any of you have done. You’ve just been yourself — not always pretty to look at, but authentic at least. And now it’s time I started being me. It’d be nice to say I realised that deep down I had a burning need to paint or to build tree-houses or save starving children or some such. But I looked deep inside and found… not much. This is my truth, I guess, and I’ll try to live it for once.

Don’t worry – I’ll sort out the money stuff so you shouldn’t notice much difference there. I’ll have to keep up my job for a while. I can’t retire to full-time telly-watching yet, but it’s good to have a goal. I’ll live somewhere very cheap. And in the evenings I’ll sit at my table in my dingy little studio flat, swigging cans of Export, reading the paper and circling box-sets I haven’t watched yet. Bliss! Please don’t think of me. I know once you’re not in front of me I won’t have it in me to think of you.


PS There’s half a bag of crisps left in the cupboard above the kettle. Help yourselves. (I never liked salt and vinegar.)

Dan Brotzel was runner-up in the Flash 500 short story competition 2017, and has been shortlisted in competitions run by Sunderland University / Waterstones, Wimbledon BookFest, Fish and Retreat West. He made the shortlist of the To Hull and Back comic-writing prize twice. His first novel, #Unforgivable, is currently under consideration. His agent is Geraldine Nichol. Follow him on Twitter here.




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