This is a work of fiction. A short story of 1160 words.

Sonia brushed her teeth for the full two minutes. She had an app on her mobile phone that connected to the electric toothbrush by bluetooth, and told her exactly when to stop. After brushing, she reached for the spray can of cleaner, and a disposable cloth. The sink was then cleaned thoroughly, before being dried with a second cloth. She then cleaned the toothbrush with a third cloth, before replacing it on the charging unit. Brush head facing out, of course.

Sonia planned to go out today. That had meant getting up very early, to allow plenty of time to prepare.

In the kitchen, the long row of switches by the sockets were all switched off. She switched one of them down to turn it on, then picked up the kettle, preparing to boil some water for her morning coffee. Running the water at the sink for just long enough to be sure it was clear of any pipe residue, she filled it to the quarter mark, as shown by the gauge at the side. Then she swirled the water around inside, and emptied it out, repeating the process before switching it on. She checked that the blue light had come on, so she knew it was beginning to boil.

Filling the kettle had caused some tiny droplets to splash onto the stainless steel surround of the sink. Sonia took a cloth from the cupboard underneath, carefully rubbing at the marks, until the surface gleamed once again. When the kettle boiled, she made her cup of instant coffee, standing at the sink to drink it slowly, rather than create the chance of any spills on the floor. It took a long time for the coffee to cool, and she drank it down quickly as soon as she could. She then washed the spoon and cup, dried them on a kitchen towel, and replaced them in the correct sections of her unit. The kettle had to be emptied of course, then shaken carefully, to remove all drops of water left inside. That done, she reached over to the socket switch, and clicked it to off.

On her way up to the bedroom to get dressed, she suddenly stopped. Turning to go back into the kitchen, she looked along the row of switches once again. She flicked each one down to on, them slowly pushed each one back to off. With no chance of leaving one accidentally activated, she was happy to continue with getting dressed for the day.

In the bedroom, she examined the clothing options. The dresses and jackets, skirts and tops. On the right hand side of the large double wardrobe, she looked at the black and grey selection. Darkest on the left, going down to light grey at the far right. The left hand side held the lighter coloured clothes, running from pure white on the inside rail, through to beige and brown at the front. Sonia decided that a grey dress and jacket would be in order this morning, taking out a matching combination, before closing the door, and locking it carefully with the small chrome key. Walking over to a tall chest of drawers, she opened the top one, where she knew the black underwear would be found. Bras on the right, panties on the left. Each matching pair laid side by side of course, to avoid having to put on any that didn’t go together. Underwear chosen, she laid the dress and jacket on the bed, before walking across to a low cupboard on the far side of the room.

Inside, her shoes were stored carefully, each pair in its own shoe bag. A small plastic window in each provided a view of the shoes inside, to save opening each bag to check. She decided on some matt-black flats. Taking them from the bag, she reached inside the left shoe to find the microfibre cloth she knew would be there. Using it to buff the shoes free of any dust, she replaced it in the bag, zipped it up, and put it back into the cupboard. Sliding out a fitted drawer above the shoes, she inspected the tightly rolled pairs of tights, each in a small box section of the drawer. They were arranged in colour order, the darkest pairs at the front, light colours at the back. Then each colour was arranged by thickness. Warm woolen tights further back, then ribbed or opaques, moving to sheer at the front. Sonia selected some barely black tights, and took some white cotton gloves from their own section. She would wear those when putting on the tights, to avoid getting any runs or snags.

Finally dressed and ready, she checked the contents of her small shoulder bag. She yawned as she did so. It already seemed like a long day, and she still hadn’t left the house. Examining the inside of the bag, she mentally ticked off the contents. Wallet and cards, mobile phone, tissues, compact mirror and lipstick, folding hairbrush, a ballpoint pen, just in case, and the house keys. She wan’t sure, so emptied out the bag onto the bed, and carefully replaced every item in order. When the bag was full, she checked through again. Just to be certain.

Sonia looked at her reflection in the hallway mirror, adjusting the shoulder strap of the bag so it sat just right above her left arm. She had one last look around the house, and turned to open the door. Once outside, she retrieved the keys from the bag, and began to lock up. The main lock had to turn twice to the right, with a secondary lower lock requiring just one turn, from the larger of the two keys. She used the larger key first, listening for the click as the lock secured. Changing to the normal door-key, she rotated it twice in the lock. Once both were done, she pushed hard against the door, just to make sure it was secure.

She was sure there was some give in it, so had no option but to unlock both, and repeat the process. Finally satisfied, she turned to walk along the path to the gate. But as her hand touched the latch, a frown came over her face. Something was niggling in the back of her mind. Sonia turned around, and unlocking both locks once more, she walked back into the house, carefully hanging her bag on a hook in the hallway. Back in the kitchen, she checked the row of socket switches. They all seemed to be off, but just to make sure, she switched them all on again, before turning off each one individually. She then noticed a water droplet at the side of the sink, and reached for a disposable cloth to mop it up.

Standing in her kitchen, Sonia blew out her cheeks. It was going to be a long day indeed.

44 thoughts on “Sonia

  1. I was going to suggest someone take a switch to Sonia, but I guess that would be cruel. Seriously, though, this was an engrossing story of someone who exhibits obsessive-compulsive behavior.

    I sometimes double-check knobs, switches, and locks—but only because I tend to be absent-minded like a good should-of-been professor.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An excellent description of someone who suffers from OCD, Pete. My son is a severe sufferer and it is very difficult living with someone with this condition. The routines and rituals drive me crazy and I sometimes do lose my temper with him. A pointless exercise as it makes him worse not better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for letting me know about your son, Robbie. It is some confirmation that I got the general idea right. My ex-wife used to constantly check switches and locks, but she didn’t organise things in the way I described. I did work with a man at one time who had real issues. He would count the wheel nuts on the Ambulance, to make sure there were none missing, and do that every time we stopped anywhere. When he was driving, his routine in the cab was so complex, it was like an aircraft flight check. But he could not be prevailed upon to hurry up, or to not do those checks.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Poor Sonia, and there are many Sonias in the world. May the dust bunnies and cluttered papers never get in the way of my reading and writing… and most importantly ‘being’. Unless company is coming. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have known a few people with OCD, although maybe not so severe, I find a quick glance at someone’s cd \ dvd collection can be an indicator, that and the sock draw, although it can be a little embarrassing why you are inspecting someone’s sock draw if you have only just met 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, a very sad story!

    Before I leave the apartment I have a look in each room whether the windows are locked and the stove in the kitchen is off. But I never don`t turn back if I am outside!

    I am happy that the sockets in Germany don`t have switches. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a really fantastic character study, as well as being a great short story. You establish Sonia’s character right from the first paragraph with her toothbrush routine, drawing the reader in. It really is a skill to tell the reader so much about a character through something as mundane, something as simple as the way they brush their teeth. There’s something addictive about your prose – I felt like I was being reeled along, and I loved it! I liked how you kept bringing us back to the switches in the kitchen; it was almost as though they acted as the trigger (or, rather, switch) that led us to really, truly understand Sonia’s condition.

    Wonderful work 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Such kind words indeed, Ellora, and very much appreciated, I assure you. I am so happy that you picked up on those exact points, and in just the way that was intended too. I do tend to always write short stories in this style, so I hope that you find time to read more fiction on my blog.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A peek into a sad neurosis. You’ve captured it well–the strip of light switches, the drying cloths. I confess I only clean that hard if my Mother is coming to visit. We all have our tics, I’m convinced. OCD in its extreme form is a series condition. Somewhat related–I remember when I moved across the country with only my teenage daughter a decade ago. A completely new life and job. I ate an avocado every day. I was obsessed with making sure I always had one to look at on the counter. If I didn’t have one ready, I would make a trip to the store. After one year, I looked at the avocado and told myself I didn’t have to eat them anymore. I reckon I needed the comfort and control. Same process with cigarettes, yes?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Cindy. In its extreme form, this is undoubtedly a life-changing mental health condition. It has always fascinated me, hence today’s story. Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  8. Thanks, Pete. Although I imagine most of us have some obsessive traits, another thing completely is to live with the condition. It is debilitating, and as you well know, make normal life almost impossible. And depending on the nature of the obsession, it can cause serious health problems too (people obsessed with cleanliness that have to wash themselves time and again using strong disinfectants and brushes can cause serious damage. And then there are the obsessive ideas to contend with too). A terrible condition that you capture really well. Thanks, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your considered comment, Olga. That body-scrubbing and obsession with cleanliness is an extreme stage of the condition, undoubtedly. My own experience was of the constant checking and locking-re-locking, as well as the switches…
      Glad to hear it came across as intended.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  9. I, too, know OCD from firsthand experience, only after half a century of living with this man, I’m quite accustomed to it. In fact, I find the quirks a comfort. I’ve never had to pick up dirty underwear from the floor or worry that he’ll forget to pay the bills on time. Isn’t it nice that in this world there’s a place for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

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