'Oh,' Doris whispered, and the ancient tortoise-woman sitting two seats away glared at her with what appeared to be intense, ...


'Oh,' Doris whispered, and the ancient tortoise-woman sitting two seats away glared at her with what appeared to be intense, disproportionate hatred.

SSSSSHHHHH, the tortoise-woman hissed.

Doris had struggled to keep quiet all night.

'Two and one, twenty-one,' came the caller's smooth voice, over the speakers in the ceiling.

Doris blotted out the number on her page, and pushed her knees together tightly. She started to hum as quietly as she could, and bit her lip and adjusted her position in the tired old bingo seat, hoping that these things would help to contain her, at least until the game was over.

'Three. On its own, the number three.'

'Oh, yes,' Doris said, blotting the number and feeling her stomach start to tighten, her legs tingling.

She was only two numbers away from winning the full house. Not that she had noticed. 

The tortoise-woman's head sprung up like a Jack-in-the-Box, and her tiny black eyes began to search for a member of staff to whom she could complain about this noisy woman ruining everyone's evening. But Doris did not care this time, because she hadn't noticed the squaw's reaction either.

'All the sixes,' said the caller, 'sixty-six.'

Doris felt warm and flustered, shaky and dizzy. She blotted out the number without looking for it. Without, in fact, any awareness of what she was doing, so lost was she in the feeling, and the effort of suppressing that feeling.

'Two and three, twenty-three.'

And then, she was gone. No longer able to contain it, Doris let out a scream that echoed through the bingo hall and drew all eyes to her, as she threw her head back and grabbed her necklace and lost herself in the pleasure. YES. YES. YES.

'We have a claim over there, to my right,' said the caller, his voice that same flat, smooth tone. Unfazed by Doris's yelping.

A member of staff, a chubby young girl in the unflattering blue uniform of the venue, approached Doris's table to check her pad. Still writhing in her seat, wailing and moaning, Doris was not even aware of the girl's existence.

The girl checked the pad, looked up at the caller, and shook her head.

'False claim,' said the caller, and carried on with his numbers. Some of the other players shook their heads and carried on. Only tortoise-woman carried on staring.

Once she had calmed down and the rush had subsided, Doris came to realise that she had accidentally made her third false claim of the night. She thought, with no small amount of embarrassment, that perhaps it was time to leave.

She gathered her things - purse, blotter, glasses - and stuffed them into her big brown bag, throwing her coat over her arm and praying that her legs were strong enough to carry her to the door.

Leaving the bingo hall, she shook her head and giggled at her own folly. Perhaps she should have left the love eggs at home tonight.

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