Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Flash Fiction Writing Challenge - Round 1/Challenge 2

genre ~ Romantic Comedy
location ~ a plastic surgery clinic
object ~ spider web

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Her black leather portfolio wreaked as much havoc as she had, Monty mused. After sliding across the tile floor, collecting its crumbs and spilled coffee and grime, the notebook hit – and broke – the leg of a display stand. Let’s just say it was a bad day to be low-man on that coffee shop’s totem pole. The portfolio’s owner had managed to spill coffee on the businessmen behind her and the twenty-something next to her. Red-faced and apologetic, she turned and hefted her tote bag onto her shoulder…only to have the strap break, sending the bag’s contents to the floor. Her pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance was executing perfect splits while dozens of colorful sugar packets rained down on her like confetti. The patrons of the coffee shop erupted in applause when she triumphantly threw her arms up as if ending a perfect Olympic gymnastics routine. She stood, curtsied and walked out. It was quite an amusing sight.

“8.75 – it was a sloppy routine,” said a frumpy soccer mom seated at a table nearby.

“No,” clucked her companion. “She gets a solid 10 for the splits alone!” They laughed.

The cheap brown napkins were better suited for smearing than wiping off, but Monty did the best he could to clean the nice leather. The letters ‘DW’ were embossed in gold on the corner of the portfolio. He opened it, pulling out papers looking for a clue as to the identity of the owner.

“Do you always snoop through other people’s belongings, sir?” Monty met her weary gaze with a grin. She was still red-faced and not amused.

“Only when trying to find out to whom the belongings belong to, madam.” Monty put the papers back inside and closed the portfolio. He held it out to her. With no hands free to grab, Monty tucked it into her broken tote bag. She turned, started to leave.

“You’re welcome.” She looked back at him.

“Uh...thanks…” she smiled weakly. “I’m sorry. It’s been a rough morning. The very last thing I wanted to do was come back here. But, I need this thing. Thank you very much.” She adjusted her bag and jacket. “I’m Dorothy. I’d shake your hand but…” She shrugged.

“I’m Monty. It’s nice to meet you, Dorothy” he nodded. She turned and walked out the door. “Hey, wait…” Monty stooped to pick up pieces of yellow paper. He read the Post-It notes – his words, his writing.

She rushed into the office, late and completely disheveled. In the six months she had worked at the Viren Center, Toni had never been late.

“I’m here! I’m here! Sorry – it’s been a ridiculous morning.” Toni dropped her stuff beneath her desk and plopped down in the chair. Nadine, Viren Center’s receptionist, opened the glass partition.

“You look a mess! Are you okay? What happened?” Toni took a deep breath. There was no way to avoid sharing her story. In this office of women – including the doctors – her personal tales of humiliation and embarrassment were vicarious moments for the others.

“Oh, it was nothing. I simply put on a show for the patrons of Coffee Grinders…that’s all.” By this time, everyone had gathered at her office door or partition. No way to avoid it now, it was time for show number two.

“First, I spilled coffee on a few people. Then, my bag broke. My notebook knocked over a display rack. And I slipped and ended up doing the splits. I only scored a 9.85 – those judges can be so harsh. It was clearly a routine worthy of a ‘10’.” Her co-workers laughed.

“Toni, we need every single detail. Tell me more, tell me more!” sang Bonnie, the patient care manager.

“Dorothy,” a soothing voice came from the doorway. Dr. Viren always called her by her given name. “Are you okay?” Toni shrugged her shoulder and shook her head.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just embarrassed. I had to go back to get my notebook. Some guy was looking through it. He was thoroughly amused.”

“Glad you’re okay” said Dr. Viren. “Leslie wants to know if there’s a note today.”

“I don’t know…” For the past several weeks, Toni and one of the night janitor’s had been exchanging a series of notes. It started with a hand-written note on her Daily Affirmations calendar – crap read the sticky note.

She replied with why?

not an affirmation

what is?

She laughed when she saw a spider web drawn on a note with the words some pig written in it.

affirmation for the pig

The next day, two more spider web notes: terrific and radiant

Toni wrote good book
great book!

The one or two-word notes eventually became letters, though still written on Post-It notes. It was weird talking to someone you’d never met. Toni thought of the two of them as pen-pals – asking and answering questions, sharing stories and anecdotes as if writing a journal. Today, there was no note. Toni turned on her computer and started working, hoping it would erase the morning’s event.

Right before lunch, Nadine opened the glass partition and handed Toni an envelope.

“This was just dropped off for you, doll. I’m going to forward the lines to the answering service. I’ll meet you in the lot.”

Toni opened the envelope. Inside was a brown paper napkin; written on it was nice splits. She shoved it in her bag and walked out to meet Nadine. Monty was sitting on the bench.

“Hey…what are you…” Her face turned red. Toni pulled the napkin out of her bag. She held it up to Monty, cocked her head. He nodded and held up her collection of the notes they had written. She grabbed a pen.

great splits! Monty took the pen from her.

humble

“Hi, Dorothy.”

“Hi, Monty.”

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