Sunday, February 27, 2011

Slump Buster

Patti Abbott has another flash fiction challenge on her blog. This is the original challenge:

On Saturday night, we passed a young woman on the street who was talking to her male companion and said, "I really don't mind the scars." A good start-up line for a little challenge perhaps.
So how about a 800 or so word story that contains that line in it with an end date of February 28th?

My selection is below. The others can be found through Patti’s blog.

Slump Buster

"I really don't mind the scars."

The third time Ashley had said that, so Mark thought maybe they bothered her more than she let on. Two white horizontal slashes across her forehead, a painful-looking red line along the base of her right jaw, and what could only be described as a furrow that ran from the corner of her right eye to the edge of her lip. Whoever gave those to her deserved whatever happened to him.

Ashley was still talking. Mark forced himself to pay attention, like he should have earlier.

“At first I did. I was like, ‘Ohmygod! No one is ever going to want me looking like this,’ so they sent me for counseling. I thought it was stupid. I was all, ‘It’s my face that’s cut up. My head’s fine.’ But you know, it’s amazing what they can do. They have support groups for everything. I always thought they’d be like all AA about it, a bunch of losers blaming their mothers for how crummy they turned out, but it wasn’t like that at all. Actually made me feel kind of guilty, crying over some scars, talking to people who were missing arms and legs. This one poor guy lost an ear and a nose in a fire. I thought, ‘If I can keep from staring at him, then I shouldn’t always feel like people are staring at me like some freak show.”

Mark shifted in his chair. He didn’t really want to hear any more, but he wasn’t sure where he’d go or what he’d do if he left.

Ashley said, “I met Margo there. We’d get together after meetings for a few drinks, started hanging out together. She’s the one who said I wasn’t a loser for living with someone who’d give me a face like this. I was just a bad picker. That the scars could be a good thing, make it easier to see which men were sincere and which ones weren’t.”

Mark definitely uncomfortable now. He’d thought of Ashley as what his friend Graham called a “slump buster,” a girl you normally wouldn’t look twice at, but would settle for if it had been too long. Parts of her were attractive: better than average body, how she walked, the way she wore her hair. Except for the face, serious deal breaker. Look at the bright side, he’d thought. Less competition, keep the lights out at her place, leave before the sun comes up.

“See, a guy who’s only into a girl for how it makes him look won’t bother with me. So anyone who spends some time with me is either serious, or just looking for a quick screw and figures I’ll be desperate.”

Mark made a sound he couldn’t remember making before. Ashley smiled. “It’s okay. Margo was more than just someone who hung out at that group. She has some—talents, said she saw some of those qualities in me. I didn’t believe her—I mean, there aren’t really witches, right?—but she showed me a few things and I’m all like “Ohmygod, you really did that, can you teach me?’ and she did. Some stuff, anyway. It’s not like I’m that girl in Harry Potter or anything, waving a wand and saying weird stuff and flying or going back in time.”

Ashley dried her hands, hung the dishtowel on a rack. “It’s not like I always can tell about a guy in advance. I mean, there’s witchy and then there’s full-out creepy, you know? And I have to admit, sometimes I do like to get laid for no other reason than it feels good. So I guess I’m kind of dishonest about that, letting the guy take me home so I get what I want, then, you know, doing what I do, but there’s justice in it, you know?”

Ashley walked to the kitchen door. It opened to the back of the house. A beautiful spring day, new leaves and blossoms on trees, the pond in the common area bluer than water had a right to be that time of year.
She said, “I mean, there’s like all those stories of the girl kissing the right frog and he turns into a prince. I just thought, how cool would it be it you could turn the wrong guy into a frog and mentioned it to Margo, you know, like no big deal. She taught me in just a couple of days. I mean, I feel kind of sorry for the homeless
guys we practiced on, but they’re doing better as frogs than they were as people, I bet.”

Ashley made a shooing motion. Mark jumped off the stool. “Go on, now. Scoot! If you hurry you can make it to the pond before the Simpsons’ dog comes around.”


pattinase (abbott) said...

Very clever, Dana. But your stories always are.

r2 said...

Great story. Clever is the precise word for it. I was hooked at the beginning and then the ending left me laughing.

YA Sleuth said...

Clever indeed, and such great dialogue. Nicely done.

Jerry House said...

Good stuff! I won't tell this little charmer to my grandkids, though.

Unknown said...

Damn I liked that. Fun read, Dana, as always

Paul D Brazill said...

A cracking story. Made my morning.

Charlieopera said...


Unknown said...

AWESOME read! I LOVE this, Dana! Nice twist on the classic fairy tale... very nice! Loved the end... wasn't expecting to laugh... that was great! :=)

R L Kelstrom said...

Very fun. Nice twist on an old tale. Great build to the ending.

Cormac Brown said...