Writeober – Day 03: Boyfriend

It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, tall or short, blonde or brunette. You don’t show up to the Blue Diamond Gala dateless.

That’s why I’m here, possibly subjecting myself to future ridicule. Witches and magic aren’t real. But I’ve heard rumor after rumor about Mrs. Scaggs. An herbalist, people around town come to her for homemade remedies for colds, the flu, and other illnesses. But there are also rumors. She gave someone two snake eggs sprinkled with some kind of dust and told them to eat them five days apart. The day after they ate the second egg, they received a promotion at work. There are dozens of stories out there about Mrs. Scaggs. Someone goes to her, tells her about their problem, and they follow her advice. The next thing you know, whatever they needed or wanted happens. Coincidence or something more? I have no idea, but I’m on my last straw. I need a date for the Blue Diamond Gala, and Mrs. Scaggs is my last hope.

I knock on the door, and a small elderly lady answers the door. Wearing half-moon glasses, her white curly hair falls just over her ears. She smiles up at me, and the crow’s feet around her eyes immediately jump out. A light lavender scarf wraps around her neck, over a salmon-colored cardigan.

“Yes?” She smiles up at me, unleashing the wrinkles around her eyes.

I wave. “Hi, Mrs. Scaggs. You don’t know me, but I have a problem. I don’t know if you’ll be able to help me with it, but … I’m all out of options.”

“Oh, come in, dear.” She opens her door, and I step into a quaint living room with a shaggy green throw rug covering old wood floor paneling. Her walls are lined with pictures I’m assuming are her family. From all the talk I hear from everyone about her, and her spooky ways or mystical enchantments, she seems like a sweet grandmother.

“I need a date,” I blurt out.

“Oh?”

“To the Blue Diamond Gala. It’s coming up, and I can’t show up without a date. I can’t.”

Putting her finger and thumb to her chin, she nods thoughtfully. “Give me one second.”

Retreating into her kitchen, I hear a few soft clangs of metal meeting metal. Then I smell roses. The scent mixes with something else. Lemon, maybe? It grows quiet and then an enormous eruption sounds.

I run to the kitchen and freeze in my tracks as I see her over a stove. Dark marks cover her face, with ash over her half-moon glasses. But she smiles at me, and her white teeth glow through her ash-covered face. She holds up a tea kettle, waving it slowly. “This should do the trick.”

I watch her step to the side, grabbing a small jar that looks like an ink bottle. Undoing the cap that has an eyedropper attached to it, she pours in the liquid from the kettle into the jar. It’s glowing pink, and I smell the lemon and roses again. Screwing on the cap, she turns and hands it to me.

“Okay, my dear. This should do the trick.”

I hold it closer, inspecting it cautiously. “This? This’ll get me a date?”

She nods, still smiling through her soot-covered face. “A love elixir.”

“Love?” I shake my head furiously. “Oh, no. I don’t need love, just a date.”

“I’m afraid this is the only thing that will do the trick.”

Examining the bottle again, I nod to myself. The hesitancy starts to build inside, unsure if this will really work. I know she’s helped other people, but now that I’m here, I’m wondering if this can really work? I don’t have anything else to lose, though. I have to either take a chance on this working or show up to the gala dateless and be the joke everyone will be talking about until next year’s event.

“Okay.” I reach into my purse. “I’ll take it. How much?”

“Oh no, sweetie. Don’t worry about it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely.” She nods, then reaches over and gives my hand a squeeze. Her smile fades a touch, and she grows serious. “Only use one drop, though. Any more and the results could be disastrous.”

I hold the bottle closer. The jar is a soft blue, letting some of the glowing pink liquid inside shine through. Pinching my lips together, my eyes narrow.  This will work. Who cares if the guy falls in love with me? I don’t need a boyfriend; I just need a date. “One drop?”

“One drop.”

 

Writeober – Day 02: Clouds

I watch people coming and going. Every day they walk into through those glass double doors, order their venti chai latte with a double shot of espresso and sit in the corner, aimlessly scrolling on their phone. Or one will walk in, jump up and down, squealing wildly with their friends about the latest guy that’s available for dating.

Don’t get me wrong, I date. It’s just … been a while.

This thing is, everyone is so high maintenance. Just like their coffee. I see it day in and day out working at the campus café. My brother says I’m picky. I’m not picky.

I don’t understand what the big deal is about ordering a mocha caramel blended with a floating shot of espresso, covered in whipped cream. Or someone who orders a half-and-half cappuccino chilled to seventy degrees before reheated to one hundred and eighty degrees with a dollop of foam.

I just want a simple girl. One coffee. Small. With a splash of cream.

The cream is important. It adds a little extra. Nothing crazy or outlandish, but it shows character. The liquid, mildly drifting back and forth like clouds of milk. It shows … sincerity. The coffee drink people order tells a lot more about someone than people think.

Take this girl that just walked in. She’s gorgeous. High-set cheekbones and caramel-brown hair that falls to her shoulders. She’s incredible. Gray eyes, and as she gets closer to the counter, they look like there’s glitter sprinkled around them. Who knows what she’s majoring it, but I know what she’ll be ordering. Some kind of high-maintenance, extra shot, half-calf, with a sprinkle of cinnamon and one and a half packs of fake sugar. I’m already trying to fight the eye roll.

“Hey, what can we make for you?”

She smiles. Here it comes. “Just a coffee, please. Small.”

“Small coffee …” It’s supposed to come out as a question, but it doesn’t.

She nods. “With a splash of cream.”

“A splash of cream?”

“Yeah. It always reminds me of little clouds.”

Writeober!

As in, Write•Ober. It’s a thing. I’m doing my own version of Writeober, inspired from Inktober, and I’ll be posting one piece of flash fiction every day for the month of October. At least, I’m going to try and post everyday. Flash fiction is generally 250-1000 words long. So we’ll see how it goes. I’m working from a list of writing prompts, which I’ve also posted on IG and FB.

Now, without further ado,

Writeober – Day 1: Hair

 

“Hair’s a strange thing, don’t you think?”

“What do you mean?”

Roberta glances back up at me from lying down on the carpet. We do this every Saturday night. She’ll come over, we’ll complain about all the stupid things going on in our lives, and then watch Billionaire Bachelor, while we eat cookies n’ cream ice cream.

I pull my hair in front of my face, examining the split ends. I should trim this squash colored mop. I wish it was curly like Roberta’s, and not flat iron straight that I can never do anything with.

“It’s like, just there,” I say, staring at my hair. “Like, why do we even need hair? What’s the purpose?”

Picking herself up on her shoulder, she cranes her neck around and eyes me carefully. “It’s … I don’t know. It’s hair.”

“Exactly.” I lean forward on the couch, dropping my hair, and stare at her intently. “What if we didn’t have hair?”

“You’d be bald.”

I roll my eyes. “No, I don’t mean literally. I mean, what if we didn’t have hair? Like, who cares about hair? Others than Stephanie, and Veronica, and all those other stuck up bitches we graduated with.”

She lets out a chuckle, now sitting with her legs crossed, ignoring the chisel-jawed billionaire on the screen, and the perky brunette who’s now crying because he gave her the yellow carnation for this week. “Judy, next week we’re starting college. College. You can’t keep thinking about those skanks. You’re not even gonna see them anymore. Stephanie’s going to Berkley, Veronica to NYU, and Babs to Miami.”

“Meanwhile, I’m still here in Arizona, about to go to community college, where no doubt there’ll be new mean girls who look down on girls like us for stupid, inconsequential reasons. Reasons like our hair isn’t as pretty as theirs.”

She shakes her head, as is her custom when I start complaining about things. Lying back down, she reaches into her bag of chocolate-covered almonds, pops another into her mouth, mumbling to me, “So what? You’re gonna dye your hair? If you really want to shock people and stick it to them, you should shave your head.”

I let out a cackle, falling back down on the sofa. “Yeah, like Brittany Spears.” She lets out a laugh, but I stop. “What if I really did that?”

“Did what?”

“Shave my head.”

Rolling her eyes up so she stares at me over her forehead and I see an eyebrow raise. “What?”

“Roberta, what if I shaved my head?”

“Uh, you’d be a psycho.”

“No!” I argue. “I’d be against the grain. I’d stand out.”

“Judy, you’re not going to shave your head. Do you know why? Because you just finished complaining about being teased for stupid things like looks and hair. How do you think showing up to our first day of the semester will come across if you show up with a buzzcut?”

I don’t answer her. My mind’s already racing. I jump up from the couch and head directly into the bathroom. I hear her footsteps behind me. Swinging open a cabinet door in the bathroom, I grab an electric trimmer that my brother uses. I cringe a little because he doesn’t shave his head, so I wonder what he uses it for, but no matter! My mind is made up.

I grab the trimmer and unravel the cord attached to it, then plug it in. Roberta reaches out, grabbing my hand. “What are you doing?”

“I’m shaving my head.”

“No! No, no, no! Judy, you are not shaving your head. What is this? You’re gonna shave your head so any possible new mean girls won’t make fun of your hair? Now they’ll just make fun of head in general.”

“No, they won’t.”

“How do you figure?”

“Because this isn’t the Judy from high school. This isn’t the Judy who cried after Veronica told me I’m too skinny to be a cheerleader or the Judy who cried after Barbara told me I’m too fat to star in the play.”

“No? Then who is this Judy? What is this, girl? You’re gonna shave your head on impulse?”

I nod, staring at myself in the mirror. Cheeks bones slightly high, my orangish, straight hair, hanging to my shoulders. My light brown eyes that I’ve always wanted to be ocean blue or forest green. So many things I went to high school with; preconceived notions, listening to too many people, cowering to other opinions, second-guessing myself. Roberta’s my best friend, but I’ve always envied her, too. We’re not all that different in looks, other than hair. Her cheeks bones aren’t as high, and she has two dimples. But we’ve always differed in our personalities. She was always the stronger one, urging me to block out the haters. I was always the weaker one, unable to do so.

But not anymore.

I hit the switch on the trimmer and her grip on my wrist tightens. “Judy … are you sure about this?”

I surprise myself by staring back in the mirror, determined. I nod with a slight smirk. It’s not a nervous grin; it’s a confident one.

She lets go of my wrist and I run the buzzer directly over the top of my head. Then the sides. Running it above my neck, I come back over and finish by getting the remaining strands. Clicking the trimmer off, I set it down and run my fingers over the top. Feeling the bristle of tiny hair rubbing against my skin.

I’ve been staring at myself the entire time in the mirror. Finally, my eyes look over and I see Roberta standing next to me, her mouth half-open in a grin.

“What do you think?” I ask.

“Bad ass.”