Aisle Nine in the Grocery Store
June 14, 2012
This week's challenge from Terrible Minds was to choose your setting - from a list of six.
TM 2012/6/08 - Choose Your Setting
The settings are:
- The Bone Cathedral
- Aisle Nine In The Grocery Store
- The Venom Club
- The Tower of Babel
- Suburban Meth Lab
- Tiny’s Taco Hut
Write about it.
You’ve got up to 1000 words.
Post at your online space, then link back here.
Done by June 15th (Friday), noon EST.
My choice of settings is below, just over 800 words. Standard disclaimer of course - all names names & places purely fictitous.
Aisle Nine In The Grocery Store
Bonnie felt like a fool, still pushing her cart up and down the same aisle. She paused, pretending to read the label on a can of salmon, and looked behind her - no one. At least no one she was interested in.
It had started with yet another smile - the online kind of course. She'd had a lot of them on the dating site lately, especially since she'd added some photos. She'd started there as private, wanting to be appreciated for her mind not her body, but realized she was just as biased, only checking out the guys with nice looking photos. She knew the text only profiles could have written anything, just to set the hook - she'd done that a bit too. And then had picked out some flattering pictures from several years ago for herself.
So, in spite of knowing a lot of this was just a game for people, some truths, some half truths, some out and out lies, in spite of this here she was, loitering in Aisle 9.
One of last week's smiles had seemed intriguing, his profile interesting, his subsequent emails open, thoughtful, funny. She was surprised when her friend Kim didn't share her enthusiasm about her new friendship.
"Bonnie," she said. "Are you looking for a pen-pal or do you want to get some action going? You'll be an old maid, same boring office job, an apartment filled with cats, trading emails with some pathetic guy living in his mother's basement."
Bonnie glared at her. "OK, so what if we do meet," she said. "He'll be a nice guy for a while, we'll date, he'll start sleeping over, I'll start to like him. Then then he'll start pulling back, say it's not my fault, it's all him, then he's gone."
"Or you'll do the same," said Kim. "LIke with Dave - he was a keeper I thought."
"It's just so much work," said Bonnie.
"So shut up and get to work," said Kim. "Tell this guy you want more. Just don't get up and run when the honeymoon's over. And don't let him do it either."
"What if he doesn't want to meet?" said Bonnie. "What if he just wants to be friends and won't talk anymore.? This is kind of nice like this, I really like him."
"And then you'll call me at 3 am again," said Kim," complaining about your boring office job, and how you'll never meet anyone."
Bonnie poured another couple of shooters, tossed hers back, and slammed the glass down.
"OK, one more try!"
"That's my girl," said Kim. "Look, he's online now, I'll tell him you want to meet."
They waited, Bonnie biting her nail, until her computer chimed.
"I can't look," she said. "What did he say."
"Yes," said Kim , pumping her fist. "He wants to meet you this afternoon. Wait - at the grocery store. That's different."
"He wants to check out the melons?" said Bonnie.
"Good one," said Kim. "Just a sec." She typed, then waited.
"Ha, he laughed, says he's a leg man too. Hmmm - maybe I should go." She laughed at Bonnie's look. "Just joking."
"OK," said Bonnie. "Tell him I'll be there - quick, before I change my mind. Shit I'm nervous, this feels like my first date when I was twelve."
"Twelve? I was ten," said Kim. She typed, then waited. "Done. Two o'clock. He even picked the aisle for you to lurk in. Here - I'll write it on your arm so you don't get flustered and forget."
So here she was, all dressed up, wandering up and down aisle nine. Luckily it was a huge store, so there was lots of aisle to wander in without looking too weird. There had been a couple of cute guys earlier, one had even flirted a bit, but she'd turned him down.
No sign of her guy.
She glanced at her watch, it was almost two thirty. That was it - another loser after all. She scurried to the exit and hopped onto a waiting city bus. She stared out the window, blinking back her tears as the bus pulled away. She wiped her face and sat up.
"Get a grip, girl," she said. The woman across the aisle looked up, then back to her newspaper.
Bonnie bent over her phone. First she sent a nasty text to asshole, saying she never was really interested anyway. Then she sent one to Kim, telling her aisle nine was a waste, he never even showed.
Her phone buzzed with a message. It was from Kim. "9? Nine? u dork, I rOt it 4 u. Six! 6! Run!"
But it was too late. Bonnie slumped in her seat. Maybe she'd see if Kim would drive her to the pet store tomorrow.
Great story, I've been in Bonnie's place a few times myself before I got married. Will have to check out Terrible Minds website.
Posted by: Ron John | June 14, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Thanks Ron - been there myself too, as you might have guessed. A female friend complimented me on this one, saying "you have a disturbingly accurate appreciation of the female mind". Which I hope was a compliment.
Posted by: Ravens | June 14, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Great dialogue, the end was a surprise, and both of the women felt real. Impressive, especially given the word count limit.
How many drafts do you tend to go through for something like this?
Posted by: kai | June 15, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Thanks, glad you liked the dialogue. And the twist - I have to have a twist!
Came in a little low on the count, at 802, but it seemed right at that size.
As for drafts - these are pretty well as they come out. I pick a theme and characters, then think up a high level of the plot and the twist. After I'm done I just tweak a bit.
Eventually I'll go back to all these, teak some more, maybe lengthen, then do as a collection. I've the flash fiction ones with the fairy tale twist, then a bunch of regular ones.
Posted by: Ravens | June 15, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Oh, the work, the work.... :-)
Really though, Mike, this was excellent. And of course I've been in the place of both Bonnie and Kim.... So I know how frustrating and terrifying it is. Thanks for this.
Posted by: Eden Mabee | June 15, 2012 at 08:49 PM