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"Flipped" - Your Story 51 Finalist : Your Story • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

"Flipped" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Read the top five entries and vote for your favorite in the current Writer's Digest Your Story competition. (You must be a registered member of the WD Forum to view and vote.)
TiffanyLuckey
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"Flipped" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:52 pm

“Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”

I hear this as I hide in plain sight, listening and watching.

At the bar sits a couple, not far from my table. The woman is wearing a formal, pyramid-style sun hat; it has a wide brim, round and wavy, Bloody Mary red. Her cotton-like hair falls to the shoulders of a Chambord-purple wool coat.

The man is darkly tanned. His hair is slicked, like a ’50s greaser, and a cigarette behind his ear, unfiltered. The collar of his shirt is slightly lifted, unbuttoned, revealing tufts of chest hair that matches what’s on his head—the color of a White Russian with too much cream. He’s holding a bronze coin, roughly the size of a half-dollar, embossed with a “36” inside a circle inside a triangle. I’d seen it before at AA meetings. The number is how many years you’ve stayed sober. Your anniversary.

Shot glasses are lined up side-by-side, flipped upside-down, three per person. They have fresh drinks in front of them.

The woman is laughing while the man lights his smoke, puckering with a smirk edging from one side of his leathery mouth.

“I’m serious,” he says with an exhale of smoke and tossing his Zippo on the bar top. The woman dabs at her eyes with a cocktail napkin. She’s already wearing a wedding ring. He isn’t.

The man makes a fist, the coin resting on the edge of his bent forefinger and the nail of his thumb. The flick of the coin rings like toasting wine glasses. Here’s to 36 years, swallowed in a single gulp, whetting the whistle of an older gentleman who found love in the eyes of his sponsor.

The coin lands on the man’s upright palm, which he then flips over and smacks atop the back of his other hand, his cigarette dangling from his lips, strings of smoke reaching back at his squinty eyes.

With a smile, the woman says jovially, “I’m already married!” then sips her drink.

“You aren’t happy. You told me,” the man says, the coin still pressed between his hands. I order another drink.

“I can’t leave him,” the woman says, a little more serious now, but still smiling a little. “We’ve been married nearly 40 years. You don’t just throw that away.”

She takes another sip.

I take another sip.

The man slides the coin from the back of his hand onto the bar, his palm keeping it covered, and he slips a coaster over it. He plucks his cigarette from his leather-strip lips and replaces it with his glass, gulping the contents in one drought.

He orders another drink.

I order another drink.

Piano music is playing, but I don’t notice until Moonlight Serenade reaches my ears, like breaching the surface of water when swimming. The woman in the hat tilts her head up a little, her eyes wandering to somewhere far—not in the room, but in the past. A dance. A date. A wedding.

I remember it, too.

I swallow what’s left in my glass and set it down gently, then move my hand over to the gleaming steak knife and pick it up, just as gently. It feels chilled against my fingers, the serrated curves pulling apart at my finger ridges as I squeeze tightly.

The man has his hand back over the coaster, his back is to me as I stand and make my way over. He’s saying something I can’t hear, because I don’t want to hear.

My hand is hanging by my pocket when I fumble the knife blade away from my fingers and grip the hilt, now slick and wet and warm.

“Hello, Richard,” I say as my free hand pats down on his shoulder.

He turns quickly, his eyes yawning and glassy, eyebrows stretching for the top of his head. The woman—my wife—is sharing his expression. Neither of them speaks. I lean in. “It’s fine,” I say. “It’s fine.”

He grunts, his face frozen in that expression that is bound to be forever a portrait in my mind.

“I’ll see you at home, dear,” I tell my wife as I walk by them.

As the door slowly closes, I hear someone yell for an ambulance.

There’s a biting chill outside. Think I’ll walk.

rjkendrick7
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Re: "Flipped" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby rjkendrick7 » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:20 pm

The first two stories I've read have ended with a stabbing. Strange. :) One thing: near the beginning, I think "site" should be "sight." It won't affect my vote, however. Mistakes happen.

Great story!!

Backlotanimation
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Re: "Flipped" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby Backlotanimation » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:19 pm

Nice story and writing, Keep on writing!

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Don Quixote
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Re: "Flipped" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby Don Quixote » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:13 am

Great work. Your story makes perfect use of the present tense. It works very well, establishing a sense of being in the moment with a bit of urgency. The introduction of the narrator into the scene was skillful as well as the story's overall development. Did you consider dropping some of the dialogue tags (the man said/the women said)? I think it would have improved the rhythm and pace, though already quite nice, and could be done without risk of confusion in this particular story. I wish my writing was as refined as yours. It will be very soon. With every short I write my skills dramatically improve as I learn more and more. Let me know what you think of "Stray Lust". I would appreciate a critique from a writer of your ability. I voted for myself because I like my story better (and I want to win!) but your writing skill is definitely superior to mine. I've entered a short for #53 already and I'm pretty impressed with it. I hope to see you as a finalist there as well.....


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