Coupon Cutter

couponWriting Prompt: Coupon Cutter

You’ve been an extreme coupon cutter for years, to the point where you have gained national recognition for it. But you’ve developed a rival coupon-er named (fill in the blank). He/she has challenged you to an extreme coupon-off, with a list of specific groceries, a budget and only one day to see who can get all the items for the least amount of money. Loser can never use coupons again! Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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60 thoughts on “Coupon Cutter

  1. PeaceLoveWriting

    I pressed the “End Call” button and shoved my phone into my pocket. I was being challenged again. This time, by Cassie. Of all people, Cassie.

    I know. You’re scratching your forehead saying, “Who’s Cassie?”

    Cassie was my best friend since the 3rd grade. I moved away the year we were going to enter 6th grade, and I hadn’t seen her since then. It made sense that Cassie wanted to try this out; she was very competitive. But of all the competitions she could enter, why a coupon contest?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~That night I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning cutting out coupons and surfing the web for good deals. I was pretty hip; I mean, what do you expect from an 18 year old girl? Yes, an 18 year old girl. Before my mother passed away due to depression, I would remember on Sunday mornings as a little girl being her “coupon cutter”. Dad left us for the Marines. Shortly after he went to Iraq to serve, we got the news that he had gotten shot in the back and didn’t survive. Mom became very depressed and after she died I became determined to keep cutting those coupons. I didn’t enjoy my childhood living with Uncle Timothy. He was fun and all, but he just wasn’t the same as mom.

    I shut my laptop and dragged myself into bed. That competition was tomorrow, and I needed all the sleep I could get.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I got out of bed with a few swipes at the snooze button. Today was the day, and all of those grocery would fall at my knees.

    And all of Cassie’s dreams of victory would fall with it.

  2. Junglejades

    Brian,

    Your writing truly is amazing. Thanks for all your hard work and sacrfice. You are an amazing author. I hope that I can one day be as good a writer as you are. Hope you all read my book in a year or two when it comes out.

  3. igonzales81

    There is no such thing as taking it too far. You go for all, or you settle for nothing.

    I’ve played this way since I was little more than a kid, fresh out of boot camp. The mentality of a victor has served me through more tight spots than I can count, from Korea onward. I plan an op to the smallest detail, leaving nothing to chance. I reduce the variables, zero in on the most opportune target, and always have an exit strategy.

    And I inevitably emerge victorious.

    Today will be no different.

    The local Super Saver is our chosen battleground. My opponent, Beverly Winthrop, believes that she has every advantage, that the burden of experience is on her side, and the this will be the deciding factor.

    But she does not know me. She does not know that since my Margaret passed on some ten years ago, I have been shopping for myself. The creed by which I live my life applies perfectly to situations such as this.

    My opponent will be defeated.

    I’ve been combing circulars for weeks now in preparation, clipping only those items which will further my goal. Beyond this, I have fully vested in the latest technologies, and my smartphone is loaded with digital coupons, gleaned from the very best websites. This will provide me with the edge.

    Beyond that, I have performed reconnaissance. Bill Winthrop is a garrulous man when plied with beer, and I have taken pains—real pains—to ingratiate myself with him at Sonny’s Bar several nights a week for the last month. The intelligence he has given me has been invaluable in determining Beverly’s weaknesses. Knowing about her poor kidneys is a strategic asset; any delays and she will lose precious time in the lady’s room.

    Every victory comes with a cost, and I am prepared to accept it. This conflict is about far more than the stakes. It does not matter that she will be banned from the Super Saver, that she will have to surrender all future coupons to me. Even the prestige I gain is immaterial. What matters, then as now, is winning. I must be victorious. I must succeed.

    Beverly will fall, and I will rise to take her place.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh wow! Your MC is in for a humbling surprise. There are few women I would take on in a contest of intelligence and skill. The poor man will be distraught to say the least. I liked how the MC built his self confidence. But worse will be how it all falls apart. When it comes to detail and organization, he might as well roll over and say….. “Take me!

  4. shamq

    The Bag of Shrimp Kickoff
    I had a hard time sleeping last night, given that email I received from Phil just before going to bed. Phil is this rival I have — a rival of all other rivals. We first began our competition with one another about a month ago when I found a great coupon deal for each lb. of shrimp for $1.45, at Jerry’s Way on Main St. and 67th Ave. That deal was perfect for the gumbo shrimp I was prepping to make for my daughter’s baseball team’s potluck the following Saturday. The season was starting. Apparently, Phil had his own obligations with a shrimp dish for his daughter’s extracurricular activity soon. We bumped into each other in the seafood aisle, when he noticed my Steelers hat. He had a Seahawks jersey, and the game was already past the kickoff. We talked for a bit, and were talking about the game and our daughters, until I began paying attention to the time. I began half listening to what he stated his daughter was in. He was in the spot of the shrimp I was going for, and I was hurrying to make the 2nd half of the Steelers and Seahawks game. The issue started when Phil realized where he was standing, and with only one bag of that particular shrimp for the coupon left, he made a comment on how that was his lucky day… he then noticed my death stare. His lucky day was prematurely acclaimed the moment we both understood the positions we were in.
    I,forcefully, bumped his cart and gave him a weak excuse to how slippery the wheel was with my cart. He didn’t buy that at all. He gave me this bewildered expression. This was before making his move by pulling my cart away from me. I stumbled, then got my foothold as he opened the freezer door to the bag of shrimp. He grabbed the bag from out the freezer. Then I slammed my body into the door, knocking him off balance and dropping the bag onto the floor. I grabbed the bag, and he grabbed my pants leg. He pulled hard, making me trip onto the floor. Phil gets up, grab the bag, and bolts to the checkout counter upfront. I get up and push my cart right into him just as he was getting ready to turn the corner. He bashes into the the candy rack, knocking it over, with shrimp bag in hand. I quickly rush to grab the bag, and succesfully retrieve it, until slipping on a bag of Skittles. I fall hard on the floor and lose the bag of shrimp just a foot or two away from me. A young girl about the age of my daughter picks up the bag and asks if I’m alright. Before I could answer, she says, “daddy”, and quickly darts to Phil. The moment sunk in, realizing I had lost this battle… So now, this upcoming Saturday is the baseball team’s picnic, and Phil has just challenged me to Jerry’s Way chicken nuggets coupon deal. Its on Phil, its on…

  5. Hiba Gardezi

    It’s been humid all morning and I feel a little drop of water fall onto my neck.
    Then another
    And after that the grey pavement is all full of the darker grey spots of pitter pattering rain.
    I run a little further only to stop.
    I never thought I’d embarrass myself this way on television.
    I can’t run.
    I just can’t. My small body feels heavy and I need to catch my breath.
    There’s only one item left and I’ve still got five thousand dollars out of the budget remaining.
    Yet, my speed is what puts me down.
    I jog down the street.
    ‘Loser!’ I hear in my earpiece.
    I can’t believe they connected us. Both of us rivals through the earpiece. It’s not going to help.
    ‘What do you mean?’
    ‘I mean you’re a loser’
    ‘Have you got everything?’ My heart begins to beat a little faster.
    ‘No. but I’m going to. I can see you dude. You’re too slow, no way are you going to win.’
    ‘Watch me’ I say and turn the ear piece off.
    Puck’s not hard to navigate. It’s a small district to the south of the province and it’s only about as big as a mansion.
    Everyone knows everyone and were like extended family.
    So it’s really easy to become famous.
    In the same way, it’s really easy to become lame.
    And when I stop by the benches along the road every two minutes to wipe my forehead and catch my breath, that’s just what I’m becoming.
    I really should have tried harder in school when we had sports class.
    After about four more stops I see it.
    ‘The everything mart.’
    It has everything and the only thing all the close by shops didn’t have.
    ‘Twenty glow sticks’ I tell the man at the desk. Just then I realize I’ve never bought anything from here before.
    No coupons.
    I look down at my shoes.
    That’s it.
    ‘The best coupon cutter.’
    No, it’ll be ‘the dumbest girl’ or ‘the slowest runner.’
    Suddenly my eyes catch a camera to my left. It’s hidden behind a stack of marshmallows. The one thing they didn’t ask for.
    ‘One minute I tell the sales guy.’
    I push through the people and make my way to the camera.
    It’s not live. And it’s got a GPS and a detector attached to it.
    Exactly three other cameras around the area. One at each of the other two shops where I was successful. One under a bench. I break it. And just then I notice a door behind the next shelf.
    I try it.
    It’s open.
    I quietly slip into the dark room illuminated only by a single screen showing four different views.
    I laugh at my luck.
    The boy in charge is asleep.
    I turn of the main computer and delete the videos.
    I walk out of ‘The Everything Mart’ with a packet of marshmallows.
    My rival rests her back against a wall grinning.
    ‘I beat you’.
    I hug her and offer her a marshmallow.
    I’ve always loved marshmallows.

  6. Kerry Charlton

    BIG BOY TOMATOES AND RIPE ACOCADOS.

    A crowd started to assemble at seven in the morning at a giant Wal Mart in Poughkeepsie, Idaho. The battle began at ten promptly from the East Coast Coupon Cutter, Sally Snipper Silverbucket who paced one side of a massive Walmart while Slimeanee Slasker Still-bolt, tread lightly on the opposite side. Both women were dressed as speed skaters, loaded down with twelve newspapers, a blunt pair of scissors, for safety reason and speed skates, and large skate karts.

    The contest once and for all, would determine the world’s best coupon cutter. The Slasher had her own plan. A broken ankle perhaps to the Snipper, of course by accident.. On the other hand Sally Silverbuxcket had practiced her high kick in case Slimeanee’s face happened to be present. The prize of $25,000.00 was dedicated to the Battered Woman’s Shelter of Poughkeepsie, so the win was for pride, spite, malice and other tasty morsels.

    By eleven, the coupon cutting stopped and the girls, if you could call them by gender, they looked more like Soviet professional soccer women who trained in 10 degree weather, were ready to start collecting the bargains. Neither had ever seen this Wal Mart before which had spent a week rearranging their food aisles so they resembled no other store. The bell rang and they started out .

    Rounding the meat counter at twenty plus, Sally clobbered Slimeanee with a monster leg of lamb. She went flying into the seafood counter, Slime reset herself, grabbed a fresh water wild salmon and smacked Sally’s butt inside out. For five or ten, the girls fought through the ice and fish and started tearing off each other’s clothes.

    The crowd cheered at first but the less the clothes, the more the pain and the crowd pleaded in the name of decency for them to stop. The women watching didn’t really care but the men had no stomach for a flesh display of hard women.

    Meanwhile both competitors had given little thought to coupons and prizes as both skated to the massive produce department. Slime loaded her cart with on the vine, big boy tomatoes, while Sally settled for over ripe giant avocados from Florida. It took a while for the ladies to gage their distance with the missiles chosen, but when done so, moth woman became unrecognizable. All cheering stopped as the audience split in two factions, fleeing men and women warriors who by this time had scaled up to medium size watermelon. and cantaloupe as weapons

    By the time the police arrived, the battle had moved to the dairy aisle where they loaded up with Egg lands Best extra large eggs. Others opened up bottles of V 8 juice and were pouring it over the fallen wounded mostly by pride. The police called the fire department as they escorted the ladies, some four hundred or so outside and had the fire department hose them down.

    As the crowd disbursed, the Wal Mart executives were in tense negotiation with a reality show who filmed the entire episode,

    “The store suffered at least $100,000.00 of damage,” the manages said.

    “But what about the publicity and 25% profit of the film rights.”, the producer answered.

    “Done Deal.” the manager said as he turned the key in the lock.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Kerry!

      I love how this escalated into an all out food fight.

      And just so you know, I love this line: “the audience split in two factions, fleeing men and women warriors who by this time had scaled up to medium size watermelon. and cantaloupe as weapons.” for so many reasons. 😆

  7. Kat

    “Steve you are being a bit dramatic about this.” I said. He was under the covers of his bed with only his tear stained face showing. He ignored me and hummed along the dark ambient music that he insisted helped with his “downfall.”

    “Have I ever told you the story of the worst day of my—”, Steve began.

    “Oh god not again, Steve you already—”

    “It was long ago, but I remember the heartbreak and shame well enough.” Steve cleared his throat while walking out of his bedroom. His black bed covers still over him.

    “Steve, this happened last weekend.”

    “I was on top of the world. The best. When coupons touched my fingertips I felt powerful, and I was. Then out of nowhere I was challenged.” He fell on his knees

    “Are you having a mental breakdown? Is this what this is?” All I could do at this point was move the 5 toilet paper packs off of his dining room chair to sit and let him finish. “Hey Steve can I take one of these?”

    “I would be so good the store would pay me!” Steve yelled now laying on the cold dusty wooden floors. “I met my ex soulmate doing this you know.”

    “Since you have twenty-five at the moment can I take a laundry detergent?”

    “I made one mistake and it cost me my home. My pride. The Grocery Haven on 23rd street and Thomas Ln.” He began to sob so I put down one of his twenty-four packs of bottled water and went to comfort him. “It was so conveniently placed! As if it was destiny.” His sobbing continued for a good while until he snatched my collar, staring at me with red miserable eyes.

    “It was Aisle 12. I was looking for beans. Buy 2 get 1 free. I needed to get 13. But I was too fast, too foolish. I didn’t look and by the time it scanned it was too late. One can. One wasn’t The Grocery Haven brand. It was organic and BPA free. I have never seen that type on that specific shelf and it wasn’t on the special list. I was out of time.” Steve let go of my collar and curled into a fetal position.

    “What type of beans?” I asked

    “What does it matter? How could I ever become who I was again?”

    “Well, I’m not much of a garbanzo bean kind of guy, but if you have black or even kidney—“

    “Sh! No more talk of the cursed things.” Steve crawled back to his bed. Before I left with the goods I had accumulated I opened his pantry out of curiosity and saw the can of beans he was talking about.

    “Steve, these are only sold at Healthy Health Mart.” I then heard a thump and quick footsteps. I turned around to see Steve naked. “Please put your bed covers back on.”

    “What do you mean!? How do you know?” Steve stared with bulging eyes.

    “Well, I go to Healthy Health Mart sometimes. You know, because I want healthier food and all, but then I realize I can’t afford it and I should stop lying to myself—anyway these beans are only bought by that grocery store. Grocery Haven used to, but stopped a few months back because they are a bit expensive to stock.” I said while taking a few cans of beans for myself.

    “. . . and I never looked at any other brand other than the ones the coupons led me too.”

    “Can you help me with the door, my hands are a little full.” I asked. Naked Steve walked over to do so, but then stopped.

    “My ex soulmate she was my the cashier for the challenge. I met her months ago. She dumped me two weeks back because she said I didn’t pay attention to her enough. Just like how i didn’t pay attention to-”

    “Betrayal, huh? Well that sucks. The door Steve? My arms getting a bit weak.” He opened the door and looked at me with a peculiar expression.

    “What do I do now?”

    “I believe Healthy Health Mart is still unclaimed .”

  8. jhowe

    Mandy confronted her husband as he stepped out of the shower.

    “What’s this Visa charge for eighty six dollars?”

    Bill glanced at the protruding printout. “Oh, that’s for the electric sheep shearer.”

    “I won’t even to pretend to be appalled.”

    “It was half off and I had a coupon for an additional 40%. I could hardly afford not to buy it.”

    “Wow, some deal. We don’t have any freaking sheep.” A distinct bleating came from the shower.

    “I was just getting his wool cleaned up before I shear him.”

    “You showered with a sheep because you had a dang coupon?”

    “More less,” he said.

    “Bill, you need help.”

    He looked at the sodden sheep dripping all over the simulated tile floor. “Maybe you’re right. We’ll talk when I get back from Rite Aid.” Another sheep rounded the corner and threw up on the floor. “Before you say anything, Sheep are very clean animals,” he glanced down. “Except for that.”

    “Why’re you going to Rite Aid?”

    “You don’t want to know.”

    “I don’t, you’re right. But tell me anyway.”

    “I have a coupon for fifteen dollars off.” He paused and Mandy raised her eyebrows. He added, “For a Nativity set.”

    “Bill, for crying out loud, we’re Jewish.”

    “But what do we do with the sheep after I shear them? It’s a perfect solution.”

    “Tell that to Rabbi Tarfon.”

    “He’ll be fine. I caught him tapping his foot to Jingle Bell Rock the other day.”

    “It is a catchy tune,” she said. “Oh, on your way home, stop at Home Depot. I have a coupon for a cordless hedge trimmer.”

    “We live in an apartment,” he said.

    “Plus there’s an additional rebate for ten dollars,” she said.

    “I’ll get two then.” He pulled his sweat shirt over his head. “We’ll give one to my brother for his birthday.”

    “The one in the Navy?” she said. Bill nodded and left the room, patting his back pocket to make sure he had his wallet.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi John, It’s scary, real scary, I could see myself and Celeste in your story. The frightening thing is, we’re getting worse about it. We have a four foot ancient chinese gong with a strilker to call people to dinner but we don’r cook any more. 75% off, we couldn’t resist it. God help us!

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Hi Cosi, the grandchildren love to hit it but it makes a thundering noise that travels through our house.

  9. Jeremy Lambert

    Katie lived in Hollywood, home of the stars. Her show, “Coup Dreams” was a national hit. The show traveled around the country, finding extreme couponers like herself who dreamed of a life without all of the coupon cutting. Katie could provide them wth that life, all they had to do was defeat her in a coupon-off, a one day showdown where Katie and her opponent are given a list of 20 grocery items that they must purchase for the lowest possible price. They are given 24-hours, with a camera on them at all times, to put together their coupons and find the items. The person who comes in with the lowest total bill is declared the winner. If it’s Katie, she retains her crown as the Queen of Coupon. If it’s her opponent, they win $1 million.

    After three seasons and 24 episodes, Katie had never lost a “Coup Dreams” battle. There were a few close calls, including a slim .04 cents victory over Mary in Texas, but she always found a way to remain on the throne.

    Lisa was from a small town in South Dakota. She had been couponing for years, not because she wanted to, but because she had no other choice. As a single mom to three children, all under the age of 10, Lisa couponed to survive. After two years of extreme couponing, Lisa became a celebrity of sorts in her town. Stories were written about her and her family. How grocery stores owed her money after her coupon use. How she won a lifetime supply of tissues thanks to her usage of Kleenex coupons.

    Lisa had applied to be on season two “Coup Dreams,” but her application was rejected.

    The producers at “Coup Dream” weren’t dumb. They knew that putting Katie up against Lisa was a risk. They chose contestants carefully, not rigging the competition, but certainly titling the odds in Katie’s favor.

    After a profile piece on “60 Minutes” where she mentioned her desire to compete on “Coup Dreams,” the producers could no longer ignore Lisa. There was an online petition to put Lisa on the show. The petition amassed over 250,000 signatures in a matter of weeks.

    Not only could the producers continue to turn a blind eye, but Katie could no longer drown out the masses. The fans clamored for Lisa and threatened to boycott the show if she was not given a chance.

    While Katie didn’t believe they would do such a thing, she had had enough. Despite the producers trying to talk her out of it, Katie demanded that Lisa be on the show. She wanted to prove once and for all why she was the Queen of Coupon, and if she couldn’t, she would relinquish her crown gracefully and bestow it upon the head of the new queen. A queen that wasn’t manufactured, but was worthy and beloved.

  10. pvenderley

    I slam my Unikeep Coupon Binder on our Norden dining room table.

    “Of course she would do this now…”

    “Do what, honey?” my husband asks, placing two more Unikeep Coupon Binders (one for regional sales, one for retail flyers) gently in the center of the table. I shush him, pulling out the shopping challenge list from my pocketbook and flipping to the first section in my binder.

    “Scheduled the challenge during a gap in the sales cycle. Start of school is passed, stores are gearing up for the holidays. Only big sales are for candy, and that’s…” I scan the list quickly. “…not on the list.”

    The Bonavita kettle whistles, shrill as my sudden nemesis, Ida May. Ida May, that internet sensation who bills herself as the Q-Pon Queen, who had for some reason taken umbrage at my “Live with Kelly” interview four weeks ago.

    “Anyone can spend a nickel on cat food,” she’d called in. “It takes a real Q-Pon Queen to find the deals on a real shopping list.”

    Kelly had looked at me with her big, questioning eyes.

    “OK,” Kelly had said. “So, like, your last shopping trip you bought…”

    “Real food!” Ida May had shrilled, and Kelly had made that little ‘oh, my!’ look on her face showing she had not expected such fervor. “Living on that packaged stuff all the time will give you obesity and diabetes. Look at Miss Snippy! She ain’t living like that.”

    John turns off the kettle.

    “‘Raspberry Zinger’ or “Mandarin Orange Spice?” he asks, sifting through the tea cabinet.

    “Constant Comment.” I need to be alert. That seemingly innocuous interview had turned into a reality TV show, with my own couponing skills in jeopardy. Kelly had convinced each of us to submit a typical shopping list to the show. From that, a 25-item shopping list had been created. I have one week to purchase the items on that shopping list and submit the receipts to “Live with Kelly.” If Ida May’s shopping spree nets a smaller receipt total than mine, I’d promised to acknowledge Ida May’s title and cut couponing cold turkey.

    “K-Cups? She buys K-Cups? I don’t think so!” The most I have off on Keurig is a buck-fifty off a pack. Those things go for $12 a box on sale — a luxury I would never try to afford.

    “Wasn’t it Gelman who came up with the list?” John asks. I shush him again. He places the Red Plum tea mug on the table and walks away.

    Cabernet Sauvignon…
    Maple syrup…
    Rib eye steak…

    Perhaps I’m going about this wrong. These aren’t Sunday coupon clipping deals I’m looking for. I pull out my RCA tablet and run a quick search for local sales. I am not surprised to find any coupons of any value.

    “What does she know that I don’t?”

    I run a search for the Q-Pon Queen. Are the sales in her favor where she lives? Is this whole challenge rigged? It’s time to do some opposition research.

    And that’s when I find it — the article: “Why I Stopped Extreme Couponing,” by Ida May, Q-Pon Queen.

    “Buying something you don’t need ain’t a bargain. And extreme coupon shopping encourages mass consumption for the sake of supposedly “saving” a few dollars.” wrote Ida May.

    This doesn’t make sense. I scroll through her list of recent articles.

    “Get Your Family Excited About Dinner”
    “Extreme Couponing — Enabling Hoarding?”
    And there, a post from four weeks ago: “Saving A Marriage From Extreme Couponing – A High Stakes Competition”

    I feel John leaning over my shoulder, picking apart a Sara Lee muffin. “What’cha looking at?”

  11. dustymayjane

    I was getting the stink eye from Joanne again as she pushed her overflowing shopping cart through the cereal isle of the Piggly Wiggly.  
    “What’s with the look Joanne?” I shouted from the produce section, where I chose the finest pomegranates and key limes I could find. “No coupons for the Fruit Loops?” 
    I chuckled as I headed to the check out to redeem my fist full of coupons and show Joanne who was the real Queen of Couponing in Beaumont.  
    I was almost through the line with my Visa card in hand, the checkout girl had scanned my last item.  All I had to do was get the stack of coupons deducted and pay my two dollar and sixteen cent balance. (That’s right. I knew what was due, down to the penny.) 
    Joanne would never get that close to a zero dollar register bill. Considering she had eight Sara Lee cheesecakes, four Bounty paper towel eighteen roll packs and twelve Tony’s Pizzas in her cart, I knew she hadn’t done her homework. Those were last weeks specials for double coupons, buy one get one free and case pricing discounts . It’s just too bad she never received her Weekly Shopper. It hadn’t taken me long to find her address and before sup up, nab her new shopper from the stoop, replacing it with an old one. 
    I wanted to see her face when she heard my total savings, but Joanne had disappeared from sight. As I waited, I looked at my green Save the Planet shopping bags and nearly swooned at the thought of besting the old broad. 
    A loud beeping sound was emitted from somewhere in the store and within moments a spray of water spouted from the sprinklers overhead. There were shrieks and shouts and sirens blaring! I was within seconds of beating Joanne at her own game but the checkout girl had been so startled by the ruckus that my stack of coupons had gone flying from her grip. I watched as my only chance to win the week’s challenge lay in a puddle on the floor. Carts and feet were wheeling and stepping them to shreds and globs of wet paper. 
    As my hair fuzzed into a mass of red scraggly curls and my makeup ran black streaks down my chin, Joanne walked out the door. She looked back and met me eyes. Hers bright and gleeful under the hood of a rain slicker, mine dark and smudged. 
    Hold on…a rain slicker? I realized Joanne played dirty… and I thought I was Queen!

  12. Robin3486

    The Breakup

    As all of our followers at The Frugal Fain’s know, Bob Fain and I are getting a divorce. Many of you have sent us your comments and we appreciate your support during this difficult time. In our last blog post we asked for your opinion on how Bob and I should go about deciding who will continue this blog.

    CouponQueen32 suggested that we have a savings competition. The winner will keep the trademark and the loser will move to another site. We agreed and have accepted the challenge. Our daughter, Megan, put together the list using her Thanksgiving meal ingredients. Bob and I both received a copy from her and will complete the challenge by this coming Friday.

    Be sure to check back soon to see who won. I think it will be me as I have a secret weapon in this challenge.

    Comments:

    Bob: I know exactly what your “secret weapon” is and you should be ashamed of yourself. I gave that free turkey coupon to you when we first started dating and we both agreed to save it for a special occasion.

    Karen: We are getting divorced. What could be more special than that. I also think it is hypocritical for you to say that I should be ashamed of anything after what you did.

    Bob: What did I do??? I brought home groceries and you threw a jar of mayonnaise at my head. You didn’t speak to me for weeks and the next thing I knew you had filed for divorce. Who divorces a person after 34 years for buying the wrong mayonnaise??

    Karen: Mayonnaise! Only a crazy person would get divorced over mayonnaise! You know darn well why I threw that at you. I hired a private investigator two months ago and he reported that you were secretly meeting some floozy at hotels all around town. Expensive hotels at that Mr. Frugal!! You never took me to any of those places.

    Bob: Well, I assumed you were a crazy person since you threw a jar of mayonnaise at my head. Why would you hire a private investigator. That sounds expensive.

    Karen: I had a groupon and wanted to use it.

    Bob: That woman, whose name is Sara by the way, is not a floozy. She is a wedding planner.

    Karen: A wedding planner?

    Bob: Yes. She was showing me different wedding venues because I wanted to surprise you for our 35th Anniversary by having a renewal of our vows. Since we were both so frugal when we got married I thought I owed it to you to have a real wedding now that we can afford it.

    Karen: Oh Bob. That is so sweet and so out of character for you. I can’t believe you spent money on a wedding planner.

    Bob: I had a groupon.

  13. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    *Writer’s Digest is censoring stories by not letting you post any with curse words. So if you can’t post one, that might be why.*

    Skin Tags

    The jagged square of flesh pinched between my fingers felt strange as I stood over the dead man’s body. Beads of sweat dripped down my face, and I held back the vomit while I thought about this horrible place. This wasn’t where I thought I would be today. I thought I would wake up, start another day of work, and cap the day with a savory meal and a cold brew. I wanted so bad to wake up in my warm bed, hit the snooze button, and then roll over so I could fall into a new dream. I wanted this to be nothing more than a nightmare.

    Indeed, it was a nightmare, but a living nightmare. I wasn’t asleep. I was awake and very alert. I had to be, because a lack of diligence would get you killed in a place like this.

    Earlier, when the loud trombone-like sound woke me, we found a note on the floor. It told us that we all had a talent for couponing, and that in order to stay alive, we had to rely on that talent. I certainly was a good coupon clipper, and even competed in plenty of extreme couponing competitions. My OCD made me a perfect candidate to get it done, and get it right. However, nothing could have prepared me for this hell.

    There used to be six of us. The man at my feet was Michael, and like him, all the others were dead. That left me alone to complete the challenge. I could no longer rely on anyone but myself, which considering the circumstances, it was much better than having people fighting while a clock slowly ticked away toward my demise.

    I stepped over Michael’s crumpled body. Not long ago he’d taken a shotgun blast to the skull. It wasn’t suicide but rather a fatality resulting from a mistake he made trying to complete the puzzle for this room. This was no surprise to me because he wasn’t as good at couponing as the rest of us. What was a surprise was that he outlived everyone but me. Of course, the rules of this game were ever changing based on the whim of the man who talked over the intercom. That faceless monster who built this kill house toyed with constantly, so anything that could change did change.

    I stepped through the door, and entered the next room. It was like this from the get. As the note informed us, we were to go from room to room and solve each puzzle. Well, they weren’t really puzzles. They were areas with set coupons, and if you used the right coupons to get the best deal possible, then the door would open. If not, the trap would kill the person who offered the deal. We all took turns per room. When one of us didn’t make it, we just rotated to the next person. After twenty-two room, there was just one person left.

    This room was not new to me for I had been here before, but not in the sense that I had been here before I came to this awful place. I came into this room earlier after I solved the puzzle that killed Michael. As it turned out, there were no coupons in this room, so I had to go back and find them.

    The room was the same size as the others, though poorly constructed with particle board. Don’t get me wrong, the walls and ceiling and floors were strong and reinforced. We couldn’t just escape by breaking down a wall. There was concrete and rebar and all manner of stuff. Whoever stuck us in here had it planned perfectly. Moreover, like a haunted maze, the particle board was there to terrify us, among other things of course.

    These other things I’m writing about are the props. In this room, the walls had blood splattered all over them. Pig’s blood if I had to guess, but I could be wrong. There were pieces of animal limbs spread around the floor, with animal innards splayed from the ceiling by wire and a few too many bits laying on tables.

    You might think that this was the most horrific room, but it wasn’t. Not by a long shot. You see, each room represented a different type of retailer, each a morbid representation of the type of business. For instance, one room resembled a barber shop, and there were severed heads, scalped flaps of hair hanging everywhere, and beards torn from faces and nailed to the walls. In another room, which was a nail salon, there were severed fingers hanging from fishing wire, nails ripped off and glued to the floor, and feet laying on the tables. All this among many other things.

    I didn’t know where he got all the body parts, and I didn’t much care. All I wanted to do was get the heck out of there.

    This puzzle in this room wasn’t hard, but it was by far the worst of the bunch. The coupons weren’t in a basket near the beginning of the room. I didn’t have to dig through body parts or a list of ingredients to find the right one. No. I had to return to all my fellow competitors. Each one of us had a tattoo of a coupon on our body somewhere, which had been inked there before we were locked in this place. It was clever for this guy to have done this because it meant we had to torture each other just to get through the final door—or what I presumed was the final room. What he didn’t count on was that there would only be one of us left, and I didn’t have to torture anyone to get the coupons.

    After gathering the last of those five coupons, there was only one left. Mine.

    As I mentioned, the tattoos were not in the same spots, and in some cases, it was difficult to get it off someone. Michael had his on his back, and I was thankful that mine was on my stomach in the front, where I could easily access it. This, however, didn’t make it any easier to clip.

    The room had provided six pairs of razor sharp scissors, and I had already used a pair to cut out the other five. I grabbed a clean pair because I wasn’t sure how clean or dirty the other captives were, and if I did get out of there, I didn’t want to suffer from some disease I got from sharing someone else’s blood. Call me crazy, but that little OCD voice inside me needed to feel safe.

    My hands were shaking as I looked up at the timer on the wall. It read that I had three minutes left to complete the room. I didn’t know what would happen if the timer in each room ran up, and I didn’t want to find out now.

    After pressing the sharp edge of the clippers against the corner of the coupon, I struggled to make the first snip of my skin. The shaking became even more violent, and I felt my head go foggy. I fought passing out, but soon squeezed the handle and felt the blades cut through my skin.

    I would like to tell you that I didn’t scream, that I fought through the pain without tears. It didn’t happen that way. After the first snip, I felt my body turn icy. I screamed and I cried and I pleaded to the maniac who brought me here. The snot dripped from my face, and my shaking hands moved the sheers a centimeter further, and then… SNIP.

    I nearly dropped the sheers that time, but persisted. One snip after another clip, I pressed on. I glanced up at the clock, which told me I had wasted a minute and a half just getting thorough one edge of the coupon. This wouldn’t do, so I had to go faster. All the way around, until each side was cut.

    Looking up at the clock, there were fifty seconds remaining. I still had to organize all the coupons to get the best deal, and that didn’t leave me with much of a choice. I had to tear the coupon off or I wouldn’t make it. So, I peeled back one of the corners, and yanked hard and fast. This, I fear, was nothing like ripping off a Band-Aid. It was hot. It was cold. My vision blurred. I was nearly down for the count.

    After wobble-running to the door, I fished the other slices of flesh from my pocket. Some of them slipped from my fingers, and I had to quickly scoop them from the floor. The timer dropped second after second, but I dared not look up to see it.

    Reading each label, I needed to find out what coupon should go in the scanner first, but there was nothing more than bar codes on them, which I hadn’t noticed before. Each tag of flesh twisted my stomach as I handled them, the torn flesh rough and slick against my fingertips. I had no idea what went where and in which order. So, I began scanning them all and throwing them into the basket. I ended with my own piece, but hesitated to throw it in with the rest. Whether it would save my life or not, tossing out a piece of myself felt weird, but I eventually scanned mine and dropped it in there.

    The clock on the wall continued to count down, and I wondered what the heck I had done wrong. Something somewhere wasn’t right because usually the clock stopped the moment the last coupon went into the basket or, if it didn’t, you were immediately killed because it meant you failed the puzzle. Frantically searching the room turned up nothing useful, and the clocked began its final countdown.

    …5

    …4

    …3

    …2

    …1

    The red LED clock numbers began to repeatedly flash 0:00. I expected the room to close in on me or for a toxic gas to snuff me out. Maybe I would just be locked in the room with all these festering bodies until I eventually died of disease or starvation.

    That’s when I heard the soft buzzing noise. The door behind me closed, and the one before me didn’t immediately open. Instead, I felt like I was floating for a second. A moment later, that semi-weightless feeling ended, and the clock changed to three hours. The door before me opened, and I entered a new room with five new people.

    They watched me, and I sized them up because I had no time to mess around. I didn’t know if I would have to endure this forever, but these new sets of puzzles wouldn’t be the thing that would end me after all that horrific stuff I went through. I wouldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t. So, I pressed on, determined to lead this new group and help them succeed where the others had failed.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I feel the same as John, going through a hellist game of coupons all over again. Made my skin crawl, it did. Very powerful writing, of course, I always expoect it to be. How on earth did he stand the pain from ripping his skin from his body?

  14. Pete

    I don’t do CrossFit, I do grocery shopping with four kids. Eli and Rudy like to sprint the aisles, slaying dragons while Ella practices cartwheels. At two, Lea enjoys screaming full tilt while tossing vegetables overboard.

    It’s a sinking ship, my cart. My house. With laundry and lunches. Dishes and diapers, appointments and schedules. Mark works on the road and sometimes the juggling act becomes too much. Something had to give. I gave. I misplace things. Lost things. Then one day at the grocery store, I found myself all alone in the frozen food section, wearing two completely different types of shoes.

    Price check on dignity, aisle 9.

    At checkout, I didn’t have my rewards card. Eli, my creative four-year-old, liked to rifle through my wallet, using my driver’s license, credit cards, or anything as “tickets”.

    The patient cashier tried to help. ”We can use your phone number.”

    Eli was tugging at my shirt. Lea had that ear piercing scream hitting the high notes. All those stares on me. So I blurted out a phone number, one ending with the ages of my kids.

    “555-2468”

    Presto.

    “Thank you, Miss Johnson.”

    Whatever. I don’t know why that made me so happy. Maybe because in a day—a life—when nothing worked out, that number did. I strode out in my mismatched shoes, pushing along my gaggle of kids. I’d saved $34.56.

    That number became my identity. I used it all the time. Getting gas, shopping. Offering it to that person in front of me who needed a quick discount. I watched Miss Johnson’s savings-to-date climb.

    $100
    $300
    $500

    I was on a roll. And then one day, when I had matching shoes on and all the kids fully clothed and caged in a cart without wobbly wheels, the cashier rang me up, and…

    “Oh Wow.”

    She smiled big. I looked around. “What?”

    “You’re the grand prize winner.”

    “The grand prize?”

    “Yes, 2468. She smiled real big. “Miss Johnson, you’ve just won a year’s worth of free groceries.”

    The line broke out into applause. It was only then I remembered I was a fraud. I wasn’t Miss Johnson but a crazy woman who couldn’t find her shoppers card. I blushed as the manager smiled, shook my hand, Rudy asking why he called me Katrina Johnson.

    I lost my mind. I spent $200 to find out where the real Katrina Johnson lived, even got a glossy picture as part of the deal. The next day I took the kids and we drove over to Maple Run, where the oil stained pavement was devoid of Maples, or trees in general.

    Obviously Section 8. My hand instinctively went to the door lock. Trash along the curbs. Rudy stared out the window, the way he had when we’d gone to the Safari Park over the summer.

    “Mom, where are we?”

    I parked the van, thinking how Mark would kill me. Four miles from the grocery store, but it felt like Mars. Rippled pavement instead of craters. Every car was dented. Barren porches, oil stains. Dumpsters. Dark streaks lined the wood paneling of apartment 23 A-D.

    Eli and Lea were sleeping and Rudy and Ella had been stunned into silence. They lived amongst lawns and trees, garages. Here it was grimy buildings and bus stops. Taxi cabs backing out.

    We waited. People stepping off the bus. I recognized Katrina—Rewards shopper 2468—with four kids. The youngest asleep, hanging out of the tiny stroller. The oldest maybe a year older than Rudy, bouncing along. I scanned the lot and took a look around.

    “Wait here.”

    I stepped out, onto Mars. I locked the door. Checked it to be sure. Rudy’s face, white and wide in the van—the Honda Odyssey like a spaceship out there. I took a breath and approached.

    “Miss Johnson?”

    Ten feet of cracked pavement separated us. Her face tightened. Some teens stolled by us with lingering stares. At me, the white lady on Mars. I gripped my keychain, going cold and about to backtrack, when I saw something familiar. Exhaustion. Defeat. Mismatched shoes on her feet.

    1. pvenderley

      I appreciated this story for its commonplace trigger (I always used 867-5309 for my phony rewards card number), and for the several evocative phrases that kept me engaged with the scene.

  15. jhowe

    Ten years after the extermination, on a sweltering day somewhere in the middle of what was once Mexico, I examined my collection. It was an anniversary I told myself. It was only normal to wonder. Seventeen hundred and four. That’s how many I had to my name. More, as far as I knew, than anyone still alive. But that was speculative. There could be other collectors in faraway lands, in more densely populated areas – if anyone in those lands survived. That was the wildcard. If anyone survived.

    I started to replace the souls, one by one, deep into my memory. It was risky to remove them, but I needed to know. In the distance I heard a wail. I contemplated an investigation in case it was a human cry, but many of my souls were still exposed. I had to replace them before I started searching. The cry came again, a plea for mercy. There would be an unresolved soul soon, I was certain.

    I took a chance and left my souls to their own devices and ran toward the sound. They would not travel far; not in the state I kept them. I made my way through a stand of scrub brush and came to a ragged tent, tattered and flapping in the hot breeze. The moan came again and I entered. A woman lay writhing in a tangle of soiled bedclothes. She saw me and her eyes filled with tears. I grasped her hand, soothing her with my thoughts and soon she was still. An invisible mist, viscous and velvety surrounded me and caressed me. It wasn’t right. This was not a soul but something sinister. A soul would not behave in this way.

    I heard a commotion from where I had come. I shook off the gentle mist and ripped my way out of the collapsing tent. I could feel my souls scattering and dissipating as I ran toward them. A man of sorts, unclothed and mountainous stood among them, inhaling mightily, his rasping breathes wet with mucous and bile. I felt my souls cry out in muted decrees as they were sucked into his massive lungs. With as much force as I could gather, I plowed into the rock solid body. I was knocked back by the collision and lay stunned. The man or beast or whatever it was turned and snarled, his eyes burning red. He dismissed me with a grunt and continued to suck up every last soul and then he was gone.

    I rose tentatively, searching with my mind for any lingering presences but all that remained was a terrible stench. I started walking, my thoughts jumbled. It occurred to me as I approached an arid mesa that I had managed to return several souls to my mind before the ambush. I took refuse in the shade of an overhanging bluff and released them, allowing them to gather and roam about. They grazed softly against my arms and greeted me warmly. I could sense they knew something had happened, though they were confused as to what. I could no longer continue to confine them. A much more powerful existence was out there, collecting ruthlessly, doing who knows what with them.

    I restored the souls to their immortal state and immediately, they seemed to transform spiritually, though I was uncertain if that was the case. But their behavior was distinctly changed and soon, they began to expand and depart, leaving behind a sense of gratitude. I took shelter that night, below the overhanging rocks and slept soundly. I was no longer the collector but the liberator. My new quest would be to search out unresolved souls and help them find their their ultimate termini.

  16. Jennifer Park

    (I wasn’t sure if we’re allowed to post multiple stories.)

    “No,” Min insisted again.

    “But…”

    “No! It’s already way out of control… I mean, it’s one thing to be on TV talk shows, but this.. this is… Don’t you think it’s crazy? Absolutely not!”

    “But, Honey, ten thousand dollars…”

    “Yeah, we can use the money, but, no, I don’t want the craziness.”

    Doug flinched. He really did not like being referred to as crazy. Min had always referred to couponing as crazy… by which he meant, waste of time, inefficient, ineffective in the long run, and he had a point… or two… Still, Min’s bluntness, which had been a refreshing thing in the beginning of their relationship, just got on Doug’s nerves now.

    “Please… don’t…” Min looked almost tearful.

    Doug still had a week to respond to the challenge. A special episode of Extreme Couponing where the national face of couponing was to go face-to-face with the Queen of Couponing herself.

    ==========

    Doug now avoided going to the grocery store entirely, but he was out of Metamucil, and it was on his way to work. He marched to the Digestive Health section as quickly as he could, and paid for it at the pharmacy. Thanks to a fantastic union, the checkers had a low turn-over rate, and they all knew him. The pharmacist was new. “Thirteen-seventy-eight,” she said, “with two-dollar savings. Did you have our weekly coupon? Another…”

    “No,” Doug said and pushed his credit card closer to her. He did have the coupon, as a matter of fact, and his Courtesy Card allowed him to double it. Four dollars off.

    The pharmacist didn’t even make eye contact. She pushed the card back to Doug. “Go head and insert it there.” She pointed at the credit card scanner.

    He did.

    After a few seconds, and then another few seconds, the machine chirped, “You may withdraw your…”

    Doug flinched. He could. He could withdraw. Any time he wanted to. Five more days to the deadline.

    ==========

    “Have you decided, yet?” said Carol, the office manager. She played with her pen whenever she spoke. Doug had bought that pen three years ago. One gross for three dollars. They were crap pens, and the ink was starting to dry out even in the unused pens.

    “No.”

    “Min still pissed at you?”

    “No… A little.”

    Carol air-patted him on the back, with a grin. “I’ll back you up no matter what.”

    Carol wasn’t quite his work-wife… more like work-big-sister. “Thanks.”

    ==========

    Min watched Doug pour out his cereal. Four boxes for fifty cents. The milk, Min bought it on his way home, but did get fifty cents off. The spoons, on clearance at Ross. The bowl was a wedding gift from a cousin, full price at Macy’s.

    “I’m sorry.” It always took Min five days exactly to apologize, regardless of whether that was necessary.

    “No biggie.”

    “It’s up to you.”

    “I know… I mean… thanks.”

    Doug had decided not to do it. It was not fun anymore.

  17. kitten_girl5

    I’ve been couponing my whole life. When you grow up on the streets working your butt off for every dollar, you don’t exactly have a choice. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get famous for something I do on a daily basis, but I did.

    If getting famous wasn’t enough, I had to attract the attention of another extreme couponer who thought her reputation was on the line when my couponing went viral. So here I am minding my own business looking at the different brands of bread in my neighborhood grocery store and deciding which coupon to use when I hear a very nasally voice.

    “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Miss I’m-a-famous-couponer.”

    I turn around to face the person who I sincerely hope isn’t talking to me. I know how serious people get about couponing, and I am not in the mood to waste money on a couponing war. In fact, I don’t have the money to. “Are you, by any chance, talking to me?” I question.

    “No, I’m talking to the other self-righteous brat who thinks she’s better than everyone else,” the woman responds with sarcasm oozing from her lips as she kills any hope I had for a peaceful day.

    I sigh before beginning my rant, “Let me take a wild guess about what’s going on right now. I’ve become a famous couponer and you feel threatened by the fact that I became famous and feel the need to defend your title from me. Well, let me tell you something right now. I don’t coupon to get famous, or because I think I’m better than anyone else. I coupon because I don’t have another choice, and I don’t have the money to waste on the more expensive products. The reason I’m good at couponing is because I have no choice but to be, not because I think it’s a fun pass-time. So, if you want to have some sort of childish coupon war, we can, but I, for one, don’t have time to act like a child.”

    After my long tirade, I turn around to get back to my shopping when I hear, “If you want a coupon war, girl, you will get one.”

    It’s like she didn’t hear a word I said. You know what? If she wants to have war, we’ll have a war, “You’re on, girl. I’ll even let you pick the list, bring it tomorrow. We’ll meet in a week to actually shop.”

    I walk out of the store almost feeling bad for stooping to her level, but I can’t help the smile on my face at how fun I just know this is going to be.

  18. cosi van tutte

    So, this isn’t sticking fully to the prompt…

    ****

    Mildred Vance finally caught sight of her husband Benny. He stood there at the starting line. His face was pale and clearly nervous. Even without her glasses on, Mildred could see him sweating.

    And she was doing plenty of sweating on her own.

    Why did I ever agree to this? Benny doesn’t know the layout of this store like I do. Benny doesn’t know a Roma tomato from a Bosc pear. And how will he ever find the SOS pads? I hope he doesn’t go down the sanitary aisle for those.

    Darn my broken ankle! I should be the one doing this. I am the supreme coupon cutter champion. I am the one who was challenged by Gabriella Gooshga. I am the one who—

    The minister, Ed Bwano, handed Gabriella and Benny a stack of coupons. “These coupons are in numbered order. You cannot skip ahead to the next one. You must do them in their right and proper order.”

    Benny cleared his throat. “What if…What if I can’t find an item?”

    Mildred’s heart hurt for him.

    “Then, you must forfeit.”

    Benny cleared his throat again. “That’s pretty rough. Can’t you give me a fair break?”

    “Sorry, Benny. Rules are rules. Are you two ready?”

    Benny gulped. “No, but yes.”

    Gabriella flipped her hair over her shoulders. “I was born ready.” She glanced back at the audience and smirked at Mildred. “Prepare to lose, ya second rate stamp licker.”

    Mildred almost threw her crutches at Gabriella. “My husband will show you who the stamp licker is.”

    “Oh, I’m sure he will.”

    “Please, Ms. Gooshga.” said the minister. “Let’s keep this clean and sportsmanlike.”

    “Yes.” said Benny. “Please do.”

    “If sportsmanlike means anything like letting that shopping amateur win, HA! Dream on, rookie.”

    Minister Ed scowled at her. “If you cannot participate with the right and holy spirit of charity, you will forfeit.”

    “What? And rookie will still win?”

    “Yes.”

    “Well! That just isn’t fair! I should win! I’ve been doing this since I was three years old.”

    “Ms. Gooshga—”

    “My mother taught me the sacred texts of coupon cutting and savings and buying the cheapest items possible.”

    “That may be so, Ms. Gooshga—”

    “This slackabout…this MAN lets his wife do all the shopping. He don’t know a can of chili beans from a jar of jelly beans. He should be the one to forfeit. NOT me.”

    “I’m not saying that you have to forfeit, Ms. Gooshga. I’m only saying that if you do not abide by the rules of this competition, if you cannot conduct yourself in a truly charitable manner, only then must you forfeit.”

    “You saying there’s something wrong with my conduct?”

    “Can we just get this over with?” Benny asked quietly.

    “No. I need to make stuff clear with the good minister here.”

    Benny gave his wife a despairing look.

    Mildred wanted to rush out there and give Gabriella the whopping she deserved. Why was she trying to ruin this moment with all of her yapping? Poor Benny was nervous enough.

    “Are you telling me that you will not meet the required behavior?” asked Minister Ed.

    “I’m telling you that this is not a polite competition. This competition is for blood and honor. Charity will just have to sit out there with everyone else.”

    “And that is how you feel?”

    “Heck yeah!”

    “Then, I’m afraid I must call forfeit.”

    Gabriella stared at him in shock.

    “Wait.” Benny perked up. “Does this mean I win?”

    “Yes. You are the winner by default. Ms. Gooshga, shake hands with Benny to prove that you aren’t a sore loser.”

    Gabriella rolled her hand up into a fist and punched him before anyone could stop her. She then punched Minister Ed, which made everyone in the audience gasp a loud assortment of gasps. She marched over to Mildred and threw the handful of coupons into her face. “This ain’t over. As soon as your ankle heals up, I will challenge you to a rematch. And I will beat you to the dust.”

    She flipped her hair over her shoulders and left.

    1. kitten_girl5

      cosi van tutte,
      That was awesome. It was so cute how her husband went for her, and, even better, that the other girl was just such a brat that she was disqualified and the husband won despite him not having a clue what he was doing.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Oh wow! Your MC is in for a humbling surprise. There are few women I would take on in a contest of intelligence and skill. The poor man will be distraught to say the least. I liked how the MC built his self confidence. But worse will be how it all falls apart. When it comes to detail and organization, he might as well roll over and say….. “Take me!
          I

  19. Observer Tim

    COUPONS OR CONSEQUENCES

    Every third fluorescent was flickering randomly, constantly altering the overall light level; the aisle layout was obviously the work of a madman. The horrid little fellows with cameras looked like Chinese Arabs and the slattern in too-tight leather was crouched down so her T was in the camera and her A was sticking out. Disgusting.

    Mildred glared at me and I returned it with interest. We’d been competing since the sixties but this was the crown jewel; we were going to be on the television.

    The hussy said, “Welcome to Coupons or Consequences, proof that my late ex-husband’s lawyers are just as evil as mine. Today’s contestants are Mildred Fantoma and Eunice Lastrenge, the two most competitive competitive shoppers in the USA. I’m Sadie de Sade and these are the rules: each of you has a budget of $500 and thirty minutes to shop. Be careful, though: some of the items in the C-or-C market have only one in stock. The winner gets 100 dollars for every dollar they save, and whoever saves the most wins. Are you ready, ladies?”

    “I am, and so is the crone.”

    “Speak for yourself, biddy.”

    “Bat!”

    “Goat-sucker!”

    “Ladies, save it for the competition. You have your lists, you have your money, now get shopping!”

    “Shove it in your privvies you painted hoo-er!”

    Sadie smiled. “You’re welcome to stay and insult me Mildred, but Eunice is already shopping.”

    “That cow!”

    Several of the items, like pinto beans, crusty bread, offal, and sweetmeats, were easy and quick. Mildred beat me to the only box of croutons and saved 80 cents, but I knew that spotted dick would be in the dessert section and got to it first; $2.50 off was a commanding lead. Then we settled in for the long haul.

    “Well viewers, things are close. So far Mildred has saved $37.50 and Eunice $36.95, and right now the women are fighting over prairie oysters. Like I haven’t seen that before. Remember boys, bring me your prairie oysters and I’ll shuck ’em for you.”

    A rabid squirrel was preventing us from reaching the pecans, so I said nuts to that and went for a soda. I took two (for the price of one) and shook the other two vigorously; Mildred set a booby-trap in the chicken breasts. We were almost exactly tied at the lamb’s neck, but I ended up ahead by a pig snout.

    In the end I rung up $112.45 in savings to Mildred’s $112.30.

    “Congratulations Eunice, you’re our winner.”

    “Thank you, Sadie.”

    “However, our judges noticed that you stole a pack of gum worth 30 cents in savings from Mildred’s cart. Normally they’d overlook that, they’ve decided on something more entertaining.”

    I looked sourly at her.

    “In order to claim your prize, you’ll have to make a feast using all the ingredients you purchased in some way. Given the amount of food, you’ll have four hours to do so.”

    “And if I don’t?”

    She smiled and took out an axe. “You’ll be chopped.”

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, OT!

      I’m wondering if Guy Fieri was in attendance. 😆

      This story was just all manner of fun. Especially the rabid squirrel guarding the pecans.

      And, just so you know, I loved that last line. It was perfect. 😀

  20. johncamm

    So excited to be the first person to post, not my best work and closer to 700 errors i think.

    Mildred sat there fixated on the pile of newspapers in front of her. The nerve of her she thought to herself about her neighbor from down the street and biggest rival couponer Stella. “she thinks just because she is ‘computer savvy’ she can take the title of America’s top couponer” she said to her cat Santa.

    She reviewed the list and rules of the challenge: 100 items, one day to shop, electronic coupons allowed. The rukes specified some specific items like “Vick’s vapor rub” while others simply said “canned peas”. She hated electronic coupons and only used them when she felt they were worth the paper and ink to print them. “In my day Santa we used did real couponing, none of this ‘Google’ nonsense.” Nonetheless, this was a challenge and Mildred was not about to be outdone by a woman she introduced into the couponing world.

    Mildred spent the next week clipping away. Collecting old papers from friends and the recycling bin, walking up and down the aisles pulling coupons from the little dispensers on the shelves, and even reading the fine print and cross-referencing to see where she could stack multiple coupons. The night before she decided to fire up her laptop and do a quick search.

    After only a few moments of searching she became sick. The electronic coupons were amazing, buy one get one free and 50% off were all only a click away. She couldn’t take it and closed her laptop. “there’s no way I can compete with this Santa” she said as the cat grazed her leg looking for some affection. Couponing was the one thing Mildred ever really excelled at, it was her part in helping to support her family as she was a stay home mom. The thought of losing to a woman half her age that she introduced to couponing while she was on maternal leave from her first child broke her heart.

    She picked up a small brass picture frame with a picture of her late husband in it. “oh Santa, I wish Robert were here still, he’d know what to do” She reminisced of her late husband. “he used to always say ‘don’t forget the pork and beans’. Oh how Robert loved his pork and beans” she said to the cat. That night Mildred cried herself to sleep.

    The next morning came and Mildred put on her Sunday best, after all there was going to be quite the crowd today. The loser of the challenge would no longer be allowed to compete in competitive couponing within the National Competitive Couponing Association of America (NCCAA). She knew she was going to lose.

    Mildred drove to the store, did her initial interview, and began reviewing her coupons prior to the start of the competition. As expected Stella came in looking fabulous; expensive business suite, name brand everything, and no coupons. “Good morning Miss Mathis” sarcastically.

    “morning Stella” Mildred replied.

    After a few brief instructions the couponers where off. The competition was fast paced, both woman scrambled to get to the best deals first. With only minutes’ left in the completion Mildred saw Stella at checkout, she had only one item left, beans. How she had missed it she didn’t know but she had to hustle all the way back to the other end of the store, aisle 2.

    “Alright” she heard the announcer boom over the loud speaker. “Shopper Stella grand total, $97.13! two minutes’ left shoppers, two minutes!” the small crowd erupted and Mildred stopped dead in her tracks. She looked down at her notes, $99.10. She had lost. It wasn’t official yet but she knew it. She looked at her picture of Robert. “oh Robert” she began to cry to herself. Suddenly the picture slipped out of her hands and the frame broke. Her favorite picture of Robert slide under a shelf. She got down on her hands and knees to reach for it. “Gotcha’” she said to herself.

    “one-minute left shoppers, one minute!” the announcer yelled into the microphone.

     In an attempt to get up she saw an old box of Grandpa’s Best Pork & Beans. “She gasped, these were Roberts favorites” she said to herself as she picked up the box. “I can’t believe it, I haven’t seen these in years”. They were a little bit on the expensive side but she already lost and in honor of her late husband decided to end her competitive couponing career with his favorite produce.

    “30 seconds shoppers!” boomed the announcer.

      In a frantic sprint Mildred raced around the corner of aisle two and got in line with only seconds to spare. By the time the cashier got to the pork and beans Mildred had already lost be $2.

    INVALID ITEM.

    The cashier called over to the manager. After some whispering the manager said “ma’am, we haven’t sold these in nearly ten years, are you sure you want these?” he asked.

    “Yes young man” she replied. “And I would actually like to purchase them for myself”.  

    The manager rang the pork and beans up at the last listed price, $.50 each, 6 cans.

    Total: $102.10.

    “Ma’am, don’t you have a coupon for these?” the manager asked. Mildred handed him her $1 off coupon, good for any Grandpa’s Best canned products. “Ma’am” the manager began “these coupons are for a dollar off, these actually give you a $.50 store credit each” the manager explained.

    Before Mildred could comprehend what the manager was saying the announcer exploded with excitement “in a last minute turn of events the winner is Mildred Mathis with a total of $99.10! Winner by only $.03!”   

  21. Jennifer Park

    ‘Today’s the day I’m exposed as a fraud,’ thought Marla to herself as she put on her shoes.
    “You say that every time, Sweetie,” yelled Jackie from the hallway, suitcases in tow.
    Marla looked up in shock. She didn’t think she had said it out loud, never mind loudly enough for Jackie to hear it.
    “And, didn’t you wear those shoes on Ellen?”
    No, she hadn’t, and who would notice? Besides, they were her “shopping shoes”. Actually, come to think of it, Marla had worn them during the intro video, naturally, because she was shopping.
    “I guess no one would notice. You ready?”
    Marla nodded, and trekked helplessly out to the car. Two hours to the Alexandria shopping strip where she was to face her “rival”. How did she end up with a rival in the first place? She was just a super frugal shopper. That was all. Who has rivals in shopping?
    Jackie nudged her with her voice. “Come on!”
    Marla had stopped halfway down the ramp to the driveway. She woke up from her contemplation and resumed her helpless trek.
    Jackie handed her the handles to the suitcases, and fobbed open the trunk. After a dozen seconds of impatient waiting, she observed, “Gotta go now!”
    Waking up once more, Marla loaded the trunk.
    ==========
    Marla was what one would call “a natural”. She just shopped. She looked at the grocery list, and, voilá, the coupons, the stores, they just came to her. She didn’t even know what to do, exactly; she just went through the stores half-consciously, and ended up paying little to nothing at the check-outs.
    Her “rival”, whose name Marla never could remember, was a planner whose techniques and strategies were eruditely outlined in three bestselling books, and who used and marketed a specially-made arm-band coupon holder, and who had challenged and beaten many other Extreme Couponers. Marla was nothing like that. She was just a suburban, middle-aged grandmother of two who happened to be frugal.
    With Jackie’s new job, Marla didn’t even need to use coupons to make ends meet anymore. It was just what she did…
    And today, after this duel-to-the-death—death as in never being able to use coupons again, however that was going to be enforced—Marla would be revealed as a flawed couponer, and, thankfully, she would never have to use coupons again.
    ==========
    As they approached the site-to-be of her demise, ironically named “Safeway”, Jackie parked the car into a lot belonging to a Trader Joe’s, still idling. She gazed at Marla in a way that did not convey what she was thinking.
    “What?” Marla replied.
    “…”
    “What?”
    “…”
    “Just take me there.”
    Jackie nodded, sighed, and drove the car out of the lot, into the Safeway lot, and into the throng. Marla was fully conscious through the media gauntlet, and up to the point when she was handed the shopping list. The rest, it just happened on its own.

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