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Your Story #85: Winner!

  • Prompt: Write a short story, of 700 words or fewer, based on the photo at left (or below for mobile users).You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Once again, you’ve made the Your Story competition a success! Thanks to everyone who participated in competition #85 (either by entering, reading or voting).

Out of more than 180 entries, readers helped us pick “Familiar Words” by Valerie Testa Almquist as the winner. For winning, Almquist’s story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.

Winning Entry

“Familiar Words”

by Valerie Testa Almquist

Wednesday afternoon, a handsome, wealthy, attorney handling only affluent clients came to the restaurant. At least, that’s how Lawrence described himself to me during his introduction. He was dressed in a sharp, fitted, navy blue suit, white shirt, and silk, monochromatic blue tie. He asked me, “How long have you been waiting tables?”

Jokingly, I replied, “I’m new, so forgive me if your meal lands on your lap.”

He replied quite sternly, “Don’t make excuses for your mistakes.” I thought he was joking, but his face lacked a hint of a smile. In the same tone he continued, “Come to dinner with me Saturday night.”

I ignored his invitation, which seemed more like a demand, and asked, “How long have you been an attorney?”

He replied, “As long as I’ve wanted.”

Confused and curious I questioned, “What kind of answer is that?”

“The only one you’re going to get.”

Lawrence placed his order: fillet mignon cooked rare, baked potato and green beans instead of the broccoli. Staring into my eyes he added, “I’ll have bottled water. Tap is for the wait staff.”

As soon as I brought his food to the table, he took his fork and inspected a piece of meat. “Saturday night I’ll take you to a restaurant that makes this one look like fast food.”

I quickly responded, “I enjoy fast food; it’s unpretentious. Besides, I haven’t agreed to any date.”

As I waited another table, Lawrence waved me over complaining his green beans were overcooked. I offered to replace them, but he didn’t have time because he was meeting a client. I carefully removed his glass, plate and utensils trying not to drop anything on him or the floor. As I cleared the table, he asked, “So, are we on for Saturday night?”

Something about him was mysterious and intriguing. Not to appear eager I replied with a tentative, “I guess so.”

With his phone in hand, he asked, “What’s your name and number? I’ll call for your address.”

I took out my phone and said, “First, you tell my your number,” and he did.

After the exchange, I left his table to get the check. He paid with cash; instead of a tip, he left a note stating he would make it up to me on Saturday night.

He waited until Saturday morning before calling asking for my address. I told him to park in the upper tier of the parking garage next to my apartment building at 7:00p.m. He asked, “Why can’t I just pick you up at your apartment?”

“I don’t know you well enough to come into my apartment. Is that a problem?”

“No, it’s not a problem, but it’s weird.”

“Not to me.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you there. Do you have any nice clothes to wear?”

“Lawrence, you better shape up before tonight, or this date isn’t going to take off! I look good in anything.”

“Okay, calm down.”

The adrenaline was rushing through my veins as I waited for Lawrence in the parking garage. I arrived early in anticipation of the evening’s events. The minutes passed slowly until I heard the sound of an engine circling slowly around the garage. Lawrence wanted to impress me and arrived in a black stretch limo.

Waiting for Lawrence were three FBI agents, colleagues of mine, with cameras. He was told to remain in the vehicle while it was searched. Lawrence wasn’t an attorney; he was an unemployed jewelry store employee and safecracker who stole hundreds of thousands in jewels. His ex-fiancée went to the police after he broke off their engagement. Her story wasn’t enough; we needed evidence. I ran the prints from Lawrence’s glass and utensils; they matched perfectly with the ones found in the safe at the store. In the trunk of the limo, Lawrence had suitcases packed for a getaway. Hidden inside one was a small sack of jewels: rubies, diamonds, pearls, sapphires and emeralds.

As I walked towards the limo, I heard Lawrence pleading, “Please, I needed the money to pay bills!”

I yelled to him, “Don’t make excuses for your mistakes!”

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