Friday, July 1, 2011

#FridayFlash - Lucky Me

“Yes, I want one of your mountain egg omelets, heavy on the cheese, peppers and sausage, and a beer if you got one. You do serve beers, right?”

“No ma’am.”

“Daiquiris? Mimosas? Anything with alcohol?”


“Then why don’t you just bring me a cup of coffee. Make sure it’s bitter, though. I don’t care if the cook has to scrape the sludge from the insides of his dark, hairy arm pits. I want the nastiest stuff you got.”

“I’ll get your order going.”

“Thank you … What?”


“Wait what?”

“I just wanted the waitress to get far enough away. You want to talk about it?”


“About calling me up out of the blue, getting me down here. And then there’s this business of you trying to order a beer.”

“Jeez, Michelle, can’t a girl have a beer with her breakfast?”

“First, it’s after eleven o’clock at night. And the last I knew, you didn’t drink. In fact, you only tasted one beer in college, and that was because you didn’t know what was in the cup.”

“Yeah, Mark Geoffrey. He was always trying to do stuff like that. What a jerk. Have I ever told you how many times he tried to get into my pants?”

“Yes, and a few others, too.”

“Mark was a complete waste of my time.”

“I’ll bet he’s saying the same thing.”


“Don’t mention it. But Mark Geoffrey isn’t what’s bothering you.”

“No, but you want to know something?”

“Do I?”

“After it was all over, I knew I’d made a mistake with him.”

“You act like it was just one.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Meaning, you kept making the same mistake over and over. Getting together, breaking it off, getting back together again. What was it, eight times?”


“Huh. And to think seven’s supposed to be lucky.”

“It was. It was the last time. Lucky for me.”

“Well, that’s one way to look at it.”

“Yes it is. Ah, finally. This stuff’s bitter right? Real piss and vinegar… What’s wrong with her?”

“My guess? She’s made all the tips she wants today.”

“Mmm, yeah. Now that’s bitter. You know, there’s one thing you can count on in a dive like this. They at least know how to make a strong cup of coffee.”

“Lucky you. So, are you going to tell me what’s going on, or do I have to pester you like I do my husband or one of my kids. What? What did I say?”

“Doctor Samuel’s office called me in last week.”


“My gynecologist. He ordered some labs after my mammogram, and the results finally came in.”

“Don’t they usually just mail you the results?”


Exactly? What’s that supposed…? Oh, Jen, no. Here, let me get you a napkin or something.”

“Thanks. You know what I’ve been thinking this last week? Why me? Who gets breast cancer at thirty-two? Isn’t that like, I don’t know, for old ladies who don’t need boobs anymore? I mean, look at me. I could feed triplets and still have plenty to spare.”

“I’m going to wipe that one from the memory banks. At least, I hope I can.”

“I’m serious.”

“Yes, sorry. So, what did your doctor say?”

“He wants me to come in next week to work out a plan of action?”

“You make it sound like a business deal.”

“His words, not mine. You ask me, I should be working on my will.”


“Why? Can’t a girl wallow in her own misery?”

“You want to do that, call a counselor. I’m your friend.”

“Really? Even after all that we’ve been through?”

“Let’s not go there.”

“But that’s why I called. I wanted to say—I want to say how sorry I am. About Tom and me.”

“Enough already, okay? Tom’s in the past, and I’ve moved on. I have a husband now, a family.”


“You want forgiveness, that it? Okay, I forgive you.”

“It’s more than that, Michelle. You want to know the sad part? Ever since I left home, I’ve been determined to be something better. To have anything I wanted. Pay my dues, climb the ladder, and all the other crap they teach you in college. And look at me. Jennifer, the graduate. Jennifer, the lawyer.”

“You’re successful.”

“But what does all that matter if this—thing goes the wrong way? At least you’ve got something to show for your efforts. All I’ve got are a few degrees and a name plate on the office door. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I haven’t even talked with my parents since the day I left their miserable house. Who’s going to care when I’m gone?”

“Jen, you know I care about you.”

“And that’s why you haven’t spoken to me in seven years? With a husband and kids to distract you, after tonight I doubt my memory lasts three months. Six tops. And then I’m like yesterday’s news—a flash that only pops up when something else reminds you, or when somebody calls up out of the blue and says, ‘Hey, whatever happened to Jennifer McRoberts? That girl gave us something to laugh about, didn’t she?’”

“First, I’m not laughing. I never did. And the last I heard, people have survived breast cancer. You can get through this. And... And I’ll be here to help.”

“Even after all the stuff?”

“What stuff?”

“... You’re an amazing woman, you know that? You always have been. Ah, here we go. Breakfast at midnight. Only in America. Thank you, miss. And tell the cook the coffee’s great. Real rancid stuff, just like I… Wow, you’d think I’d just stabbed her dog or something.”

“Actually, I think she’s warming up to you. In fact, if you work it just right, you might be lucky enough to have two friends before the night is over.”

“Yeah, lucky me.”


  1. There's a definite stumble as I recognize how many speakers we have and who attention is swapping to in the first dozen lines. After that it builds up its own momentum. So is this your take on how all-dialogue stories should go? I often sit through imaginary conversations far graver than any I've been having.

  2. There's a lot of pain hidden behind these lines.

    Like John, I had to work to figure out who was speaking and when.

  3. Thanks for the comments. The attempt at the beginning was a stretch for a dialogue only piece. Trying anything more than two, without throwing around names in every sentence (which we don't use in everyday conversations) is difficult. At least I kept the waitress out of this piece as much as possible.

    John: Don't try to read too much into what I think. From one week to the next, I don't have a gameplan. The previous two submissions to Friday Flash, were merely character sketches, forcing myself to tackle positions which I don't believe and to consider them through somebody else's eyes. They were not stories in the sense that we know them. This week, however, I decided to focus more on the elements of a story: conflict, character, complete arcs, and a little backstory thrown in. That they were "graver" only points to the ideas of conflict and tension, which I think the reader will find more interesting. At least I hope they will.

    Tony: Thanks. It was my hope for the reader to see the context in some of the dialogue--to know that Michelle's being snarky with her earlier comments, for example, and then to finally see why. I'm glad you saw the pain behind some of the lines.

  4. The switch of characters did throw me, but only for a second or two.

    The story is good on the dialogue as always, and the bitterness at what she sees as the unfairness of her life shows through.

    Now is the time for fighting, not resignation.

  5. I think you captured the emotional upheaval of such a diagnosis very well. The waitress was a sight complication, but it only took one or two lines to figure it out. The interplay between the two women came across as quite genuine.

  6. All-dialogue stories absolutely fascinate me, the way you can build into them exactly what's going on in the wider story. I found it a little jarring at first but then you settled into the rhythm and I just went along with it.

  7. You really layered a lot into this one- The strained relationship, the diagnosis, etc. It worked for me. I didn't even realize that it was an all-dialogue story until after I finished it.

  8. Steve: You're right. It's time to fight. People don't beat cancer by giving up.

    Jon: Thanks. To capture the emotion, I only try to put myself in the same situation and ask why my response might be. Sometimes it works; other times, it shows just how much I don't understand.

    Icy: It is amazing what you can accomplish with dialogue. I have learned much from reading Elmore Leonard. He's a master at it.

    Chuck: Thanks. I'm glad the story pulled you in like that.

  9. I've always liked this story, Stephen. Glad to see it out for public consumption.