So, I have another post ready sooner than I thought I would. It is not yet the longer one with reflections that I’d mentioned, but I got a rejection in my inbox today for this story (no, that’s fine, we’re all used to that, right? It’s part of the process), and I thought I would share that story here. The prompt was from Mash Stories, and you need to write a story under 500 words including randomly selected words “honesty,” “blow-dryer,” and “cockpit” (The competition deadline is 15th–follow the link to check it out!). At first, I was stumped. After a few false starts, this was the story that came out. I used to work in a diner with a take-out window…but not with Roy!
Though you might not know it from this blog, since I’ve started experimenting with flash fiction shortly after beginning writing here, most of my stuff is longer. I have one completed literary fiction novel with paranormal elements and another novel in the works which is upmarket women’s fiction with paranormal elements. I also have several longer short stories. Talented friends from my writer’s group (Margo Carey and Dianne Herlihy) got me interested in trying flash fiction, and I’m still exploring it. It’s exciting to work with–I’m enjoying finding out about many of the great authors on WordPress and elsewhere writing in flash fiction! I feel like I’m still learning a lot from flash fiction and I’m finding it an interesting challenge, so I intend to keep going!
Anyway, this one has a different tone from some of my others…hope you enjoy!
The Rogue Pilot
Grandma said that honesty was the most important thing. Grandma practiced what she preached. From the moment Molly rose in the morning, Grandma was honest:
“Molly, put some cold water on your face. It looks swollen as a beach ball.”
“Molly, don’t put so much dressing on that salad. You need to lose weight.”
“Molly, don’t let people tell you that ‘the right person will come along.’ Nothing in this life just ‘comes along,’ and that’s a fact.”
Molly had taken to turning the blow-dryer on high and scorching her scalp just to block out Grandma’s truth.
Under the honest onslaught, Molly had developed survival skills: omission, vacant agreement, and secrets. Today was Molly’s first day of work at the diner. She’d quit her retail job, and hadn’t told Grandma. Hell, she was eighteen, and she could do what she wanted.
She wanted to work with Roy, because Roy was hot.
Roy greeted her at the door and handed her an apron. He led her to the take-out window.
“You’ll start here. It gets busy.” He gestured to the kitchen. “That’s the command center, and this here, this is your cockpit. You need to perform like a fighter pilot, quickly and efficiently, but—” He held up a finger, “with a smile.”
“Exactly,” Roy said. Roy was good with words. She had been in English with him, and wow, he knew how to catch your attention.
Molly tried to be decisive, but she had to keep questioning Roy. He had placed her in the cockpit, but hadn’t told her where to find the order pads or coffee filters, or whether a customer could substitute a salad for fries.
Roy was annoyed. “Molly, stay in the cockpit!” he said.
Molly cried as she scooped the ice cream. Hot Roy was yelling at her. His words were weapons.
Finally, Molly asked the question that pushed Roy over the edge: “How late do I stay?”
Roy slapped the green Formica countertop. “Where is your dedication?” he said. Customers turned to look.
“I don’t have any,” Molly said.
“Well, that’s the problem! This is a simple job!” Roy shouted. The customers looked away, embarrassed.
“Stop yelling at me,” Molly said. “You haven’t told me a single thing about how to do my job. I’ve had enough.”
Molly undid the apron, shoving it onto the counter. One customer whistled and clapped.
“Fine,” he said. They stared at each other.
She nodded and crossed her arms. “Try not to eat so many french fries. Your face is swollen as a beach ball.”
Then, Molly did whatever she wanted. Her apron stayed on the counter. She placed orders including substitutions. She told customers they were out of chocolate chip cookie dough because it was the hardest to scoop. She gave extra scoops to children who said please. She was the pilot, gone rogue.
At the end of the day, Roy said, “I always thought you were nice, in English.”
Molly shrugged. “I’m honest.”
* * *
I had fun participating in the Mash Contest, and I’ll keep my eye on the Mash Stories website!
If you enjoyed this story, I hope you’ll check out some of my other flash fiction works: