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Flash Fiction: The Engagement
Meredith rushed into the menagerie with a stack of plates grazing her chin. Cocktail hour always bloated the hotel with older patrons who did not worry about the tab. Tonight a company meeting of some sort was taking place. Everyone wore seersucker suits. Southern businessmen? Meredith wondered as she stood observing them. Then Gus, her beefy manager, bumped into her.
“Cunt,” Gus spat and wedged past her and into the kitchen. Meredith sighed and grabbed the broom to sweep up the ten thousand pieces of porcelain. Those plates were probably as old as the American Revolution. Meredith imagined Martha Washington rolling over in her grave. But how do you roll over in a grave wearing petticoats?
Meredith took a new stack of plates to the meeting room and placed them on a long table piled high with fruit, cheese, and seafood. When she looked up, a face she had not seen in months looked back at her.
The one-time literature classmates hugged. Dressed like a cover girl, Iris was her usual tall and blonde self.
“How are you? I though you graduated last year,” Iris said, biting into a shrimp.
“Oh, yeah, but...” Meredith trailed off and shrugged. “So much for studying anthropology!”
“Well, you should be working at Anthropologie instead. Food service is gross.”
“Ha. Right. Yeah, so, what about you?”
Iris flicked her wrist, grinned, and then brought her hand to Meredith's face. “I'm getting married! And I just landed a book contract. You know that house behind the campus library? It's haunted, so it's time somebody finally write about it. The first draft of my novel was picked up by a small press in Brooklyn last week.”
Meredith smiled faintly and said, “Congratulations. A book, huh? And Scott? That's great. Let me guess—no debt either, right?”
Iris shook her head. “Of course not. Scholarships. And this book advance is going to—”
“My manager's calling me,” Meredith lied and stormed past Iris toward the kitchen. She rammed into Gus as he burst out the door. A steak dinner flew out of his hands and crashed against the marble floor. Gus' face collapsed like a tomato rotting at one-hundred times regular speed.
“Gus, go marry my sympathy and then kiss it good-bye because it's going off to war. I quit! And I'm going to write about you—a whole book—and, trust me, it won't be flattering.”
Meredith threw her apron in the man's face. Then she walked out onto the noisy street, her mind shrouded in silence.
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