Friday, July 19, 2013

Fun Flash Fiction Challenge: Thanks for Looking

I only just recently began following Chuck Wendig's hilarious blog. His last post today contained a challenge: a plot scenario generator. It was one that I was somewhat  familiar with before, but never paid serious attention to until today, when I accepted his flash fiction challenge and wrote my own story.

Well, here it is. The prompt: The story starts when your protagonist finds a mysterious object in the mailbox. Another character is a homeless person who has photos of your protagonist.

Thanks For Looking

                The pink lace bra that Sara pulled out of her mailbox at 1407 East Wallaby Lane did not look familiar. She mumbled something about the damned teenagers down the street and their damned screamo band practice at all hours of the night. Her husband Alex denied having ever seen the bra before. She held up the pink lace bra for her husband to see, staples and protruding metal wires sticking out from all sides. Bra or medieval torture device, she wasn’t quite sure.  

                “Care to explain?” she asked.

                “Honey, when I’m not at work in my office upstairs, I’m in the kitchen making a sandwich.” Alex changed the channel on the television and gave himself to the courtroom drama TV show.

                No ideas came to Sara about the bra, so she threw it away.


The next day, it came back, this time in purple--the kind of purple on Easter Eggs and ribbons on stuffed rabbits. Twice the staples. Half the metal wires.

               “Where the hell does this keep coming from?” As Sara pulled the bra out from the mailbox on the end of her street, she examined the edges and looked for tags or signs of ownership. Finding nothing, she crumpled it up into a ball and folded it into her pants pocket. This soft bulge on her left side had to have been visible to everyone on the street, even from their windows. Sara felt the eyes of all of her neighbors, burning shame and scorn deep into the recesses of her skull as she power-walked to the front door.

                “Honey! We got another bra!”

                “But you only have two tits, right?”

                Sara would smack him tonight when they packed for their annual hotel stay in Phoenix for their honeymoon. What use punishing him now for something he didn’t realize he was doing? For now, she tossed the pastel purple bra into the trash.

                Between picking up from the children her body wouldn’t allow her to have and the one child she married six years ago, Sara fondly remembered to go back to the mailbox in the same manner a young girl remembers today is her birthday. This game, she loved the idea of what it might be next. Sara envisioned a baby blue, maybe white with orange polka dots. She sang a song about a teenie weenie bikini to herself when she walked to the metal mailbox at the end of the street. To reduce the clutter on the sidewalks, the housing association determined that everyone must meet at the end of their streets to check their mail. This fostered community and familiarity with your neighbors, they determined. It was their pride and joy as their first action in the new community. All it meant to Sara was seven p.m. trips to the mailbox when everyone else was watching sitcoms on cable television, and she could avoid the creepy guys who stood around watching her.

                Sara closed her eyes and hadn’t remembered feeling this giddiness and childlike excitement since Christmas morning when she was eight. She turned the key and examined her mailbox. Bill. Bill. Bill. Advertisements. No bra.

                With a heavy head, Sara returned back home.

She had nothing to buy, really, and no money to buy it with, but Sara stayed at the mall long enough to visit each of the stores and get her mind off last night’s disappointment.

                By her estimate, the mailman wouldn’t arrive for another two hours. She could risk going to the mail early to check her mail. If anyone asked, it was hers. She was saving it for a special occasion. It was none of their business anyway, who was sending her bras. These fictitious women just needed to mind their own goddamned business anyway.

                Sara smiled with anticipation and bought herself a chilly mocha to drink on the way home.

                But the men in orange vests and yellow hard hats, they didn’t want Sara to go home. It seemed no one did. Delay after delay. She turned at every arrow and detour sign and swore at three-fourths of them. At a full-blown stop at an inconvenient red light, someone tapped on her window.

                “No, no thanks. I don’t need my windows washed.”

                The scruff of his beard darkened his face, exasperating the aging of his dirty skin and making the wrinkles appear as deep as the Marianas Trench. Looking at Sara, his face scrunched together. It confused Sara. Was he angry or blinded from the mid-day sun?

                “No, no thank you,” she assured him. She opened her fists to reveal empty palms. “No money. Thank you.”

                The man watched with the same look of quizzical intensity as the cars in front of Sara pulled away. Then, before Sara could shift into gear, he slammed pictures of her--half-naked pictures of her from her bedroom window--against the window. “This you?” he asked.

                Sara squinted and recoiled in horror. “Where did you get those?” she asked. Her eyes traced the silhouette of her curves as she appeared mid pose, either putting on a shirt or taking it off. She vaguely remembered that evening. “Why do you have those?”

                The man slammed the pictures up against the window, his knuckles rapping against the glass. “Is this you?”

                Sara withdrew and nodded.

                The man pulled his hand back into his pockets, took a step backwards. His face twisted into disgust and said, “Put a damn bra on, lady, those are disgusting,” and walked away.


That evening, Sara drew the blinds open extra wide and released a button on her shirt. She took a slow survey of the street’s crevices and dark cul-de-sac and opened two buttons. A large grin took over her face, and she released three buttons. She allowed for her shirt to accidentally fall off her shoulders and onto the floor as she faced the window and shimmied her shoulders from side to side. “Thanks for looking,” she whispered.

                Sara put on a loose fitting t-shirt and walked downstairs to watch television with her husband.


  1. Interesting! I definitely wasn't expecting the ending. I thought for sure it'd end with a phonecall to the police about a pervy stalker. The bra-torture-devices were a riot, though! Sounds like something only a supermodel would wear.

  2. I like how the the bras and the overall weirdness of the situation was an unexpected excitement to what she seemed to consider her boring every day life.

  3. As I got closer to writing the middle of the story (and not sure where I was going) I noticed how sad Sara seemed. I figured, this was her story, not the bra's story. The stalker was just a fun addition to help her change perspective.