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Criteria

A flash fiction (written from some prompts given to me by facebook pals *)
She was the only woman in the bar and he the only man.

She was looking for a well-presented man. He hadn’t shaved and had long, dark, greying hair.

No good. She’d always imagined her future husband to have short, blonde hair.

She liked quiet Sundays indoors with softly-scented pampering products, a movie and the clean, ever-cleaning cats. Everything about him said ‘muddy walks with dogs’ (particularly the presence of his two filthy dogs and the mud-caked walking boots he wore).

The List was not going well. She wanted to walk back out of the pub. He did not fit the criteria of her perfect partner in any shape or form. But he saw her and walked over.

‘Hi. I’m Steve,’ he said in a Belfast accent, holding out a rough hand to shake hers firmly.
‘Oh Jesus,’ she thought, in a Home Counties accent, slipping her manicured digits back through his calloused, soil-stained grasp.

But perhaps the ‘Suitable for parents’ criteria wasn’t really worth keeping on the list now that both her parents had died of old age.

She mentally referred to her list. The list she had written at eighteen, now etched on her memory and referred to every time she met a man:
Where were the blue eyes suitable for her future babies? His were brown.
Where was the evidence of security and financial stability for the family they might have? He had holes in his t-shirt.

Perhaps, as her friends had pointed out, she was too old for children now. Perhaps, as her sister had pointed out, a good companion was more important than money.

She had to do this. She’d promised. She would make polite conversation, smile, have a couple of drinks, swap phone numbers, thank her friends for setting up a blind date and then never call him. In a couple of weeks she could say it just didn’t work out. There was no way she was committing herself to this guy while Mr. Right was out there waiting for her.

3 hours later, he led her into his house and showed her the hall, the bathroom, the kitchen, the sitting room and the lizards. They wouldn’t be languishing so lazily under their heat lamps if her cats were in the room, she noted aloud with a snigger.
He laughed too and cleared some papers from the sofa so that she could sit down.
Real ale seemed good for the inhibitions and the OCD she noted with a belch, plonking herself onto a stinking dog blanket and grinning.

He grinned back fondly and sat himself opposite her. ‘You’ve a good sense of humour. I’ve not laughed so much in a while.’

‘I don’t usually make men laugh,’ she tilted her head, thoughtfully. ‘It must be the beer.’

‘No. It’s not you. It’s the men you’ve been dating. You should always make sure someone’s got the same sense of humour as you. It’s number one on the list.’

‘You have a list?’ She leant forward in interest and nearly fell off the sofa. ‘This could be the start of something really ugly,’ she laughed, righting herself and pointing to a rotting half-eaten apple on a corner table behind his elbow.

‘I wondered what the smell was, ‘ he said, jumping to his feet, grabbing the apple and running to the kitchen bin with it.

She watched as he washed and dried his hands carefully and then returned looking about him as if in shame.

He was making an effort for her. She realised she liked that in a man.
Why wasn’t that on The List?

( *The prompts: ‘Presentation isn’t everything.’ … ‘There’s a half-eaten apple on the table in the corner of the room. Why?’ and ‘Lizards languishing lazily’ (yeah, thanks, Mandy…) )

Written in a hurry and not edited. Life on the edge, huh?
😉

22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great flash. Maybe I need to revisit my list too.

    Like

    17/02/2012
  2. Natalie #

    Great story, Rach! Really enjoyable! 🙂

    Like

    17/02/2012
    • Thanks, Nat. It’s fun to write with time pressure rather than literary pressure sometimes and just see what happens, isn’t it?

      Like

      18/02/2012
  3. Reb #

    Loved it.

    Like

    17/02/2012
  4. Amanda O'Dell #

    Love it! Going to bed with a nice warm glow 🙂

    Like

    17/02/2012
    • …and I read that comment at bedtime and went to bed with a warm glow too. Thank you x 🙂

      Like

      18/02/2012
  5. I loved your flash, very inventive but then that’s the skill, init?
    I just read ‘She leaned over and stroked the nose of a large horse’ and though it needed putting into a context….then I saw you request for a Friday Flash but it’s very nearly Midnight so I didn’t send it. (then I just did!)
    So you’ve inspired me to have a go at a Flash…..tomorrow I think.

    Like

    18/02/2012
  6. This is great, Rachel! I love the way you used all the prompts!

    Like

    18/02/2012
    • Thanks, Rebecca. Thank you for the apple! 🙂

      Like

      18/02/2012
  7. I definitely warmed to this story as I read it. At first I thought the two characters were stereotypical but you developed them well.

    Like

    18/02/2012
  8. Great writing, great wit. 🙂

    Chuck the list in the bin, this may just be that Mister Right that you never knew you were looking for. 🙂

    Like

    18/02/2012
  9. I think the fact that she has a list that she is so determined to follow goes a long way in explaining why she is still alone. [But I’m not bitter…. 😉 ]

    Like

    19/02/2012
    • I guess, to a point, many of us have ‘criteria’ and I have known people with lists! (albeit in their heads) Going with the flow and discovering you’ve fallen for someone along the way is much more wonderful. In fact it’s amazing how someone that would seem right on paper can be very very wrong…

      Like

      22/02/2012
  10. alisonwells #

    Nice turn around on the list! Sometimes it’s a good job we find what we’re not looking for 🙂 Very engaging.

    Like

    19/02/2012
  11. That flash fiction sucked me right in. Great job! “Life is what happens when we make our plans.” She needs to toss that list out the window, apparently!

    Like

    01/03/2012

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