Another Short Story Challenge
Last month's short story, Stranded, was picked by the subscribers of the blog. It was a great time and challenge, but this month we are back to the regularly scheduled Random Generator Challenge 'Phrase' edition.
When I originally generated the words/sentences/or phrases oh so many months ago, I had to laugh when this month's phrase popped up. The reason for this is simple.
"You can't judge a book by its cover."
Not only does it fit in with the theme of the blog, but I'd also just written a post about this exact phrase.
It's definitely a happy coincidence for sure and a phrase I think more people need to remember this day in age.
Let's see how well I use it in this short story challenge!
Random Phrase: You can't judge a book by its cover.
Her high heels hitting the tile echoed as Kristine stepped off the subway. She had missed rush hour due to her getting caught up swiping away on her phone.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Her stomach ached reaching the top of the stairs bringing her to a street full of restaurants filled to the brim with reservations. Her and Marcus were the ones who usually sat sipping wine under the dim lights enjoying the bustle of people around them, but not tonight. Kristine sighed thinking of Marcus. Oh, how she missed him. Only gone two of the ten day trip he planned with his mates, but somehow it felt like a lifetime. She yearned for his smell of cigars and leather which gave her comfort. Kristine especially missed running her hands down his back where her fingertips would slip into his back pockets finding her most prized possession of his.
He never carried less than ten thousand dollars often saying a man carrying less needed their manhood put in check. This is what she loved most about him besides his millions, of course. She couldn't remember the last time she paid for a bill since he walked into her life and she wanted to keep it that way.
Except for now. Marcus was gone, and so was his fat wallet.
This wasn't the first time this had occurred. In fact, Marcus often went away on business trips leaving Kristine to her own vices. She had gotten used to the nightly outings and extravagant meals presented on gold platters, which meant her minimum wage office job didn't pay for the bills while Marcus was away. She couldn't go back to her once mundane life. She refused.
Instead of sitting like a lost puppy while he was away Kristine decided to get clever. It didn't take long to formulate a plan when she overheard some of the office staff gossiping about their weekends. Pretending to need another cup of the stale coffee they hovered beside, Kristine listened in.
"I had two dates this weekend, both shit if you know what I mean? At least I got two free meals out of it though," the girl sipped her coffee in disappointment.
"Really?" The other girl chimed in. "I had a great weekend. In fact, we skipped dinner entirely and went straight for dessert," she smirked.
"You know for an app called Chemistry, I would expect more dessert nights like yours," the first girl rolled her eyes, "but maybe I'm expecting to much."
"Oh, if you keep swiping right, I promise you'll have plenty of dessert nights like mine in the near future." The girls turned making their way back to their cubicles.
Pouring her untouched coffee down the drain Kristine grabbed for her phone. Two free meals eh?
At first the going was tough. Most of the guys she matched only wanted one thing... and it wasn't dinner. Swipe. Swipe. Swipe.
Kristine smirked in amusement the more she swiped. Her mother's words from when she was a child sounded in her head 'you can't judge a book by its cover', but little did her mother know it was Kristine's favorite game growing up. Marching up to her peers to loudly confess in front of the school her hatred of their looks or poor taste in clothing made her feel powerful. The popular boys often found it intriguing and flocked to join in with callous laughter. Eventually graduating, Kristine would turn her judgement towards cashiers, waiters, or receptionists she came across in her daily life. Seeing the light fall from their eyes and embarrassment sneak across their cheeks thrilled her to the bone.
And now, as she stepped into her favorite French restaurant, she was grateful for the little app called Chemistry. Not only did it heighten the intensity of her favorite pass time with every swipe of a strangers photo, but it allowed her to live the luxurious lifestyle Marcus was so kind to show her she deserved.
Kristine spotted him quickly in the far back corner. Nervous, like they usually were, Daniel, as his profile stated, tugged at his collar. Grabbing his tie he dabbed his forehead free of sweat his armpit already showing signs of pit stain. Gross.
Kristine took a deep breath reminding herself of the fantastic cassoulet her stomach so hungrily craved and jaunted her way to the back of the restaurant.
The initial introductions were always awkward as the men fumbled with their words at the sight of Kristine. Daniel held it together well until he spilt his water over the entire table to which Kristine scoffed, the wait staff, close by, rushing over to wipe away the mess.
Now as they settled, and their eager to please waiter set off toward the kitchen with their order, Kristine finally took in Daniel for the first time, sipping her wine as she did.
Besides the pit stains from afar he had looked put together, but now as she sat only a few feet away from him she saw this was not the case.
What looked to be slicked back hair was instead natural grease and oil covered in tiny specks of dandruff which were sprinkled like a light dust of snow upon his shoulders. His oversized wrinkled button up, covered his scrawny weak frame Kristine could snap in half at any moment. His dress pants, though nice, were 2 inches to short for him leaving his blue socks to stick out like sore thumbs, and the more she took him in, the more Daniel seemed to notice. The sweat pouring down his face increased as he rubbed his hands together trying to find words. Daniel was exactly as his profile depicted, an unhygienic nerd just waiting to find love with the right girl; the whole reason why Kristine had swiped right in the first place. She, out of his league, knew he wouldn't pass up a dinner date with a girl like her. He would never get the opportunity again.
"Do you always look like this?" Kristine motioned toward Daniel.
"Excuse me?" He asked slipping back into his seat with one hand running over his hair.
"You know, greasy," she gave him a side look taking another sip of her wine. This was her favorite part watching them struggle for words, the embarrassment sinking in. Daniel blinked, scanning the room for nonexistent help.
"I.... just came from work... and didn't have time to get ready." A blatant lie, Kristine nodded. They all said the same thing when she asked the same question to the men she had meet on Chemistry.
"Now tell me, David," she loved calling them by the wrong names, "are you a virgin?"
"Oh, it's Daniel," he took a gulp of water prolonging the answer to the question.
"Such a boyish name don't you think? Maybe that's why no one has slept with you."
"Our food is here!" Daniel practically jumped at the waiter happy for the interference. The smell of cassoulet filled Kristine's nostrils and she smiled in delight and so did her stomach.
Neither talked while they ate. Kristine was ready to order dessert, but Daniel had flagged the waiter down for the check before she could ask for a menu. She sipped the last of her wine has Daniel signed the bill. He shook his head surprised by the dollar amount found at the bottom, but tried to play it cool. This dinner most likely cost him a week's worth of pay, chump change to someone like Marcus. Sad.
"I'm going to need you to give me a ride home," Kristine stated grabbing her jacket off the back of the chair. She didn't want to walk to the subway then 15 blocks home after such a lovely meal. Her full stomach wouldn't stand of it.
"Um, okay. Where do you live?" From the slump in his shoulders Daniel did not seem thrilled to be spending more time with her. Unlike most women, Kristine was not upset by this. It was the perfect way to end the night. They, no longer enticed to see her after paying for her free dinner, while she could go about swiping right while Marcus was away. It was truly a win win.
"Over by the river," Kristine turned to leave not giving Daniel a chance to retort his agreeance. Most men, like him, lived across town meaning he would now have to drive at least an hour home once dropping her off. Kristine wished she possessed the power of invisibility during those lonely 60 minutes in the car ride home to see how her judgement throughout the night showed them what losers they were. Such losers.
Kristine regretted her decision to have Daniel give her a ride home the moment she spotted the car. She was expecting to find an old beat up rusty car which she most often did after these dinners, but the inside of the car was something else. The back seat and passenger floor were covered in layers of paper and trash. Nasty.
Kristine was debating whether to call an Uber, but that would defeat the purpose of dinner. She wasn't supposed to pay for anything. So, once Daniel had cleared a space big enough for her to sit, she took the opportunity.
"Sorry about that," Daniel slid in next to her.
Another opportunity for a jab, "Are these all the women who have rejected you?" Kristine threw a piece of paper to the back not even taking a look to see what nonsense was written on it. She didn't wait for his answer before she turned the radio to her favorite station twisting the volume to high. "Just drop me off at the docks and I can find my way home from there."
Kristine closed her eyes taking in the music. She felt the rumble of the car as Daniel pulled away leaving behind the lights, warmth, and food of the city Kristine became so costumed to.
Kristine opened her eyes at the sound of the ignition switching off, but to her surprise she did not see the docks.
"This isn't the docks," Kristine angrily voiced peering at the endless warehouses scattered for blocks in every which direction. Daniel didn't seem to be paying attention though. Instead, he fumbled through a bag she had not noticed before.
"I had to make a quick stop. This will only be a few minutes," Daniel stated seeming to be more frustrated the longer he searched in his bag.
"Fine, whatever," Kristine leaned back folding her arms. She gazed at the metal buildings with Daniel's incessant rustling irritating her more and more.
"Hey Kristine," Daniel voice seemed tense. As she opened her mouth to ask what was taking so long Daniel's hand clamped tightly across her lips and nose. His other hand slipped behind her head while the wet rag he held smelling of cleaner was shoved forcefully across her face.
Kristine trying to scream only inhaled the the dampness of the cloth. Daniel holding tight watched with a smile on his face as she struggled, but the harder she fought, the dizzier Kristine felt. Her eyes heavy, began to close. She had been wrong, his scrawny arms were stronger than Kristine imagined. Damn, she should've gotten dessert.
This is the first short story I've written on the blog where I had to start over. Usually I spend only 15 minutes thinking of an idea and go from there. The original idea I plotted focused on an entirely different subject. I'd even written the first page or so. But it didn't feel right and uninspired. So, I deleted everything I wrote and started from scratch.
After a few minutes I was excited to write this short story Swipe Right, knowing this concept was better than the first. I'm happy I listened to my gut and went with my second choice.
Have you ever written a story and deleted most if not all of it? If so, tell me in the comment below!
If you liked this short story, check out my other Random Generator Short Stories.