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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Retail Therapy (501 words)

“It’s not my fault—There was a sale.”  

Charles looked around the room at the dozen, maybe two dozen, bags that surrounded Georgia. “Oh my,” he muttered softly, carefully picking his way over to his arm chair, sitting down carefully. “Oh, Georgia, what did you do?”  

“I only went in for one thing,” She insisted, making a faster path around the bags than he had, coming to sit on his lap, “But it was a sale. A summer sale. The biggest sale the store had ever had. What was I supposed to do, say no?”  

Charles knew there was no point in trying to explain to Georgia that he would have expected her to say no. She’d never been the type of person to pass up something shiny and new, nor the type of person to pass up a bargain—so put the two together and she would have been utterly helpless. He’d known all this about her when he’d agreed to marry her, and he guessed he had to pay the piper at some point. Or—he supposed—pay the credit card bill to be more specific.  

“How much did you spend?” He asked warily, reaching up to wrap one of her curls around his finger. No point in delaying it. Might as well find out the damage now.  

Georgia at least had the decency to look a little ashamed as she said it. “Four hundred thirty-six dollars and ninety-one cents.” Charles flinched at the number, so Georgia rushed to add, “But I saved six hundred and seventeen dollars. That’s one thousand and fifty-three dollars worth of stuff all for less than five hundred.  It’s a deal.” Georgia said it with such hope. All she wanted was confirmation that she hadn’t messed up too badly, that Charles still loved her in spite of this, that he wasn’t mad.  

Charles sighed again, trying not to think about how many times he would sigh before this was all said and done. He did still love her, of course, he still loved her, and in the grand scheme of things, he couldn’t even be mad.  This was what she did. And if he loved her he had to love her for the full package, not just the parts he liked best.  

“It is a deal,” he conceded, and before he could stop himself he added, “I probably wouldn’t have gotten all this stuff—but you cannot deny that it was a deal.” Georgia frowned up at him adorably, so he wrapped his arms a little tighter around him. “Oh don’t. It’s okay. I know you can’t pass up a good sale. It will all work out in the end.”  

“I just—It was a sale.”  

“I know, babe, I know.” Charles dropped a kiss on her forehead. “And you just can’t pass up a good sale.”  

She curled in a little tighter, and he pulled her in to snuggle closer. “I absolutely cannot pass up a good sale.”  

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project– Caring for her Father (518 words)

She almost didn’t answer the call. Jean knew the number by now, even though she had never saved it into her phone. She looked down at the number and for a moment, just a moment, thought that she just didn’t want to know. She didn’t want that added stress in this moment. She could wait, and find out what was wrong later.  

But just as fast as the thought came into her mind, it vanished.  She swiped the green button and pulled it up to her ear. “What’s the news now?”  

“Not good, Miss Strune,” Her Dad’s nurse replied, calling from the phone in his hospital room. Jean was always impressed how she managed to sounds just cheery enough to be reassuring, but professional enough to not give bad news in an annoyingly perky way like some of their previous nurses had been. Jean liked this nurse an awful lot. Maybe that was the reason that she really had answered the phone. “We’re having some pretty serious memory problems today. I’m sure that Mr. Strune would absolutely love a visit from you today to help him fill in some of the blanks if you have any time.”  

“Right,” Jean said slowly, “Well, tell him that I love him and that I’ll try to be by this afternoon.  Remind him that he really hated the place that Mom was staying before—that might help placate him for a little while until I can show up and be a bit more helpful.”  

“Thanks a lot, Miss Strune.  Sorry that I could have better news for you this morning.”  

“That’s alright, Jasmine. I know it’s not your fault.  I’ll see you this afternoon.” Jean waited for the click that meant she’d hung up. She never hung up first just in case there was something else that the nurse needed to tell her before the conversation ended.  Luckily, there was no more today.  

Jean chuckled to herself darkly. Luckily all she had to deal with today was the continuing degrading of her father’s mental state, to the point where he was slowly forgetting the years of his life further and further back.  

Jean looked at the work laid about before her. She had such lofty plans for what she could get done with her free time today. She should have known better than to try to have an all work day. It was like her dad could sense when she had a lot to do and saved his most spectacular breakdowns for those days.  

Jean took a deep breath and tried to bring her temper back down. She could be mad that all this shit was happening to her dad, no one would blame her for that. But getting mad at him, especially for things that weren’t actually his fault—that wasn’t going to help anyone at all.  

She was going to take a deep breath, spend some time properly enjoying her breakfast and keeping her mind in check, and then she would head over to the nursing home and try to figure out which ways she could help her dad today.  

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Not Really Wrong (532 words)

“We’re going to get caught, aren’t we?” Nilo whispered to her, staring up at the sky.  He felt more than saw Saryn turn and stare at him with all her usual attitude.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, it can’t be this good for long, right? Someone is going to catch us, or one of us is going to do something to severely piss the other off or some other grand hell is about to descend on our heads because we’re trying to get away with this?” Nilo continued to speak up to the empty air rather than turning to face Saryn.

“Really? Is that what you think is going to happen?” Saryn asked, reaching across Nilo and forcing him to turn and look her in the face. “Are you that worried?”

“Well, two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.  And, to be honest, I would rather our secret come out than one of us dying. As a general rule.” Nilo answered, turning into the roll so that she and Saryn were nose to nose.

“Well, yes, I’d like that too—as a general rule—but I don’t think it has to come to that. We are very careful. No one is going to find out unless we want them to. And that will be long enough after my husband’s funeral that people will actually believe us when we say that we didn’t start this until after he was gone.”

“Do we really care if people believe us, though?” Nilo countered, “If we just tell them outright that we are together, people can whisper all they want, we know the truth, we know we haven’t done anything wrong. Isn’t that good enough?”

Saryn smiled at him, which he felt more than saw. “I wish it was enough. I do. But, I don’t want people to even talk amongst themselves about Darel being cheated on or cuckolded or anything like that. That would be disrespectful to his memory, and to the memory of him in a lot of people’s minds.”

Nilo sighed and rolled flat on his back. He knew that Saryn still loved Darel even though he was gone. He knew that she would love him for as long as she was still alive. Hell, Nilo still loved Darel, he had been a good friend before he’d gotten sick. But a small part of him—the part that was deciding to rear its ugly head today—was extremely jealous that he’d always have to share Saryn’s heart with him.

“I’m sorry, I know,” Saryn propped herself up on an arm so she could look down into Nilo’s face. “This whole situation is a mess, and I’m not making it any easier or cleaner.  But—I don’t think there is a clean or easy way to do it. I just have to follow my gut.”

Nilo smiled again in spite of himself. She did love him. He knew that. It wasn’t fair to take out any frustration on her for things that neither of them could change. “No need to be sorry.  We’ll figure this out.”

“Yeah,” Saryn rested her head on Nilo’s chest, “We’ll figure this out.”

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Losses (530 words)

Edith sat on the edge of her bed. She was waiting for something that was never going to happen. There was no one coming home to her. Her father was gone. Her husband was gone. Her son was gone. Literally, everything that this war could take from her short of her own life–it had. She sat alone at the edge of her bed, watching her door as if one of them might come walking in any way.  And with each second that passed with no one there, her heart grew a little heavier.

She allowed herself exactly ten minutes that morning to sit there in blind grief, silent and afraid. Then she had to stand up and face the world again. She’d been sitting in silence and fear without noticing time passing since she was first brought her the news. She’d stay here forever if she didn’t press forward today. Those soldiers, her men, didn’t go off to fight for her to fall apart. They didn’t go out and die so that she could spend the rest of her time moping and wishing that they hadn’t gone to fight for her country and everything they believed was right and good.  She pulled herself to her feet, tied up her hair, and headed out into the living room.

Her neighbors looked up in surprise at her reappearing. “Edie, are you okay?” Her friend Marie asked, before wincing, “I mean, of course, you aren’t okay, but I mean–” Marie shook her head again and tried to offer Edith a sad smile. “What I’m trying to say is that we understand if you just want to have a quiet day today.”

“I don’t think that sitting alone in my room dwelling on my sadness is going to be much help to anyone,” Edith answered with a perk in her voice—it sounded terrible even to her own ears, but she wasn’t sure what else she might sound like if she tried. “Please, Marie, give me something to do. Don’t make sit in there alone.”  This desperate tone was no better at all—she almost preferred the overly cheery tone.  But it seemed to be exactly what Marie needed to hear from her.

“Of course, of course. Do you want to work on something small or something big today?” Marie asked gesturing to the other women in the room.

“Big, I think,” Edith answered quickly, so she wouldn’t have time to analyze the tone that her voice was taking now.

“Okay then. Talk to Eleanor,” Marie gestured to the oldest woman in the room, sitting near the fireplace, “She’ll give you something big, and keep you as busy as you want to be.” She reached out and took Edith’s hand, pulling her in closer so that Marie’s next words could only be heard by Edith. “But as soon as you need an out, go. No one here will fault you for leaving work undone for a while, okay? Don’t feel pressured to get it done.”

Edith nodded slightly at Marie. “Thank you. But—I need this.”

Marie nodded as well, and let go of Edith’s hand. “Go see Eleanor, She’ll get you set up.”

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Unpopular Opinion

Laurel always thought of her workers as her cattle.

She wasn’t mean to them or mistreated them–no far from it, she took care of those employees with only kindness and gentleness. After all, her momma always told her that a stressed cow provided sour milk. Now, Laurel didn’t know enough about farm life to know if that was actually true at all, but she understood the message. Her employees were her cows, and sour milk would not make her any kind of money. So—it only made sense to keep them happy.

But even as she didn’t feel guilty for this thought–she realized that it was not something that she absolutely could not tell anyone about.  All it would take would be for one person to hear her express that opinion, or someone repeating her, to make for an absolute Human Resources and Public Relations nightmare. No matter how nicely she treated her employees–someone hearing that she thinks of them as cattle, and no one would believe that her employees were well treated–but instead that they all had some sort of Stockholm syndrome.

She comforted herself with the knowledge that even if it got out, the people who would be insulting her had no idea how to run a company or what was required to get a successful business off the ground in today’s economy. If you treated every employee like they were your best friend or your big sister–then every company would nose dive so far into the ground that the whole economy would be ruined.

That’s what Laurel believed, anyway. And her company was flourishing…so she was clearly doing something right.  If that meant thinking about employees as cattle, she was gladly going to keep doing that—until everything started to go downhill, then she would revisit her theory.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Morning Routine (582 words)

I was so tired. I didn’t want to get up at all. But all I could see with my eyes closed was the list of things that had to get done today. So begrudgingly I opened my eyes and pulled myself up into a sitting position.

“Morning, sleepy head.” I turned and saw my husband sitting up against his pillows, playing with his phone.  Today was his day off, he could stay in bed as long as he wanted today—and when he did get out of bed, it would just be to move to the couch to play Xbox until it was time for him to make dinner because his only responsibility was to make our dinner tonight. And I kind of hated him a little bit for that. I told him as much.

“Aw, you’re my little go-getter. You’ll be perfectly fine today.” He smiled and blew me a kiss.

“I’m exhausted,” I countered, crossing to the outfit hanging on our closet door. “I’m fatigued. I’m burned out. I’m run down. Do you get it or do I need to keep going?”

“I’m thinking you might not have slept well.” He answered, putting down his phone, watching me start to get dressed. “Are you going to be okay driving?”

“Yes, I slept well enough that I’m not a danger to society.”

“Okay, just checking.” He crossed the room and wrapped his arms around me, preventing me from finishing the whole dressing process. “I don’t want you to run into a pole on the way to work.  That would absolutely ruin my day off.”

“Well, glad you’re so concerned.” I groaned. I half-heartedly tried to get away from him, before sighing and leaning against him. “I don’t want to go to work.”

“I know,” he answered softly, kissing me gently on the head, “But someone has to go make the big bucks, and that’s not me. This is what you get for getting that fancy college degree and working at the fancy desk job, and then marrying a lowly security guard.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I griped.

“But I cook for you. And I am quite the impressive chef. So—that counts for something?” He added hopefully.

“Yes, yes, that counts for a lot,” I had to ease his worry before he spent the whole day wondering if he really wasn’t good enough for me. “But right now, you have to let me go because if I fall asleep against your chest there will be no waking me up for work again.”

He made a ‘Mmm’ sound that I felt through his chest, while he considered making me fall back asleep, convincing me to call out of work sick and enjoy a day home together. But he knew that in the long run, I would feel guilty that I didn’t go in and work on all my projects, and if later down the road I needed that sick day and didn’t have it, I would irrationally blame him for it. So, he just kissed me on the head and let his hands fall to his sides.

“Tacos for dinner?” He asked, stepping away long enough for me to finish getting dressed.

“Sounds lovely.” I let him kiss me again, without holding me. If he held me again, we’d just be stuck in a cycle of embracing and letting go and embracing again, and I’d end up late for work.

“Stay safe out there,” he told me, crawling back into bed again.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–The Tips are Great (505 words)

The Ninth Circle Club opened at eight, but no one of any consequence arrived before eleven. The women always came in dressed to the nines, wearing heels that made Cecily’s ankles hurt just looking at them. But she greeted them all with a smile, and they were all kind to her. After all, Tammy was quick to toss any woman out on her ass if they weren’t good to Tammy’s employees. No one was going to risk not being able to attend the Ninth Circle Events just for the fun of picking on “the help.”

Around eleven, when the best of the best were starting to show up, Cecily knew the real work began.  Food orders and drink orders and making sure the band had everything they needed and keeping everyone happy as the night dwindled on. It wasn’t until Tammy decided it was time to close and the lights started to come up that Cecily had a second to have an original thought to herself.

That was when Cecily started to notice who exactly showed up on any given night. The women filed out past her, all looking tired but happy with their nights, some now carrying their heels in in their hands, other’s still walking along like their heels were as comfortable as bare feet. Cecily watched in awe with the woman with the still perfect hair after several hours of dancing, or the ones she knew had slipped away to the bathroom not alone, but still had perfectly aligned makeup. She dreamed of one day being the kind of woman who could pull off being a part of the Ninth Circle Club–but it was a fantasy. A waitress here was the closest she would ever get, and Cecily was grateful for every last moment of it.

Then, the doors would shut. Tammy would fall into a chair with a dramatic sigh and insist that Cecily and the other four girls who worked throughout the club sat down and relaxed too. Only after everyone had at least three solid minutes of sitting quietly, then they would all get back up and start the cleaning up process of the night.

And as everything was totaled up, cleaned, and restocked for the night, Tammy came around to each of them to ask how their night went, to make sure there wasn’t anyone who needed to be “spoken to” by the owner and to make sure there was nothing that Tammy could change the policy on to make their lives easier. And Cecily always felt she could be honest to Tammy. It wasn’t the stilted “everything is great” that Cecily would have given to other bosses, but an honest opinion on the night or any troubles that Cecily might have noticed.

And at the end of the night, they all got their cuts of the cover, and said goodnight, seeing each other at seven the next night that the club opened–because doors opened at eight, but no one of consequence showed up until at least eleven.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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