PROMPT/CHALLENGE SUMMARY: This week's flash fiction is a quickie from a random prompt generator. There are about a billion of them out there on the web, but I like this one best. It gives me a little of guidance without being too specific, which makes for nice stretching exercises. This time the prompt generated was to write 350-500 words of description related to the word "unprofessional". That sounds simple enough, but it was a bit of a challenge to write just description. I kept wanting to break it up with dialogue or at least internal monologue or something.
(Source: The Almost Totally Random Writing Exercise Generator, Tell Me a Story version)
She breezed in at 9:15 for her 9:00 shift, scarf unwound and dragging in the salted snow like a fuzzy knitted tail. Slurping a caramel mocha and yapping on her cell, her heel caught the doormat and she stumbled into the front desk.
She wiped her chin and mumbled an offhand apology through her sleeve. As she passed the copier, she tossed her Styrofoam cup into the bin, not noticing--not caring--that coffee splashed up onto the wall. She also didn't give any thought to the triangle of arrows indicating the bin was for paper, not trash.
Her scarf left a muddy streak on the tile, a slime trail marking her path from the door to her cubicle. She shrugged out of her coat and tossed both onto the soft partition between her desk and her neighbor's. The other side of that wall was blank, photographs and children's art projects long since relocated for their own protection.
She wrapped up her call at that point and plugged the cell into a charger she'd set up next to her keyboard, positioned so wouldn't miss a text message or Facebook notification while she worked.
Her office phone rang the instant she flopped into her chair, the wonky beep signaling an internal call. A moment later, with an eye roll so huge it gave everyone a headache, she wound back through the cubicle maze toward human resources.
Fifteen minutes later she returned. The breezy saunter lost, her heels snapped out angry clacks instead. She went to the copier again, this time to dump the open case of paper out onto the supply table. One pack of paper fell and she kicked it. The errant ream spun across the tile until it bumped into the dusty fichus in the corner.
The branch manager waited by her desk. He didn't offer to help or offer consolation. He simply supervised as she slammed her various personal items--a cell charger, a mug warmer, two framed pictures--into the paper box.
He reached in once, removing the heavy black stapler she'd attempted to hide between the three half-empty bags of candy from the bottom drawer.
After another ten minutes she began her walk of shame, clutching the now full box to her chest like a shield. She glared straight ahead, but a wavery smudginess had seeped into her eyeliner, hinting at tears.
The manager skirted around to open the door for her, mumbling something vaguely patronizing as he did. She stomped on his foot in response, grinding her heel down hard enough to dent the leather. His next goodbye was louder, and less patronizing.
A few minutes later a lackey from IT arrived to take her computer. The limping branch manager pulled the white rectangle bearing her name from its slot by her former desk and dumped it into the recycling bin, where it soaked up the cold coffee.
By 10:00, the show was over and everyone had been ordered back to work.