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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 393 (December 21-27) Stories Topic: Christmas Tree

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message 1: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4216 comments You have until the 27th of December to post a story and from the 28th to around the 1st of January, we’ll vote for which one we thought was best!

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group. Only one submission per person is allowed.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Christmas Tree

Thanks goes to Garrison for suggesting the topic!

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Most of all have fun!

message 2: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Just in time for the holidays! Thanks, CJ! My story this week will be called "Defamation" and it goes like this:


1. Dan Stone, Underground Radio Pundit
2. Jackie Thomas, Cop

PROMPT CONFORMITY: The studio Dan is broadcasting from is covered in darkness and is only lit by a Christmas tree, his computer screens, and his radio equipment.

SYNOPSIS: Dan’s inflammatory remarks against various politicians and corporate businessmen have earned him several lawsuits for defamation, but as long as he and his radio station remain hidden, he doesn’t have to show up in court or pay his fees. He keeps his low profile by wearing a trench coat and hat out in public and using a distortion box on the radio frequencies. One night while he’s spewing venom on his broadcast, Officer Jackie Thomas stumbles upon his hideout and threatens to arrest him. Dan has never resorted to murder in order to maintain his anonymity, but he just might have to for this one police officer.

message 3: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Defamation
GENRE: Political Fiction
RATING: PG-13 for violence, swearing, and politics

“You want it? You got it. This is the Dan Stone Show. Welcome to the machine!” said a demonically distorted voice over the underground radio waves. The heavenly contrast of Gregorian chants echoed throughout the dark studio while Dan Stone bathed in the minimal light of his Christmas tree and computer screens. Even when being surrounded by nyctomantic pleasures with nobody else in the room, Dan always wore his trench coat, fedora, and skeletal mask.

“Good evening, revolutionaries,” said Dan into the microphone, his voice still distorted with devilish effects. “As many of you have seen in the mainstream media, I’ve made a lot of enemies. These enemies can be anybody from the sexual predators at Cluster Fox to the idiot politicians with Umpa-Loompa skin to the whiny CEO’s who’d still be mad if they won the lottery, you know, because they wanted one million one dollars instead of just a million.”

Dan cleared his throat in an ogre-like tone and said, “I obviously take great pride in my work of pissing off the spoiled brats of America. The ones who have five hundred summer homes and two hundred winter homes. The ones who pay next to nothing in taxes and still need more money. The ones who disenfranchise the poor in this country and wonder why those same working-class people can’t reach the top.”

The radio host clicked his tongue several times before continuing with, “I’ve said some venomous shit over the many years this show has been on the air. Shit that made my targets want to sue me for everything I’m worth. The same well-to-do motherfuckers who tell young people to toughen up and stop being snowflakes, they’re the ones who can’t take criticism and because of that, they want to see Dan Stone in the defendant’s chair.

“There’s just one problem with that: Dan Stone doesn’t exist. You can’t sue somebody if you don’t know who the fuck they really are. Dan Stone is an alias. This radio station is so far off the map that no GPS can find it. I get my mail at…actually, it’s none of your fucking business where I get my mail. All you need to know is that these politicians, these corporate welfare kings, these officials in suits, they all want a heavy chunk of my bank account

“It is Christmas after all. They do deserve something for the holidays. But my true identity isn’t one of them, let alone any form of payment for their lost tears. For all of you overpowered suits out there who can’t stop smearing your tan job with your tears, I’ve got two presents for you. One of them is a middle finger big enough to see from space. The other present is something you desperately need: facts. Cold hard facts that can’t be disputed by even your craftiest lawyers.

“You see, you’ve gone after me all these years looking for yet another corporate handout, yet there are still many more radio show hosts out there who go untouched. Hosts who are even more offensive than me. Rush Limbaugh says offensive shit on a day-to-day basis. Yet you go after me! Howard Stern accused Roger Waters of bigotry even though Mr. Stern constantly tells his female guests to take their tops off. Yet you go after me! Tim Allen calls college students snowflakes and then bursts into tears at the sight of a burning flag. Yet you go after me! You know what I think? I think this is a conspiracy.”

“No, Mr. Stone,” said a feminine voice, which was followed by a gun clicking. “It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a crime. Jackie Thomas, PCPD. Put your hands where I can see them. You’re in so much shit it’s almost unbelievable.”

Dan raised his gloved hands in the air and slowly rose to his feet. Even in the dim lighting of the Christmas tree, he could make out Detective Thomas’s features: Marlboro lines in her face, blond hair in a ponytail, and a pants suit worthy of a certain former democratic presidential candidate.

“Are you seriously the only one here, Miss Thomas?” asked Dan. “Shit, I’ve always envisioned my arrest coming at the hands of a SWAT Team or something like that. I guess defamation suits don’t really warrant that many armed cops. Or maybe there’s another reason you’re all alone. You want to be the only one who can claim you’ve shut down Dan Stone’s radio show. You want the fame and fortune that you couldn’t get by a hosting a show of your own, or doing something else that’s actually commendable and creative.”

Jackie fired a warning shot and barely missed Dan’s ear. She said, “You’d better watch that silver tongue of yours, Mr. Stone. Insulting an officer is seen by the law, for better or worse, as being just as bad as taking a swing at one. You really don’t need more charges on your record.”

“Yeah, I get you,” mocked Dan. “But before you take me to the courthouse to face my accusers, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for proving my point about how fucked up our defamation laws are. Thank you for proving that conservatives are just as worthy of a milk bottle and diaper change as the so-called snowflakes they target. I guess you’re going to have to pile on more charges, Miss Thomas.”

“I guess that’s the case indeed,” said Jackie. “Turn around and place your hands behind your head with your fingers interlaced.”

As the detective was ready to make her arrest and Dan turned around to comply, the radio show host pulled an electrical cord with his foot and the Christmas tree came crashing down upon the detective. The bulbs broke over Jackie’s face and the studio drowned in complete darkness. Dan hid underneath his desk while Jackie kicked, struggled, and swore trying to get the giant tree off of her. Once she was free, a beam from her club-like flashlight illuminated a minimal amount of the room.

“Alright, smart ass!” she belted, little streams of blood dripping from her already nasty face. “I was actually planning on letting you live tonight. Well, you don’t have to worry about being sued any longer. You can’t sue a man named Dan Stone…if he’s fucking dead! No where are you, you little shit?!”

Dan desperately felt around for anything he could use as a weapon. His hands worked faster as Jackie’s booted footsteps grew louder, crunching on fallen Christmas bulbs and kicking pieces of tree out of the way. Dan’s search involved him quickly unscrewing something from his computer with the bolt digging deeply into his fingers despite the gloves he wore. The bolt came loose, but a singular drop of finger blood splashed on the floor, the tiny sound effect giving away his biggest secret.

“Ah-ha!” Jackie yelled with the gun pointed in Dan’s face. “That better be you or else I’m shooting up this whole fucking studio!”

Dan had one chance to get away and he took his leap of faith by throwing his unscrewed computer part at Jackie: acid from the storage battery. Jackie gripped her melting face and screamed loudly enough that she could have broken more bulbs, boots or not. Out of instinct, she fired random shots in the dark while Dan ducked down low and ran across the studio. And then the liberal firebrand dropped to the floor after a final shot in the dark, clutching his throat and wheezing desperately.

Jackie’s screams of pain turned to grunts of rage as she stomped over to the source of the hacking and coughing. She shined her light all around the studio thinking it was here or there. She belted, “You’re one dead son of a bitch, Danny-Boy! One less tree hugging hippie! We don’t need smart-asses like you talking shit about our finest citizens! They earned their billion dollar salaries by working their fingers to the bone! That’s how this country works, Dan: the harder you work, the more money you make! It’s common fucking sense! Being a loudmouth radio show host isn’t hard work! It’s bitching at its worst! And now matter how much you cry or whine, nobody’s going to bring the system down!”

Jackie’s flashlight beam shone upon Dan’s booted foot and slowly made it’s way up his body. Dan could feel the light burning a hole in him like a demonic stare. His goose was cooked and cooking couldn’t happen without some degree of deadly heat. All of the hard work (that Jackie easily dismissed) and all of the sacrifices (which she also dismissed), they were all for nothing. Then again, clutching his throat and feigning a gunshot wound was also considered laziness since he was technically laying on the floor doing nothing.

“What the fuck?” snapped Jackie, just then wishing her flashlight had shone on Dan’s other foot. That other foot was the one that jerked the cord on the Christmas tree some more, tripping the cop and landing her on the back of the neck. Her gun danced across the ground and seemed miles away. She reached for it, but instead got a boot sole clamping down on her hand and her flashlight taken away. Dan ground his boot into Jackie’s hand some more until her screams and her bones crunching created the perfect symphony to his ears.

The radio host shone the light underneath his masked face as though he was telling a campfire ghost story. “Truth is, you crazy bitch, this isn’t the first time one of you copper-toppers came after me. You may think you’re dealing with an amateur, but I’ve been in this business since I was old enough to have my first beer. I’ve had to change studios a few times. I’ve had to buy new computer equipment. But the message has been the same. It’s the same message I’ll take with me when I move to yet another dark studio.”

Dan pulled off his fedora and mask to reveal that his face had been surgically replaced with metal parts, much to the wide-eyed horror of Jackie, who was still huffing and puffing in pain. “I got my ass kicked by the cops once. That’s why I needed this surgery. But I got sued anyways because I somehow caused those cops a great deal of undue stress. You know how much those fuckers in blue wanted? Ten million dollars. Ten fucking million! But as you know by now, Dan Stone doesn’t give away ten million dollar handouts to crybaby conservatives. Why? Because Dan Stone doesn’t exist. Welcome to the machine, bitch!”

The final part of his broadcast featured him beating Jackie over the head with the flashlight several times until her skull exploded into a sea of brains and blood. He didn’t have to work hard at killing her since her face was already softened from the battery acid. In fact, he had an unfair advantage this whole time. “So this is what it feels like to taste the silver spoon,” Dan said to himself before he wiped two fingers across Jackie’s bloodied head and sucked them down. “Peace sells, but who’s buying it?”

message 4: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (sclough1836gmailcom) | 49 comments Batty and Puppet vs the Christmas Tree
by Samantha Clough
word count: 362

Batty and Puppet vs the Christmas Tree

I can tell you a fair deal about Christmas stories. I can tell you, about the time we had a real tree. And how my mom couldn’t wait to get it out of the house, because the needles wound up everywhere. Or I can tell you about our current tree, and how our crazy cats keep trying to climb it. So, first let me introduce you: Crazy cat number 1 is a small black female, we call, Batty.
Crazy cat number 2 is a white with a brown spotted male named Puppet, who sheds an endless supply of fur. For the most part, they’re the nicest pair of kitties you could ever want, but certain things can set them off. Like setting up a Christmas tree. I wasn’t there when my family set it up. (I had to work that day.)
But my mom was very descriptive, in how the cats played tug of war with the tinsel. And then, they decided to play keep away with the ball ornaments! But the worst was yet to come. Shortly after the tree had finally been set up, and looking like a traditional Christmas tree. (Instead of a glorified scratching post.)
The kitties had fallen asleep and everyone followed suit. When I went to the kitchen for breakfast, I spotted two furry ornaments in the tree.
“You two are so dead if mom catches you.” Batty had the good sense to head for the hall, but Puppet need convincing, so I grabbed the squirt bottle.
“If you don’t get out of that tree. I’m going to turn you into soup!” I squirted him for good measure. But this just made him blink at me. I would have done it again, but I heard mom’s door open. So, I gently plucked my cat from the tree. He started nuzzling me and purred in content. I patted him for a few minutes, and Batty came back with mom following her.
“Was he in the tree?”
“Yes, and so was Batty.” Mom just shook her head and went into the kitchen. This Christmas proved to be full of kitty love!

message 5: by Edward (last edited Dec 27, 2017 08:27PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : Hair Scare (Helen Singer, Chapter One Part 1)
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 2757
Rating : PG13

Up until my family decided to move to the small village of Graves Hollow, I’d had extraordinarily long hair. I don’t just mean pretty long, I’m talking if I sat down I had to sweep it out of the way to avoid sitting on it.

I’d been a reasonably well behaved daughter for my mum and dad up until that point, interested in school and obsessed with books, but as soon as they announced that, at the tender age of seventeen, they were going to uproot me from all my friends and move me to a little village in the middle of nowhere, I decided it was time for a change.

A change that could also act as a sort of punishment for my parents.

Taking a pair of kitchen scissors with me into the bathroom, I’d decided to go crazy and chop off my proud mane in a scene reminiscent of the movie Empire Records, except with me as the star instead of that chick who used to be in The Mentalist.

But that wasn’t where I stopped. No, far from it. I’d also purchased enough mascara and eyeliner to sink a battleship, and two bottles of hair dye to finish the job.

The hair dyes were jet black and an azure shade of blue. Quite the contrast to my natural strawberry blonde, a hair colour that had proven over the years to be both a blessing and a curse.

Okay, so I’m a natural ginger. It’s allowed if you’re a girl. Both the girls that played Victoria in the Twilight movies were ginger, and they were both awesomely pretty.

Anyway, once I’d finished creating my new look, I was barely recognisable. My once chestnut red hair was now a deep dark black with a solid streak of blue, and my eyes were now so hollow thanks to my makeup that I looked like I’d been hooked on some sort of dependant drug since I was conceived.

It goes without saying that my parents were not pleased with my makeover.

“What were you thinking?” my mum said when she got home from the police station where she worked, “You know we’re starting new jobs in a new town, and you go and make yourself up to look like Alice Cooper?”

I know what you’re expecting – I’m seventeen years old, so I won’t know who Alice Cooper is. That’s what always happens in scenarios like this; an adult references someone from days gone by, and the kids ignorantly says, “Who?” Well, I know who Alice Cooper is; I’ve seen Wayne’s World. And he was Freddie Kruger’s dad in those Elm Street movies.

“Well, I had to do something to let you know how I feel about us moving,” I told her. It’s funny; adults rarely hear kids, but they always see them. That’s probably why that saying about children being seen and not heard came about. My mum had seen my new look, and now she wanted to start a conversation. Like I hadn’t tried to do just this when dad got offered that library job four months ago.

“There’s nothing we can do about this now, Helen,” my mum told me, “your dad has been offered a lot of money to take this librarian job – the kind of money you cannot say no to - and I’ve already accepted a job with the local police, so I’m afraid the decision is permanent.”

“Well, so is my hair!” I yelled childishly and stormed off to my room.

I threw myself onto my bed, furious with my parents. How dare they treat me this way, like a child, when everything they did would affect the rest of my life? They didn’t seem to realise that moving me to a new sixth form college instead of allowing me to continue in the one at my old secondary school might damage my chances of getting good A Level results. Then I wouldn’t get into the University of my choice and I’d end up doing the kind of course that will never get you a job in real life, like Film Studies, Sociology, or Law.

I looked around my room, my things already grudgingly put into boxes ready for the big move over the weekend. We’d be driving the rental truck from the middle of West London to the outskirts of Essex of all places, to the little suburban village of Graves Hollow where I’d be spending at least the next two years trying to fit in with all the slack-jawed yokels that peopled the place. Well, I didn’t want to fit in; that’s why I cut off my hair and dyed it black and blue, like a follicular bruise. Conformity has been my byword for most of my life, and it’s got me nowhere now that my parents were moving house, so why should I bother anymore to even try to conform?

It was a little after six on a Friday evening, and my dad was due home from work, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t exactly hungry, even though it was almost time for dinner, and I knew that he’d have the same reaction as mum when he saw my new hair and makeup.

But I just didn’t care. So I just lay there, on my bed, waiting for the shouting to start…

I don’t remember falling asleep, but I must have because when I looked at the time it was just after nine. I sat up on my bed and saw a plate sitting near my bedroom door, piled high with food. I picked up the fork that lay next to it and took a bite; it was cold, but it was pasta so that was okay. It still tasted good.

After a few mouthfuls I opened my bedroom door and crept down the stairs. My mum and dad were still in the living room, watching some documentary on the television, probably about arguing neighbours or drunk drivers, which seemed to be tied for first place amongst their favourites. They looked around when they saw me walk into the room, my mum almost instinctively folding her arms in disapproval; I can only imagine my eye makeup had streaked more while I’d been asleep, so the earlier comparison to Alice Cooper was probably by this point a pretty appropriate one.

“So you decided to come down and say hello?” my dad smiled weakly. Clearly he didn’t like my new look either, but he must have gotten a preview while I was sleeping so his reaction wasn’t as explosive as mum’s had been, “Are you feeling any better after arguing with your mum?”

“We weren’t arguing,” I corrected him, “we were... disagreeing.”

“That’s pretty much the same thing,” my brother Ladon piped up from the corner where he was gaming on his handheld device. Sometimes, no, all the time, his comments really didn’t help a situation.

“I can go back to my room, you know,” I said, moving back to the doorway.

“No-no,” my dad said quickly, standing up from his chair, “come on, take a seat. We need to talk to you about… this.”

I reluctantly sat down on the sofa, curling my legs up until my knees touched my chin. A defensive position if ever there was one.

“Now Helen,” my dad said calmly, “we realise that you’re not happy about this move.”

“What gave it away?” I said sarcastically. Ah sarcasm, the fall back choice of the feeble minded teenager. At seventeen I should have been able to come up with better comebacks than that.

“Don’t start, Helen,” my mum said, somehow managing to fold her arms even more tightly. It was like a magic trick the way she manages to tuck them further and further into her armpits. I half expected her to suddenly pull them out, holding a rabbit by its ears in one hand and a startled dove in the other.

“Now,” my dad continued, clearly trying to regain his train of thought, “we know this move is going to be hard for you, but you have to understand that it’s hard for all of us. You’re not the only one affected by this.”

“Yeah,” Ladon agreed without even looking up from his game, “Think about me for a moment, why don’t you.”

I tutted, “It’s not like you have any friends that you’re leaving behind,” I scowled at him.

“Now Helen,” my mum said, starting to look even angrier, “that’s not a very nice thing to say to your brother.”

“Yeah,” Ladon said, again without looking up from his game or seeming to react in any way, “that really hurt. You cut me deep, sis.”

“This wasn’t an easy decision to make,” my mum continued, surprisingly not asking me to apologise to Ladon, “but the money they were offering your father to work in the local library... well, we couldn’t turn it down.”

“You could have,” I disagreed.

“No, we couldn’t have,” my dad said, “we were falling behind on our mortgage repayments as it was. This way we get a house thrown in with the job, and we can sell this house and use the money for you and your brother’s university funds.”

I pursed my lips together. It’s hard to be angry with your parents when they’ve just told you that they’ve uprooted their entire lives just to ensure you get some sort of an academic future. I was more than a little annoyed that I couldn’t actually continue to be angry about this. So I took a different tack.

“Fine!” I said loudly, “But my dying my hair had nothing to do with me being angry about moving.”

“That’s not what you said earlier,” my mum pointed out. She was right, but I couldn’t acknowledge that and still keep the moral high ground.

“You probably weren’t listening properly, as usual,” I ventured, “I like my new look, and I think I’ll keep it for a while.”

“Fine,” my mum said. I could tell she knew that I wasn’t entirely happy with the new look and that I’d never admit it, but I wasn’t about to let her win by thanking her, and she wasn’t about to give me the opportunity to keep dressing like a Goth, “but you aren’t to wear all that make-up when you’re going to class. Understood?”

I glared at my mum. The twinkle in her eye told me that she knew that she was doing me a favour by giving me a get out of jail free card to avoid wearing Emo makeup to school. But I still rolled my eyes.

“Fine,” I agreed, and then I headed back to my room.

“Well, that went well,” I heard my dad whisper to my mum as I headed up the stairs and got myself ready for bed.

The next morning I woke up bright and early at six. That’s six a.m. I’d forgotten there was a six a.m. I vaguely remember there being one when I was eight or nine, but I thought someone had decided to get rid of it, for obvious reasons. My mum had suggested that we leave early to avoid traffic, but we were going to be travelling through the middle of London, so traffic would be heavy no matter what time of day we left. I knew my dad wouldn’t be happy about having to get up early; he did enjoy his sleep, but when mum made a decision it usually meant it was carved in stone. That’s probably why she was such a good police officer.

I’d just finished in the shower, watching the water turning black as some of my hair dye washed out, when I heard my mum’s voice coming from the kitchen. She was speaking to someone, but it wasn’t my dad. I heard another female voice, and smiled as I realised who it was.

My best friend, Carmen, had come to see me off.

Not that I ever called her Carmen. We had silly nicknames for each other, based on our surnames. My nickname was Jazz, because my surname was Singer, and hers was Eva, because her surname was Mendes. We thought it was clever, but generally it just confused other people when we started calling each other by the wrong names.

“Hey Jazz,” Carmen smiled weakly when I walked in on her and my mum, “you all set for the big move?”

“I guess, Eva,” I said flatly, then added, “I’m gonna miss you, though.”

Carmen tried to smile, but I could see her eyes welling up. I wish they hadn’t; I was close to tears myself without having to see her trying not to cry. We’d been best friends since nursery school, and this was the first time we weren’t going to be going to the same school together in almost twelve years. I sniffed in defeat and threw my arms around my best friend’s shoulders.

“We can still visit,” Carmen sobbed over my shoulder, “my mum said I can come and see you at Christmas if that’s okay with your folks.”

That was three months away, but I put on a brave face, “That’ll be awesome,” I said, “mum and dad will be fine with it. You can help us decorate the Christmas tree. And hey, we can build a snowman together.”

“Like it’ll snow!” Carmen chuckled as we released from our hug.


message 6: by Edward (last edited Dec 27, 2017 08:27PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : Hair Scare (Helen Singer, Chapter One Part 2)
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 2757
Rating : PG13


My mum, who had been standing by watching, finally interrupted, “Are you ready to start loading your boxes into the van?” she asked quietly.

I wiped my sleeve across my nose, “I guess,” I said, then turned back to Carmen, “Do you wanna help me with the boxes, Eva?”

“Not really,” Carmen tried to smile, sniffing herself, and we headed up to my room.

“I’m going to miss coming round here,” Carmen noted as she lifted one of my boxes and headed to the stairs, “remember last year when we were practising for Karaoke on your webcam and accidentally uploaded it to YouTube?”

I chuckled. It had taken us ages to figure out how to get the video down, by which time we’d already received a couple of thousand hits. It’s worrying how many people are interested in watching two sixteen year old girls sing badly in their night wear, and I was relieved to be rid of some of the comments!

“What about my thirteenth birthday when you made me play seven minutes in heaven with Troy Michaels?” I groaned.

“I said I was sorry,” Carmen shrugged, stopping at the top of the stairs, “I know he was cute, but how was I to know he was such a bad kisser.”

“He was the worst, Eva,” I shook my head as I lifted another box and followed Carmen to the stairs, “but I’m kind of glad you did it. I’d never have gone for it myself, and at least now I know how terrible he was. Otherwise I’d have probably still liked him to this day.”

“That’s what friends are for,” Carmen giggled, “getting each other into awkward sexual situations when you’re young so that you don’t make awkward sexual mistakes when you’re older.”

“Too true,” I nodded as we both cautiously descended the stairs.

“Speaking of mistakes,” Carmen said, sounding like she hadn’t wanted to bring it up, “what were you thinking with that hair colour?”

I tutted silently to myself. Trust Carmen to mention the emo-phant in the room, “I did it to get my mum and dad’s attention,” I admitted quietly, “it was the only thing I could think of to get them to notice that I’m not happy.”

“It’s kind of extreme, when you compare it to your natural colouring,” Carmen admitted, “but it does kind of suit you.”

“Do you think?” I asked, “I was considering dying it back soon.”

“I’d try it out for a while if I were you,” Carmen advised, “see how people react to it in your new school.”

I chuckled as we walked through the front door, “They’ll probably burn me as a witch, knowing what small minded village folk are like.”

Carmen laughed too, “So long as you don’t coat your face in mascara and black lipstick, you should still look like your gorgeous self.”

Good old Carmen. She really knows how to make me feel better.

Then I remembered that I was moving away, and I wouldn’t have her there to make me feel better any more.

This move was not going to do my ego any good.

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