Here’s my latest short story for Furious Fiction December 2022. I hope you enjoy it. The prompts were:
1. Your story must OPEN with a 12-word sentence.
2. Your story must include the sale of a second-hand item. (For example, at a yard/garage/jumble sale, market, antique shop, online etc – it’s up to you!)
3. Your story must include at least five (5) different words that end in the letters ICE. (e.g. “nICE”.)
The day Jack left me, a river of alcohol obliterated my judgement. In the cold hard light of sobriety, I’d never have put his precious chess set for sale online without telling him. With silver and gold-plated pieces, it came in a mahogany felt-lined box. In my defence, Jack had asked for a divorce, so I was gutted, and my accomplice, vodka, was in my ear about revenge. No, not revenge. Justice.
Three people responded to my ad almost immediately. Obviously, I’d under-priced it at five hundred dollars.
The next morning, the buyer arrived at my sixth-floor art deco city apartment. Brad. A terrifying giant of a man with cropped red hair and dragon tattoos snaking down his arms. He handed over the cash and checked all the pieces before stepping back into the rattly old elevator with a satisfied smirk.
As the lift door closed, the magnitude of my mistake hit me. The previous morning, wallowing in self-pity after Jack had walked out, I’d locked my engagement ring in the chess box’s secret compartment, trapping it with players perpetually at war. The intervening hours and my rapid descent into inebriation had washed away the memory. Until now.
It was too late to save the chess set, but I had to retrieve the ring.
To catch Brad, I’d have to run down the stairs. Six flights. An ugly thought in my hungover state; I wasn’t all that steady on my feet. Still, I had no choice.
I barged into the stairwell. The forty percent proof grog still percolating through my veins screamed at me to slow down. But how could I when my one-carat diamond was racing me to ground level?
By the time I barrelled onto the street, I was feeling worse than seedy. My head pounded like rain on a tin roof. I spotted Brad just ahead.
I called his name, but he didn’t stop.
‘Brad!’ I yelled again.
He pivoted at the precise moment that vodka turned on me. Pedestrians steered clear as I barfed into the gutter.
Mortified, I saw Brad hovering at a safe distance. I had no idea what to say to him. If I explained the truth, a nice person might hand the ring over. But all I knew of Brad was he was about twice my size, he liked dragons and, presumably, he played chess.
‘Are you okay?’ His brown eyes seemed sincere.
I was suddenly conscious that my eyes were probably bloodshot, I smelt of vomit, and my hair needed a wash. This was not my finest hour.
His unexpected sympathy drew tears down my face. I blurted out the whole sorry debacle.
When I stopped to draw breath, he smiled. ‘I have a chess set for sale for five hundred bucks if you’re interested.’
I was. Interested.
And that’s how I bought back the chess set and my engagement ring.
It’s also how I met my second husband.
Next time: a guest post by Craig Carey, Short Fiction: Mongoose.
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