Flash Fiction Friday: This Love Story is No Fairy Tale

Tracy Stengel

Photo byAlex Mihai C/Unsplash

“Why ain’t ya drinkin’?” Momma asked, suspicious-like. “And what’s with the shopping spree and lunch date?”

I gauged her temperament. “I’m engaged again! We’re getting everyone together to share the good news! Tonight, we’ll be drinking champagne!”

Momma’s blue eyeshadow rose an inch. “So, he’s got money? How’d ya meet ‘em?”

I preened. “He’s a massage client. He hurt his neck and back, then fell under my spell. Now, he doesn’t need a cane.”

I couldn’t wait to show off my ring after the official announcement. Momma was going to muss herself seeing a diamond the size of a nickel token at the Shady Lady Casino.

She leaned forward. “Tell me about him!”

I tilted my head. “It’s been magical. But he’s got a daughter, so that’ll be an adjustment.”

Momma scowled. “You ain’t cut out to be a stepmother. You’re lousy with kids. Have ya met her yet?”

“Of course, I have. I can handle her.” I waved my hand through the air as if holding a wand that made unpleasantness disappear. I refused to let Momma ruin my fairy-tale-future.

Momma squinted her eyes at me. “Ya moving on, from Danny, then? Over the whole Veronica Courtright situation, huh? Good.” She signaled for another draft beer.

I shrugged and squirted ketchup on my fries. It looked like blood. “I suppose. She’s still breathing, right?”

“Very funny.” Momma wiped her mouth with the back of her thumb. “Ya oughta stop talking like that. You’re twenty-one — no more juvie — they’d send ya straight to the pen.”

“Cool.” I said. “It’d be like a family reunion.”

Momma grimaced. “You’re a beautiful girl. Danny wasn’t nuttin’.”

Silently, I agreed. Compared to the fish I was fixing to fry; Danny was small potatoes.

“I never thought he’d leave me for Veronica,” I said. “He broke our engagement as easily as snapping a stick.”

“Scandalous,” Momma said, her mouth full of burger. “He did it for the money, ya know. Veronica’s daddy owns everything around here. He’s the king of the county. I heard he gave Danny some highfalutin job.”

“How nice. Hope he’s happy.” I gnashed at my tuna sandwich like a shark. It tasted like bitterness, jealousy, and resentment.

“I heard Veronica’s daddy won’t go near a plane since the accident,” Momma added.

I nodded. Veronica’s dad had been flying her mom to a posh spa in Boca Raton for a facelift and tummy tuck. His Cessna went down in high winds and fog. He survived. She didn’t.

“Too bad Veronica wasn’t in the plane instead.”

Momma gave me a sharp look.

“Kidding!” I deadpanned. “I’ve totally forgiven Veronica for bullying me my whole life! All the snide remarks about us being poor. Oh, and then she stole my fiancé — the only man I’ve ever loved! Sure, it’s all behind me now. Forgotten.” I flicked my wrist in a half circle and snapped my fingers.

Momma shot me the side-eye.

In the parking lot, Momma lit up a smoke. She stared up at the mansion in the mountains. “It’s a dat-gum castle,” she said, shaking her head. “That Veronica’s a spoiled little princess.”

“Yeah, a royal pain in my –”

“She ain’t no better than you. Remember that!” Momma waggled her long cigarette at me.

“Right!” My best gung-ho cheerleading voice turned murderous when I said, “Her bedroom has its own private terrace. She stands up there and looks down on all the little people.”

Momma’s eyes narrowed into slits. “How do ya know? Did ya break in?”

I clamped my mouth shut and got in the car.

“You’re going to wear the classy dress I bought you, right?” I asked, pulling into the trailer park.

“I’ve got clothes of my own,” she reminded me, doing an indignant shoulder shimmy.

“Please, just wear it.” I handed her the shopping bag. “We’ve got 7:00 reservations at Chateau Pierre. Be ready when we pick you up. And wear a bra.”

“Chateau Pierre’s?” Momma’s eyes bulged. “Fancy-schmancy!”

That evening, I’d never been prouder. My dashing fiancé escorted Momma and I through the exclusive restaurant like we were royalty.

Heads spun and jaws dropped.

Momma stopped short of our table and yanked my arm. “What are they doing here?” she hissed.

Danny blanched.

“Daddy?” Veronica whined to my husband-to-be, her pretty face contorted into a confused pout.

I shot Veronica a victorious grin and whispered in Momma’s ear, “I’ll let Veronica be the princess, because I’m going to be the queen!”

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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