Spring, 2005
24-Hour Short Story Contest

1st Place Winner!



When he bent down, he discovered a large book with gold lettering lying on its side behind the others. He pulled it from its hiding place, dislodging other books as he did so. When he opened the cover, he discovered that a crude, square area had been cut out of the pages...

I Thought I Was Happy But Now I Get to Eat Bacon Cheeseburgers on Friday Nights
By Elda Martinez, Austin, TX

I had been secretly watching him for about ten minutes when he found it. From the beginning I knew that it would only be a matter of time. I don’t know who I was kidding.

Michael told me that he was coming over today but I didn’t really want to see him. Not today, anyway. I ignored both of his phone calls this morning but you have to understand that he is not the type of guy who likes to be ignored. If anything he likes to be needed. He thrives on it. So, I should not have been surprised when I heard his car pull up in the driveway.

I’ll pretend I’m not home, he’ll never know. Ten minutes ago that thought made me smile. Now I have a strong urge to cry, or scream.

When I heard the lock turn and the door open, I couldn’t believe it. I ran to the closet.

He let himself in!?

Somehow, I had forgotten about the key. Oh, how I knew this would limit my privacy! I had that damn key made on Monday. As a surprise, I delivered it to him at work. I bought a nice little gift box and, around it, tied a green bow. I felt so good about the decision that I wrote a note which read “You already have the key to my soul, it’s time you have the key to my house.”

Maybe I’ll vomit instead of scream.

His eyes lit up when he opened the box and saw that tiny silver key. He was so happy and proud that he took me to lunch at an expensive french bistro. We played hooky the rest of that day and ended up having sex twice in his car before we made it back to his place. It had been such a perfect day that later that evening, I thought about eating a bacon cheeseburger with extra mustard and pickles. I thought about it, but unfortunately, didn’t. Instead I took a shower, watched Letterman and fell asleep on the couch, undoubtedly dreaming about bacon cheeseburgers with extra mustard and pickles.

From the closet I hear Michael looking around the apartment and now heading towards the bedroom. He whistles as he throws himself on my bed. He lays there a few seconds and then gets up and starts looking around the room. He walks to my bookcase where he spots a copy of my paperback “Letters to Penthouse Forum” (I was single for a long time, you know) and just as he starts to pull it off of the top shelf, the entire bookcase falls. Books and dust keep falling onto the floor and my nearby dresser.

I hold my breath with anticipation.

I have never heard him cuss but he does as he starts to put things back. Now, he sees it. There behind my dresser is my secret stash. Michael looks furious as he picks up what looks like an old McDonald’s cheeseburger wrapper. Next, he sees the books leaning against the wall behind my dresser. From the closet I can see that he is trying to get a better look.

When he bends down, he discovers a large book with gold lettering and behind it are others. I have four books of this type. I bought them two years ago at a used book sale in South Bend. He and I have only been together four months. He would not have recognized me two years ago. At the time, I thought the books would be cool to have, like those that were used to hide shiny revolvers in those old black and white movies.

He pulls the big “book” from its hiding place, dislodging other books as he does so.When he opens the cover, he discovers that a crude, square area has been cut out of the pages. What was once meant for a revolver, I use to hide snacks from him. Starchy, carb-laden, sugar-coated snacks. Michael looks confused until he opens one of the other books and finds a small bag of Andy Capp’s Hot Fries. He knows I like to eat those with meat and cheese frozen burritos. Well, they’re not frozen when I eat them.

Right then and there I knew our relationship was over and to tell you the truth, I was relieved. It had been two difficult and torturous weeks without meat, sugar or anything good to eat. He asked me to try it for two weeks and I had. But last night I lost control. Friday nights were made for pizza and cheeseburgers, not tofu stir-fry and organic cous cous.

I met Mike (he doesn’t like it when I call him Mike) back in November. We belong to the same gym and for weeks we found ourselves leaving at the same time each day. Turns out we had the same work schedule. Go figure. Not a very exciting thing on which to base a relationship but I figured we would just have sex.

It was exciting for me because I hadn’t had much sex in my life. For most of my life I was fat. It wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t pretty that is. Well, actually my face was pretty but the rest was not what you would call Maxim material. Then two years ago, I decided to lose the weight. I didn’t get gastric bypass surgery or join Weight Watchers, I simply cut my portions, switched to Diet Coke and started exercising. I lost 110 pounds. I run three miles a day now and truly, I’ve never felt better.

I knew Mike for two days when he told me he was a vegetarian/health food freak. At first I was appalled and confused. As a Texan, this was the equivalent of being gay or least un-American. But because he was a successful architect and owned his own boat, I decided to continue to have sex with him. At first, his leanings towards tofu and bean sprouts were interesting. Eventually nights at his place got more and more frustrating as I got hungrier and hungrier. “Where’s the beef” never meant so much. It became my raison d’etre.

Mike left as soon as he saw the second cheeseburger wrapper. I mean, really, who can eat just one?

Don’t get me wrong, I like my new lifestyle and my new body. I won’t stop exercising and I won’t go crazy with food but I need to be able to eat like a real person. I can’t be a vegetarian.

And I need to get my locks changed.

What Elda won:

$300 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book;
database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

Contest guidelines are HERE.

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