Spring, 2011
24-Hour Short Story Contest
3rd Place Winner!


The fruit vendor smiled at her through sightless eyes, enjoying the warm breeze and salty air. During casual banter with his customers, he seemed to remember the smallest details, even ones they couldn't remember sharing with him in the past. The girl had been coming to his stand daily for as long as she could remember. As she turned to leave, she patted his hand and said, "I'll see you tomorrow morning, friend."

Still smiling, he replied, "No, you won't..."

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.

Hooker in a Casket by Debra Anastasia
by Debra Anastasia, California, MD

The fruit vendor smiled at her through sightless eyes, enjoying the warm breeze and salty air. He seemed to love the casual banter with his customers.

Anna had made her daily purchase and, as she turned to leave, she patted his hand and said, "I'll see tomorrow morning, friend."

Still smiling, he replied, "No, you won't..."

"Awesome." The girl shook her head in disbelief. As she clutched her bag of wildly bruised apples, new customers clamored into her open spot like pigeons hopping for the last piece of pretzel thrown by a fat toddler.

"Of all the damn things!" She backed away from the vendor and set off for her seaside apartment. Anna began talking to herself. "'Buy local!' they say. ëSupport the small farmer.' Screw them!"

Anna had been buying her produce from the small gathering of rickety carts and rusty pickup trucks for about two months now. She wanted to be kicky and cute, wearing a hat and carrying a super fun fabric bag. In her head, she saw herself selecting the best of the colorful fruit bounty to carry home to cook her gourmet meal. The reality was more like putting a maxi pad on upside down --shocking and slightly uncomfortable. Most of the time the fruit was awful and she ordered take out for dinner.

The Saturday vendors always had similar offerings. Once she even caught a "farmer" peeling the grocery store stickers from the sickly oranges he was selling. Anna had suspicions that these shady men were dumpster diving and turning a profit from the trash. Despite her misgivings, she kept coming back to the street because of the creepy, old blind dude.

She felt like a slightly better person when she bought some of his wares. Sometimes he even had rubber balls in his display mixed in with the fruit, which Anna attributed as cruel jokes from passersby. The sympathy it caused her to feel doubled her expenditures. She'd buy whatever non-food item was in his pile. But today she was pretty damn sure that, before he pronounced her untimely death, he was checking out her boobs. Maybe he was planting the balls himself to bait some empathy sales.

Instead of going to Piggly Wiggly where she could get a nifty Star Trek scanner and a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee while she shopped, she was stepping in gutter water to buy slightly rancid tree droppings just so she could feel more green. And it came with a death sentence. Figures.

So now, tonight, instead of knitting and watching a chick flick on her big screen TV, she had to contemplate what to do with the last twenty-four hours of her life.

Crap, how should I spend this time if it's my last handful of hours?

Well first off, her armpit hair stubble was out of control. The last thing she wanted some embalmer doing to her dead corpse was shaving off wayward body hairs. And what of the dark roots in her faux blonde hair? That's thirty minutes gone just so she wouldn't look like a hooker in the casket. She had allotted at least an hour of her last day to making her body acceptable for a coffin. It'd just be easier to be cremated. Deciding to buy back the hour, that's exactly what she wanted done.

She was almost to her apartment when she thought better of it. Resting her arms on the railing overlooking the water, she remembered how this view used to be so important to her soul, but now she hardly noticed it anymore.

How many spectacular things had become ordinary just because she saw them all the time?

She opened her drab, green fabric bag. Her hand cupped one of the slightly mushy blind man's apples. She smiled with her wicked thought. The ensuing small splash felt like rebellion. It felt like she was giving all those lady magazines that insisted she wasn't good enough the finger. Apple after apple found their way into the water. Soon enough, Anna upended the bag and laughed out loud.

"Up yours, death sentence blind man. Suck it."

"Are you feeling alright?" The voice was familiar. Her neighbor, Todd, had a very nice name but she thought of him as The Farter. She bit her lip and spun to face him.

The first time Anna had met Todd it had been her moving day. Burdened with boxes, Anna was trying to push the number three with her nose as he stepped into the elevator. The long awkward ride was so painfully quiet. That was until Todd ripped a huge, screaming fart. They both blushed and he had to apologize because the wet-duck, slapping noise came with a wretched smell.

So when she turned to face The Farter now --maybe it was because she was supposed to die --she finally realized how damn cute he was. He had deep dimples and a really white smile. Anna shrugged when he motioned to the empty bag.

"I hope not every fruit customer is that fickle, I have to step in for my uncle tomorrow. He's been saving money from his little business for so long. He finally got matched with a Seeing Eye dog. He's picking her up at the Guiding Eyes facility. It's terribly expensive for him to travel, but he has this community to thank for his success."


What Debra won:

$200 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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