True story. I volunteer my time at a bookstore. We sell lots of used magazines, so it wasn’t surprising to see a stack of the British royalty mag, Majesty, show up. As I was unloading the box, there was a lonely copy of Confingo, a literary journal. I read it and thought I had something appropriate to submit. It was accepted and in May 2018 my flash fiction was in print. Confingo is a gorgeous, high-quality publication available in the UK and elsewhere. Here is the reprinted story:
by DL Shirey
I thought shyness demurred her eyes each time I tried to meet them.
“I’ve had a bit of facial surgery,” she said, “When people look at me I always forget they’re not seeing what I used to be.”
She patted at the back of her head as if a hair was out of place. It was odd, the hair I mean; what I could see of it, at least. Plaited in thick ropes, it reminded me of dreadlocks, but there was no fleece or fuzzy texture to it, just smooth, bulky twines pulled up under a top hat.
Funny, a woman who seemed so averse to being looked at, who sat in the least light possible in a smoky bar, yet wore a top hat that did nothing but attract attention. I had watched her talk to some suit, who finally refused to move. Obvious that he was bothering the lady, the bouncer and bartender had to physically remove him from the room.
“Let me get you another drink,” I said, considering a different tack. I had guzzled enough courage to make my way to this open stool, I wasn’t about to give up now.
“I’ve been watching you. Before that three-piece stiff, you turned away quite a few gentlemen. Even a lady or two.” I inquired, “I’m curious what it takes to stay awhile?”
“You’re direct,” she said. There was a noticeable rattle behind her husky voice. “That in itself is a good start.”
Still no eye contact. I noticed there was no skin visible below her chin, though she accessorized smartly: the high, mandarin collar was scarved, black stockings glistened over shapely legs between a short skirt and stilettos, her Holly Golightly gloves fingered the fresh gin set before her.
The skin of her face was — I don’t want to say off-putting — an odd, crepey surface that she tried to hide with make-up. Her profile revealed bold, dark lipstick and a black arrow of eyeliner that shot to a point above her unsmiling cheek.
“I save my best stuff for women who actually look at me,” I said.
Jokester that I am, as she slowly turned her head, I mimicked her motion by turning away.
She replied, “And mine for the man who looks back.”
I smiled an instant before I met her gaze. Forever would I hold that stupid grin and never blink again.
Before returning her attention to the wall squared with actors’ photos and scribbled signatures, she flipped a twenty to the bartender and tucked a stray snake back into her top hat.