Kay Rae Chomic is the 3rd place winner of Streetlight’s 2022 Flash Fiction Contest
Stephanie climbed her porch stairs, nodded at the two pumpkins with carved misshapen noses, mouths, and teeth. One smiled, one frowned. Both held cigars in place by incisors. Inside the house, she hung her purse on the coat tree in the foyer, stripped off her clothes, and dashed to the shower to wash off the day. Judgment day.
Wrapped in her robe, a towel coiled around her hair like a turban, she mixed a Manhattan, sat on the sofa next to her cat, Chief. She lit a cigarette (one allowed per day) with shaky hands, inhaled deep to her toes, and gulped some of the drink. “He deserved it, Chief.” The cat snuggled into her thigh as if in agreement. Stephanie massaged his stomach.
She replayed her boss’s reaction—red face, tears, and begging for a second chance—when she and his boss and his boss’s boss snuck into his twentieth floor office at 3 p.m., the time she knew he watched pornography on his computer. Zero tolerance, Clayton Bale’s superiors invoked. He claimed loyalty to the company, whimpered about his family. Security arrived to walk him out.
“The idiot,” Stephanie scolded through a stream of smoke. Chief hissed and jumped off the sofa. “Well, why would he sit with his back and display screen facing the door?” She watched the cat slink off, dropped her cigarette’s filter into her unfinished Manhattan, and called her AA sponsor.
Promoted two months later, Stephanie moved into the spacious office with the plush carpeting on the twentieth floor, repositioned the desk with help from another vice president, and placed her chair with its back to the panoramic view of Puget Sound like a gangster to keep the door in view.
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