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Friday short story time: "Ready Salted Failure"

This week, a story I already debuted to my MA class on Wednesday. I had to read the whole thing out, so as a result, it’s a bit shorter than usual. A snip at just under 500 words, which is about half what I normally do.

It’s also a bit depressing. Sorry about that. It was written shortly after a conversation with a friend about jobhunting, and I’m an easily influenced writer.

Ready Salted Failure

By Nick Bryan

After refreshing her email for an hour, sorting laundry so she wasn’t only doing that, the message finally arrived in Lucy’s inbox. And it was a no.

Dressed up a little, “sorry to say”, etcetera, but still. And sent at 10:30PM too, why were they even emailing at that kind of time? The interview hadn’t been long ago; clearly she’d left them in no doubt. But Lucy still couldn’t stop herself going back over it.

She’d arrived on time, shaken hands, had the tour and been offered a drink. Not wanting to seem either standoffish or overly grabby, she’d asked for tap water, because it was something yet not something, you know?

Could she have shown more interest when being shown around? Was she meant to ask exactly what that pile of waste on the table was? Had she not dressed correctly? She’d looked pretty smart, and the interviewer had been just one woman, so odds were that a lower-cut top wouldn’t have helped.

Unless she’d been a lesbian, Lucy supposed, but that would just mean Lucy was an unattractive failure instead of a ready salted one. Not that she should even be thinking like that, perhaps the two glasses of wine were getting to her, but then again, had she been too well turned out? Not seemed easy-going and fun enough?

They’d asked about her routine, made her talk about herself in the way that always made her uncomfortable. According to Lucy, Lucy was relaxed, tidy, easy to get on with, she’d come dangerously close to using the phrase “motivated team player”. If everyone really meant that when they said it, Lucy fumed, Communism would’ve been a lot more successful.

Her mum had told her the previous night that she shouldn’t be so scared. Remember, she’d declared, they need you as much as you do them. What utter shit. Particularly at the bottom end of the ladder, it was every rung for themselves. Anything to avoid falling further.

Mum had already texted asking how it went, and Lucy hadn’t been able to think of anything besides “Okay, I think”. It was late enough to get away with not updating her immediately, wasn’t it? Especially since she was making headway on glass number three, and wasn’t sure she’d produce a respectable message.

The worst part was, it had been an interview for a houseshare. So it wasn’t just a question of not trusting her to push some paper around, it was her entire personality they’d rejected. We don’t want to live with you, they’d written, in an invisible font. You’re just toxic.

Not that she felt much inclined to disagree, slouched in pyjamas at her desk, drunk and pretending not to sob, even though there was no-one else there.

Copyright me 2012, don’t steal, email me if you like, peace in our time. Also, apologies if you don’t get the pun in the title. No-one in my seminar seemed to get it either, but I like it so have stubbornly kept it in. It has to do with crisp flavours.


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