Contemporary Fiction

Veva stood at the counter. 

“What would you like to try?” the store clerk asked. 

“I really like chocolate,” Veva said. Inside she was already starting to cringe. Why did she say she liked chocolate? She didn’t like anything with chocolate, including cookies filled with chocolate icing. Her favorite flavor was vanilla, it always had been. 

“Here you go,” the clerk said, handing Veva two large brown cookies with light brown frosting oozing out between them. 

“Thank you,” Veva said and quickly walked out the door. 

As soon as Veva was far enough away from the shop, not wanting to hurt the clerk’s feelings, Veva threw the cookie away and tried to figure out where to go next. 

Stepping onto the bus, Veva handed her ticket to the driver and told him she needed to be dropped off uptown to get the things she needed. 

As she sat down, Veva held her head in her hands and dreaded the walk ahead of her. She didn't want to go uptown! She wanted to go downtown. Downtown was all the shops, all the places she could get the things on her shopping list. Uptown was housing units and not even her housing! Why had she told him she wanted to go uptown? Now it would be at least a twenty-minute walk back downtown, she would have to walk knowing the bus wouldn’t be coming back in this direction for at least another thirty minutes. Veva had to get to the butcher shop before it closed. When the bus stopped, Veva slowly got off the bus looking up and down the street. The door to the bus closed behind her with a woosh and drove away. 

Veva began the long walk downtown.

Veva walked into the butcher shop, smiling at the shop owner as she entered the store. 

“What can I get for you today?” the shop owner asked. 

Veva paused. It had already happened twice today, saying the opposite of what she really meant, she didn’t want it to happen again. The meat wasn’t cheap and she really didn’t want to buy the wrong thing. Veva took a deep breath.

“I don’t want beef,” Veva told the butcher.

“Okay, what do you want?” the butcher asked.

“No, what I mean is that I don’t like beef.”

“Miss, you don’t have to buy beef here. We have chicken and pork too.” 

Veva didn’t know what to do. She thought that if she said the opposite of what she really wanted, maybe she would finally get the thing she meant to buy. It wasn’t working that easily though. Veva had to think of something quickly. The store would be closing and she needed meat for dinner. 

“I really like chicken,” she said, but she didn’t like chicken at all!

“I’ve got some nice cutlets here and a good price.”

“Yes, that sounds nice but maybe I really like pork.”

The butcher looked at Veva quizically. “Do you need help deciding?”

“No, I don’t think I need any help,” she answered. Oh no! What was she saying? Of course, she wanted help. She wanted help buying a steak for dinner but didn’t know how to ask for it.

By this time the butcher was getting impatient. He had never had such a picky customer.

“Miss, what would you like me to get for you? I have to clean up soon and close for the day. You will need to decide quickly.”

Veva shook her head. She didn’t know what to do. Then she realized what she had to do and quickly. She had to say the opposite of what she really thought so that the butcher would think she had finally decided.

“If I tell you that I don’t like beef, what would you say?” Veva asked him.

“I’d tell you that you’ve never tried the beef from my shop and that you have no idea what you are missing out on!”

“If I tell you that I don’t really believe you, what would you say?” Veva asked.

“I would tell you to just take one steak, try it and if you really don’t like it, come back tomorrow and you can try something else.”

“And if I told you I didn’t want to pay for it?”

“Well, I guess I could let you try it for free this one time since you haven’t tried it before. But you have to promise to come and tell me what you think.”

Veva didn’t want to say anything else. She knew if she said anything else she might not leave the shop with anything! She started to shake her head but stopped and acted like she was just moving her hair off her shoulders. 

The butcher looked at her oddly but took a steak from the case and using white wax paper, he wrapped the steak for Veva to take home. Veva would come back tomorrow and tell the butcher how good the steak was and maybe buy more. 

Veva walked out of the butcher shop with a steak and a smile. She realized she needed to talk less and listen more. If she didn’t say the opposite of what she really wanted maybe she would start getting the things she really wanted!

The next day Veva walked into the butcher shop. The butcher came out and recognized her right away. She told herself “do not talk” and she tried to hold her lips closed. 

“Well, how did you like the steak? Wasn’t I right? Wasn’t that the best meat you’ve ever eaten?”

Veva shook her head. 

Oh no! What had she done? She wanted him to know she loved the steak. 

With wide eyes, she stared at the butcher and mentally begged him to hear what she really thought. 

The butcher shrugged. “Miss, I don’t know what to tell you. I have given you the best meat in my shop and you say you are not happy? I don’t think this is the store for you. I have given you my best.”

Veva walked out of the butcher shop with her head hanging low. Now she’d have to do what her friend had been saying for years, she would have to become a vegetarian. 

January 30, 2023 03:11

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Lily Finch
19:18 Feb 05, 2023

Christine, What a lovely story about saying the opposite of what you intended. Great job. Love the ending. LF6


15:29 Feb 06, 2023

Thank you!


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