Unhappy Returns

Submitted into Contest #76 in response to: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.... view prompt



"Hi. I hope you can help me."

"I'd be happy to try."

"I would like to return this blouse."

"Is there something wrong with it?"


"Then why do you want to return it?"

"It was a gift."

"Which does not explain why you want to return it."

"Well, the truth is I’m not fond of the color."

"You’re not fond of blue."

"Not this shade of blue."

"What have you got against royal blue?"

"Is that what you call this color, royal blue?"

"Isn’t that what you call this color?"

"I didn’t know the color had a name."

"Well, it’s not sky blue."


"It’s not navy blue."


"It’s not teal."

"Isn’t teal more green than blue?"

"Teal is a mixture of green and blue…this blue has no green hues at all."

"So, you’d call this royal blue?"

"That’s what I call it. What do you call it?"


"Well, if you don’t mind my saying, judging by the way you wrinkle your nose whenever you look at this blouse, I feel safe in saying you don’t care for royal blue."

"Plus, I’ve already told you I don’t like the color."

"There’s that too."

"So, I can return the blouse?"

"Do you have a receipt?"

"No. As I explained, the blouse was a gift. Including a receipt with a gift is gauche."


"Tacky. Awkward. It just isn’t done."

"I do it all the time, just in case the recipient doesn't care for the gift I chose. Are you saying you think I’m tacky? That seems a little harsh, given that we’ve just met."

"No, I didn’t mean to be offensive. I just think giving someone a gift is an act of kindness. I wouldn’t feel comfortable including a receipt."

"Why not?"

"Well, if the gift is expensive, including the receipt is a little like bragging, isn’t it? It’s like saying, When you buy me a gift, remember how much money I spent on you."

"That sounds a bit cynical."

"I don’t mean it that way. Just the opposite. I’m single. I make a good salary. I have more money to spend than some of my friends and family members. I just think if I gave them a receipt along with a gift, they would feel like I was bragging."

"Well, you can’t do much about your family, you’re stuck with them, but it may be time to find some less judgmental friends."

"You think?"

"Don’t you?"

"Well, I’m not saying all my friends are like that, but there are a few."

"Was it one of those friends who gave you this blouse?"

"No. My sister gave me the blouse for my birthday."

"Seems like your sister would know you don’t like royal blue."

"You would think."

"Is she younger or older?"

"Younger. She’s the baby of the family."

"Well, that explains it, doesn’t it?"

"I’m not sure I understand what you mean."

"You and baby sis close?"

"We’re family."

"You’re not close?"

"I wouldn’t say that…exactly."

"What would you say…exactly?"

"I was ten when she came along."

"Any other siblings?"

"No, it’s just the two of us."



"Well, no one could blame you for being a little resentful. Sibling rivalry is real."

"No. We weren’t like that. I never resented her."


"Well, ‘never’ might be a small exaggeration."

"So, you did resent her?"

"Maybe, just a little."

"Who could blame you? You were an only child for a whole decade. You had your own room. You had your own toys. You didn’t have to see someone else wearing that favorite t-shirt or a pair of jeans that you loved, loved, loved but outgrew. Most of all, you didn’t have to share mom and dad. Am I right?"


"You’re saying you didn’t have the world in the palm of your hands until she came along?"

"Yes, I suppose I did.

"Your whole life changed when baby sister came along?"

"Yes, it did. My parents said nothing was going to change, but everything did once that noisy little stinker moved in."

"That’s always the way, isn’t it? The eldest gets all the blame and is expected to make all the concessions. You hear She’s just a baby. Let the baby have it. Watch the baby…"

"She didn’t hit you that hard. Share your ice cream. Take her with you…Aarrgghh! You’re right. From the moment that snot pot came along nothing was the same. I had to share everything. Come to think of it, she does know that I hate this color; she wears this color all the time, but she knows I don’t. In fact, I’d bet she gave this to me just so she could 'borrow' it. She constantly borrows my things, and how often do you think she takes something from my closet and ‘forgets’ to return it? She does it all the time. I’d bet half the clothes in her closet are mine. She gave me a pink sweater for Christmas. I never wear pink. She knows I don’t think anyone over the age of twelve should wear pink, and yet she gave me that damned pink sweater. Do you know why I’ve never worn it, besides the fact that I hate it? I’ll tell you why, because she ‘borrowed’ my new pink sweater to wear to a New Year’s Eve party."

"New Year's Eve was six months ago."

"Yes, it was, and she still hasn’t returned it."

"Have you told her you’d like your sweater back?"

"No! I just let it go, like I always do, because she’s the baby of the family and everyone spoils her senseless. You would not believe the crap she gets away with. Mom and dad ignore behavior that would have gotten me grounded for life. Well, the enabling stops here and now. She is not a baby anymore. She is a grown woman. She is going to return my pink sweater to me so I can decide not to wear it every time I open my closet."

"You sound determined."

"You bet I am!"

"What about the blouse? If you still want to return it?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well, then I’d suggest you take it to the service desk. I think that’s where you take returns."

"Service desk? I thought you…"

"Worked here? Oh no, dear. I don’t work here. I just ducked behind the counter to tie my shoe. I think the service desk is at the back of the store. I’d love to talk more, but I must be running along. Have a lovely day and, for what it’s worth, I agree. Royal blue is not your color, but I think you would look lovely in pink".

January 10, 2021 22:21

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Linda Brodsky
14:21 Jan 18, 2021

Thank you for your input, MP, much appreciated! Your comment reinforced, for me that, showing, rather than telling continues to be one of the areas I need to work on. Wishing you happy reading.


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Mustang Patty
11:08 Jan 18, 2021

Hi there, I think you did a great job with the dialogue only prompt. It is sometimes difficult to tell a story while only using dialogue, but you did tell a story. That being said, do you think you could 'show' more with your quotes? ~MP~


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