Contest #87 shortlist ⭐️

34 comments

Holiday Teens & Young Adult

“And without further ado, I’d like to get straight to the heart of today’s press conference.  Lottie the Fainting Goat is throwing her name into the ring for Jasper City Mayor in this year’s elections!”

That was my cue.  I stiffened my limbs inside the heavy goat costume and flopped onto my side to the gathered crowd’s thunderous applause.

Tucker French, the CEO of Thrill Burger, smiled down at me.  I winked even though I knew he couldn’t see my expression through the huge foam head.  My security detail helped me stand back up.

“Lottie’s been a familiar face around Jasper City for such a long time, she’s practically an institution. Don’t you agree, folks?”

The audience cheered with more enthusiasm than I thought reasonable for a fast food mascot.  I’m not sure what I expected to happen, exactly.  Maybe some laughter and some good-natured applause.  But when Tucker had the caterers wheel out a massive “Lottie for Mayor” cake, the crowd went absolutely wild.

My Lottie training kicked in, and I immediately stiffened up and careened to the floor again.  This did nothing to quell the crowd’s enthusiasm.  I heard people shouting “Lottie for Mayor!” mixed with “Mayor Peterson sucks!”

My security detail assisted me while the media bombarded us with questions about the announcement.  As their questions continued, I began to suspect that they didn’t realize today was April 1st.

“Is Lottie even eligible to run?”

Tucker fielded the questions with bewildered amusement.  “Well, she’s been around for 19 years, and you only have to be 18 to run for office.”

“What’s Lottie’s stance on road maintenance?”

Tucker looked at me.  I could barely see him through the foam head’s eye holes and through the sweat running down my face.  It was hot enough outside but near unbearable in this head.  I gave a thumbs up.

“She’s for it, folks!”

And just like that, I was - or rather, Lottie was - officially in the race for Mayor of Jasper City.

When the press conference was finally over, Tucker ushered me back into the Thrill Burger building where I was finally able to take the foam head off.

“Ugh, people do not understand the concept of an April Fool’s joke.”  I plopped Lottie’s head on a nearby chair and wiped the sweat from my brow.  “When are you going to tell them?”

Something about the sparkle in Tucker’s eye made my stomach twist.

“What if we go with it?” he asked.  “We could do this.  Lottie could actually beat Mayor Peterson this year.”

“Lottie is a goat mascot.  She’s not even a real person!”

“She’s real in the hearts and minds of Jasper City, and that’s enough.”

“I don’t think that’s true from a legal perspective.  I guess you could try, but I can’t be in this suit forever.”

“But you’re the best Lottie we’ve ever had, Ella!  Please, please do this.”

“It doesn’t feel right.”

Tucker’s eyes lit up.  “What if Thrill Burger pays for your college tuition?”

“Are you bribing me?”

“Shamelessly.”

I stood in the office, a sweaty mess, and thought about spending the rest of the spring and summer in the Lottie costume.  There was no way Lottie would actually win, and I could go to college on Thrill Burger’s dime in the fall.

“Alright, Tucker,” I said, squaring my shoulders.  “Count me in.”

Until I graduated in May, I was a high school student by day and a fainting goat in the evenings and on weekends.  I was convinced the fervor for Lottie as a mayoral candidate would have died down, but it was still going strong by mid-June.

One particularly warm and sunny day, Tucker dropped a plastic tub filled with envelopes in front of me as I was peeling off the Lottie suit.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Campaign donations.  Look, Lottie-”

“My name is Ella.”

“Yes, right.”  Tucker furrowed his brow.  “Ella.  This has gone way further than I meant.  You must know that.”

“Yeah, I kinda figured.”

“But listen, it’s great publicity.  Our sales are through the roof!”  His eyes locked pleadingly on mine.

“What are you asking me to do, exactly?”

“Just keep going until the election.”  He pointed to the tub packed with letters of support and checks for shocking amounts of money.

While I was tempted, I stood my ground.  “Tucker, no.  You need to come clean that this was all a joke.  You don’t really think people will vote for Lottie, do you?  It’s a cute idea, but we need to be realistic.”

“If that’s what you think, then there’s no harm in continuing.  Lottie can gracefully accept her loss, you can go to college like you planned, and I can keep rolling in the good publicity and profits.”

I looked over at the Lottie head with its dead-eyed smile and sighed.  “Once classes start, I’ll have to go back to evenings and weekends only.”

“Sure, sure.  And sometimes mid-afternoon press conferences and special appearances, of course.”

“As long as they don’t interfere with school.  I mean it.”

“But-”

“You can always look for someone else to wear the Lottie suit, you know.”

Tucker grimaced.  “No, not this late in the campaign.  People are familiar with your mannerisms now.”

“Mannerisms?  The only thing I do as Lottie is fall over.”

“Well, that, and your height and build.  Ella, you are Lottie whether you like it or not.  Thrill Burger can’t do this without you.”

I silently cursed Tucker for having bribed me with tuition money; it didn’t leave me much room to negotiate.  My ability to say no wasn’t very strong anyway, and it predictably failed me then.  

The time leading up to election day passed in a blur.  Once classes at the university began, I felt like I was back in high school.  Student by day, mayoral candidate and burger mascot on the evenings and weekends.  I was strong enough now to get up on my own after a famous Lottie fainting spell, but Tucker insisted that I keep my security detail around at each appearance.

The love for Lottie had not died down like I had expected - and admittedly, had hoped - it would.  Lottie was polling well according to the local media, and every time I appeared in the fuzzy costume, crowds gathered.

On election day, I stood up on stage with Tucker and the Thrill Burger campaign manager.  A crowd of Lottie supporters milled around the venue we had booked for the event, chatting merrily, eating snacks, and occasionally shouting “Lottie for Mayor!”  We all watched the big screen as votes for Lottie trickled in compared to the deluge of votes for Mayor Peterson.

I was ready to go backstage and take the Lottie head off for what would hopefully be the last time, but Tucker gave a shake of his head.  The poll numbers were almost in and finalized.

The crowd took a collective breath and exhaled as Mayor Peterson was declared the winner.

I grinned with relief inside the foam head.  The crowd was oddly silent for a moment.

Then a lone man in the back called out, “Mayor Peterson stole the election from Lottie!”

Another voice in the crowd joined in.  “Lottie is the true mayor of Jasper City!”

The group began to cheer and shout, but the cheers soon turned angry and dangerous.  I whipped my head around to look at Tucker and gestured for him to do something to quell the rising cacophony.

He shrugged then grinned.  “Down with Mayor Peterson!” he cried.

The people in the crowd surged towards the exit door as one body, grabbing chairs from tables and heavy serving dishes from the buffet line.  

“Take back Jasper City!  Lottie for Mayor!”

I could hear glass breaking and angry shouts as the crowd made their way out of the building and turned towards downtown and City Hall.

With fear heavy in my heart, I bolted towards the back stage room to shed my costume and return to my anonymity before things progressed too far.  Tucker, backed by my security detail, blocked my exit.

“We’ve come so far, Lottie.  What’s a little longer?”

Outside, the city burned.

April 03, 2021 00:42

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34 comments

Michael Boquet
16:01 Apr 09, 2021

Back on the shortlist! This is such a hilarious story, I chuckled through the entire thing. I was hoping Lottie would win, but I love the ending you went with instead. This is my favorite chosen story this week, not to mention my favorite of your stories that I've read. Great job.

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Fawn Marshall
16:31 Apr 09, 2021

Yay, thank you so much - that gives me such a big confidence boost!

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Chase Dova
06:09 May 28, 2021

Well done on making it to the shortlist! (It is my goal to get on the shortlist!) :)

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Rachel Mann
07:07 May 19, 2021

I love the Trumpism metaphor here! Very clever.

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Fawn Marshall
10:36 May 19, 2021

Thanks! I was starting to write it and thought “wow this is ridiculous” - and then realized how similar it was to reality 😩

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Iris Orona
16:44 May 13, 2021

THIS IS HOW GOOD PEOPLE GET SUCKED IN BY BAD PEOPLE ALL THE TIME! IT'S CALLED POLITICS!

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Fawn Marshall
19:02 May 14, 2021

I think you're right! So much pressure

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Matthew Robles
05:10 Apr 30, 2021

I got to admit, this was a funny story, that sounds like it could possibly play out somewhere. The story was extremely well written, and showcases that as high schoolers, it is hard to sometimes stand your ground and say "No." I don't really have any main, standout critiques for this story, as it was done brilliantly. I will admit, I do not know where the "fainting goat," idea came from, but it was funny, especially how she connected with the people of Jesper City. The only thing, if anything is the ending is not completely unique, as it...

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Fawn Marshall
16:44 Apr 30, 2021

Thank you! I really appreciate your comments. I definitely intended the similarity to the US riots and pushed to make it seem even more absurd. The fainting goat is just because I think they are ridiculous (and very cute) and would make a terrible mascot.

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Sam Ackman
20:55 Apr 24, 2021

This is a great st or y! I like how you had a humorous tale that managed to have a lot of darker/deeper aspects to it. Great job :).

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Fawn Marshall
12:41 Apr 27, 2021

Thank you! I like to give my characters a hard time.

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H Bolton
00:14 Apr 14, 2021

Loved the ending!

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Fawn Marshall
02:34 Apr 14, 2021

Thank you!

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Josh C
09:59 Apr 13, 2021

Fantastic as ever, and congratulations on the 4th shortlist? Have you seen the black mirror episode where they make a mascot run for parliament (or something similar). This reminded me a lot of that episde, although your version was much more humorous and a lot lighter. Great read, thank you!

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Fawn Marshall
12:46 Apr 13, 2021

I haven’t seen Black Mirror, but now I want to check it out! Thank you :)

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Josh C
08:45 Apr 14, 2021

There are some very good episodes. Very dark. The more I think about this story the more I see this as a metaphor: Ellie is the poor, exploited person. She just wants to go to college, but she is being shamelessly exploited - her boss doesn't even remember her real name at one point. Tucker French. All he cares about is increasing his wealth, he keeps mentioning how sales are through the roof. He could be seen as a metaphor for the big businesses that only care about the profit, not any damage being done (in my mind Facebook feels apt) or ...

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Fawn Marshall
16:33 Apr 14, 2021

Absolutely spot on! Ella is young and easily swayed, and by the time she's ready to really stand up for herself, it's too late. Tucker got his first taste of power and refuses to let go even at the expense of others. I had not intended the parallels between the events of this story and the 2020 election, but I can't deny that those are present in this story as well.

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Josh C
01:14 Apr 15, 2021

Poor Ella...

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17:04 Apr 12, 2021

Brilliant! I grinned all the way through, even the slightly disturbing ending made me smile. I'd vote Lottie!!

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Fawn Marshall
18:14 Apr 12, 2021

Thank you! Lottie for Mayor!

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Cathryn V
00:10 Apr 11, 2021

So creative! And I'll be you had fun writing it. Good job and congrats on winning again!

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Fawn Marshall
20:04 Apr 11, 2021

Thank you - I had a great time =]

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Adam Schwartz
21:00 Apr 09, 2021

Clever ending. It took a much darker turn than I expected.

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Ellie Yu
19:26 Apr 09, 2021

This is one of those stories that feels so light and unassuming, but it ends up grabbing your attention anyway! I really enjoyed this and it definitely made me smile. Congrats on the shortlist, I can totally see why this got recognized!

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Fawn Marshall
20:37 Apr 09, 2021

Thank you! Your smile makes me smile

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18:40 Apr 09, 2021

Beautifully written. Congrats on your well deserved shortlisting.

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Fawn Marshall
19:01 Apr 09, 2021

Thank you!

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Angel {Readsy}
19:24 Apr 05, 2021

I am impressed , you are artistic , queen in writings , a fairy with her magical sprinkle over her writing pen ,

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Fawn Marshall
19:35 Apr 05, 2021

Thank you for your high praise! <3

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Holly Fister
19:20 Apr 05, 2021

I love your humorous stories, Fawn! You pull them off so well!

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Fawn Marshall
19:35 Apr 05, 2021

Yay! Thank you so much - they're my favorite things to write.

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Holly Fister
19:52 Apr 05, 2021

And your idea for a fainting goat for mayor was a one of a kind! Loved it!

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Fawn Marshall
19:56 Apr 05, 2021

The mental images made me cackle. I'd love to see a fainting goat for a mascot one day - maybe I should start my own company and make it happen.

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Holly Fister
21:48 Apr 05, 2021

“Fawn’s Fainting Goats” haha! That’s the best feeling-cracking up at what you’re writing 😂

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