Imagine the Perfect Man

Submitted into Contest #118 in response to: Start your story with “Today’s the day I change.”... view prompt

32 comments

Contemporary Drama

TW/CW: Implied assault + harassment


“Today’s the day I change.” 


The meditation track plays crisply building up your inner lion. You laugh at the notion of changing a single thing about yourself. For a long time the terrain of your face was the stuff of ridicule. What your mother called an ugly duckling. The lack of physical definition in your shoulders was a beacon that deterred all women away from you. Scratch that. It was the girls that stayed away from you, not the women. When you were a kid it was hard for you to pretend that it didn’t matter, because it most certainly did.

Not now though. 


Now there’s not a damn thing you’d change. A swan with a full head of hair, the kind women pull their hands through and arms that are capable. The stride you’ve mastered is all sex and ruggedness. Your eyes are deep and inviting, but only if you don’t let them look too closely or for too long. Blinking at just the right time irrigates the whites of your eyes, and it’s then that you cast your handsome stare at the exact moment you capture her.


Adjust your tie.

Navy blue silk.

The fabric is gentler than the wool blends you used in the past, and feels soft to the touch. One thing about you that some of the ladies say is that you are always open to feedback, within reason. Upgrading to silk is a simple change you are willing to implement. A good tie leaves a durable impression, whereas a wool blend leaves a mark. You hope they’ll notice the effort you put in. Brush off the subtle shakiness of your fingers, you’re not that kid anymore, of course they’ll notice.


Skip the track that implies you should change everything you are, because change is for those that have flaws, and you are immaculate.


 "Imagine your entire life as perfect." 


You take a pull of oxygen through your slightly crooked nose. Your skin has cleared, and your body has filled out but some things can’t be changed so quickly, like this nose of yours. Your body relaxes, this track is more your speed, because you are the epitome of the perfect man, moving effortlessly through the ranks of work and life with ease. It's the pull of your mouth that shows your smile, that perfect ten grin that allows you to cut in line at the grocery store even though the items in your basket exceed fifteen. One experience in college got a little dicey with a girl that drank a little too much, but you are white and handsome and faultless- Would anyone actually ever tell you no? She didn’t, but then again you and your friends all had quite a bit to drink so it’s hard to remember.


"Picture your perfect job."


Welcome to the campus of your dream job; A modern, yet chic building towering over the well manicured grounds lined with Boxwoods and Arborvitaes. Adams & Associates, the office supply company is at the top of your job list for three reasons.


There’s a 70-30% female to male ratio. These are the kind of statistics that stir up a feeling of power in the lower part of your belly. A potential that feels like a dull fire that waits ready to receive kindling that will light you up for all of the girls women to see. You figure this is as good as good is going to get. A company with stock options of the brunette, blonde, and redhead variety allows you to dream of how wealthy you’re about to become.


You find that selling school supplies among gorgeous women isn't always the easiest, but perfect men like yourself, like a challenge to prevent boredom. The boredom does come so easily, especially when there’s a history of your colleagues not putting up much of a fight to be the top seller. 


No background check is required. You don't like to explain yourself anyway, and no one would understand what it’s like to be you. They wouldn’t get the things you had to do to get here, no, they’d just turn you away and you’re not sophomore in high school anymore. You’re the one who does the turning away, not the other way around.


Not anymore.


The corner of the campus keeps a few tables tucked away for casual lunches. Sushi with Tiffany on Wednesday's. She giggles at the way you playfully feed her California rolls with chopsticks. You save Friday's for paninis with Ellie. It's important that you're careful not to mix the days up or the two will discover that the other moves through the same orbit around you. 


Careful. Always careful.


The women that swallow you whole with their thirsty eyes and casual glances from across crowded rooms of work parties and team building exercises on the lawn are aplenty. It's the glisten of their hefty wedding rings that act like lighthouses shining across the room guiding you to their shores. You're a tall glass of water, and you're one to satiate them because who are you to dehydrate them of the very thing that makes up 60% of their bodies?


In all of your imagining, it's the stolen moment with Grace in the elevator ride where your eyes dip into her cleavage and your words detail exactly what you'll do to her given the chance. From behind she can't see the few scars that are left behind on your chin, and you like it that way as it's easier to hide the real you. With the broad expanse of your defined chest pressed against her back, you whisper, "Come on Grace, have a little fun."


Grace will gasp in shock. You’re not sure why. Just three days ago she smiled at you when you gave her a wink with your persuasive eyes. Taking a giant step forward to the opening of the elevator doors Grace turns to you and mutters, “Just don’t, okay?” 


Was that a question you wonder, or a statement? 


Anna in accounts receivable is whip smart and not susceptible to your charms. It's one of the few times you look over your shoulder at the only exit for the break room. You have to assert yourself so Anna sees what all of the other women see, a desirable man that is good with his mouth. Good salesmen like yourself have to be clever in order to get the customer to buy. Ask her out for the fifth time and watch as she burns a hole into your chest with her disgusted eyes. Her answer comes in the form of taking a deliberate bite of her sandwich so as to blow you off.


Again. 


Her mouth chews slowly with a fierce warning that causes you to yield. 


“Get the message. I. Am. Not. Interested. Now kindly move aside.” 


Her eyes dart to the exit you’ve already scoped out and you take a chance and lean in to wipe the mustard from her cheek. Instead of using the paper towel on the counter, the obvious tactic, your mouth does the taking. "There you go Anna, all clean." 


Imagine that Bree the receptionist finds you handsome and even says so when you bring her a latte with hearts drawn on the side of the cup. Convincing clients to buy supplies isn't much different than gaslighting Bree into believing that she asked for your rough hands around her arms.


"You can't wear things like that Bree, I'll want to hold you down if you do." 


You like Bree because she is speechless at the exact minute you feel the most robust.


Human Resources needs to see you in their office, and you think maybe it's about time that they consider you for a raise. The last client acquisition proved successful because of your inability to back down to resistance. Janice in HR can be a real hard nose when it comes to men like you. She mistakes your stamina with insolence. So make sure you lead with that medium level charm and nothing more. You'd hate to give her any hope that you might be attracted to her. You’re a man, but not all women are to your liking.


Not Janice. 


After all, she's still carrying some of that baby weight almost a year after giving birth. As a perfect man you have standards and you only settle for women like Janice if there are no other bodies to take from.


Only if. 


Janice's desk is littered with family photos and handmade arts and crafts. The petals of a construction paper flower curl up off the pipe cleaner stem revealing the darkened dried purple glue stick smear. Chuckle internally because you know how good you've got it, what with all your freedoms. Adams & Associates offers an employee discount, but buying bulk mechanical pencils and glue sticks isn't a demand your body wants for. You prefer to receive the living, breathing, sometimes hard to get kind of commodity from your work.


"Janice, you wanted to see me?"


She wants to mention you by name, but her fidgeting to occupy her hands stalls that attempt. The men in blue stand looming at the edge of Janice's corner office. Their hands hover on their belts as you gaze past them to the grounds of the campus. 


"Imagine your life differently." 


You'll miss seeing the trees you think. The sounds of Tiffany’s giggles won’t be missed, sometimes you prefer your women quiet and submissive. The glisten of the silver cuffs draws your eyes down. That feeling you usually feel low in your belly, where your power and lust blooms travels to the middle of your windpipe. The heat turns to acid pooling in the back of your throat.  


"Grace, Anna, and Bree. They said no."


Smug. That’s what they’ll say you were when presented with the complaints. To think, you had the opportunity to change yourself this morning.


Imagine your entire life as the epitome of the perfect man, moving effortlessly through the ranks of work and life with ease. There's been nothing up to this point that has told you that you can't have anything that you set your mind to, now that you look the way that you do. Double parking in a fire zone has never warranted a ticket on your dashboard or a boot on your tire. Of all the times you've been pulled over your interactions with police end with, "I'm gonna let you go with a warning, you drive safe now sir." 


So now you must imagine what it’s like to be patient and let this all play out. Because you've always been so careful. 


Perhaps you can only imagine being the perfect man, because you are far from one. Would anyone actually tell the perfect man no? Today's the day you change, imagine that.


November 04, 2021 17:25

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32 comments

04:12 Jan 05, 2022

Awesome story, gripping actually, as I couldn't wait to read what he would do or say next! Shea you were really able to demonstrate how some people really disassociate with reality and harbor issues they are unaware of.

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Shea West
05:37 Jan 05, 2022

Thanks! This was a sketchy one to write especially in 2nd person POV. Makes the reader feel even Ickier!

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Graham Kinross
10:05 Nov 24, 2021

Ok, creepy character. I can imagine reading a newspaper article about them and them getting off in court with some bs. Very good.

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Shea West
14:13 Nov 24, 2021

I wanted him to be creepy, but have him believe so deeply in himself that he's normal that the reader is put off. And you're right, we've all read or heard about a guy like this a million times. Thanks for reading Graham!

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Rachel Smith
20:13 Nov 16, 2021

I love how you wrote this. Such a villainous, deluded character. Really made my skin crawl! Well done!

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Shea West
21:36 Nov 16, 2021

Thanks Rachel! This guy is total scum. I submitted this for the first round of NYC Midnight. It was 1000 words at the time, but I wanted to give it some more love and flesh it out a bit more. I wrote the damn thing on my phone while my family and I were camping in a tent LOL It didn't place the first go round, but in the second round my next story did place! I was thrilled.

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Rachel Smith
22:46 Nov 16, 2021

That's awesome. Congrats on that! And well done finding a moment to write in your herding cats lifestyle (I seem to remember you using that phrase) This character reminded me of one of my earlier stories called God's Gift, although in comparison to yours, my guy wasn't that bad at all! lol just a bit in love with himself and it came out funny.

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Shea West
01:46 Nov 17, 2021

Oh if it's on here I'm off to hunt it down!

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Rachel Smith
06:23 Nov 17, 2021

It is the 3rd story I put on here

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Kevin Broccoli
02:38 Nov 15, 2021

I really love the structure you chose for this. It makes it both really readable without taking away from its impact.

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Shea West
04:21 Nov 15, 2021

Thanks Kevin, glad you liked the structure.

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Scott Skinner
23:55 Nov 14, 2021

This was beautifully written, and I liked the perspective you took. It's interesting to see it through the eyes of this man because it's so terribly skewed. I expected that he'd know that he was doing something wrong, but nope. He was the ultimate prick, and you made it believable. This line, "The last client acquisition proved successful because of your inability to back down to resistance." Was really strong. It pretty much sums up his energy, the pathway to fulfilling his purpose. I also liked this line because we still see people who us...

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Shea West
00:22 Nov 15, 2021

Hey Scott! Thanks as always, I am always thankful for your feedback on my stories. I think guys like this don't think in lanes of "is this right?" or "is this wrong?" Call it audacity or entitlement to whatever they want, I'm not sure. Yes that line is weighty, because not backing down in the workplace is applauded for men! For women, not so much. It carries a different message for each. We're deemed pushy and bitchy....and when some prick does this sorta stuff we're overreacting to the incidents. (My experience anyway) I sorta wanted th...

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H L Mc Quaid
12:35 Nov 14, 2021

I love how you've refined and sharpened it. It hums along at a nice pace, with a suitably despicable narrator. Well done.

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Shea West
13:39 Nov 14, 2021

When I saw I could take the time to do better by it, I figured hey why not! Thank for reading it again. This story that I wrote on my phone while camping 😂😂😂

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H L Mc Quaid
16:00 Nov 14, 2021

I remember! I was impressed with it then, but you've done a great job of filling it out. :)

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K. Antonio
01:52 Nov 11, 2021

I really enjoyed the narrative structure of this story. The use of first person directed or first person referral was interesting and very creative. The beginning was super attractive and this character damn, toxic but engaging. 😂 The prose was really tight too, it flowed really well. This: "Skip the track that implies you should change everything you are, because change is for those that have flaws, and you are immaculate." made me laugh, it wrapped up your character's persona while maintaining a certain "exaggerated and self-absorbed cha...

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Shea West
02:40 Nov 11, 2021

Toxic but engaging is exactly what I was aiming for!!! The whole thing is laughable in the sense that there are so many folks out there acting just like this guy. Talk about AUDACITY. I was thinking when I wrote that line that he might've even recorded it himself, like wrote his own affirmations of change with his own voice!

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Shea West
02:53 Nov 11, 2021

And thank you for always being such a thoughtful critic when it comes to my stuff. I know you've watched me evolve and I appreciate that you see some of the areas I'm working on- like tightening up the prose etc. Thanks K.!!!

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Sarah Foy
23:08 Nov 10, 2021

I’m glad this was recommended to me. It is powerful and well-written. Definitely did make me feel things!

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Shea West
23:19 Nov 10, 2021

Hey thanks for reading Sarah! I'm certain you showed up in my critique circle too, I was headed that way to read yours this evening. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Beth Jackson
07:56 Nov 09, 2021

Oh Shea, thank you so much for sharing this. It was such a powerful piece. And an important one. Beautifully written, as always. :-) #MeToo

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Shea West
14:05 Nov 09, 2021

Thank you Beth. I'm glad I sat back down to rework it. I knew it could have more potential after adding a significant amount of details. #metoo

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Dustin Gillham
20:53 Nov 08, 2021

Awesome Shea!

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Shea West
21:38 Nov 08, 2021

Hey thanks Dustin. I appreciate the read!

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Deidra Lovegren
18:20 Nov 04, 2021

Very 1990 vibes in this one :) O the bulletproof ego of toxic masculinity. A thrill to see our boy get shot down and women not falling for his nonsense. This man would not make it on Bumble, that's for sure, calling little ladies "darlin'" and "baby doll." Fun ride through the ickiness of everywhere.

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Deidra Lovegren
18:21 Nov 04, 2021

#metoo

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Shea West
18:40 Nov 04, 2021

#metoo I think that's why it was "easy" to write, because me too. I worked in kitchens with men like this for years, it was icky. Thanks for the read!

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Daniel Hayes
06:02 Nov 06, 2021

Incredible Shea!! You were right when you said we might feel things reading this. This reminded me of how everyone tries to be perfect in every way. Even if we don't realize that we're doing it, I think it might be engrained in everyone. This line stuck out to me: " change is for those that have flaws, and you are immaculate." That line made me appreciate my flaws, and I'm honestly proud of them because I feel like being perfect doesn't allow us to grow in any way. It's through our weaknesses and failures that make us who we are. Las...

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Shea West
06:29 Nov 06, 2021

Hey thanks Daniel! I've got a little girl myself, and two sons. We are forever talking about what consent means, and how we are to treat others etc in this house of mine. I really hoped that this conveyed how some men see it ok to take whatever they want because of entitlement. And if you ever do bodyslam some guy for being a creep, I'll tell them you were at my family's bbq the whole night😂 #alibi

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Daniel Hayes
15:11 Nov 06, 2021

hahahaha!! That's awesome! 🤣 I hope others get a chance to read this amazing story, because it's an important topic.

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Shea West
17:36 Nov 04, 2021

So it's been a hot minute! I've been competing in other contests and trying to stretch myself a bit. This story was originally one I entered into a contest that had guidelines: Drama, a campus, and a glue stick. I knew it could use a bit more help, so I went back and reworked it. It might make you feel some things.....as it's second POV and you maybe won't like how it feels... Would love to hear some feedback :)

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