Contest #172 shortlist ⭐️

100 comments

Funny Speculative Creative Nonfiction

“O Woman That I Used To Love, what should we get for dinner tonight?’’

“Honestly, my Greatest Disappointment? I don’t care.”

“You do care. You want me to suggest a place to eat so you can shoot it down. Whatever I say, you will wrinkle your little nose like I decided that we should eat out of the cat’s litter box.”

“You could not be more wrong, but you usually are.” 

“Perhaps you could stop on the way home and pick up some takeout.”

“I could, but I won’t. Our nightly conversation about dinner is the only authentic communication we will have all day, so I’m going to stretch it out as long as possible. It’s the only way I can exert control over you in an as passive-aggressive way as possible since I know you are hungry and short-tempered.”

“All true. Hey, I’ll order Pad Thai. Not that you are satisfied with anything, but you usually don’t hate that. I won’t order spring rolls because you like them. Instead, I’ll get the crispy ones I like—just to piss you off. When you complain, I’ll counter with the idea of your picking up dinner next time. Then you will sulk in the bedroom and I can watch TV peacefully without your talking during the interesting parts.” 

“Eh, I don’t really want Thai food.”

“Of course not. What do you want?”

“I want you to treat me like you did when we were dating.”

“I want you to look like you did when we were dating. How about Taco Bell?”

“How about someplace that doesn’t have paper napkins or E. coli outbreaks?”

“How fancy do you want to get on a Wednesday? And why do you agonize over every meal like it’s going to be your last? It’s just food, not a commitment—like the one you roped me into. You weren’t really pregnant, were you?”

“Of course not. But I thought I could have been.”

“Ah, yes. We’ve never really talked about your duplicity at the beginning, but we’ll just sweep that under the rug and not worry about it for another few years until we’re forced into marriage counseling.” 

“Agreed. But for tonight, I want to sit down and order off a menu. I don’t want to get take out, drive-thru, fast casual, pick a number, or a microwave burrito at 7-11. Let’s go to a restaurant with actual waiters and waitresses. You do remember waitresses? I believe the last affair you had was with the blonde waitress at the diner by your work.”

“Hardly an affair. More like a two-month fling. She went back to college in the fall. So, how about we save sit-down restaurants for special occasions? Like the weekend? I can’t remember eating out every night as a kid. My mother cooked three meals a day!”

“Your mother didn’t have to work. If we could afford it, I’d like to sit home, stir a box of Rice-A-Roni, overcook pork chops, and dish out a side order of childhood trauma—just like your mother.” 

“You are nothing like my mother. Sometimes I wish I could conjure up enough emotion to hate you. As it is, you’re an annoyance. A mosquito in the room. Hair on a bar of soap. Gum on my shoe.”

“Applebees.”

“Applebees?”

“Or some other mid-price family restaurant. Just pick one. Texas Roadhouse. Olive Garden. Outback Steakhouse.” 

“Perfect. We’ll go to a full-service restaurant and get a $7.99 Molten Lava Chocolate Cake for you to take one bite out of. Then you can sit on your bottom while women half your age scurry around to bring you as many Diet Cokes as you wish—along with a platter of limes! In the entire 19th century, the British Navy consumed fewer limes than you do.”

“I. Can’t. Wait. Let’s go to a restaurant where you will reject the first three seatings we are offered, embarrassing me in front of the waitstaff. What do you have against sitting in a booth, anyway? You will ask the waiter what’s on draft, order Miller Lite regardless, and eat the entire bread basket. After looking at the menu for ten seconds, you will order the least healthy thing—stuffed, battered, buttered, fried, creamy, glazed, supersized, or chocolate-encrusted. And yes, you do want fries with that. A double order!”

“And you . . . after fifteen minutes of reading the menu like an Egyptologist seeing the Rosetta Stone for the first time, you will order what you always do: a grilled chicken breast. $17.99 for a bland slab of frozen chicken you could microwave at home.”

“You want me to cook at home? Gordon Ramsay couldn’t conjure up beans on toast on those ancient appliances.”

“Here we go.”

“You promised me we’d move into a larger house when the kids got bigger. Well, they got bigger and left for college. Now it’s just you and me in the same 2000-square-foot shack.”

“That shack is almost paid for. I’m sick of house hunting. There is no need to move. Why do you want to double our mortgage? Stop watching HGTV. If you’re lucky, maybe Joanna and Chip Gaines will feature our shack on Fixer Upper.”

“If only you were half the man Chip Gaines is.”

“If only you were half as good-looking as Joanna.”

“You don’t lift a finger to help around the house.”

“You haven’t lifted a pot or pan since the kids left for college. Why have appliances if you aren’t going to use them?”

“The same reason you have a gym membership.” 

“Oh my god, I am not going to sit across any restaurant table—or booth for that matter—and look at your face for forty-five minutes. I don’t want to hear you complain about who didn’t unjam the copier at work. I don’t want to hear about your father’s recent medical appointment and what was lanced. All I can stomach right now is making a decision about what we want to eat. I will buy it, see you shove it down your gullet, and pat myself on the back for not loading up the car and leaving you tonight.”

“Oh, please leave tonight. I will help you pack. I’ll try not to miss the long evenings when you talk to the dog more than me, the clothes you can’t quite get into the hamper, and the half dozen glasses you leave around the house for the dishwashing fairy.”

“So, pizza?”

“Pizza’s always good.”


🜋 🜋 🜋


“Darling, what should we get for dinner tonight?” 

“Honestly, babe? I don’t care.” 

“So, pizza?”

“Pizza’s always good.”


November 14, 2022 01:52

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100 comments

Michał Przywara
21:41 Nov 16, 2022

Honestly, hilarious :) The needling in the dialogue gets extreme but is on this side of realistic, and there's a beautiful kind of teamwork to it. There are some people we can be truly honest with, for better or worse. And like all good stories, pizza saves the day. But then we get to the alternate version, at the end. This completely changes the previous exchange. Now we ask, did the conversation actually happen, or did they merely share a look that said it all? Is it their shared history that did the talking for them? They once had all...

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00:17 Nov 17, 2022

"They once had all of these arguments out loud, but their echoes never really disappear." I'm going to steal that for another story. Your insight and depth never cease to amaze me. Thanks for the lovely comment :)

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Michał Przywara
22:32 Nov 25, 2022

Congrats on the shortlist, shortlist buddy :)

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23:03 Nov 25, 2022

Woo Hoo! Double champagne corks poppin' :)

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Jack Bell
05:36 Nov 16, 2022

“Darling” and “babe”: magical portals into the grand miasma of matrimonial love. Reminds me I’m overdue to watch "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf" again. “I wish I could conjure up enough emotion to hate you” is interesting. The laws of the story insist this is a statement of true feelings. And in fact there is a certain coolness to their catty patter. Everything is aired, rational verbal order is maintained, eruptions of raw emotion do not threaten. It’s actually quite a lovely dance. But it does make me wonder if they’re not unconsciously ...

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14:10 Nov 16, 2022

Perfect quote from Hamlet. (So glad to meet another fan.) It's the only text that should be studied every year of one's life. (The play is the ultimate kaleidoscope!) Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton -- a new George & Martha for the 21st c. Best diction every --> "ghastly glue-pot" Imma steal that...

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Jack Bell
22:43 Nov 16, 2022

Kaleidoscope indeed. Just once it'd be nice if the play read the same way. My only problem with Hamlet - a while ago I watched the BBC 1980 production so many times, Derek Jacobi has become Hamlet. Even when random fragments recur, I see him in my mind's eye. Now I love Derek, but with Hamlet, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be avoided. Perhaps if Liz had had a crack at the role...

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00:19 Nov 17, 2022

Oooo watch Andrew Scott (2018). That may change your mind.

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Tommy Goround
01:15 Nov 16, 2022

Proposal: after 20 years of marriage everyone gets a War Pension. Like soldiers. Else, National Still Married Day: everyone gets a day off and wish to find someone else to be romantic with. It should be a paid holiday. Clapping

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14:07 Nov 16, 2022

The big question is: pineapple on pizza?

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Tommy Goround
14:46 Nov 16, 2022

Yes, please.

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A.B. Writer
02:09 Dec 26, 2023

Insults back and forth and back and forth. These guys need some marriage counseling. I mean, bro. "What should we get for dinner? Pizza?" Classic American couple. I mean, not with me. I don't eat pizza. I know. I'm weird. Thanks for writing. I was the 100th like.

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04:27 Dec 26, 2023

Ah, marriage. The ties that bind… Thanks for the 💯 🍕

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20:54 Sep 06, 2023

https://exampledomain.com/?u=XXXXX&o=YYYYY please come in I beg you

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Wally Schmidt
19:32 Feb 25, 2023

These are professional-grade insults and had me belly laughing. What works so well here is that it is not just idle banter, you have given both the main characters personalities and we find out a lot about their relationship through the course of the story. The cherry on the top is 'Pizza', which is how all stories should end if you ask me

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14:49 Feb 26, 2023

Pizza solves a lot of problems, not gonna lie.

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Lindsey B
06:45 Feb 09, 2023

I felt stressed just reading this, wow.

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Wally Schmidt
04:49 Dec 02, 2022

Read this story last night and can't stop thinking about the pure brilliance of it..how the couple squeezes every last pent up thought into their seemingly banal discussion of 'what's for dinner?' And yet, you still managed to show the deep love the characters have for each other. That comfortable place in a relationship where your words can't hurt each other anymore. I also loved that you chose to make the entire piece a running dialogue. I am new to short story writing and with my second story, The Cancer Patient, I was going to make it ...

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Amanda Lieser
16:59 Nov 30, 2022

Hey Deidra, CONGRATULATIONS ON THE SHORTLIST! I love a dialogue heavy piece and my heart was breaking for these characters. This truly felt like a battlefield. I was impressed with the way you managed to find and dish at every insecurity from every angle. I was also a bit more hopeful at the end. This is such a great conversation for so many people that it truly is a trope, and one you gave great voice to. Nice job!

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01:01 Dec 01, 2022

Pizza is truly the mediator in all things. (Maybe these two were just hangry?)

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Story Time
17:35 Nov 29, 2022

Chip Gaines! I laughed at that for a solid minute. The banter here is so great, and I think approaching the prompt this way was so smart, because in my mind it was going to require all this world-building, and instead, you just gave us slice of life for what it would be like living in that world, which I think is so smart (no surprise there). Another great read.

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21:20 Nov 29, 2022

World-building is a lot of work...Tis the season to be hella lazy ;)

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Philip Ebuluofor
19:29 Nov 27, 2022

Middle-age blues disturbing them. At that age, they talk lile that to each other even here. Congrats. Fine work.

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22:40 Nov 28, 2022

I found it interesting how some readers saw a thread of love underneath the hostility. I kinda disagree. These two need counseling and probably a trial separation. And then a quickie Vegas Divorce...

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Philip Ebuluofor
14:47 Nov 29, 2022

Really?

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15:04 Nov 29, 2022

Or not. Maybe they are just hangry :)

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Philip Ebuluofor
18:19 Dec 01, 2022

Yeah, maybe.

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AnneMarie Miles
17:25 Nov 25, 2022

Congratulations on the shortlist again this week! This was a funny one! 🎉

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17:51 Nov 25, 2022

I'm surprised this piece of cotton candy fluff was recognized. Tis the season to want to yell at family members :)

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Simone Sherron
17:04 Nov 25, 2022

I loved the dialogue but I felt kind of lost cuz there were no expressions, no emotion, the words definitely lifted off the page felt like I was watching “War of the Roses” but started feeling like a bunch of one liners with no expression so it got a little flat towards the end but it was great nonetheless!

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Delbert Griffith
13:39 Nov 24, 2022

Such a fantastic dialogue-only story. I read this damn thing three times, and will continue to re-read it, so that I may learn to write dialogue-only better. It reminded me of 'Taming of the Shrew,' but a version with modern dialogue. There are just too many great ripostes to list here, but one that really got me was: “Your mother didn’t have to work. If we could afford it, I’d like to sit home, stir a box of Rice-A-Roni, overcook pork chops, and dish out a side order of childhood trauma—just like your mother.” As always, your stories ar...

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15:20 Nov 24, 2022

Thanks for the encouragement, Delbert. Every story I write is an act of faith: I'm never sure if the monkey-with-cymbals in my skull will translate words appropriately (or coherently) to the page.

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Delbert Griffith
16:23 Nov 24, 2022

I don't know about the moneys and cymbals in your skull, but I have grave suspicions that they are not your translators. It would be too much to ask of these musical primates to churn out so many great stories as you have, so I attribute your writing excellence to other factors. For me, and for many others, the real act of faith comes long before we stare at a blank screen and begin our story. It comes with the conscious decision to actually write a story. Everything after that is simply learning from your mistakes. That decision to put wor...

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16:53 Nov 24, 2022

You give me far too much credit. I stand on the shoulders of giants, as many people helped and encouraged me along the way. I'm always happy to beta-read. Now that you are an expert in Google Docs, zip over whatever you'd like a commentary on. We old geezer/high school teachers need to stick together :)

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Delbert Griffith
16:55 Nov 24, 2022

Agreed!

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Delbert Griffith
13:39 Nov 24, 2022

Such a fantastic dialogue-only story. I read this damn thing three times, and will continue to re-read it, so that I may learn to write dialogue-only better. It reminded me of 'Taming of the Shrew,' but a version with modern dialogue. There are just too many great ripostes to list here, but one that really got me was: “Your mother didn’t have to work. If we could afford it, I’d like to sit home, stir a box of Rice-A-Roni, overcook pork chops, and dish out a side order of childhood trauma—just like your mother.” As always, your stories ar...

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Eileen Turner
01:01 Nov 23, 2022

Cancel the engagement - being in love really does sometimes end that way. I wonder if arranged marriages, set-up by an unbiased person who really knows both parties, has a better chance.

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15:22 Nov 24, 2022

That would be an interesting longitudinal study for some young Ph.D. candidates! As for me, I'm content at this stage of my life with yoga and refined carbohydrates and a cat.

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Eileen Turner
01:14 Nov 26, 2022

Yes, me too. I quite give up on romance.

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Susan Catucci
14:46 Nov 21, 2022

Shakespeare's got nothing on you - this was as potent a commentary on human exchange and as effective an example of verbal sparing as I have ever read. Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? Virginia should be looking out for you, I think. Oh, and when you're popping that corn with extra butter, don't forget the arsenic.

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18:28 Nov 21, 2022

And some old lace :)

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Susan Catucci
20:42 Nov 21, 2022

I knew you'd understand :)

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Daniel Legare
14:22 Nov 21, 2022

I have learned a lot about dialogue with this story, thanks once again for an amazing submission!

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18:48 Nov 21, 2022

Maybe passive-aggressive dialogue 😜

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