Note: It’s been nearly three years since I tried my hand at a flash fiction. I think about it regularly but haven’t felt any motivation to actually put words down. That changed today after my dear friend Carol expressed her disappointment with the ending of Checked Out (posted yesterday). I told her she could imagine that Arwen is in a 50 gallon drum in Mary’s basement. That made her happier. This story came from that conversation. And a huge “thank you” to Carol for giving me very helpful feedback on Details. Hope you enjoy!

“Mary Dean?! You didn’t use your real name or picture!”

“I hope you can forgive me. I hate not being completely honest in my profile but being semi-famous makes it tough to date online. Are you still game for dinner or do you want to call it an evening?” Mary gave her a hopeful grin.

“What else did you lie about?”

“Nothing! I don’t have any pets and I despise being around small children. I love wine and horror films. And I’m looking for a woman to be part of my life, long-term. I was honest about being a writer, and I have had articles published in magazines. Mostly true dating profile!”

Mary waited a few seconds, but Denise said nothing. “Do you want me to hail a cab for you? I wouldn’t blame you, but I truly am sorry and I would love to buy you dinner.”

Denise narrowed her eyes and said, “All right, but I’m ordering something expensive.”

Mary gave her most charming smile. “Wonderful! It’s a nice night; shall we walk?” She put her elbow out for Denise to link arms with. After a scowling glance, she did, and they strolled down the sidewalk.

“How about we start over? Hi, I’m Mary Dean, writer of slasher novels, lover of adult-only venues, and binge watcher of reality TV. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mary. I’m Denise Young, free-lance accountant slash amateur chef. I like quiet walks on the beach, blended cocktails, and documentaries.”

“I’ll try not to hold the blended drinks thing against you.” Mary nudged Denise in the ribs gently.

“I appreciate that. I’ll also let you buy me a few while we wait for our food.” Denise grinned.

Mary abruptly stopped and put her hands to her eyes. “Ow! Something’s in my eye.” She dug into her purse and pulled out a compact. She opened the lid, turned toward Denise, and sneezed. A cloud of dust flew into Denise’s face.

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry.” Mary closed the compact and put it back in her bag.

Denise was bent over, wiping her face with her hands and dabbing at her eyes with her coat sleeve. Eventually, she looked at Mary and said, “It’s okay. I’m fine. Startled me, that’s all.”

“Are you sure?” Mary used her best concerned voice.

They had walked in silence a few minutes when Denise stumbled.

“Are you okay?” Mary turned to face her and held her in a steadying grip.

“I… I’m very light headed. Can we sit down, please?”

“No, we should keep going. We’re nearly there.”

Mary put her arm around Denise’s waist tightly and pulled her along.

“You know, writing horror is harder than people think. It takes work to get details like poisoning effects and blood spatter right. A good research assistant is a must. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to last very long. Maybe I should switch to romance novels…”

Comment if you want. You know, no pressure.

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