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Jul 11, 2011


Cold air met me as I left the log cabin-style motel room, my breath forming a white mist as I looked at the small Utah town I’d driven into late last night. The chill in the air would almost have me believe it’s the end of fall, not the beginnings of summer as I walk toward the large windows of the office. The long trail of smoke wafting from its chimney invites me in to the cozy artifice of the lobby.

Everything inside looks as though it’s plush and comfortable, but the slightest bit of further inspection shows that neither is true. I leaned on the sofa last night, the bold floral patter covered over stiff foam that held no warmth.

The clerk behind the desk is the same middle aged man, with a shiny patch of skin at the back of his head. He takes my key with a toothy grin. His name tag reads: Bob, but last night he introduced himself as Clem.

“Everything to your satisfaction?” Clem turns to hang the key on the board.

“Yes, thank you.” The room was far above anything I’d expected in a town with a population of 765.

“Heading a long way?”

As Clem moves to finish writing up the receipt for the room, I notice his eyes flick to my left hand. I’d finally taken off the ring last night. I moved my hands from the counter. “I’ve only got a little ways yet.”

“Well, there’s snow if you’re heading west, might want to stop in at the gas station and get some chain’s put on that Subaru of yours.”

“It’s snowing in may?”

“Heck ma’am, we get snow here into July some times. You just head on over to the gas station and tell ‘em I sent you. They’ll have you all set up in no time.”

“Thanks,” I said as I took the yellow carbon receipt from him.

The gas station is an old Texaco, the sign seemingly from a bygone era. The attendant is an elderly man who’s smile is nearly toothless and head only has a few remaining wisps of white hair.

“Howdy Ma’am, how can I help you?”

“Clem told me to come here and get my chains put on.” For some reason, saying it is embarrassing. I hand him the bag with a sheepish smile.

“I’ll get these on for you, just go inside and let Melinda know. It should be about $10.”

He doesn’t give me his name, and as I walk in, I notice the sign on the wall listing chains installation for $40.

Melinda is a black cloud hunched over her counter. She’d be pretty if she smiled, but instead, she scowls at me and pulls out a clipboard with the gas stations various services listed.

She doesn’t say a word to me as she starts writing and I’m about ready to wait out side when she finally grumphs. “Just the chains?”

“Yeah, he said it would be about $10.”

“Well, he was wrong. Just because you’re pretty doesn’t mean you get special treatment. The sign’s wrong, it’s going to be a hundred.”

“I didn’t expec—”

“Every woman who comes into this town and looks half as good as you do expects preferential treatment.”

I stare at her, unsure of what to do for a moment, before I laugh and walk out the door. I pull the ten dollar bill out of my purse and hand it to the old man with an irritated snort, and start the ignition, peeling out of the parking lot in my ire.

Puddle << >>Icicle
This is a part of an ongoing story for the Red Dress Club’s Red Writing Hood Prompt. It is a work of fiction.

This week’s prompt was Physical beauty’s impact on your character with a word count limit of 600.

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