Confidence

Let’s do another writing prompt! I enjoy these, it shakes things up from what I normally want to write and forces me out of my comfort zone. Clears out the creative cobwebs, as it were. This one I took from https://hobbylark.com/writing/200-Creative-Writing-Prompts. 

“Are you almost done in there?” asked Marty through the closed bathroom door. He had been banging on it off and on for the last five minutes and sounded as though he was about to lose his temper. Connie bit her finger nervously as she looked at herself in the mirror.

“Yeah, I’ll be right out!” she yelled at her older brother. “I told you!”

“You’ve been saying that for half an hour!” Marty said, totally exaggerating, as usual, before stomping off down the hall.

Connie gazed upon her reflection, trying to stir up the confidence that she needed to do what she was about to do. She told herself that her hair was pretty, swept to the side and held in place with a white headband. She said that her make up was beautiful, subtle yet accentuating her features perfectly. She told herself that her outfit was expertly chosen, somehow stylish without having to go out and purchase the latest fashion trends, as money constraints would not allow such expenditures. But none of these thoughts gave her the confidence that she desperately needed.

She gritted her teeth and looked at herself in the mirror, searching her thoughts and accomplishments for some sort of sign that she was capable of this terrifying journey she was about to embark upon. Nothing came to mind that made her feel any sort of ability beyond what a normal 16-year old girl would feel.

Nothing save for one thing. It hit her like a bolt of lightning, jolting through her thoughts with the energy of 1.21 gigawatts. She knew how to do something that none of her friends knew how to do, no one in her family knew how to do, and none of the magazines or television shows could demonstrate how to do.

The year was 1963 and Connie Benson knew how to fold a fitted sheet. It was something she had figured out on her own when she was just seven years old and had kept a closely guarded secret for eight years now. Her mother had tried to pry the information from her without any success. Her mother had watched her like a hawk whenever Connie was folding her laundry, but Connie had always managed to obscure the view or distracted her well enough that missed the crucial steps that Connie took to get the fitted sheet perfectly arranged in a neat 9″ x 9″ square. It drove her mother crazy and Connie reveled in that.

For some reason, this was the thing that made Connie confident. Not how well she did in school (very) nor how lovely she looked this evening (exceptionally). But this one thing that she did better than anyone, Connie gleaned the self-assurance she needed to leave the bathroom.

So she gave herself one more look in the mirror, winked at her reflection, and smiled at her own sauciness. She opened the door to find Marty glowering in the hall.

“Took you long enough,” he said, pushing himself past her.

“Don’t rush a girl in the bathroom, Marty,” Connie instructed him as he slammed the door. Their mother hollered from the kitchen not to slam doors. Connie took a deep breath and went to the living room closet, quietly opening the door behind her father as he watched the evening news. She pulled her jacket from the hanger and clutched it tightly in her hand as she closed the door again. It clicked and she heard her father shift in his chair. She closed her eyes, bracing for his questions. They came just as expected.

“And where are you off to, young lady?” he asked. She put on her brightest smile and turned to face him. I know how to fold a fitted sheet, she thought.

“I’m meeting Jenny for a burger in town,” she smiled at him. He eyed her up and down from behind his thick horn-rimmed spectacles. He exhaled a puff of smoke around the cigarette in his mouth.

“You look very nice for just meeting Jenny for a burger,” he said, clearly suspicious. He was always suspicious, though. If Marty weren’t always getting in trouble, Connie knew her life would be much easier, but she didn’t have much choice in the matter, so she made do.

“Well, we might take in a movie or something, live it up a little,” Connie lied. “Ladies Who Do is at the cinema, thought we might go see that after we eat.” Her father took a moment to think, the tip of his cigarette glowing brightly, then dimming as he exhaled smoke through his nostrils, then repeating the process. He scratched his cheek, his fingernail making rough sounds as it scraped over his stubble.

“Do you need any money?” he asked, eventually. “I guess not if you already had plans to go out, huh? But do you need a couple extra pounds? Get some popcorn?”

It seemed that he was in one of his rare sweet moods. His usual nasty demeanor was tempered tonight for some reason, and Connie was grateful. I know how to fold a fitted sheet.

“No, thank you, daddy,” she said, smiling extra brightly at the man who raised her.

“So you won’t be here for dinner?” asked her mother from the kitchen.

“No, mom,” Connie replied. Her mother knew the answer, so why bother asking? Connie saw her mother throw her arms in the arm, wooden spoon covered in sauce in one hand, and shake her head. Connie didn’t care if she was inconveniencing her mom tonight, she had more important things to do.

She gave her dad a kiss on his scratchy cheek and headed out the door. Jenny was waiting for her outside in her car. Connie hopped in, smiling wider than she ever had.

“Did they suspect anything?” Jenny asked.

“Not a thing,” said Connie. “We are free women tonight! I know how to fold a fitted sheet!”

“What?”

“Nothing,” laughed Connie.

“Brilliant. Let’s go, the boys are waiting for us.”

“Speak of the devil,” Connie said as she turned up the radio. John Lennon was instructing them to shake it up and the girls started to twist and shout in the car.

They drove into the evening night, not to return home for several months. The Beatles were in town, and the two of them were going to follow the band as far as they could, even to Germany, if possible. Connie wouldn’t be allowed to leave the house for a year when she finally returned home, but it was worth it.

 

So it’s not my favorite flash fiction prompt ever, nor the one I was most passionate about, but it was an exercise in writing something I wouldn’t normally concentrate on, and that’s important to do sometimes. I hope you enjoyed it! The prompt was: “The year was 1963 and Connie Benson knew how to fold a fitted sheet.”


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