Friday, June 11, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday: The Choice

Which one?  They’re both flashy and expensive!  But only one is correct.
    Jenson can’t decide which engagement ring to choose. 
    Emily has no real preference and would be happy with either.
    He picks up the small ring on the left.
    Princess cut.  White diamond.  1.1 carat weight.  White gold band.  Elevated setting.  A very pretty ring.
    “A very beautiful ring,” offers the jeweler.  “Sure to make any girl proud.”
    Jenson smiles, trying to hide the frustration from his face. 
    Why do they always accost?  All salesmen are professional annoyances.
    “Yeah,” he says.  “But I want to pick out the perfect ring, y’know?  My girlfriend doesn’t know I’m getting this, so I want it to be special.”  He holds the ring up to the light and looks at the prism of colors refracting off the tiny stone.
    He tries to picture the look on Emily’s face.  She’s shocked.  She’s smiling.  She’s crying.  She’s holding the ring in her hand and tentatively sliding it on her finger.
    He picks up the other ring.  It’s smaller in every way.  In its simplicity, it is beautiful.  A single, round stone, blue-white in color.  It sparkles even more so than the princess cut.
    Jenson agonizes over the decision, trying to justify his choice.
    The jeweler’s eye twitches slightly, his brain calculating the smaller profit from the cheaper ring.  “Also a beautiful ring,” he says crisply.  “Perhaps you’d like to look at these over here?”  He’s moving to a side case.
    “No, no.  It’s going to be one of these definitely.  I just can’t decide which one, though.”  Jenson painfully laughs, shaking his head at his indecisiveness.
    The salesman nods.  “Hmm.  Well, what do you like about each of them?”  His voice is excited at having the possibility of the more expensive ring back on the table.
    “This one,” Jenson says, holding up the first ring, “is very nice and I’m sure Emily would love it.  It’s the kind of ring she could show off to her friends.  Make ‘em jealous, y’know?”  The salesman smiles wide, knowing exactly what Jenson means.  “But it’s a little out of my price range.”
    He holds up the other ring.  “This one looks simple at first, but there’s something, I feel silly saying it, but there’s something almost magical about this one.  The brilliance in its reflection just draws my eyes back to it.”  He laughs again.  “Does that make sense?”
    The tight smile is back on the jeweler’s face.  “Yes.  That ring does command you to look at it, doesn’t it?”
    The salesman sighed.  “I can’t choose for you, son.  I’m sure the girl will be happy with either one.”
    “Yeah.  Ha, it’s not the ring that’s the most important part of a marriage, eh?  If I pick the wrong one it’s not like God’s going to strike me down or something.”  He laughs again.  “But…”  Jenson sighs heavily.  A sigh of finality.
    Jenson pays on a payment plan, signing his life away, as it is.  I see it happen all the time.  The wrong choice.  It’s almost comical, really.  Some of the choices I’ve seen are absurd.  Sometimes the consequence is immediate; sometimes it’s a lifetime of regret and a slowly breaking heart.  The boy has just made the single most important decision in his life, and he chose incorrectly.  A shame, truly.
    Jenson steps out of the mall, holding the ring box tight, and hears a strange, whistling noise piercing through the afternoon air.  He looks up just in time to see the wayward space rock barreling towards his body.  He doesn’t move.  His hand opens and the jewelry box falls.  His pupils shrink in fear.  He gasps. 
The meteorite tears through his body, burning up as it collides with the sidewalk.  I pick up the ring and shake my head.

Word Count: 635

*I wanted to write a story with a weird and unexpected ending.  The narrator thinks in italics.  I’m sure there’s some sort of metaphor in it, if you look hard enough, but I’m still trying to work out exactly who the narrator is.


Jay Belt said...

I don't think you really need to work out who the narrator is. Is he a powerful wizard? An evil supervillian? A devious trans-dimensional trickster demi-god? A Best Buy employee? It doesn't really matter, IMO.

I do think you could just tag on one last italicized comment at the end and you don't even need to explain the narrator was the one thinking in italics the whole time.

Jay Belt said...

Oh, and nice unexpected ending too!

Okie said...

I like it. I really enjoy the twist of the ending and am curious to know more about 'why' it was the wrong choice and had such powerful consequences. Nicely done and thought provoking as to the weight of seemingly simple choices.

As to the narrator/italics thing. I wasn't quite sure what to make of the italics. I read them as being somewhat set apart from the main but more in terms of emphasis than in terms of another voice or thought process. Reading them as a sort of thought-commentary from the narrator, they take on a different feel. While it may or may not require more background/knowledge of the narrator (at least on your part as the author), I think the italicized moments would gain strength from having a couple of additional comments to point out that it's a separate commentary. For example, some of the sentences in the third to last paragraph seem to fit the tone of earlier italics (such as "A shame, truly"...or to make it even more clear, the sentences "I see it happen all the time. The wrong choice..."

Still, I think it works very well as-is with no changes needed unless you wanted to emphasize the narrator's position more.

logankstewart said...

@Jay: I'm with you that the identity of the narrator does not matter. Just a spectator is all that really matters. Thanks for reading.

@Okie: I really considered making some of those sentences, particularly "A shame, truly..." italicized. Either way, I think it works, but I don't want it to be too confusing. I expected there may be some confusion without the disclaimer, but I'm not sure about that, either. Anyway, thanks for reading!