Sunday, 9 February 2014

What's in a face? --WEP Challenge for FEBRUARY 2014

Welcome to WEP's Blogfest for February [=Write-Edit-Publish, formerly 'Romantic Friday Writers'] Challenge for Wednesday 22nd February 2014 - 'What's in a face?':

I think I came up with at least seven different ideas for stories from this prompt. This is one of them. It is a stand alone piece of flash fiction, although it feels to me as if it could be a part of a larger work. But I doubt that I will do more with it than what you see here:

What's in a face? 

Early one morning, the recently employed receptionist at the Farmer & Melker Clinic, Marcy Kramer, sat behind the reception counter, applying blood-red nail polish on her long, well-manicured, fingernails. She turned to her co-worker, surgical nurse, Julie Neumacher, and asked, "Hey, when's the first appointment  today?" Marcy looked at her wet nails. "I hope this will dry in time."

"Hm, let's see," replied Julie Neumacher, as she scrolled down a list on her computer screen, "Ten o'clock, for Doctor Melker. And it’s only ten to nine now." Julie looked at her upside down watch, pinned to her shirt breast pocket.

“I must tell you about my date with Chuck the other night," said Marcy continuing to apply polish on the other hand and finding it awkward, as it meant holding the brush with the hand she did not write with.

"Chuck who?" mumbled Julie and wrote something quickly in a notebook.

"Chuck? You know, Chuck Norton, that cute guy who's just starting out as a junior lawyer at that law firm… I can’t remember the name…” said Marcy admiring her outstretched fingers with painted nails. 

"I need coffee," said Julie, as she went to the office kitchenette, "I hope we have time for this, before Caligula and Nero arrive."

“Caligula and Nero? Weren’t they Roman emperors?”

“Yes, who fed the early Christians to the lions, and helped bring about the fall of the Roman Empire. Cream and sugar? 

“Oh, just a drop of milk, please. Why do you call them Caligula and Nero? It sounds like names you'd give a pair of naughty tomcats."


“What do you mean, Julie? Is there something about these doctors that I should know? You’ve been working here, for er... how long?”

“Two years.”

“I guess we don’t have time to talk about my date with Chuck?”

“No.” said Julie returning from the kitchenette with two mugs of coffee and putting them on the writing desk behind the reception counter. “I’m just saying that if any of the doctors shows up early, we have to look like we're doing serious work, or we're dog-meat.”

“You don’t mean that literally, do you?”

“No, of course not. Metaphorically. It’s just an expression.”

The reception telephone rings. 

“The phone's ringing, Julie. What should I do?”

“It’s your job is to answer the phone and take messages. You know what to say. We went through this yesterday.”

Marcy answers the phone: “Good morning. The Farmer and Melker Clinic, doctors J.P. Farmer and C.T. Melker, Plastic Surgery. How may I help you?”

“This is A.P. Morgonstern from Hamiton, Pritchard and Morgonstern, attorneys at law. We represent Miss Zelda Dimstar. Has Doctor Melker received our letter?"

“This is the reception. I would not know about that, sir. You'll have to speak to Doctor Melker."

“Could I speak with him now?”

“No, I'm sorry, sir. Doctor Melker is not available at this time, but if you would like to leave a message, I'll see that he gets it."

“You do that, Schweetheart," said Morgonstern, “You tell him that he's made a mess of Miss Dimstar's face and career, and that he's going to have to pay for it.”

“I'll tell him, Mr. Morgonstern.”

“Yeah. Tell him we’ve got a date in court on the 15th. He'd better show up."

“Yes, sir. I'll tell him. Was there anything else?” 


“Good-bye,” said Marcy softly, “He hung up.”

“What was all that about?” asked Julie.

“Someone seems to want to sue Doctor Melker,” explained Marcy waving her hands in the air to speed the drying of her nails, “Has this happened before? Do we often get calls from the lawyers of unhappy patients?”

“You wait and see. This is why I am looking for a new job.”

“What? Did he really operate and make a mistake? Or are these people just ambulance-chasers?”

“I don't know, Marcy. What’s in a face, anyway? What can a perfect face be worth? I mean, to a movie star?”

“A film career and several million dollars, maybe?” said Marcy sagely, waving her hand and knocking over her coffee mug, spilling coffee over the computer keyboard, a pile of letters and bills, as well as splashing coffee on her skirt and blouse. “Oh no, and I've ruined my nails, too.”

At that moment, the office door opened and in walked Doctor Melker.


Word count according to WordCalc: 523

This text is fiction. Any resemblance to events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidencial.

Best wishes,

First Commenter:
Yolanda Renee

Defending the Pen


Yolanda Renée said...

I think it's a good idea Julie, searching for a new job. I don't know if you meant it to be humorous, but I found myself smiling at the end. Loved the ending. I could see that attorneys unopened letter dripping with spilled coffee as Marcy tries to explain not only that phone call but painting her nails too! Millions for the movie star is right! Fun read!

Denise Covey said...

Ha, ha, I thought it was funny in a wry sort of way. I'd be searching for a new job too. I liked the slow reveal, Anna, about it being a plastic surgery clinic. The painted nails was a nice touch and the spilled coffee took the cake!

Well done. Perfect idea for the prompt.

Thank you for posting for WEP.


Unknown said...

Dear Yolanda,

Thank you so much for reading my post for "What's in a Face?" I'm glad you could see the humour in it. My story is supposed to be funny. I wasn't sure you were going to take it the right way, considering your recent source of achs and pains. I sincerely hope that the doctors who are treating you are more competent and compassionate than these jokers, Farmer & Melker, in my flash fiction story.

I was inspired by the photo-stories of celebs who have had bad luck with plastic surgery, such as Priscilla Presley and others that have been shown on the Internet.

When I was out shopping without the children one day, I was pleased to find and buy a DVD of The Sound of Music to encourage my son in his attempts to learn English. (Julie Andrews English is crystal clear and a joy to hear for anyone who does not have English as their mother-tongue.) And then, at home, I went online to get more background information about the movie and was horrified to learn that Julie Andrews had lost her singing voice when her vocal chords were operated on in the 1990s. In her prime, she could sing four octaves. Poor Julie.

At least the Queen, Elizabeth II has made her a "Dame of the Empire."

Another source of inspiration is the movie The Devil Wears Prada with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. But my nurse, Julie, is kinder to Marcy than the character Emily Charlton was to the newbie, Andrea Sachs.

This text is only a stand alone writing exercise, and not a part of a WIP. I started writing a text about a face that might fit into my novel. But it is not finished yet.

My grandfather was a dentist and oral surgeon, so from him I have learned that your face and mouth are one of the most sensitive parts of your body. He probably would not have liked my story. He was a compassionate and well-liked practitioner. He did what he could to relief the suffering of his patients.

He never did purely cosmetic surgery. He helped people with birth defects like hare-lip and people who had smashed their in automobile accidents in a time before anyone even thought of seat belts in cars.

Best wishes,

Unknown said...

Dear Denise,

I am so glad you can laugh at my story! Thanks for letting me post this early.

There is so much going on here, I am having to learn how to pre-schedule posts and think ahead if I want to participate at all.

Best wishes,

Wish I could edit my commnet to Yolanda. A word got dropped out. It should read like this:

He never did purely cosmetic surgery. He helped people with birth defects like hare-lip and people who had smashed their faces in automobile accidents, in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, a time before anyone even thought of having safety seat belts in their cars.

Grace said...

I love the story Anna ~ Oh no what will happen next ~ Perhaps they really need to be looking for a new job~

Nilanjana Bose said...

Hi Anna,

She had really best look for a new job! You flash made me smile, the Caligula and Nero touch was just perfect, enjoyed how you kept the cosmetic surgery bit till almost the last.

But on another level it is very thought provoking too - what is a perfect face worth? What is perfect? There is so much debate going on with "perfect" and "body image" and all, especially with young women. This flash presents a serious question in a light hearted package. Loved your take. Well done!

Tanya. said...

Hi Anna...what a great piece you have written here. I would never have thought to take that line and go that way with a story but it works so well. There is definitely so much you could do to add to this and keep it going and I for one will be here if you ever do..I am dying to meet the 'famous' Dr Melker

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Marcy needs some training on what not to do on the job! Poor Marcy, her first day on the job may be her last -- and probably should be what with the terrible surgeon she works for! Julie seems to have the right idea: get another job.

It was a fun read and a grand story. Thank you for it.

dolorah said...

Great voice Anna. You integrated dialogue, action and so much personality into these characters. They were quite vivid, and realistic.

I enjoyed the lightheartedness.


Sally said...

Hi Anna,
Yes,I agree with the other commentators and like the dry humour that comes through in this piece, and the stereotypical receptionist wanting to spend all day painting her nails and talking about her boyfriend. Then the ending about what makes someone beautiful, fitting in nicely with the theme. I hope your studies are going well.

Lisa said...

The style of this had me smiling. It seemed lighthearted with an ending that seemed it could go either way. Fun and easy to imagine!

D.G. Hudson said...

Enjoyed this immensely. Am now a new follower. I worked in a small town hospital at reception. We got to know everything.

Well done. Late visiting due to pc problems. Nice to read a sample of your writing.

Scheherazade said...

Very amusing, Anna. It's the last thing that would have popped into my mind, but you made a great choice and handled it with a touch of comedy.

Kelly Steel said...

Loved the piece. Your writing style is very impressive.

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