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It Could Be Worse · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Lemonade Run
Once upon a time in the land of suburbia...

The weather was very hot, near the end of the day and it seemed like little Freyja wouldn't break even on her lemonade stand. She spent a lot of her cash on supplies, the stand itself and the day permit from the housing association. Across the street there was a rival stand selling tomato juice on the other side. The boy over there was making cash hand over fist. The worst of it was that people said her drinks were “Meh”. It was not mostly okay or awfully, memorably bad – just meh.

Her rival and sometime friend Mikey, shut down his stand early and came over to see how Freyja was doing.

With a mischievous smile, Mikey asked, “What's with the long face?”

“You know why! I'm not making enough money!” Freyja replied, throwing her hands and arms up in frustration.

“That's not my fault, friend-do.”

“Yes it is! Thanks to you, you stole all my customers.”

"Nah, I just gave them an incentive to visit your booth.”

Freyja was furious as she pointed her finger at him, “How can you say this? You stole my customers! If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be struggling. Why didn't you just stick with your lawn mowing jobs?”

“Because all these 'good neighbors' ripped me off,” Mikey replied with a smirk and then asked, “Haven't you noticed a lot of my customers have come back to your stand later?”

Freyja thought about this for a moment. Before the moment she didn't notice it, but Mikey was right. After a while, people would come up to the stand holding their stomachs in pain. They would be rude to her, but would order a glass of lemonade. They would down it quickly and sometimes order another one.

“Oh, thanks Mikey. I think? How did you help me?”

A woman hurried up to the stand and ordered a glass of lemonade. She drank it quickly and said, “Meh.” She then noticed Mikey and gave him a rude gesture as she left. In return, Mikey stuck his tongue out.

Freyja rubbed the back of her neck and asked, “Why was she rude?”

With hands on his hips and a laugh he explained, “I'm not selling tomato juice. I'm selling tomato juice with alcohol! On this hot day, adults want to have adult drinks. I'm making the big money!”

“Okay, but why are they coming back sick to their stomach?” she asked, confused.

“One time I stole some cookies from the cookie jar. Well, I did that a lot of times. My mom got tired of that and baked some of the herbs from the garden into them. They made my guts achy,” he replied with an evil grin.

Freyja looked horrified and exclaimed, “Oh... oh no! You added them to your drinks.”

The boy nodded, “And as to why back to you? Water has been off in the neighborhood for hours now. Guess someone turned off the main, broke its handle off and made sure the neighborhood sup' is not available. Bad for them.”

Freyja looked annoyed, “At least it's not my fault I'm not doing well. I guess?”

“You didn't drink any of your lemonade, did you?” Mickey asked with a smirk.

“No, got a water bottle here.”


At this point in the distance, an angry mob came around the block and made its way towards the children. The boy broke off into a run and the girl soon followed on instinct.

Freyja yelled as she caught up to Mikey, "This has been a pretty bad day for me. Worst of all, my lemonade tastes 'Meh'.”

“It's not your fault. I'm the reason why your lemonade tastes 'Meh' because I added something to your mix while you weren't looking this morning,” Mikey chuckled out of breath.

“You suck! This is the worst day ever for me!”

“It could be worse. You could be running with shit in your underwear!”
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#1 · 2
· · >>libertydude
Hmm, so he spiked his own stock with booze and some kind of herbal poison, and spiked that of his rival with laxative, and then for good measure also sabotaged the water supply? Why? It sounds like he's just Chaotic Evil.

Lemonade stands are a bit of Americana that I know of only from media in-references, so it's quite possible that I'm missing some crucial cultural background to understand this story. Are they generally supposed to be as serious business as portrayed here? Permits from the housing association? Paying someone money for the stand itself? Worrying about whether your shopkeeper roleplay breaks even?

I struggle to imagine how that laxative must taste if the immediate reaction it elicits from everybody is consistently the particular word "meh" ...
#2 · 2
· · >>Troposphere
Never trust a kid named Mikey. That’s just common sense.

On a serious note, one element I enjoyed about the story was the idea of a kid creating a business model that forces the customers into participating in another business. It creates an interesting commentary that you could draw parallels to bigger corporations like computer companies or television providers. There’s definitely something there to expand on in a future version of this story.

I think what bugged me the most about this story was the ages of the kids, which felt a little too ambiguous. In fact, I’m assuming their kids because that’s generally who runs lemonade stands, but for all I know, they may be young adults. The level to which Mikey goes to maintain their business also seems a bit too far for a story that’s relatively grounded. Had things been a little more bombastic from the get-go (like, say, if Mikey casually mentioned he’d obtained 300 gallons of tomato juice in one night), I would’ve accepted this as just a part of this kooky world. As is, it does feel like a little too over-the-top and way too mean-spirited to be funny (for reference: I live in a subtropical climate with harsh summers, and turning off an entire neighborhood’s water would be akin to ripping water away from people in the middle of the desert).

Any future revisions the author makes should probably be spent on upping the comedic excesses of the piece to where we as readers would be on board, since we understand how outlandish and excessive the piece would be. Like >>Troposphere said, make Mikey full-on Chaotic Evil; maybe he’s a criminal mastermind trying to get a lean on the whole lemonade/tomato juice business. Anything that would make us “get” the piece’s humor a little more clearly.

(Also, just to answer >>Troposphere’s questions, lemonade stands are essentially considered summer dalliances for children or easy fundraisers here in America. There’s usually not a focus on the business side of things because lemonade is something you can easily make yourself and is available at stores, so folks only buy it to give the kids a little spending money over the summer or to help out with local advocacy groups. It’s rare that you have to get a permit since they’re basically businesses that pop up in neighborhoods for a few days than disappear. There are technically laws in most areas about setting them up, but only the most stringent of cities try to enforce them. Partly because they aren’t worth the effort, but partly because they are so deeply embedded in American psyches as “easy summer activities for kids” that sending the police to scold children for making lemonade makes you look like a huge jerk. In fact, I remember a time a few years ago where one city did just that, and they got major criticism across the country for doing so.)
#3 · 2
Thanks for the explanation, >>libertydude. That matches the working assumptions I've formed from from media references. I still wasn't sure if "little Freyja"s hard-nosed attitude towards the business was normal or an explicit point the story was trying to make. (Some of her grievances near the start of the story sounded so adult I could almost think I was reading Ender's Game).
#4 · 1
Well… What can I say? This tastes completely contrived from the beginning till the end. Beginning by the first line, which is entirely wasted and irrelevant. I mean, I don’t really care about the story (this is a far-fetched plot), I don’t really care about the characters either.

The only thing amusing are the names. I suppose Mickey was chosen because of Mickey Finn. Freyja is probably a reference to the Norse goddess. Other than that, I’m siding with Troposphere here again.
#5 · 2
Kind of amusing, but I don't understand the motivations at all.

So, Mikey (well, you call him Mickey too) wants to cause trouble just because, I guess? He starts out as if it's a favor he's doing Freyja, but then that was just a prank as well, so why does Freyja even engage with him? For that matter, Mikey isn't advertising his drinks as alcoholic, or Freyja would have seen, so it must be by word of mouth, but then how did he initially get all of Freyja's potential customers? And then his explanation is that all his customers would eventually become hers, yet she says she had a lot fewer. I get that the water being off means people can't drink that instead, but none of them have anything else in their house? And why would achy guts make them seek out another drink anyway? At least Freyja being the only other option explains why they're not necessarily seeking out lemonade specifically. Shouldn't Mikey have a reputation now such that these people would know better? The age I would expect these kids to be, based on the kind of trouble Mikey gets into and just the general age that kids do lemonade stands, is at a disconnect with the kind of language Freyja uses when she talks.

It's not a story that hangs on logic that well, but then I doubt it's supposed to be. Cartoon logic is fine, but you might want to have a stronger thread to all of it.
#6 · 1
Little shit gets quite fleeced
Causes chaos around
Because he's the beast