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Hiding in Plain Sight · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 500–900
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The Eternal Struggle
Drea stared out the window of her third story apartment, across the sun-baked street, to the small digital sign outside the First National Bank. It politely informed her that it was 12:46 pm, and the outside temperature was 97°F. She groaned as she sank back into the loveseat, sweat welding her to the pleather.

Against her will, she felt her attention dragged back to the half-hearted argument taking place on the couch against the far wall, next to the feeble wheezing of her decrepit air conditioner. As per usual, her cousin Tim and his girlfriend Becca were failing to come to a consensus as to where they should go for lunch. Their voices had a vague quality as their heads lolled against opposite arms of the sofa.

“Micky D’s.” It was as though Becca couldn’t summon the inflection necessary for a question.

“That’s not actual food. Doesn’t even grow mold.” Tim managed to glance at his phone before his arm flopped back down to his side. “Tuberculosis.”

“I had TB for lunch yesterday." Becca rested a bare foot atop the back of the sofa. “Jesus Chicken.”

“It’s Sunday,” said Tim.

Becca sighed. “God dammit.”

Drea cursed them both under her breath and ran a hand through her undercut to unplaster it from her scalp. She peeled herself out of the loveseat and staggered across the room to the kitchen, where she opened the fridge door and knelt before it in supplication to its chilled air. To her dismay, the drone of the refrigerator did little to mute the voices in the other room.

“Meat Fetish,” said Tim.


“Y’know, the one that has the meats.”

Becca snorted. “You’re reaching. And no, I still haven’t forgiven them for switching to Coke products.”

“Ugh, you’re the worst.”

Drea sighed as she took stock of the feeble contents of her fridge. Nothing but half a dozen eggs, milk a day past its expiration date, some shredded cheese. No leftovers, no cold pizza. A slightly withered red bell pepper and half an onion in the crisper drawer that had been there since… Well, since before Jenny had dumped her two weeks back. She scowled at the memory as she slammed the drawer shut.

“Pizza Yurt.” Becca’s voice had an edge to it now.

“I had pizza for lunch yesterday,” said Tim with a sigh.

Drea opened the freezer and allowed herself a small smile as the frigid interior shot plumes of chilling mist at her. Her smile faded when she saw it held naught but ice and a bag of frozen zucchini.

“Pentadudes,” said Becca.

“Food poisoning, remember?”

“Eating an entire bag of their fries in one go and then shitting your brains out does not equate food poisoning.”

Drea shoved an ice cube into her hair – it wasn’t like she could get any more wet – and went back into the living room. “Will you two please just fucking pick something? I’m starving over here, and it’s too hot to keep listening to you go back and forth.” She flopped back onto the loveseat with a huff.

“Yeah yeah, Dee,” said Tim as he slowly slid shoulder first to the floor. “Uh, BK Lounge.”

“That’s way across town,” said Becca with a dismissive wave. “Jim’s Gyros.”

“You’re pronouncing it wrong.” Tim ran a hand across his face and wiped it on his shorts. “Also, it’s closed for renovations. Jesus Chicken.”

“You already shot it down. It’s Sunday, remember?”

“God dammit.

Drea stared out the window again, and the First National Bank sign now said it was 12:52 pm, and a sunny 98°F. She groaned as she sank back into the loveseat, and prayed for the sweet release of death.
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#1 · 3
I don't...

think it's even possible to freeze zucchini and have it still be edible?
#2 · 1
To you too I'm sorry. I wrote a review earlier, but it got lost for some reason. I may cut corners here, but I'll try my best.

Good Stuff: This had an interesting kind of suspense, where nothing much is happening but you get the sense all the same that it's building up to something. The two apathetic characters Tim and Becca going through a list of restaurants was like a timer, and I liked how Drea went around trying to do stuff in the meantime like hunting for food. This convinced me it was building up to something big, so well done for good style.

Bad Stuff: Either I don't get the payoff, or there wasn't one. I thought all the talk about food and starving to death was a cover for something else, and the temperature being insufferable too. Maybe I missed something, but I never saw anything beyond that really, so I was disappointed. If there was some bigger thing I was missing, I think that's a sign you could make it clearer by saying it straight-out at the end instead of being coy with it. Also, the characters never felt particularly deep. Maybe show different sides of them, like affectionate or small noble things; at the moment, they come across as just annoying, and that's not fun to read after a while.

Verdict: Needs Work. Fair enough, I might be missing something big, but after the build-up, I just don't see it. And that makes it hard for me to engage with this fic much when I couldn't say what it was all about. Also, the characterization limited my enjoyment and needed something to give it some flavor or complexity. As it is, I can't get into it.
#3 · 2
My review:

Characters and Dialogue: Probably the main selling point of the story. The exchanges, and some of the mock fast-food names, will certainly stand out in my memory. Though, it must be said that I never wound up caring for any of the characters, or their plight. Tim and Becca's routine went old hat pretty quickly, and I was disappointed when it didn't even change by the conclusion of the story; like a song just abruptly ending rather than offering even a modest fade-out. Still, for evoking that listless, endless, scorching-hot-summer-day feeling, it was at least fitting.

Style, Flow, and Grammar: Nothing grammatically incorrect or confusing, apart from possibly one sentence: "Against her will, she felt her attention dragged back to the half-hearted argument taking place on the couch against the far wall, next to the feeble wheezing of her decrepit air conditioner." The essentially unrelated description of the air conditioner really drags this line out, which was already suffering from the passive-like construction "she felt her attention dragged back" and the unusual (imo) inflection on "drag." If I had to rewrite it with similar words, I might say, "Against Drea's will, her attention returned to the half-hearted argument taking place on the couch against the far wall," and fit the broken air conditioner description somewhere else.

The rest of the narration was convincingly casual, and I enjoyed the thought put into choosing exactly which foodstuffs would make the most depressing refrigerator ever.

Plot and Pacing: Already sort of touched on in my first paragraph. It's just... nothing happens, and the nothingness is repetitive to boot. I guess I'm just too much of a Type A personality to enjoy it.

Final: All in all, this will probably land in the middle of my vote.