VDC2YAHOO!!!! I made it to the final round of the short story writing contest I’m entered in with Urban Literary Agency. The title/topic we were given for the 2nd round was Numbers Don’t Lie and the story had to be under 2000 words. Below is my submission (Again, you lose the italics thanks to FB). Tomorrow I get the final title/topic and will have 24 hours to submit a story of up to 1500 words. Can’t wait to get the topic lol.

Numbers Don’t Lie
(Contest Submission)
By Samantha A. Cole (Copyright Samantha A. Cole)

Sigh. Cora Bishop stepped off the offensive scale and watched the needle swing back to zero, a far cry from where it had been moments earlier. Today was her fiftieth birthday, and at two hundred and ten pounds, while standing five-foot-six, those numbers combined into a depressing mess of vital statistics. She was what her mother had always described as ‘big boned’, but the bitchy bullies she’d known in high school had just called her fat. Well, Cora, the numbers don’t lie—but now you’re old and fat.

Holding the towel, which she’d donned after her shower, she shuffled out to the bedroom were Frederick, her Siamese cat, lay atop the covers, quietly grooming himself. He had multiple personalities, ranging from a cuddly animal who adored his owner to pretending she didn’t exist. Today he was leaning toward the latter. Dropping her towel, she avoided her reflection in the dresser mirror and threw on her underwear, bra, jeans, and a comfortable, black sweater. When her body was completely covered, it was only then that she checked her appearance. Not bad, but far from great. A touch of makeup and styling her long, brown hair would help.

Three hours and half a dozen boring errands later, she began to head home in her eight-year-old Honda, which had seen better days. While she couldn’t afford a brand new one, a gently used, former lease would probably be perfect for her. Making the decision to start looking for a new vehicle, she wasn’t aware of the police car with its lights on behind her until the siren let out a short bark. Damn it. Glancing at her speedometer, she groaned—fifteen miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Great. Just what she needed to make the depressing day even worse—a ticket.

Pulling over to the side of the road, she remembered everything her ex-husband had told her to do if she was stopped by the police. She made sure she was far enough on the shoulder so the officer wouldn’t have to stand in the roadway, then she rolled the window down, turned off the engine, and rested her hands on the steering wheel. This all helped the officer conclude that she wasn’t a threat.

The crunching of feet on the gravel had her turning to see the uniformed man approach her driver’s window with a stern expression on his face. Well, what she could see of it, since he had reflective sunglasses on. Pasting on a smile, she hoped he would let her off with a warning. “Hi, officer? Did I do something wrong?”

“You were doing seventeen miles per hour over the speed limit, ma’am. License and registration, please.”

“Really?” Maybe if she sounded clueless and remorseful, it would help the situation. Just don’t cry she told herself. Her ex had said most cops had received the false crying routine so many times, they ignored tears. She dug into her purse for her wallet. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize I was going that fast.”

“I clocked you with the radar, ma’am. The numbers don’t lie. I calibrated the unit myself about an hour ago.” The tone of his voice was an indication he’d given that short speech many times before. Handing him her license and vehicle registration, she bit her lip. The stress of the day was starting to hit her as he studied her information. “Well, now, Miss Bishop. I can’t exactly give you a ticket on your birthday, can I? That wouldn’t be in the best interest of the public.”

Instead of thanking him, Cora burst into tears. She couldn’t help it as she covered her face in embarrassment. Her door opened, and through her fingers, she saw the officer crouch down next to her. His voice softened as he rubbed her shoulder. “Hey, now. What’s this? I thought you’d be happy I wasn’t giving you a ticket, and I don’t think these are happy tears.”

She shook her head and dropped her hands in her lap. “I’m s-sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I just thought my life would be so different when I hit fifty, and it’s not. I’m an old, divorced, overweight woman, who bursts into tears because a police officer is nice enough to say he isn’t going to give me a ticket.”

His chuckle went through her, warming her unexpectedly. “Fifty, huh? I didn’t even look at the year. First off—you don’t look a day over thirty-five. I’m divorced, too, so that just means we didn’t marry the right person the first time around. I turned fifty last May, and trust me, the second half of your life is going to be awesome.” Her tear-filled gaze met his. He was a good-looking man, with dark hair peppered with strands of grey. He’d taken his sunglasses off and she now saw his eyes were brilliant blue. After a quick glance over his shoulder, he turned back to her. “Tell you what, Ms. Bishop. It’s about time I took a coffee break. Would you like to join me at the donut shop across the street? As long as you don’t make any cop and donut jokes, that is.”

What? Was he serious? No, you idiot. He’s not asking you out, he just feels bad that you’re crying. But her hands were still shaking, and she wasn’t up to driving again at the moment, so what harm could be done by having a cup of coffee with the man? “I promise, no jokes.”

“Great.” He stood and shut her driver’s door. “Follow me then.”
They parked in the lot and he held the door to the shop open for her. After ordering coffee and a cupcake for both of them at the counter, he insisted on paying for hers. Taking a seat at a table, she accepted the cup and small plate he handed her before sitting across from her. Mumbling a ‘thank you’, she didn’t know what else to say and hoped he would fill in the silence.

“I’ve been trying to figure out where I know you from and I finally got it. You walk laps around the high school track a few times a week, don’t you?”

Oh, great, he’s seen me at my sweaty worst, with my big boobs bouncing with every step, along with the rest of me. No matter how much exercise she got, she could never get below a size fourteen and usually hovered in size sixteen, which is where she currently was. Her doctor insisted that despite her size, she was healthy, with all her blood work and vitals within normal range. Cora just wished her outward appearance was an indication of her inner health. She studied him a little closer and realized she had seen him before as well. “You’re usually jogging around the track, aren’t you? I didn’t recognize you in uniform.”

He shrugged. “A lot of people don’t know me out of uniform, and sometimes that’s not a bad thing.”

His gentle smile tugged at her heart. He was really a nice man. “I don’t even know your name.”

“Sorry, I should have properly introduced myself. I lost my name tag on an arrest yesterday and haven’t had time to replace it.” He reached across the table. “Jim Zaragoza.”

Shaking his proffered hand, her eyes narrowed. “Zaragoza? Are you related to Beth?”

He nodded. “Yup. She’s my kid sister. How do you know her?”

“We work together on the pediatric ward. I’m a nurse, too.”

Taking a sip of his coffee, he smiled, brightening up his already handsome face. “Gotta love a small world.” He pointed at the cupcake she had yet to touch. “I wish I had a candle for you to blow out. Everyone deserves one on their birthday.”

Her posture sagged. “Yeah, well, it really isn’t something I was looking forward to celebrating.”

“How come?” When she didn’t answer other than a shrug of her shoulders, he rested his crossed arms on the table. “You mentioned you’re divorced. Any children?”

“Two boys and a girl, but they’re all out on their own now. I have four grandchildren, too.”

His grin grew. “I have three grandkids, and two daughters. Are you close to your kids?”

“Of course.” She smiled as she thought of her family. There was never a week where she didn’t see them on one day or another.
He nodded. “Okay, so you have a great job, which I can tell you love, just by how you said you were a nurse. You’re close to your children and grandchildren. With those beautiful eyes and smile, I bet you have a hell of a personality, which means you have a lot of friends, right?”

She could see where he was going with this, and the fact that he liked her smile and eyes made her sitting up a little straighter. “Yes, I have friends I’m close to.”

“So what’s wrong with turning fifty? It’s only a number.”

When he put it that way, what was wrong with turning fifty? Her family was throwing her a party tomorrow night, but up until now, she hadn’t been looking forward to it. Funny. What had started out as a miserable day, had become something completely different thanks to her heavy foot and an alert, but kind, police officer.

They chatted until his radio squawked, alerting him to a burglar alarm. Standing, he threw out their garbage before walking her to her car. “It was very nice meeting you, Cora, but I have to run. Promise me you’ll obey the speed limit and enjoy your birthday. I think there should be a law about that somewhere.”

Laughing, she watched him hurry to his car and drive away with a wave in her direction. Sighing, she thought, now why can’t I meet a nice guy like that? She doubted he’d be interested in her. He probably already had a girlfriend—one who was a lot skinnier than Cora. Despite that last thought, she decided to take Jim’s advice and turn today into a celebration of all that was good in her life, instead of what she didn’t like about it.

At five-thirty that evening, she sat on her couch with Frederick in her lap. She’d spent the rest of the day getting a well-deserved manicure and pedicure, before checking out the local car dealer. To her delight, they had been running a special offer to get rid of last year’s models and make room for the new. Using the haggling skills her father had taught her years ago, she’d even gotten a better deal, one which made her sign for her new car on the spot. Now she was settling in for the news and then a rom/com movie she’d ordered from Netflix. She was looking forward to her birthday bash tomorrow and planned on going shopping in the morning to find a new dress to wear.

Just as a commercial ended and the news anchors came back on, her doorbell rang. Not expecting anyone, she peered out the peephole and saw nothing but the color red. “Who is it?”

“Jim Zaragoza.”

What? Unlocking and opening the door, she stared in shock at the man who was now dressed in his civilian clothes and holding a large bouquet of roses. “Hi. What are you doing here?”

Grinning, he handed her the driver’s license and registration she’d forgotten to get back from him. “I put these in my shirt pocket when you started crying and forgot about them. Then I decided I’d take a chance and see if the birthday girl still had nothing planned for this evening and wanted to go out with me. What do you say?”

Stunned, it took her a moment to respond as he waited patiently for her answer. Smiling, she admitted, “I say, I think I’m going to enjoy turning fifty. After all it’s just a number, right?”

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