Write a short story centered on four female characters.
Underneath the Veneer
The initial construction of the house across the street hadn’t raised any eyebrows until much later. Laura, who had invited the girls over for tea, was the one with the clearest view of the lavish structure.
“I told David that the house looked much bigger than ours. He immediately dismissed what I said, of course,” Laura’s riled tone didn’t go unnoticed.
“Men!” snorted a secretly pleased Judith.
Darlene was nodding enthusiastically in agreement.
“I told him, I said, they must have some high up connections if they got a permit to build it on our street,” Laura paused to take a sip of her tea and Darlene jumped in.
“Ooh, I bet they’re rich, like super rich!”
Laura and Judith stiffened simultaneously.
“Well, if they’re anything like the pesky McPhersons, I’m glad they’re not on my block,” Judith casually smoothed her dress while shooting a glance off at Laura.
“I know how to deal with the McPhersons, so they should be no trouble at all,” Laura smiled sweetly across the table at her nemesis.
Laura had been valedictorian but had missed out on being Prom Queen to Judith. Other battles had continued throughout their school years.
Water under the bridge, both had laughed mirthlessly, meeting several years later when life had brought them back to their hometown. They had families now and as oldest members of the neighbourhood, they had swiftly taken up the task to arrange and coordinate various events. They weren’t in high school anymore, so of course they’d joined hands with perfunctory smiles, all for the betterment and progress of the town.
Darlene had shifted nearby some time later. Her husband had bought the local printing press, a much needed tool to print flyers and banners. Non-threatening Darlene had immediately been included in their twosome.
“Look!” Darlene pointed.
An SUV had driven up to the under construction house. A few seconds later, all three women were staring at the perfect family that emerged.
An hour later, Laura was furiously clanging vessels into the dishwasher. Not a hair out of place and that figure! Her movements quickened until a resounding crash snapped her out of her jealous reverie. Laura’s new neighbours were already worthy of hatred.
Back home, Judith let the smoke swirl in her mouth before releasing. Her eyes shifted to the frame on the wall. She looked like an overgrown cheese puff in her wedding dress, and Sid’s lopsided smile and half open mouth seemed ready to devour.
He mustn’t have looked like that; he must’ve looked faultless and she must’ve completed him. The two kids who’d exited, a testament to their handsome parents. One-big-perfect-family! Judith almost spat out the words before quashing her cigarette.
“You should have seen them!” Darlene chatted with her sister. “He was quite the looker and she was soo pretty and the kids! Two little darlings!”
“So they’ve moved in?” Judith made no effort to mask her surly face.
“Yes, yesterday. I saw a line of U-Haul trucks with….a lot of stuff,” Laura’s expression cloned Judith’s.
“Mrs.McPherson said that they’d unloaded these really huge LEDs,” Darlene beamed.
Both Laura and Judith glared at Darlene who happily sipped her tea.
“When do we go meet her?” Judith asked sourly.
“Tomorrow. I’ll bake the pie,” Laura replied. Judith didn’t argue. They were on the same side, for now.
Laura hated herself for going all out with the pie but she had. Practically the most perfect lemon meringue pie she’d ever baked.
All three met at Laura’s doorstep the next day and as they walked toward the house, it loomed loftily over them. She answered the door with a graceful smile. Her hair was the same, not a strand out of place.
“Why thank you so much! Do come in. My name’s Priscilla, it’s so nice to meet you all!”
Seated comfortably on feather soft cushions that adorned the ostentatious sofa set, Darlene was waxing lyrical on all that caught her eye.
“Oh please, stop!” said Priscilla. “You’re embarrassing me, what can I say, my husband and I share a great taste when it comes to decor.”
“Oh, Laura! Do tell Priscilla about the flower festival next week. I know it’s short notice, but I’m sure she’d love to join in!” Darlene’s excited face was an opposite reflection of her two friends sitting stiffly together.
“Why of course, I’ll let you know the details Priscilla, but as Darlene said, there’s not much time,” the ends of Laura’s mouth curved upwards, as she looked at Priscilla with smileless eyes.
“Actually, that shouldn’t be a problem at all! Anything I need is usually just a phone call away.”
“How wonderful to hear,” Judith’s eyes imitated Laura’s.
More tea and an assortment of pastries later, they said their goodbyes.
“So long girls!” Priscilla saw them off with a peck on each cheek.
“The house is even more gorgeous from the inside! And Priscilla’s so slim! I’d never get into that dress!”
A silent Laura and Judith ignored Darlene, as they walked back home.
A week later, Darlene joyfully carried her simple flower arrangement to the venue, eager to see all the other entries, especially Priscilla’s. She’d heard and seen boxes of the most exotic flowers being delivered to her house.
Laura and Judith grimly gave final touches to their painfully designed leaves and blossoms, envy burgeoning with each step towards the festival.
In her grandiose house across the street, Laura’s anorexic neighbour applied fresh concealer on her bruised eye and got ready to make an appearance to her first ever town event.
I’ve used the story line from a previously posted flash fiction story that I’d written: Be Grateful