Funny stories in under 500 words.

Unemployment

funny short story: unemployment


He smiles.

He’s just gotten out of the shower and is about to dry his hair, which is still wet. The mirror is foggy at the top. The door is closed and the bath fan is not running because it’s broken and has been for a while.

His smiling face intrigues him. He hasn’t ever really looked at himself like this before, not in this way. His bare chest and shoulders are visible at the bottom of the mirror. He can see the tops of his pectoral muscles, muscles he’s been working out now about a month: push-ups, handstands, butterfly curls, the whole nine. Workout after workout. It’s to the point now that his chest is divided by a shallow valley almost like a river course. Cut, is what he thinks, bringing his arms down, balling his fists and tensing, so that each pectoral swells a little, narrowing and deepening the river course ever so slightly.

His girlfriend has been watching tennis since she got home from another twelve-hour shift at the hospital. Though he doesn’t give it conscious thought he becomes sure she’ll still be watching tennis when he emerges from this room. He’ll find her snacking on some boxed crackers, lifting her one hand from box to mouth in a continuous loop while she lets her brain and body slacken, unwinding before preparing dinner.

He lifts his arms, makes fists, cocks both wrists and squeezes, flexing his biceps. Stomach muscles push to the surface. But he can’t see them in the mirror.

Leaning over the sink, lifting up on his tiptoes, he tries again.

Why he feels he absolutely must see himself from the waist up flexing and bulging, he hasn’t the first idea.

He manages to make out the little dip at each of his hips where his abs arrows toward his groin. Straightening both arms and bringing them together a little so that his chest puffs forward, he considers whether this might not be the best angle from which to view the body. If not for the thickening strip of fog on the glass, and the beads of condensation trailing down the mirror—which he tries wiping away with his hand but only ends up smearing, so that he has to take the oddly damp hand towel off its little wall-mounted bar and rub the glass streak-free—he might have the clearest view of himself he’s ever had.

Silliness.

Still, though he knows better, he can’t stop himself.

He lifts his eyes from himself momentarily and, turning, pulls back the shower curtain, then steps up so he’s standing on the lip of the tub. Drops of water fall from his hair to the tile floor below as he crouches, balls his fists, squeezes his butt and thighs. He lifts one leg, bends slightly at the waist, arms spread wide. The door opens, but he doesn’t notice, not right away. The mirror shows him his whole body, tensed, from the neck down.

Patrick M. Faller teaches writing at Kent State Tuscarawas. His stories and essays appear or are forthcoming in Prick of the Spindle, Inwood Indiana, and Souvenir. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFaller >>




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