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Paparazzi Prompt

September 21, 2012

Yesterday I was trying to find $600 boots that might mistakenly have been priced at $169 at Nordstrom or Lord and Taylor’s, when a woman barreled past me with the haircut I want. She was attractive and on a mission—a no- nonsense shopper who probably had 15 minutes to accomplish some major gift- buying chore before she had to meet a school bus. I thought about stopping her to ask where she gets her hair cut but she was heading for the escalator. So did I let it go? Let opportunity pass me by in my never- ending quest to look better than is ever going to be possible? Why yes, you guessed it. I walk-ran to the escalator while fishing in my purse for my IPhone.

I planned to take a photograph of the back of her head but she wouldn’t hold still. She flitted through men’s shirts like a hummingbird—–hovering but never quite landing. I tried hiding behind men’s sweaters and snapping her over the top of the display case but just as I hit the shutter button I saw myself in a mirror that was two feet in front of her face. I was alarmed. We were all alarmed.

She had something to return so I followed her to women’s intimates and lurked about until she got to the counter. Then I stood behind her in line but when I raised the camera an exhausted woman seated to my right looked suddenly alert and I had to pretend I was checking email at arm’s length, then scamper away.

I could have just asked this woman to let me photograph her except that I had actually hit the shutter once and I HAD a photo of her, albeit a bad one. I was afraid that if I asked and she said no, she might demand my IPhone and stomp on it like a movie star.

So if the next time you see me my hair looks, I don’t know…blurry, you’ll know why.

Write about wanting something you can’t have (because it isn’t yours) and the lengths you or your character go to in order to get it. Make it urgent, tense, funny. Make it sad. The last available doctor’s appointment? A teacher’s recommendation? Job reference? Parking spot? The last chocolate brownie as you are inching up the line at the Starbucks counter? The last seat on the train? The last new car on the lot? Concert tickets?
What changes? What happens? Disillusionment? Triumphant vindication? Go.

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