fiction, poetry & more

Honorable Mention


by Todd Benware

Every day this week she’s catwalked into Starbucks all shiny from a morning workout—Zumba, I bet. She just reeks of housewife on the trend—with her lip gloss unscathed and earrings dangling. She takes the table next to mine in the corner opposite the door, spreads her magazines and chocolate almond biscotti all over the place, and starts talking. Sometimes even cooing. Not to me, but to that goddamned phone, like this place is her studio office from where she broadcasts her financial planner husband’s dirty little habits out into the world and brokers advice on getting the little shits onto the school bus.

The laughing or pouting at her texts? Even the outgoing? Come on. Really? I’m just trying to relax and think a little, you know? So today’s the day I end it.


When she goes to the bathroom she forgets her phone and I drop it into her coffee. Play it real cool, too, like the self-absorbed Starbucks poseurs don’t even exist. Her grande latte-mocha-frappa-cappa-crap swallows that sucker right up and I sit back down to my straight black and my Rolling Stone, and wait.

As soon as she gets back to her table, she freaks. She rips through the papers and pockets of her obnoxious saddlebag and tosses her Cosmo aside like she doesn’t give a rat’s ass about ninety-nine ancient Oriental positions to help her man finally find her (probably purposely) hidden G-spot. I watch it all from over the rim of my Rolling Stone half hoping she’ll take a sip of BlackBerry right there. She grumbles a princessy little suburban “Shit” with an extra hard “t,” loads up her laptop, grabs her drink, and leaves. Out to her Escalade, maybe, to check the cup holder. I imagine her putting the coffee into the cup holder while she searches under the seats. Then the phone would be right where she thought she left it—in the cup holder.

I press Katy Perry’s glossy boobs against my face so I won’t laugh my head off.

But then she blows back into the shop and starts questioning people like some spandexed cop. I can’t quite hear her, but it doesn’t look like too many people care despite all that swinging cleavage. They pretty much keep their eyes and their thumbs on their own phones, which aren’t sitting in their cars in their coffees in their cup holders.

She finally gets back to me. I tighten my grip on my Rolling Stone.

“Didn’t happen to see my phone get up and walk away, right?”


“The fuck you didn’t.”

What do you say to that?

“Empty your pockets,” she says.

“I ain’t emptying my pockets.” I spread the Rolling Stone on my lap. Over my pockets, you know, just in case.

Before I can say anything else she twists my T-shirt in her fist and yanks real hard. “Stand up,” she says. She wears this diamond ring the size of her poodle’s turd, and it nearly slices my skin to shreds. My Rolling Stone plops to the floor.

“Lay off!” I say. I tug on my shirt a couple times to pull it back down over my belly. “I didn’t touch your stupid phone.”

“You’ve been eye-fucking me all week.” Her knuckles jam against my Adam’s apple for another second before she drops my collar with a shove. “If I find out you messed with my phone, I’ll castrate you.”

That sort of shrivels me right up. “Whatever,” I manage to say. My throat hurts.

When I bend over to pick up my Rolling Stone, she karate-chops me right in the back of my neck. I shriek and drop to one knee.

The cappuccino machine hisses and gurgles, and someone clinks a utensil against a plate.

“Just a taste,” she says. She spins around and Zumbas it toward the exit. Still on one knee, I watch her ass bounce away under black leggings until the second glass door huffs shut.

The dude next to me doesn’t even stop thumbing his phone as I struggle to my feet. “Next time you drop her shit in her coffee,” he says, “she’ll really kick your ass.”


Todd Benware teaches high school English, Shakespeare, and Creative Writing. His poems have appeared in Plainsongs, and Bombay Gin, and he is currently seeking representation for his young adult novel, Shedding. He does not own a smart phone.

November 2011