Transparent Lost.

Last year the Amazon Prime Video original series, Transparent, held a nationwide competition to find a transgender woman writer for its second season. Applicants were asked to submit their résumés and an original flash fiction story.

I didn’t win, but that’s okay. I’m developing my own sitcom now.

Below is the story I wrote for my application. It contains no transgender themes; I assumed all the other applicants would be doing that, and I wanted my entry to stand out. I focused instead on crafting a strong narrative and making it funny. Judge for yourself if I’ve succeeded, and let me know! Comments are at the bottom.

Her Ten O’Clock

“What’s your greatest strength?” she asked. She knew the question was a cliché, but she had been out late last night at the Last Supper Club and blew off her usual diligent preparation. By the time she had walked to her car, driven home, and removed her disguise, she was too tired to do anything but go to bed.

Besides, she liked to see where applicants went with the question. She respected a candidate who didn’t humblebrag and gave a solid, confident response.

This young man was ready.

“Definitely my observational skills. I’m good at noticing things; even the smallest details.” He nodded along with his answer, as if he’d practiced it. She almost smiled at his enthusiasm. Did she detect an accent? She looked down at his name and wondered if it might be Spanish or Italian. HR must have thought he’d be a good diversity hire. She decided to go a little harder on him.

“It’s certainly not that you’re punctual. You were 15 minutes late for this interview.”

He smirked; still eager, but unabashed. She’d seen the same smirk, for an instant, when he entered the office and made eye contact. It puzzled her then; this time it annoyed her. “I had to choose just the right shirt.”

He was wearing a wrinkled white Oxford with frayed cuffs. If this was the “right shirt,” the wrong one was probably a Santana tour T-shirt from the thrift store.

She scanned his resume. University of Phoenix (restaurant management); retail clerk, Starbuck’s barista, waiter: “Fairest Game Catering.” Why did that name look familiar? Had they done the Orcas Forever fundraiser last month?

“I see. All right then. Tell me why you want to work here at Animal Protection League? Your background shows no activism, and this is not an entry-level job. Normally we’d want someone with several years of experience with other advocacy groups.”

He crossed his hands over his lap. “That’s easy. I don’t want to be a waiter forever, you know? The pay’s bad, and there’s no respect. Nobody ever even looks at you. Also, I have a deep interest in endangered species.” That smirk again. “You could say it’s a consuming passion.” He lowered his voice, leaned in. “I think you know what I mean.”

What does he mean? She thought. She opened her mouth to ask him to explain and a stentorian belch escaped.

Her hand flew up to cover her mouth as her face flushed. The smell of last night’s meal expanded into the under-ventilated office. Her embarrassment churned with panic. Could he smell what she’d eaten? No. Impossible! She quashed her paranoia, smoothed her expression. Almost no one could recognize the aroma of baked Sonoran desert plover, and after last night, no one would ever have the opportunity. She’d watched the species go extinct, and then eaten the evidence. She smirked herself, behind her hand, savoring the memory of the delicious wrongness.

He had raised an eyebrow.

“I’m so sorry! Something I ate last night.” She lowered her hand and waved it dismissively. “It’s nothing.”

“Well,” he said, smiling broadly, “You never know when a meal’s going to repeat on you.

Especially if it’s something you never had before. Or ever will again.”

“Something I never…?” Her eyes went wide. The caterers…

He sat back in his chair. “‘Can I get you a glass of water, ma’am?'”

The shock on her face lingered for only a moment before changing to resignation. She sighed, pushed back her chair, stood, and extended her hand.

“Welcome to the Animal Protection League.”

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