This week’s trifecta writing challenge required us to incorporate the following word into a story under 333 words in length. click the Trifecta badge to go to their site and check out other submissions, or submit your own!
MANIPULATE (transitive verb)1: to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner
2a : to manage or utilize skillfully
b : to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage
3: to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose : to doctor
Salesgirls and boys trolled the aisles. Their slinky outfits and razor-sharp smiles stood out starkly from the burqas of the shoppers, indecent and unavoidable.
Their bold, kohl-lined eyes seemed to stare right through the anonymous shroud of his face veil.
Sensing easy prey, one undulated over to him, her perfectly manicured hand balancing a delicate tray laden with brussels sprouts. Darting around her would be an unforgivable rudeness, so Mark stopped, sweaty hands clutching his basket like a shield.
The girl leaned close with a predatory smile. “You,” she purred, “are going to just love what I have on offer today.”
Mark swallowed convulsively, barely keeping from recoiling from the invasion of his private space. “Brussels sprouts? I’m getting broccoli today, thanks.”
“Oh, but these are something you’ve never experienced before, sir,” she replied, bringing one to her nose and inhaling deeply. “Zero nutritional value, high in fat, sodium and calories, we manipulate our OINK! pork rinds so you can enjoy your guilty pleasures with none of the guilt and all of the pleasure.” she plucked a single leaf and placed it on her tongue with an indecent moan.
Mark licked his lips and wondered if the salesgirls’ tactics made women as uncomfortable as they made him. He knew, absolutely knew, that he didn’t like pork products. That his contractual partner of two years, Cara, didn’t like pork products. Faced with an equally anonymous fellow citizen, he could have shrugged off her offer and been on his way with little social interaction. The citizen would never be standing within his government recommended 1.5 metre diameter column of personal space, practically naked in a translucent sheath dress, either. She smelled of synth-sexual-hormones and bacon. More manipulation, but knowing didn’t help.
If he bought them, she’d leave him alone.
Cara saw his purchases and sighed. She pulled an identical package, half-empty, from the pantry. “I’ve been feeding them to the dog,” she said.
Mark smiled and replied. “I bet he’s experiencing all of the pleasure, with none of the guilt, too.”