This is a fairly short story and I’m not sure I did a very good job at nailing the prompt (a flawed, though not necessarily fatally so, protagonist). I had the idea that the main character is friendly, generous, kind, and so forth, but misses the actual content of other people’s reaction to her. She talks at them, rather than with them. I think this would need a fair amount of work to convey that more firmly.
“Good morning, Amanda.”
“Hello!” Amanda smiled at her neighbour Bonnie. “How are you this lovely day?”
“Good, I guess,” Bonnie said, a slight frown on her face.
Amanda made her way down the street, her smile continuing to play on her face while she went. The day was not particularly fine, it was rather frigid, in fact, but she liked to make the best of things. She had long since learned that a good attitude made all the difference.
It was not a long walk to work and she went briskly, mentally planning her day. It was her colleague Eleanor’s birthday and she had a cake to pick up at the small bakery on the way to the office. Eleanor was particularly fond of chocolate, so that’s what it was. They would have it at morning coffee break. It would be a nice thing, to be able to step away from the busy-ness of work for a short while.
And she had told her sister that she would pick up some supplies for her classroom at the dollar store. Janet was always so busy, with teaching, of course, but she had three children of her own as well. Such a lot of work.
Amanda entered the bakery and her glasses steamed up in the warmth. She took them off and rubbed the humidity on her scarf.
“Hello, is my cake ready?” she smiled at the young woman at the counter.
“Hmm?” she said, “The chocolate birthday cake? I’ll check.”
Amanda looked around the small space as she waited. Shelves and counters crowded all available room, cookies and pastries and bread. It smelled heavenly.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the woman said as she returned. “It is not yet ready.”
“What? Not yet! I’ll pick it up later.”
“I’m afraid there was a problem…”
“Will it be done at ten? I rather wanted it by ten.”
“Perhaps, ma’am. My boss, Mrs Span, will call you?”
“What? Of course. That’s fine.” And she walked out of the bakery and down the last half-block to her office.
She hummed as she went.
“How are you, Mr Jones?” she said to the security guard as she entered the office building.
“Fine, Miss Corey. And you?”
“Your bag? You need to put your bag here.”
“Oh, right.” It was the same every morning, the prompt to put her bag down on the conveyor belt. She put it the top bin from the stack and pushed it along.
“Through the metal detector, ma’am.”
It went off.
“Are you wearing a belt? A hair clip?”
“What? Oh, I did wear a hair clip. Here.”
“Let me go over you with the wand, Miss Corey.”
She picked up her bag, waved to the security guard, and continued on her way.
She took the elevator up to the fifth floor. “Hello, Miss Mendel.”
“Miss Corey,” the receptionist said, her lips pursed. “You’re late. Mr Moore is waiting in your office.”
“Thank you!” she called as she walked down the hall.
Miss Mendel looked after with a mixture of awe and frustration. Late, every single day and yet so very content nonetheless.