Killing him with kindness by Catherine Garden

He trudged into the office and there she sat. Perky and bright eyed. Scrubbed and cheery in a yolky yellow dress, complete with scarlet bow mystically hovering above her head. Everything he hated and despised sitting right here outside his office. Every single morning. Perfect Polly with an emphasis on the P! ‘Morning Milton’, she...

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Melissa
5 months ago

Oh, this was funny! Great use of the prompt. For some reason the line “Perhaps it was the end” just killed me.

I think it should be “rung off” and not “wrung off.”

ChristineH
5 months ago

As soon as I saw ‘yolky yellow dress’ I knew I was going to like this. A bright, cheerful tale, with lots of colourful description and clever alliteration. I don’t think you need quite so many exclamation marks, the characterisation and dialogue is strong enough for the emphasis to come across with out them.
Thank you. I enjoyed this.

Ellen Eigner
5 months ago

Hilarious! I didn’t expect Polly to be in cahoots. Your dialogue is realistic and funny. I love all the silly reasons people were canned.

BTW…use commas after dialogue, in the quotes, and no cap on tag. Like this> ‘Good morning,’ he replied.

Renee Shurilla
5 months ago

Funny story! I really like the dialogue. I can really imagine Polly’s voice as she greets Milton in the morning. Fun ending too.

Amy Trakos
5 months ago

Catherine, a great story and I the ending really caught me by surprise, despite the title! Your description of the jolly and actually very kind Polly really threw me off the scent that it might be her. As always with your stories, I could visualize it all and I particularly enjoyed Milton’s conversation with Dana in HR and actually really felt her pain that he was causing her with the never-ending recruitment campaigns! It was hilarious that he would want to get rid of Polly for her jolliness and when Dana asked him if she was a glitter pen when he said ‘she sparkles’ I laughed so much and have no shame in admitting that I wish that line had been mine!
I was left wanting to know more and I wonder if we will see a return of Polly and/or Dana as to why and what they did what they did (and consequently something about Milton’s past) or maybe it was simply that he was such an irritating colleague). Although, sometimes, I think not knowing those answers can be an excellent thing too.
Brilliant, thank you for writing and well done.

Kaiser
5 months ago

That was a fun read. And the clever title. I really enjoyed reading it and laughed out loud a few times. I was expecting him to change in the end, but Polly as co-conspirator was an unseen twist. Thanks for sharing.

AJ Millen (pen name of Mandi Millen)

That was a fabulous little vignette of office life that I am sure that many of us can relate to. Perfectly done, and with great flashes of gentle humour. Apart from some very minor grammar/typo issues, I have nothing to offer to improve it.
Actually, I think I may have worked for Milton at some point…

del richards
5 months ago

I enjoyed this light-hearted piece. I also wanted to slap Polly!! My resoluteness as a ‘non morning person’ made me feel for poor Milton!
I got the feeling that Milton had a thing for Dana, although I’m not sure how the two ladies manage to work a plan out – or why .
A couple of little grammar blips – easily solved.
I think this story has wheels for further development…! think about it.
Great title and good use of prompt.

HoneyMustard
4 months ago

Love your sense of humour, Catherine. It shone through so well in the dialogue about the sparkly pen and the Roman candles. I was taken by surprise a bit at Milton’s about-turn and backing away from the argument. It didn’t sound like him. I pictured him more of a grumpy Dr House type character who always want to be right and would never cease until he was, in fact, right and everyone knew it. And how nice it would’ve been if he tricked Dana and Polly into thinking they were getting their way, while he was onto them all along. For someone who is crushing on Dana, I’d have expected more crackling in his conversation with her. But I’m pretty sure that was word count constraints that limited developing that little exchange. All in all though, an enjoyable read.

SM Prasad
4 months ago

HI Catherine,
That was a fun story. l liked this particular description, “like a telemarketer both informative and insulting all at once;”
I have to say, I keep trying to figure out the meaning of the sentence, “Perhaps this was the end.” but I can’t. Maybe you can explain it to me.
I was a little surprised by Milton’s crush on Dana, but it made him more interesting. Your last line was ambiguous and I wondered whether you were hinting something about Polly when Dana said, “‘Milton, I am not sure what virtual, robot assistant would suit you, but no human one exists!!” I played with the interpretation that Polly was actually a machine and that was why she said “subject has been disabled” at the end. From the other comments, I don’t think that’s where you were going but you have a set up for that here. I loved Polly’s yolky dress and bobbing red bow, sort of a cartoon secretary. That was great. Thank you for posting.

Maruschka
4 months ago

Hi, Catherine.
This has certainly succeeded in not being overtly serious. ☕👍🏻
I’d suggest you give it another thorough read through though — to edit out grammatical errors found here and there. ✌🏻😉
I suspect that Dana had been complaining to a “confidante” about Milton, and she then responded “Challenge accepted.” 😁 Well done, props for your unique, well-crafted, take on the prompt!

Kathy Sanford
4 months ago

This was fun to read. I could picture Polly right away. Before I retired I used to think there were two types of people in every office, the ones who sing “good morning” and the ones who don’t. I was in the latter category, and could definitely relate to Milton as he comes to realize he has no grounds for dismissing her despite how irritating she is.

This segment confused me:

A long caller on hold and then a curt, ‘Milton. What!?’

Who did you complain to about HR?

I didn’t know if the word “caller” was right, and it took me a couple reads to realize “Who did you complain about . . .” wasn’t part of the dialogue. I should have realized it wasn’t in quotes, but I think I had gotten so used to the flow of dialogue in the story that I just kept reading it that way.

Very funny, and nice surprise at the end.

Zéfira
3 months ago

Hi Catherine
This was a super fun read, I laughed my head off.
My favorite part was: “He had never liked musicals; the bold singing, energetic evangelical dancing and manic smiling gave him the chills.”
I found a tiny typo: “Taken aback” is written together.
I loved the conspiracy between Dana and Polly; I didn’t see it coming, though Polly was to goo to be true.
I guess Milton and Dana have feelings for each other, I’d love to see more of them. Great characters. 🙂

Amrita Sarkar
3 months ago

Hi Catherine,
First of all, I apologize heartily for such a late read and comment. I promise to be more prompt henceforth. Coming to the story, this was such a fun read! You have sketched characters who are relatable and yet caricatur-ish. I felt sorry for Milton, and at the same time wondered what the heck was his issue with the PAs. I loved how sneakily you have hinted towards a budding romance between Dana and Milton. I was wondering though, did he pick on his assistants on purpose, so he could speak to Dana? This part was golden, “He persevered, ‘She sparkles…..’

Dana suppressed a laugh and lowered her tone. ‘Sparkles? Is she a glitter pen? A Roman candle? I wish you could hear yourself, Milton!’”

Your stories, characters, always manage to leave an imprint on my mind. This was no different. Loved it. Thank you for sharing!