Rating: G
Pairing: Frannie gen
Thanks: Thanks to mergatrude for beta
Notes: For the Theatrical challenge on ds_flashfiction

Open Mike Night

by china_shop

"And if you don't pay your exorcist you get repossessed," finished Caroline with a flourish. Her hair shone lurid pink in the spotlight. The crowd burst into applause, and she bowed and then ran off stage.

Frannie checked her cleavage and her earrings, and grabbed a bottle of water from the small fridge at the side of the stage. It hadn't been a big crowd when she'd arrived half an hour ago, but by the sound of it, there were plenty of people out there now. But there was nothing to be afraid of. Frannie was positive she was funnier than Caroline and the audience had been laughing for the last ten minutes.

A couple of girls were smoking herbal cigarettes in the back doorway, and the smell came in on the hot summer breeze, making Frannie dizzy. But she grabbed her courage in both hands and strode onto the stage.

"So," she said into the microphone. It squealed. She jumped back, then tried again. "So, uh, this is my first time." Her voice came out clear and smooth this time. She couldn't see past the blinding pink stage light, but she tucked her hair behind her ear and told herself to be brave. "My brother said if I get nervous I should pretend you're all picturing me in my underwear, you know?"

There was a titter from the back.

"Only, the thing is, I didn't get to the laundromat this week, so... don't, okay? Trust me, it's not pretty." There was a murmur of laughter. The microphone squeaked a little and the stage filled with silence like it was waiting. Frannie took a deep breath. "Speaking of pretty, you ever met a guy who's so pretty that the mirror — you know the one, the mirror from the fairytale, 'Who's the fairest of them all?' That mirror! That mirror falls head over heels in love with him, and it's all it'll ever show you. You're in the middle of brushing your teeth and all you can see is his perfect nose and his perfect mouth and his perfect eyebrows. All you can see is the way that, when he brushes his teeth, he doesn't even get toothpaste on his chin. You're trying to do your mascara but because of the mirror it just looks like you're dressing him up in drag." More laughter.

Frannie smiled back. "Yeah, you know what? Guys that pretty are no fun. I mean, I'm not saying he thought he was the bee's cheese or anything, but you have to admit there is something wrong with a guy who's so perfect he don't even wrinkle." A chuckle spread through the room, like warm chocolate. Frannie relaxed her grip on the mike and smiled again. "Me, I like some wrinkles on a guy. It helps them remember they're human, and that helps them remember to be grateful for what they've got. You know what I mean?" She batted her eyelashes. "I mean, when what they've got is me."

She pulled the mike from its stand and went to perch on the edge of the battered leather bar stool. She could feel them listening.

"I mean, I'm no consummation prize, you know? I'm not Howdy-Doody or nothing. So when I set my sights on a guy, I want him to appreciate it. Not like—" She waved her hands, remembering. "Not like he has to dive for cover every time I walk into a room, or run away to the Arctic because he doesn't know how to handle his deep, overwhelming feelings of attraction for me. I mean, I know I can be incriminating, but you don't have to be scared of me. There's nothing to be scared of.

"And see, here's where it'd actually be easier if you really were Superman, you know? Because then you'd have x-ray vision, and you'd know there was nothing to be afraid of. You'd see that I'm human, just a woman. I'm no hosepipe, but I'm not perfect either. And you'd be able to see that, because if you had x-ray vision, you'd know. You'd know, without a moment of a doubt, that I am the kind of girl who can smile when I'm crying on the inside, the kind of girl who can marinade a side of lamb and still smell like rosemary. But even when I look gorgeous — and admit it, don't I clean up nice? — on the outside... even then, if you had x-ray vision, you'd still see me. You'd see I'm the kind of girl who didn't do my laundry this week."

The audience broke into giggles, and Frannie glowed with triumph. She stood there grinning and waving until Susan came out and took the microphone from her hand. "A round of applause for Ms. Francesca Vecchio." She squeezed Frannie's arm. "You did great, hon."

"I did, didn't I?" said Frannie, and strutted off stage feeling ten feet tall and walking on air. She could do this, oh yeah, she could do this. "Put me on the list for next week," she told Huey, and she went outside to talk to the girls who were still smoking their herbals by the stage door.

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