DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH • by Margaret Karmazin

People often assumed I was gay because at age forty-six, I’d never been married, I wear tailored clothes and short hair, and can do heavy labor as well as any man. Sometimes I even promoted the gay image so that certain obnoxious males would leave me alone. Either that or I’d have to beat them up, and why risk breaking my two front caps?

I’m five foot ten and weigh one-hundred-sixty-nine pounds. I can bench press one thirty — not bad for a girl, hey? And I have my secrets like anyone else. Though no one might believe it, there has been romance in my life. Unfortunately, most of it had to be kept secret. I’m not proud of that, just stating a fact. Maybe most of the men I knew were embarrassed to have someone like me for an out-in-the-open girlfriend. Maybe they’d have to take too much flack from their friends.

A while back, I moved to a somewhat isolated cabin in a rural area of Pennsylvania. I heated the place with my wood stove, did most of my work on the computer and drove into town once or twice a week for supplies and books. Sometimes I had lunch at Troy’s Coffee Shop and there I’d occasionally sit with some of the regulars, guys who pretty much thought of me as one of them. They’d often tell jokes, some derogatory, about women, but I’d say nothing. Friends are not easy to come by, so I take what I can get. I have one local woman friend, Karen, but she’s pretty busy so most of our conversations were and still are over the phone.  

One of the men, Will Leeds, started dropping by. Will’s wife died three years ago. For a while, they say he took to drinking, but by the time I met him at Troy’s, he’d straightened up his act. He’s in his fifties, good looking if he’d clean himself up more, but as it is, he usually has a scruffy chin and grease under his fingernails. He runs a dairy farm not far from the cabin. First thing I noticed about him was that, unlike most men his age, he has a firm rear end. You don’t often see that in a guy over fifty unless he’s into body building.

All the times he stopped by, he’d make himself at home and act like he was visiting a regular pal, even though I’d serve up a nice homemade snack on the spot. I mean, what guy would be pulling a fresh pie out of the oven?

So one time at Troy’s when Will gave a warning he was planning on coming over that evening, I decided to give him a little surprise. I took a long hot bath, shaved my legs, did my nails and plucked out hairs. Karen came over and made up my face, puffed up my hair and lent me an outfit — a low cut, red tunic top I wore over my one pair of black leggings and finished off with Karen’s stretch black belt and big hoop earrings. She sprayed me with cologne and stood back. 

“Whoa, Lucy,” she said, “you look hot. I don’t know why you don’t do this more often.”

“Well, thanks and get out,” I told her. “He’ll be here any minute.”

She laughed kind of low down and let herself out.

When Will arrived, he stepped inside without knocking the way some folks around here do, then looked up and saw me. The shock on his face was priceless. If you could slow it down with some kind of technical wizardry, it would run like this: Who the heck are you and what did you do with Lucy? Oh! You are Lucy! How come you look like a woman? And a pretty one at that? I’m scared, and… I like it.

Finally, he spoke. “Well, now,” he said.

We got married six months later. It’s worked out pretty well. And now and then, I dress up for him, but not too often. I don’t want the novelty to wear off.

Margaret Karmazin‘s credits include over one hundred stories published in literary and national magazines, including Rosebud, North Atlantic Review, Potomac Review, Confrontation, Virginia Adversaria, Mobius, Chiron Review and Aim Magazine. Her stories in The MacGuffin, Eureka Literary Magazine, Licking River Review and Words of Wisdom were nominated for Pushcart awards and Piper’s Ash, Ltd. published a chapbook of her sci-fi, COSMIC WOMEN. She helped write the introduction for and has a story included in STILL GOING STRONG, a story in TEN TWISTED TALES and one coming up in MOTA 9, and a novel, REPLACING FIONA, published by

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Every Day Fiction

  • I’m in my mid-fifties. It just doesn’t seem realistic for someone that age to be interested in a forty-six year old woman that he hasn’t grown old(er) along with, no matter what artifices she practises. What seems more realistic is the old rule of thumb that men and women click best when she is half his age plus seven.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    I quite enjoyed this tale.

    To me the main characters were very solid.

  • Margie

    I like Lucy! She reminds me of a good friend of mine. . .rough on the outside and mush on the inside. ;~)

  • Arthur Newton

    Don’t know about the maths but if she’s ‘hot’, he’ll be interested! Me, I’d be scared. An amusing tale.

  • Cute! Well done, I liked this one.

  • Cute and sweet.

  • Margaret, have to say this story caught me up for a second and third reading, even though I don’t know what shape my behind is in and I’m a happily married older guy.

    You’ve captured some of the particularities of people that often escape atention, and this gives it five stars. And, I’m a sucker for happy endings. Now, let me go check out some of your other work.

  • J.C. Towler

    While very well written, the story didn’t do much for me. There’s a lot of table setting in the beginning, perhaps appropriate for a longer story, but I’m not sure it serves so well in flash. The MC, Lucy, is interesting enough and her circumstances–a woman living in a man’s world–open up all sort of possibilities. The bow on this particular package felt hastily wrapped.


  • Robins Fury

    This one made me chuckle, and that’s a good thing. Light and fun. I thought it was written as a long, drawn out autobiography at first. Definitely cute, and fun. I think I should look at 50 year old butts more!

  • This is a nice, feel-good story with a pleasant twist. Strong characterization and good attention to descriptive details.

  • Gwendolyn

    Cute! This was a fun read.

  • Jen

    I really loved this. The way Lucy takes sterotypes and turns them on their head is great. THis is the first story I’ve given a five on this sut in quite awhile.

  • Terri Elders

    Well now, indeed. Thanks for writing something that allowed me a quiet smile this morning, the third month anniversary of my husband’s death. I was tickled by the comment that a man in his fifties wouldn’t be attracted to a woman of 46. My husband and I met in l999, he 64, me 62, and married in 2000. I was doing the math. Let’s see, a man of 70 then would be attracted to somebody half his age plus 7? That’s 42. When I was 42 I had little interest, believe me, in men of 70. 🙂

  • Thanks,Margaret,for a great read.Very interesting and intertaining!I’ll be looking for more off your tales.

  • Arthur Newton wrote “Don’t know about the maths but if she’s ‘hot’, he’ll be interested!”

    If. I meant, the whole idea that she would be ‘hot’ is unrealistic.

  • How ridiculous to assume a fifty year old man could not be interested in a woman in her forties. I met my husband when I was 48 and he was 52. As for the guy who thinks it’s unrealistic to think that a woman in her forties can be “hot”, I wish him luck finding any woman at all regardless of her age who would put up with him.

    Great story Margaret, keep ’em coming.

  • That’s a complete misunderstanding of the point I was trying to make. I know (from direct personal experience) that it’s possible for ‘a woman in her forties can be “hot”‘, but being realistic isn’t about that, it’s about whether the story jars from presenting that. When something’s unrealistic, it doesn’t match up with ordinary experience, and so it jars. Exceptions occur, but writing one into the story strains the whole suspension of disbelief thing for the other elements of the story.

  • Elin B.

    You’ve got some weird comments here, but I really enjoyed this story. Like others, it reminds me of some real people I’ve known, including gay women who sometimes liked to exaggerate their look to avoid getting hit on by the mechanic, etc. And of course, it’s true that many men would feel insecure walking around with a boyish woman.

    On the whole this little piece made me revisit a bit what gender identity “means.” Part of me was slightly irritated that here, being a woman meant being able to bake a good pie, but that’s trivial. And at the end, I felt that the novelty she wanted to preserve was for her as well and not just for him. Liked that.

  • Terrific characterization, unexpected twists, beautiful.