Monday, December 10, 2018

WEP Challenge - By Candlelight

Dylan wiped his hands on his new jeans. Maybe he should change into more comfortable ones. Or dress slacks. A tie. He should wear a tie.
No. Too stuffy and he’d never be able to swallow. Or breathe.
Okay. No tie. Stick with the jeans.
Deep breath. If he couldn’t get it together, he’d sweat right through the shirt he'd chosen.
Calm.
His sister was all about yoga and meditation. She’d know how to set the stage and not panic. She’d know how he should dress too. But if he called her for advice, he’d never hear the end of it.
He was doing this solo.
And he was doing it right.
The timer on his cell beeped. Ten minutes. Only ten minutes. Screw calm, he had things to do.
A peek in the oven showed the lasagna bubbling away. Another few minutes and he’d pull it out to rest. Salad was prepped and ready to toss. Garlic bread set to go in as the pasta came out.
He’d set the dining nook and hidden the little box behind the plants on the ledge so he could pull it out at the right time.
At the thought, another wave of sweat rolled down his forehead. He used a tea towel to wipe it away then looked in horror at it. He hadn’t done laundry. Were there any clean ones left?
With a sigh, Dylan swiped the ruined cloth over his neck and wished it wouldn’t be totally disgusting to use it on his arm pits as well.
He’d burned three of his ten minutes. Dylan grabbed the barbecue lighter from the drawer and headed back to the dining nook. It took three tries but he got it working and he slowly walked around the room, lighting the candles he’d clustered. Apparently the effect was better when candles were set in odd numbers, so he had groups of three and five. Seven had looked more like a pyre than a romantic setting, so he’d scrapped that.
The buzzer nearly had him jumping out of his skin. With a sigh at his nerves, Dylan tossed the tea towel and the lighter, then moved to the door to press the button. “H-Hello.” He thunked his head against the wall over the stammer. He couldn’t be lame. Not tonight.
“It’s me.”
Dylan nodded, then groaned and pressed the buzzer. “Come on up.”
“See you in a minute.” The smile reached through the speaker, bringing one of his own. Everything about that voice soothed him right down to his soul.
Dylan unlocked the apartment door. He started back to the kitchen then decided he’d rather meet the elevator than check on the pasta one more time. He walked down the hall and leaned back against the wall to wait. After a moment, he shoved off, not wanting to look too casual. He straightened, then loosened his knees. Not uptight either. Hands in pockets. Yeah. That would work.
He was driving himself way past crazy.
The elevator dinged and in only an eternity the doors swooshed open. “Hey you.”
“Hey yourself, handsome.”
The kiss soothed any remaining nerves. This was right. All the way right.
“Is something burning?”
Dylan whipped around to see smoke snaking out of his apartment just as a smoke alarm split the night.
They raced to the door but the smoke was thicker and a peek showed flames from where he’d tossed the tea towel too close to one group of candles. Talk about a pyre. The sprinkler system kicked on but the flames didn’t seem to care.
When he started into the room, Marc tapped his arm. “Be careful. I’ll call 911.”
Dylan grabbed the fire extinguisher from under the sink and aimed it at the flames. It didn’t take long to kill the fire, but the mess was unbelievable. His shoulders sagged and he swore. “Tonight was supposed to be… I planned everything… Damn it, I was going to propose!” Well, that wasn’t the romantic speech he’d planned.
Marc’s eyes widened as he finished the call and shoved his phone in his pocket then joined Dylan while neighbours gathered in the hallway.
A small smile kicked up the corner of Marc’s mouth. Without breaking eye contact, he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small box. “In a few decades, it’ll make a fabulous story to tell the grandkids.”

***
This story is part of the WEP challenge. Hope you'll check out the rest of the entries for the twin themes of Ribbons & Candles! There's still time to sign up as entries don't close until December 20th!

WEP CHALLENGE FOR DECEMBER - RIBBONS AND CANDLES


Thanks so much to the WEP team for the Comment award! Check out the fabulous winning story by Michelle Wallace and the other winners at this post! This is a fun flash fiction challenge and a great community to join. Check it out!



56 comments:

  1. Nice story!

    Tea towels and candles are a bad combination, ha!

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  2. The short choppy sentences you used did a fantastic job of conveying how nervous Dylan was, and once the smoke cleared, you delivered a terrific surprise ending. Great job!

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  3. The best laid plans ..... Sweet story, I enjoyed it.

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  4. Plans definitely have a way of changing. Cooking can be very dangerous. :) Love the surprise ending!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks Jess - maybe we should stick to take out :)

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  5. Nice story, made me smile. Great ending.

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  6. This was a great story with a few twists, Jemi. Thanks for sharing it.

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  7. This is lovely. I am assuming that the answer will be a resounding YES. And what a story to tell in later years...

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    1. Thanks Sue! I think it will be a Yes as well :)

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  8. Plans never survive their implementing! It will make for a funny tale ... years later. :-)

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  9. You nailed it Jemi.Loved the build up, the emotion. I thought the lasagna was going to burn, not the tea towel. A great story for the WEP challenge!

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  10. Oh wow! I smiled and laughed out loud at the end of this! Such a great story, so on point and easy to read. The pace made you want to keep going. So inspiring for this season. Love this!!!!

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  11. Oh, I love uplifting stories. Thank you for not making it dark and gloomy. Great character sketch too in so few words.

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    1. You're very welcome! I do love uplifting as well! :)

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  12. A fab story to tell the grandkids for sure. Heartwarming. And love the humour too.

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  13. Looks like these two had the same idea in mind. It's lovely that it ended on such a great note, despite the fire. And totally something to look back on with a smile! Love it!

    Wishing you a Happy Holiday and a bright New Year!

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    1. Thanks Yolanda! Wishing you all the very best as well!

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  14. You really captured Dylan's voice right from the first sentence. And you handled the love interest surprise beautifully. Great job, Jemi!

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    1. Thanks Lee! I love when these characters pop into my head! :)

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  15. Good tension. You could tell it was all leading up to something. Both the fire and the proposal were great timing. Sweet conclusion.

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  16. Aww, I loved this! You did a great job showing how nervous he was, and the ending was so sweet! Thanks for sharing a story that brought a smile to my face!

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  17. I felt for him and his lost meal. That sounds like me standing at the stove. A very engaging story with lots of humour.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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    1. Thanks Pat! I hope Dylan isn't terrified to cook from now on! :P

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  18. Oh, that was lovely, especially at the end. I loved how you showed his nervousness - the tea towel part was perfect! I really felt for how much this meant to him, how much it mattered, and I loved how it did turn out in the end.

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    1. Thanks Tyrean! I'm glad the emotion came through!! :)

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  19. I could feel the suspense building and then at the end... phew!
    Relief kicked in.
    Seems they had the same idea... serendipity reigned.
    Thank you for the wonderful ride, Jemi!
    Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thanks Michelle! I had a few alternate endings swirling, but I liked the happy one best! :)

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  20. Haha will sure be a fiery tale to tell the grandkids indeed.

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  21. Awwww... Such a cute story :)

    Their grandkids are certainly in for a good time.

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  22. Hi Jemi,

    How's it goin', eh? I've no doubt that you've been anxiously waiting for a comment from shy and humble me.

    This was a flaming good story. Nicely done, my friend.

    Gary

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  23. The characterisation shines through - candle-lit - and the twists at the end were perfect. In fact, if the evening hadn't burned so well, there wouldn't have been much to tell the grand-kids. (I'm exploring same-sex romance as well.)

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    1. Thanks! I do love to find stories of love and life for all different people. I think the world needs to see more examples of ALL kinds of love!

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  24. Aww, this was fun to read! Love the ending.

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