Story A Day May #3

Later than I wanted but still before the deadline of midnight, so here’s day 3!! Enjoy. 🙂

May 3, 2015

Word prompts: survival, crocus, interminable

“Oh, thank God!” Derrick fell onto his best friend, Kelly, who stood at his front door holding a toolbox. “My survival depends upon you.”

“I doubt that.” She let out a little groan as he squeezed her even harder. “I can’t fix your date night if you don’t let go.”

He let go of her and stepped back, holding the door. “Work your magic.”

The cramped apartment was cold. Kelly headed to the ancient radiator while Derrick resumed tending to the homemade sauce bubbling on the stove.

“Tell me again what happened?” said Kelly.

“Uh, rattle, rattle, rattle, something like a screeching noise, and then nothing.”

“I thought you learned how to fix this after the last two times I came over here and showed you.”

He shrugged. “I tried. I’m just not mechanically inclined.”

“I know.” She shot him a quick grin before focusing on the dead heater. “So, what’s on the menu? Smells like Grandma Kerri’s famous marinara.”

“And her famous focaccia bread.”

“You can’t forget that.”

Once the sauce finished cooking, Derrick turned off the gas stove, checked the bread, and started setting the table, all to the tinkering of his childhood friend trying to fix his radiator.

He’d gone all out for the date. Silver chargers under the dinner plates, cloth napkins folded into elegant swans, two single yellow roses in bud vases. Candles lined the windowsill of the kitchen.

Every part of the night was planned to perfection. Derrick had something important to ask his date, and he needed it to all go smoothly.

The timer on the stove dinged. He took out the bread, put it on the cooling rack, and escaped to the bathroom to check his appearance one last time. Derrick flashed a smile at his reflection, winked, and returned to the kitchen/dining area to the sound of a whistling radiator.

“Hey! The old gal is back from the dead.”

Kelly was packing up her tools. “She was never dead, just taking a well deserved break. Although, speaking of being dead, you seem to be short one dinner companion.”

“She told me that she might be running a few minutes late,” he said. Right then, the text tone went off. “See?” Derrick fished in his pants pocket for his phone. “Just a little … late … shit.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Look, thanks for coming over.”

She gave him a sympathetic look. “You’ve been stood up.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Derrick! What the hell? Give me your phone; I’ll give this girl a piece of my mind.”

He raised his arm as she tried to grab his phone. “Kel, stop.” She tried jumping but only succeeded in brushing her fingertips against his wrist. He laughed. “Seriously, this is embarrassing. You are a horrible jumper. Are you even getting more than an inch off the ground?”

“Shut up, you tall bastard!” She let out a huff. A flush of pink colored her cheeks.

He put the phone down on the counter. Derrick grabbed the box of linguine noodles, dumped it into the large pot of boiling water, and glanced over his shoulder. “Beer or wine?”

“What?”

“To drink, silly. You fixed my radiator; I might as well feed you. Besides, you have to stay since I’m now a sad panda.”

“You are impossible,” said Kelly. She went to the cabinet and retrieved two wine glasses. “I get to pick the wine this time.”

By the time he had dinner put together, Kelly sat at the tiny round table, one leg crossed over the other with her foot swinging in the air. He served her first, then himself, and they ate at a leisurely pace, enjoying the food and the conversation.

Once dinner was over, they piled the dishes in the sink and Kelly doled out three big scoops of vanilla ice cream for each of them. He didn’t own any dessert bowls, so she used coffee mugs. When she brought it to the table, a small, flat package lay in the middle, wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with yellow yarn. She froze.

“What is that?”

Derrick reached around her left side to take a mug of ice cream. “It’s a gift.”

“Are you giving me the sloppy seconds of your failed date?”

“No,” chuckled Derrick. “Sit down and open it.”

“I’m scared,” she said, but she sat anyway. She reached for the gift with one hand and ate some ice cream with the other.

“Put your spoon down! You’re going to get it all sticky.”

“Yes, mother,” she teased.

He watched her untie the yellow yarn and tear the top of the paper. His stomach churned with a million anxious butterflies, and his mind raced with a million different thoughts, ranging from amazing to disastrous. Yes, he’d planned the evening to perfection and it all hinged on this moment.

She slid the 5×7 canvas painting from the wrapping. Her lips parted with a soft gasp as she stared at the watercolor of a yellow crocus – her favorite flower. The yards of their childhood homes had been filled with them every spring, a sight not seen by either of them in years, not since they’d moved to this crowded city devoid of lawns.

As she gazed upon the canvas he painted for her, the stretch of silence was interminable. When she did at last look up, her eyes were bright, happy … suspicious. Kelly gave him the look reserved for only him when he did something sneaky, that half-exasperating, half-endearing glare, and she got up to take the four steps into the kitchen. It took all of three tries for her to unlock his phone, as his pass code was her birthday. She found the text from his brother in seconds, figuring out that Derrick had enlisted his help in faking a date gone wrong.

“It’s always been you, Kel. Always,” he said. Still she remained quiet, and he tensed further, lead dropping into his gut at his biggest fear come true. “Say something.”

She let him dangle a few seconds longer before coming back. She moved her chair next to his and sat. A slow, girlish grin spread over her lips, and all the love he ever wanted to see resided in her eyes. “You’re giving me your ice cream.”

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2 responses to “Story A Day May #3

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