Here are the three short stories I recently submitted for the Simple Savings Romance competition. I didn't win, but I sure enjoyed writing them.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Hands touch. Eyes meet.
A shy smile, eyes downcast, is exchanged. This moment has been a long time coming.
A wiggle to get a little closer, barely susceptible to an onlooker, but welcomed with a warm glow.
Hand over hand, trodding a path so rarely taken in these days of instant gratification and lightning swift response.
The smooth feel of the heirloom linen beneath eager fingers.
"Is this right?" one asks hypnotically.
A sigh ensues. "Not quite, just a little more to the left...yes, that's it".
Deep in concentration, they work towards common fulfillment. Busy hands, brows glowing with effort, a slight shift in position every now and again.
Few words are exchanged. Hands and eyes speak. Each leaning back from time to time to observe the glow of excitement on the features of the other.
A change of position is required. A smooth transition is effected with footstools and cushions.
"Is that more comfortable?" asks one.
A nod and a blissful smile, the response.
The fundamentals attended to, they move as one, towards a new plateau of self discovery.
"I don't think that's stiff enough", says one.
A small frown. "Hang on, I'll just....ahhhh...that's better".
Squeezing, stroking, a gentle nudge here and there. Up and down, the repetition almost a dance.
Massaging and manipulating. Each movement accompanied by minute changes in facial expression, eyes focused and yet distant at the same time.
"Is it good?"
Fulfillment is reached.
She removes her own apron, and enfolds her daughter dressed in her Mothers' apron, proudly in her arms.
"Grandma would be so thrilled if she were here. That cake will win the cake decorating competition for sure, Darling."
(Well what did you THINK the story was about....*cheeky grin*)
WISHING AND HOPING AND DRILLING AND FILLING
"So, what's the history of this tooth" he asks.
"Wll....oi....mmmpn..frlgl..grgle...." she replies.
"Oh sorry". He displays that wry grin she's come to adore, and removes his fingers from her mouth. She suffers a pang of loss as he does. He has such lovely fingers.
She wipes delicately, hoping he's missed the drool glistening provocatively at the left corner of her mouth.
"It's just never been right. I've had it filled and drilled," a gulp ensues and she imagines what else she'd like filled and drilled. "but it always ends up a mess no matter what?.
His brow furrows. "I just can't understand it. It looks like an otherwise healthy tooth. But I really think it's going to have to come out. And I'm afraid..." he gives her a stare filled with meaning..."that more work will be necessary."
She nods mutely and breaks out in a cold sweat as she imagines drowning in his eyes, three, maybe four times a month.
The whistle and whine of dental equipment singing is a sonnet to her welcoming ears, she settles back for a long moment.
"Hmmm..." his voice croons to her and her alone..."I think we'll just take it out and be done with it. Now, just a tingle here, and here".....
She blushes....wondering if he knows how many other places on her body are tingling from his touch.
"Now just a few moments while that takes effect"...he murmurs.
She eyes him soulfully, while he talks about antibiotics and painkillers and sawing her beligerent molar in half.
"Now, can you feel this? Or this", he asks poking and prodding. She wonders how many other parts of her he could poke and prod whilst posing the same question, and has to slow her breathing lest he think her frightened.
"Okay, then we're good to go".
And swiftly and decisively, his hands are in her obliging mouth, removing the offender. Thirty seconds, and it's all over.
"Well", he draws in a deep breath. "That couldn't have gone any better!".
"Would you like to see?" he proffers a dish.
She shakes her head, a bit teary that it's all over so quickly.
"Are you in pain?" he asks.
Mortified, she shakes her head more vehemently.
"Right, then, now a few post-op tips there in the pamphlett, and Rachel will see to your account and make a further appointment."
She stumbles out of the treatment room, and waits patiently for the computer to spit out her account.
The phone rings, and a startled conversation ensues.
"Terrence, I have to go." Rachel, the receptionist calls. "Phoebe has had an accident at school. Can you finish Mariah's account for me?".
She self-consciously wipes at her numb cheek and chin, certain that she is still drooling.
He taps the buttons on the keyboard competently while she admires his beautiful hands again. She could look at them all day.
He draws a breath through his teeth. "Darn, the fund computer is down. Would you like to settle the account another way?"
She jumps guiltily, wondering how he could have read her thoughts.
He looks quizzical.
"I mean, can you pop in tomorrow?" he smiles.
She feels her cheeks glowing in embarrassment. Well, one cheek anyway.
He holds his hand out to her. She extends hers to shake his hand.
He puts his lips to her wrist.
"Well, I'll see you at home then", he breathes.
She demures, but there is a spring in her step as she walks into his arms.
Honestly. The things a Dentists' wife has to do to save money.
LIVING IN LA-LA LAND
The hubbub leading up to Christmas, meant she'd forgotten the competition. That is, until she got the letter.
You have been selected as a finalist in the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN BAKE festive bake-off at LavaLand Shopping Centre."
Her heart leapt. Nintendo DS for the boys, Barbie campervans for the girls. "And a haircut for me" she hugged herself with excitement.
LavaLand shopping centre was alive with activity. She eyed the competitors dubiously. She briefly thought that the place should be called La-LaLand. These women were going to cook in their designer gear, hair coiffed, and jewels a-jangling. She looked down at her own plain attire. Her hands, bereft of sparkling adornment, suddenly irked her. But those rings were long gone. Sold on Ebay to pay the mechanic when her car blew a head gasket. She sighed.
The fragrance of nutmeg, cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla hung in the cool air.
Rosie absentmindedly wondered what some pooncy looking bloke in a suit would know about Christmas cooking, but who was she to tell the La-LaLand shopping centre who they could have as judges. He looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn't place him.
Arranging her Rum Balls with Hazelnut Pearl Centres disguised as little Christmas Puddings, she glanced over at her rivals efforts.
One had a Panforte with edible gold leaf, the second had an impressive tower of profiteroles wrapped in toffee, shiny baubles tucked here and there. "Wow" was all that escaped her lips. The fourth seemed to have done something magical with fondant and fruit cake.
She comforted herself with the thought of the hamper of goodies she'd receive as a consolation prize.
The crowd applauded their enthusiasm as the judges announced the winner. Sure enough, the lady with the Christmas Croquembouche had won. So, jangly-jewels were no barrier to being a good cook after all. She quickly popped one of her rum balls into her mouth to cheer herself up. Man, they were good.
She bravely wandered over to Croquembouche Cathy and congratulated her. Waving Merry Christmas to the other competitors, she did her best to slink off unnoticed.
It wasn't until the kids had crawled into bed with anticipation, that she realised she'd failed to collect her hamper. She shrugged. Thanks to her forward planning and efforts at cooking from scratch they'd eat well anyway.
She'd been aiming for a no-spend Christmas. As she lovingly wrapped the home made gifts she'd created for the children, she felt a glow of accomplishment. Their gifts may not be trendy, but they'd last the distance.
A knock at the door interrupted her reverie. "What the? Who is it!" she called out nervously. She felt an involuntary bubble of laughter brewing in her chest as she pictured Santa standing at her door. As if in response, a deep voice replied "Ho-ho-ho&.".
She rolled her eyes and peeked through the curtains. Even on Christmas Eve, one does not open the door to a stranger without first checking how weird they might be. Her eyes flew open. It was the guy&the one judging the contest! And in the same instant, it came to her. He was the one of the new parents at her childrens' school. They'd moved to the area recently, as his wife had passed away, and the family had moved closer to grandparents. She had a nodding and smiling relationship with him and his children, but that was all.
She smoothed her hair, and straightened her clothes. She still hadn't changed out of her bake-off outfit, and there was cocoa smeared along her waistline. She opened the door, trying in vain to look composed.
"Yes?" she said, other words failing her.
She mentally rolled her eyes again&. Trust her to get a good looking, single bloke turn up on her doorstep on Christmas Eve, only to find he's mentally deficient. She surveyed him silently.
He shuffled his feet and looked embarrassed. "Er&hi" he mumbled. "Sorry¬ funny. Um&here to deliver your hamper&you forgot it". He waved behind him in case she'd missed the gigantic basket. "And um&to give you this". He handed her a thick white envelope.
She looked at him quizzically.
"The lady that won? She cheated. She bought those profiteroles. So we decided to award first prize to the person next closest in points. That's&er&you."
Uncomprehending, she opened the envelope. She blinked in disbelief. A gift card for LavaLand Shopping Centre for $1000. "Wow&thanks" she breathed.
"Um, I'm Jeff, the centre manager. I think we know each other from school? Anyway, knew you wouldn't have a chance to use that gift card before tomorrow, so just wanted to offer this as well." He handed her a Santa sack, stuffed to the brim. "Our kids are similar in age, so I just made some random selections for you".
Her jaw dropped open in a most unflattering fashion. She looked at him. She recovered herself and said "Wow&I mean, come in Jeff. Where's your family tonight?"
"Ah, at home with my parents. We all like to wake up together on Christmas morning. I just had to finish a few things&." He trailed off, looking uncomfortable.
"Tea?" she offered.
"No&thankyou anyway. I should be going. But while I'm here, I've been meaning to ask you whether you like bowling."
"Huh?" she said vacantly.
"Bowling&ten pin&the kids and I like to go. Thought you might all like to join us sometime?"
"Nice&that'd be nice." Rosie managed.
"Okay&then I'll call you&maybe next week&bowling and burgers?"
And with that, he was gone.
She dropped into her chair&. Did that really just happen? Hamper, Santa Sack, and date with a hunk?
She smiled to herself&. Her mother always said her cooking prowess would win accolades. Well, it had won more than that!
Merry Christmas Rosie!