Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Standing Appointment

There were two Flash Fiction Carnival themes this month. The special one for Valentine's Day was LOVE. Read all the entries here.


Karen spent the morning of Valentine's Day at the salon. It was one of the few times of year she allowed herself the luxury. With her hair styled, her hands manicured, and her make-up done, she went home to dress. She donned a slinky black dress and a black velvet jacket, along with her favorite diamond earrings - a Valentine's gift from many years before. She smiled as they winked in the light when she turned her head from side to side. It reminded her of the surprise she'd felt, coming home from a tiring business trip to find the small teddy bear on her bed, it's ears glittering with the jewels. She slipped on her shoes and grabbed her purse on the way out the door.

The limo driver was waiting for her at the curb. She eased into the luxurious leather seat with a sigh, turning the ring on her finger idly as they crossed the floating bridge into downtown Seattle. The limo paused outside their first stop, the Godiva Chocolatier. She purchased a box of dark truffles, always his favorite. The limousine snaked through the busy cobbled street of Pike Place, and waited there while Karen edged into the indoor market to buy fresh flowers from her usual vendor, a bundle of scarlet peonies that Clark had set aside for her, just like always. She tried to pay for them, but he assured her they were no charge, and wished her a Happy Valentine's Day. It was one of the few times in the year Karen ventured to the market anymore, but the vendors never forgot her ritual. Her picnic basket at DeLaurenti's was packed and waiting. Sophia slid it across the counter with a knowing smile.

Her arms laden with goods, Karen jostled through the crowds back to the waiting limo, and they were on their way again. The sky was a soft dove grey, but it was warm enough, she thought. Tiny spears of sunlight were breaking through the clouds. The long drive through the manicured grounds was lined with budding Dogwoods - a promise that Spring was near. The car stopped near a gracefully curving path. Karen gathered her things and thanked the driver before setting out for the picnic spot she had shared with her husband for the past eight years. She unrolled the wool blanket and laid it out on the neatly mowed grass, then set out the other items: the flowers, the wine, the food, the chocolates, and the bible. It was marked with the passage that had blessed their union all those years ago.

Karen sat, and ate, and drank. When she was ready, she opened the book and carressed the familiar worn pages as she began to read. Corinthians 13. Love is . . . patient, kind. It always trusts. It always hopes. It always perseveres. She had known that. She had been blessed. Love never fails, she read. Yes, that was true too. She closed the book and sighed, reaching over to touch the stone-hewn date in front of her. February fourteenth. Love is forever, she thought, holding her tears in check.

"What do you say, Frank? Will you be my Valentine?"

--544 words--

Thanks to Kat Oxley for editing!


Kathleen Oxley said...

So sad, yet also very sweet! I really enjoyed this, and am amazed by it's brevity.


Lucian said...

I liked the surprise ending.

Gwen Mitchell said...

Thanks Lucian.

Kat - shush! =P

Byz. said...

very moving Gwen, the ending
is bitter sweet.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

That's very lovely. The overall theme is sad, so it's not terribly surprising when we wind up at his headstone. Yet it's still a surprise because it's such a romantic set-up and yet...

Anonymous said...

An excellent piece -- poignant, powerful -- and so sweet. Made tears start in my eyes.

Razib Ahmed said...

It is short, simple, sad and sweet. It made me wanted to know more about the couple. What they did before? When they got married? Who came to the ceremony? How long were they engaged? Why don't you write another story and tell us about them more?

AlannahJoy said...

So lovely and wistful, and you made me care about Karen. I literally had tears in my eyes by the time I got to the last word. Beautiful work.

bunnygirl said...

This is a sweet story with clean writing. I would've liked a better sense of Karen's age and how long she and her husband had been married, but other than that, I liked the premise. It reminded me of other cultures and other times (such as the Victorian era) where it was considered a normal thing to have a little picnic with your deceased loved ones. I think it's kind of sad that this sort of thing is considered weird or OTT these days.

A. Catherine Noon said...

Wow, Gwen. This is touching and poignant. It brought tears to my eyes. Well done!