Tell us a story — fiction or non-fiction — with a twist we can’t see coming.
He watched her from the doorway. She hadn’t spotted him so he had the rare pleasure of observing her without her knowledge. She was as beautiful in his eyes as the day he married her years ago.
His gaze followed her graceful movements as she set the dinner table for two. His ears picked up the lively little tune she was humming to herself. He smiled as he recognized the tune as ‘their song’. It was the song that was playing at the restaurant when he asked her to marry him. Every year on their anniversary they played that song as they danced around the living room. Happy days those were.
He sniffed the air and his senses picked up the smell of his favorite meal. Ah, pot roast with those small baby potatoes and fresh carrots. How he loved her cooking. His eyes closed and his mouth began to salivate with anticipation.
A quick click of a lighter could be heard as his wife lit two long tapered red candles. The acrid smell of the wicks burning mixed with the aroma of the pot roast had him opening his eyes again.
She had stopped humming as she opened a bottle of red wine. He watched her as she struggled with the cork. When it came out with a resounding pop her face took on a look a look of triumph. She was always an open book of emotions.
As she poured out two glasses of wine and set them with the place settings he thought of letting his presence be known to her. Before he could act on that thought she turned and stepped into the kitchen.
Pots and pans could be heard being banged in the next room as he walked over to the big picture window in the dining room. He always loved the view from that window.
His mind went back to their first meal in this house. They had just moved in as a young married couple. The room had been full of boxes, the dining room set not yet bought. They sat on the floor in front of this window and watched the sun set over the tree tops. Then they made love right there in front of that same window. The shadows of the moon glow softly flickering on entwined bodies. Soft gasps and words of young love whispered in the dark.
He turned from the window as he heard her humming again in the kitchen. His smile was soft as he quietly pulled out a chair and sat in his usual spot at the table. How he loved that woman he thought. They had seen some rough times in their years of marriage. Some very rough times. But those times just drew them closer.
She was a strong woman. Strong when needed and soft and forgiving when she needed to be also. Sometimes it seemed she was both at the same time. He chuckled quietly. She told him once that he was as stubborn and persistent as a anyone she ever met. Maybe she was right. Well of course she was right. She seemed to be always right.
His chuckle stopped and he frowned. Yes, she had always been right. So when she told him not to climb that ladder that day because the wind was high and a storm was coming he should have listened. But he was stubborn and he wanted to get that eave cleaned before the storm hit.
Just as he finished cleaning out the last of the leaves the storm was on him. It hit hard and it hit fast. That gust of wind took him right off that ladder and tossed him twenty feet. He landed hard and he swore when he saw her run out of the house toward him.
Damn it, why didn’t he listen to her that day 15 years ago? Why? If he would have she wouldn’t have had to spend the last 15 years virtually alone.
His mind came back to the present by the sound of the glass platter hitting the dining room floor. Time stood still as he looked at the pot roast laying in a puddle of gravy with those new potatoes and fresh carrots spattering the hardwood floor.
The gasp of his name had his eyes back to his wife.
“I wanted to surprise you Helen. For our anniversary, I wanted to surprise you.”
“You can walk!!!”