I’m heading back over to Flash Fiction Friday for my prompt this week:
In 1500 words, tell us about meeting the parents.
Honestly, I was stumped on what to do with that for a while, but when I got rolling the story found it’s way to the page with relative ease. I’m really curious as to whether or not the end works, so feel free to speak up in the comments.
Charlene was being uptight. Well, more uptight than usual. She’s always been a type-A sort of girl. It’s part of what attracted me to her. She can let her hair down and be wild, be fun, be risky, but all the risks are calculated. There’s always a plan. She feels the need to maintain control over the situation if at all possible, which is likely why she was such a nervous wreck.
I was about to meet her parents.
“Did you open the wine?” she asked.
“Yes, sweetie. It’s on the dining room table, like you asked. Breathing.”
“And the candles?”
“I set them out, but I haven’t lit them. Should I light them now?”
Charlene spun around to face me, her eyes wide and her hands waving frantically in the air. “No, no, no! Don’t light them!”
I took a step back, my hand coming up reflexively. She saw the look on my face and said, “Sorry.” I waited for her to drop her arms to her side and then stepped forward and drew her into a full body hug.
“It’s okay, babe. I know you’re nervous. I know you’re afraid things won’t go well, but it will be okay. I promise. I’m not going to light the candles or touch the wine or do anything until you tell me it needs to be done. I know my role tonight. I’ll follow your lead, I promise.”
Charlene’s body slowly loosened, her ridged form melting into mine as she breathed deeply. After a moment, she looked up into my eyes. “Thank you, Dan. Thank you for being patient with me. This is hard.”
I laughed. “Hey, meeting the future in-laws is always hard, right?”
She narrowed her eyes but her lips curled into a cunning smile. “You think you’re funny. You’re not, but you think you are.”
“Just trying to liven your evening up,” I said matching her shit-eating grin.
“You’re dead right. This is a serious matter.”
She hit me playfully. “Smart ass. None of that when they get here. They won’t share my appreciation for your twisted sense of humor.”
“Okay, okay.” Motioning to a pile of assorted odds and ends on the kitchen counter, I asked, “Where do you want me to put these?”
“That stuff can all stay there, except for the silver. Put one of those at each place setting,” she said.
“Do they need to match?”
“No. As long as it’s silver and not some cheap knock-off.”
I nodded. I’d been feeling in over my head all day. As we got closer to 8:00 my anxiety levels rose a notch or two, but Charelene was already so worked up I didn’t want to contribute to her stress, so I just stuff it down inside and tried to ignore it. People meet their future in-laws every day, right?
At 15 ’til 8, Marilyn arrived. She brought more candles, though I can’t imagine anyone describing all the wax and wicks we’d already set out as less than ample. “Candle light is the best light,” she said and passed a box of votives and pillars into my hands. I set to work placing them all over the dining room.
At 6 ’til, Charlene insisted that we sit down. She didn’t want us rushing at the last minute and her parents are, it would seem, sticklers for punctuality.
At 1 ’til, Charlene squeezed my hand and told me everything looked good. It would go fine.
As the clock chimed, we began. Marilyn first, then Charlene, then me. We chanted.
And at 8:02 pm the temperature of the dining room dropped a good 20 degrees as Charlene’s parents made contact from the other side so that we could seek their blessing on our future marriage.
People may meet their future in-laws every day, but most of the time they aren’t dead.