Friday, November 18, 2011

Fiction Friday: Hearts Afire, Part 1

The following third-round entry into the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition earned me 2nd place in my round and a spot in the final writing challenge! (Read my first and second-round entries.)

Writing a romantic comedy was harder than I'd thought it would be. My location prompt was a bake sale and my object was a fire alarm. Here's my sort of romantic 1,000 word story!

Penelope Myers only did what she wanted. She was not swayed by popular opinion or emotions. She believed in making her own choices and committed herself to living a smart, decisive life.

Which was why on this particular day she was carefully inspecting baked goods at the supermarket. The fireman’s carnival was happening that night and she was late with her annual donation to their bake sale. She didn’t have time to deal with pans and preheating, so store bought cookies would have to do this year.

Penelope considered which cookies looked more homemade – the chocolate chunk or the peanut butter. When she finally decided on the former, she circled around the display just in time to see the last package of chocolate chunk being placed into a basket.

“Wait!” she yelped instinctively. “Those are mine!”

The man holding the basket pulled the package back out. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see your name on them.”

He was teasing her, a twinkle in his eye. Penelope stammered, “No, I know. It’s just…I really need them.”

“I see. Never stand between a woman and her chocolate. I learned that the hard way.” He extended the package. Penelope took them gratefully.

“Thanks.” She turned and headed for the checkout.

“I’m Steve, by the way,” he called out.

“Oh, um…hi…” she tossed over her shoulder. But her mind was already focused on what platter she would use to make the cookies look homemade.

As she walked toward the firehouse carrying a neatly wrapped platter of cookies, her mind wandered to the man from the supermarket. He’d been handsome, she thought briefly, with nice eyes. What was his name again? She wasn’t sure.

But she shook the thought out of her head. No time for a relationship. She was on a career track and didn’t want to be derailed. That’s not what she wanted right now. And Penelope only did what she wanted.

When she strolled up to the firehouse, the doors were open. “Hello?” she called out. A burly man in his fifties lumbered out a side door.

“Hey, darlin’. Whatcha got there?”

“They’re for the bake sale.”

“Ooo wee!” he cheered, looking at the platter. “Those look like they took you all day. We sure do thank you.”

“Anything to help,” Penelope replied, playing her part. “Where do I…?”

“Steve!” the man called over his shoulder. “Another donation!”

And before Penelope could run or hide (or both), the man from the supermarket strolled through the side door. He caught her eye and smiled.

“Hello. What do we have here?”

“Homemade cookies for the bake sale,” the older man gushed. “Look at these babies. They could win at the State Fair, don’t you think?”

Penelope could feel her cheeks burning. “Actually, they’re –“

“They look beautiful,” Steve interrupted, taking the platter from her. “Thanks for your support.”

“You’re welcome,” she said blankly. Then, not knowing what else to do, she turned and walked away.

“Hope to see you at the carnival tonight!” the older man called after her.

Penelope just walked faster. Seconds later, she heard footsteps behind her.
To be continued...

Click to read Hearts Afire, Part 2

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