Here I am -- writing, reading, exercising, cooking, and sometimes cleaning my home. I try to do that last thing as little as possible.
This blog is purposefully kept up as a way to stay accessible on social media since I have big dreams of continuing to be an author. If you'd be so kind, check out my available stories!
I keep a running list of published works here, at the top post: http://trayellis.dreamwidth.org/
Friday, November 21, 2014
Free Fiction Friday: Say It With Strawberries
I had a little fun with this story. It's more like an exercise in writing than it is a complete package short story. Instead of being strictly romance with happily ever after, the main character doesn't get the guy, but he bounces back better than before.
Title: Say It With Strawberries
Genre: male/male romance
Length: ~1000 words
Strawberries meant romance, so Jeremy bought
He bought them once a week and that was the only thing
he purchased during that trip.It was
supposed to make a statement. Nigel worked as a check-out cashier three
times during the week and Jeremy made sure he shopped every time Nigel was
there. The other two times Jeremy found different things that suggested love.
Jeremy wasn’t old enough yet to legally purchase
champagne, being eight months shy of twenty-one, but the grocery store stocked
just about anything else that brought romance to mind. In the past two months,
Jeremy found bags of enormous crisp apples, deeply blushing pomegranates,
red globe grapes, expensive chocolate with chilies and cinnamon, tins of smoked
oysters, and even a small jar of caviar. He’d indulged in crusty French bread
and cupcakes with pink icing, cheeses with names he couldn’t pronounce, and
once, very boldly, he’d even bought a can of whipped cream at the same time as
Sometimes it took a while to work up his courage, and
to wait for the perfect moment when there was no line at the register, to bring
the selected item over, but each time he did, his palms sweated and his breath
grew short. Blood rushed through his ears so loudly that sometimes he could
barely hear Nigel’s words. He hated it because it meant he missed hearing the
slightest trace of an accent contained within Nigel's voice. Nigel’s voice was
deep, the sort of deep that brought to mind movie trailers and jewelry
commercials, and tinged with a curl around his vowels that gave Jeremy goose
bumps on the back of his neck. Jeremy wasn’t particularly good at accents, so
he had no idea what it could be, but he loved the way Nigel spoke. Even
if it was only to ask if he wanted a plastic bag.
Jeremy had harbored crushes before and made good on
some of them, turning infatuations into passionate experiences. But there
was something different about Nigel. He was slightly older and even
though he laughed pleasantly, making small talk with customers, his eyes were
dark and serious. They didn’t just brood, they smoldered. Jeremy
could get lost in the fathoms of those
Nearing the start of his third month, Jeremy longed for
something more forward than just purchasing love-struck foods and waiting for
Nigel to chat with him during the transaction.If he didn't do something, he could spend a year or more buying
strawberries with nothing to show for it.
Lurking in the pasta aisle, Jeremy waited until Nigel’s
line was completely empty, then he sidled through the lane. “Hi,” he said,
sounding breathless to his own ears.
“Hey.” Nigel looked down at the item.
“Strawberries again? Are you on some kind of special diet? Is this
Jeremy’s heart sank a little because he’d thought it
had been obvious what he was doing, but he pressed on. “Not really, it’s
sort of been like a romantic gesture.” He paused to gather his courage.
Nigel spoke before Jeremy decided what he wanted to
say. “Oh, that’s cool,” Nigel said. He picked up the carton and
brought it across the scanner. A little beep sounded. “My boyfriend does
that for me, sometimes. Brings me little things he knows I like.”
Jeremy’s heart plummeted. Nigel already had a
boyfriend. The next few moments were a blur. He said something to Nigel
about how that was nice, but he couldn’t remember exactly what words he used.
He must have paid for the strawberries because he walked outside with them in
one hand and his wallet in the other.
He stood on the sidewalk and stared into the parking
lot. Cars moved around in a slow dance. His own car was in the lot,
but he didn’t feel like getting in it and driving anywhere. It seemed
like too much effort and he didn’t know where he’d go.
Jeremy turned slightly and he could see Nigel through
the window glass. He was ringing up the purchases of a woman with long
brown hair. Jeremy stayed on the sidewalk for several long minutes. One
of the lot workers came by, pushing a long line of shopping carts.
“You okay, there? You need help?” the guy asked.
His name tag read “Leo”. He was older with a salt and pepper mustache,
but his eyes were friendly.
Jeremy shook his head. His throat was too tight
to trust he would find his voice.
Leo pushed the carts all the way into the store. He
came back out again a minute later. He looked at Jeremy. “Mister,
you sure you don’t need some kind of help? You look confused.”
Jeremy held out the container of strawberries. “I
bought these, but I don’t want them anymore.”
Leo shifted his weight. He looked past Jeremy and
then refocused his gaze. People whizzed past them, intent on getting
inside to shop or outside to pack up and go home with their purchases.
Leo tugged on Jeremy’s elbow. “Over here, buddy.”
Jeremy went with him. Near the wall, it was quiet
and felt more private.
“Look, I’ve seen you here before.” Leo fidgeted
and scrunched his face. He seemed incredibly uncomfortable. “It’s Nigel,
Jeremy stared at the ground.
“He’s a handsome kid, that’s for sure,” Leo said. “And
nice. Hard worker. But he doesn’t have a lot going on in the office, if
you get my meaning.”
Jeremy’s attention shifted from the dried up green
piece of gum stuck to the ground to Leo’s face. “What?” he asked. Nigel’s
smoldering, serious eyes couldn’t be just…vacant, could they?
“You think about it. You’ll be okay. I bet
you can find someone better suited for you.” Leo patted Jeremy on the shoulder.
Then he brushed past him and returned to collecting carts.
Jeremy stayed against the wall. He looked down at
the strawberries. He did like strawberries. He’d also liked the
smoked oysters, unpronounceable cheeses, and caviar. Actually, coming
here to see Nigel had been difficult on his wallet. Organic, fair-trade
chocolate with cinnamon and chilies did not come cheap. At least he’d gotten to
eat the food. He’d really enjoyed it. But he’d just nibbled on the items
individually, without really doing anything with them.
Maybe what he needed was to take a cooking class.
Then, next time, when he tried to date someone, he
could cook them a romantic dinner instead of just buying ingredients.
Jeremy dug his car keys out of his pocket and headed for his car.
Leo gave a wave as he passed by.Jeremy returned the wave, but otherwise,
didn't look back.