I have entered NYC Midnight Flash fiction competition. I’ll find out in October if I move on to the next round!
In this contest, you are given parameters to write a story of 1000 words. Mine were: Genre: Romance; Location: A post office; Object: An ashtray. It’s a difficult contest, because you have only two days to think of a story involving your prompts and then write it in time to upload it before the deadline. I am always uploading at the very last minute!
It takes me a day or so before I dare read what I sent in, and then I hold my breath, waiting to see any glaring errors I missed in the rush. This time, there was one word missing: each. For smooth-reading purposes I have included it here, but for honesty purposes, I have to admit it was missing in the upload. I hope you enjoy this little tale! 🙂
In a new town, Sarah learns that gifts can come from unexpected directions.
“I’m heading out to the post office!” Sarah called.
“Why?” Harry, her new assistant, came out from the antique store’s storeroom, clipboard in hand and his hair a messy tangle of red curls. “I mean, aside from visiting the oh-so-cute postman you’ve been crushing on?”
“Ha, ha, very funny. No, a package notice came in the mail,” Sarah held out the orange slip of paper. “Want coffee?”
“Nah, I’m good. Grab me the paper though, ok?”
“You got it.” On her way through the shop, Sarah adjusted the angle of a 19th-century, marble ashtray, and then paused in front of a mirror to check her hair and teeth.
“Umm, hmmm?” Harry made a caught-ya face. Sarah grinned and stuck her tongue out before leaving. A bell over the door rang when the door opened and shut.
Harry was great. Sarah was glad he answered her Help Wanted sign a few weeks earlier. Already, she didn’t know how she got everything done before he got there.
She walked down Main Street to the post office. Living in Fairview, with its one street of businesses, was a big change from her old routine in New York City. She was still getting used to people in town knowing her name.
Inside the small building, the air held that odd stillness unique to post offices. Though he was helping Mr. Bentley, Jeff glanced at her from behind the counter. Sarah melted inside at the sight of his deep brown eyes and they both smiled. She got on line and chatted with Mrs. Rodgers in front of her until it was her turn. Her stomach filled with butterflies.
“Morning, Sarah,” Jeff said, his deep voice sending a tingling wave through her.
“Hi, Jeff. I got a package?”
“Oh, yes, it came in late yesterday afternoon.” He got up and walked to the back. Sarah watched his powerful frame and swallowed. On his return, they held each other’s eyes during his whole walk back.
“Here you go.” He handed her the small package. Their fingers touched in the transfer and Sarah got goosebumps. “Anything else?”
“No … no, thanks, Jeff.” She blushed and smiled. Walking away and reading the return address, she frowned a bit in confusion. It’s from a post office box right here in town? Whoever sent it could have just as easily brought it to her store. She turned to ask Jeff if he knew who sent it, but he was busy.
Back at her desk, Harry came and watched while she opened it. “Oooh! Jewelry!” She exclaimed as she took out a velvet box from Ritchie’s, two doors down. Opening it, she gasped. A silver heart necklace lay on black velvet. She peeked back into the shipping box. “There’s no card.”
“You must have a secret admirer, Sarah.”
“I guess so!” She put it on and looked down at the shiny pendant resting in her slight cleavage. “Wow! It’s the perfect length!” Harry smiled and went back to work.
Sarah called her best friend back in the city. “Kate! Guess what? He sent me a heart necklace.”
“It has to be Jeff! Who else? I haven’t been flirting with anyone else.”
“Jeff, the mailman? Oh, dear! You are in the boonies out there, aren’t you? It must be slim pickings.”
“No, really, he’s hot. You’d even go for him.”
“Has he asked you out yet?”
“No, I’ve only been here a couple of months. It is a small town. Things move slower here.”
“Well, an anonymous necklace doesn’t sound slow to me. Hon, I gotta run. Kiss, kiss.”
Sarah put the phone down, her other hand absently playing with the necklace.
Each day that week, a new package notice came. She grew more excited with each gift, and called Harry over to watch her open them.
“But why doesn’t he say anything when I pick them up?” she asked him.
“He’s probably afraid you’d say no,” Harry watched her maneuver her wrist to try and catch the clasp. “Hey, want some help?”
“Sure.” Sarah held her arm out and Harry bent over it. “Well, he can see I’m wearing his presents, can’t he?”
“Yes, I’m sure he sees the jewelry.”
On Saturday, a half-hour before the post office closed, she went to see Jeff. She dressed carefully, and wore the necklace, earrings, bracelets and pin. She even wore lipstick.
The line was much longer, and by the time Sarah got to the window, it was closing time, like she planned.
“Hi, Sarah,” he said. “No package today, I’m afraid.”
“Yes, I know. There wasn’t any package notice in the mail.”
“So, how can I help you?”
Sarah twirled a curl around her finger. “Um, did you …”
“Did I what?” his eyes crinkled with his smile. His phone beeped and he glanced down. Sarah watched his features soften as he read the message and she saw a woman’s face above the text. It’s not him! Her heart sank. “Oh, um, did you get any stamps with trees on them?
Sarah paid and left as quickly as possible, glad she hadn’t said anything embarrassing. Walking back to her store, she blinked tears back. I always seem to like the unavailable ones.
“I feel so stupid!” she complained to Harry, as she paced around the showroom, adjusting one display after another. “But who else can be sending me jewelry? I don’t know anyone else in town.”
“No one?” He asked, leaning against the wall.
Sarah stopped short and turned to look at him. He tipped his head and gave her a slow, appraising look. “Harry?”
His face broke into a smile. “Yes?”
“It’s you, isn’t it?” She smiled back.
He came over to her. It seemed to Sarah as if he walked a long time, from a far distance, and then he was there, in front of her.
“It’s me,” he said, and took her in his arms.