A Valentine's Day Story by The Ancient Champion
Would You Spend The Rest of Your Life With Me
Although it was cold outside Aanya wasn't sure whether to go out and sit on the front wall and wait right now, or to pop out in her slipperboots when she came. She'd said she would call when she got outside anyway. There'd be nowhere to park, there hardly ever was and that could be a problem. And she'd reiterated the money part for the second time just so Aanya knew, maybe like some people on this street or on this estate wouldn't even have it once she arrived.
Aanya stood in the kitchen diner and squeezed the tea bag against the side of her mug, she was a little anxious, she knew, and a little exhilarated. She'd forgotten to put the colander of drained spinach into the quorn, but the peppers were in the oven now and maybe the spinach wouldn't be missed. The flowers in the vase on the table were simple, lilacs and astrantia, lovely but not ostentatious. She'd never bought drugs before. Esme would be back soon and Aanya wanted to get dressed, she wanted everything to be just right. She considered the illicit thrills, the rubicons crossed, her parents taboos defied. This one barely counts she thought. The friendly generally unintrusive neighbours though, they were a worry
The phone rang then and her pug raised her head and didn't do anything else.
Aanya was conscious of her slipperboots as she stood leaning in through the car window. It was double parked but there wasn't anyone waiting to get by to close down the small talk. She didn't know how many minutes she needed to stay for. She just wanted to hand over the money and go back inside. The woman in the car wasn't any older than Aanya, she looked familiar, was detached and cool but checked the mirrors for traffic. She was coming from work she said, she'd just changed jobs and had used to work in a factory and now a shop. She'd seen her old factory friends and they were making these sweets for Valentines day. Aanya didn't know what to expect and said she worked in a hospital but didn't say anything else. The woman had two heart shaped cardboard boxes on the passenger seat. Aanya pulled the money from her jacket pocket and offered it through the window. Thanks for doing this, she said. The woman didn't immediately take the money, there'd been a price miscalculation she said, and opened one of the boxes, "caramels and jellies, mainly," she said. "It ended up being five more. But don't worry about it, I can get it next time." There was a plastic bag inside the heart shaped box and it was difficult to see through, but even in the diffused streetlight the colours looked pretty.
"Thanks for doing this for me." Aanya said.
from the forthcoming (March 18) Ancient Champion short story collection 'Sextet: Six Stories About Motoring Nowhere'
Ancient Champion website here
Image on this page: Sharon McCutcheon
Ancient Champion writes for OUTSIDELEFT, relentlessly records instrumental easy listening tracks, and is always completing the short story collection, Six Stories About Motoring Nowhere. More info at AncientChampion.com
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