Romantic Friday Writers challenge no. 26 is a terrific way to improve your writing skills. We are currently submitting flash fiction twice a month. L'Aussie is our head guru. To read more entries or to join, go here.
Jane trudged through the snow drifts that covered the sidewalk. At one point, she was forced to step into the street. The chill of the night hadn't yet frozen the melting snow and her warn boot splashed through newly formed ice allowing the frozen water to seep in through the hole in her sole. Instantly, her toes turned numb. She gritted her teeth, readjusting the plastic grocery bags that cut into her bare hands. Her car was still in the parking lot, dead.
Tomorrow was her thirtieth birthday. It was also the one year anniversary of Tom's abandonment. He'd come home to their little house, packed his bags and left. No explanation. On Christmas morning he called from Florida to wish their three children Merry Christmas. He wasn't alone. She heard the woman in the background.
Thank God for her mother. Without her help the part-time job would be impossible. At least Tom paid the mortgage. But she still had the utilities and other expenses. Her parents provided clothing for her wild boys. Would they grow to be like Tom?
The glow from the neighbor's house made her smile. She barely knew Martin. Of course she exchanged pleasantries with him when they passed. He was a widower, a year and a half now. Last Christmas his home had been dark with grief. This year he had pulled off a cheerful letter to everyone he knew including Jane. In the summer he held neighborhood barbecues and filled his lawn with water games for the children. Martin had no children of his own. Now, gazing at the warm windows, Jane wanted to ring his bell and ask if she could warm up by his fire. But she didn't. Her children and mother waited at home.
Suddenly Martin's door burst open and out ran her three boys. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy," they called. Jane dropped the groceries in the nearest snow bank and knelt to receive the hugs of her little ones. Martin stood in his door. "Come in," he yelled.
"How kind of you," Jane said, as she entered his home.
Christmas lights hung from the banister and over the mantel. A dinner encompassed his dining table where her parents sat waiting.
"I thought you might be hungry," he said.
In the course of the past year she had lost twenty pounds and all her clothes hung on her as if she were a clothes line. He took the groceries and put them in his refrigerator still in the plastic bags. They ate, roast beef, French bread, carrots and peas and for dessert apple pie. Jane hadn't felt so satisfied in a long time.
She busied herself to clear the table and found a moment alone in Martin's kitchen with him. "Thank you," she said. "You can't imagine how much this means to me."
He smiled. A young man still, she guessed him to be around 38.
"I know how difficult life has become for you."
A tear meandered along her cheek and Jane turned so he wouldn’t see. When the dishwasher was humming and all the left-overs put away, Jane followed Martin to the living room. There her parents waited, watching her three boys as they ran their toy cars over the carpet.
Martin stopped. "Look up," he said.
Mistletoe dangled from the over head light. Martin pulled her close and gave her a kiss that made her quiver like a high school girl.
"I'd like to spend more time with you," he whispered in her ear.
Jane could barely breathe. "Me too."
Word Count: 592 including title. I hope you enjoyed it.