30 Day Writing Challenge Day 10: Start your story with “She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled.” I started this by asking myself two questions. 1) “What is in the box?” and 2) “Why is she smiling?” This is what I came up with on a whim.
In Love and Christ,KC
She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled as she walked towards Steven’s apartment. In seven years he had never allowed her to come to his poker night– until tonight, that is. Really, it must have been some kind of sacred male ritual. She knew all of his friends and they all got along; there was absolutely no reason for her to be excluded apart from her glaring lack of testosterone. Shaking her head she remembered what Steven always said: “Poker night is boys’ night.”
Apparently that rule had changed. He was finally letting her experience the one part of his life she had been kept from and she had been sure to be prepared. On her arm was a grocery bag with chips, dip, and beer for the guys. The plan was to make it clear that she was an asset to poker night and should be excluded no longer. She could only hope she wouldn’t be too terrible at the game and that the beer would distract from her inexperience. Closing her hand around the new box of cards in her pocket she couldn’t help but smile again. Inexperienced or not, she was excited.
Steven’s apartment building didn’t seem as far away as it usually did. Before she realized how far she had walked there it was in front of her. “Steven!” she said, pushing the buzzer, “I’m here!”
“Come on up, babe,” Steven answered, his voice mildly robotic through the speaker.
“Are the guys here yet?” she asked, trying to sound nonchalant. Steven didn’t reply; only pushed the button to let her in.
Her grocery bag swung precariously as she walked up the five flights of stairs to Steven’s floor. This building was in desperate need of an elevator, she had always said– especially since she spent so much time there. But no matter how many times she wished for an elevator or dropped hints to Burt, the building manager, no elevator was installed… and after seven years she was just about ready to give up on the idea. Well, that or convince her boyfriend to move.
Sweating slightly and panting, she reached Steven’s door and knocked. He opened it with a smile. “Hey, babe.”
“Hey!” she said, handing over her grocery bag. “Oh my gosh. I’m so excited! I brought chips and dip. And beer!”
“Okay…” he replied with a laugh, taking the bag from her.
Looking around she noticed that his apartment did not look at all like what she had always envisioned when picturing poker night. The table was set nicely instead of being bare with poker chips strewn on its surface. There was no cigar smoke, and more importantly, no other players. “Where are the guys?” she asked.
He looked at his watch. “Poker night doesn’t start until 7. I thought we could have some dinner before they came.”
She shrugged as she removed her hat and scarf. “Sounds good to me. I don’t like to play cards on an empty stomach, you know.”
Steven grinned. “Of course not. I wouldn’t expect any less from a professional like you,” he teased and then said, “Have a seat; I’ll go get dinner.”
“Okay.” She sat on one side of the table and waited. Steven had put a lot of effort into this for a quick dinner before poker night. Candlelight danced on the tablecloth and a vase of flowers stood in the center. They were daisies; her favorite. Steven always had been so thoughtful.
“I love the daisies, sweetheart!” she called to him in the kitchen.
“I thought you might,” he called back. A minute later he walked through the door with two plates.
“You cooked?” she said, staring at the food before her. “You never cook!”
“I had some spare time,” Steven said.
She looked at the setting and the food; it looked like it took a lot more than just “spare time.” Steven smiled at her from across the table and she smiled back. “This looks beautiful, baby. I’ll hate to clear it away when the guys get here.”
“Well maybe they’ll ditch us and you won’t have to,” he said jokingly. “Now come on, let’s eat.”
Dinner was wonderful. They talked and laughed the whole time and Steven never took his eyes off of her. She loved it. The clock chimed seven as she finished off her last bite of dessert and she almost wished the guys really would ditch them. This evening was going so perfectly that she didn’t want anything to interrupt it. However, she also knew that if she tried to postpone poker night she might never be allowed back– and she did not want that to happen. So, just after the sound of the clock’s ringing she stood and said, “Oh! They’ll be here any minute. Let’s get the table picked up.”
“Okay,” Steven said, “I’ll get the dishes; you can clear the rest. Just put the candles and flowers on the desk and I’ll take care of them later.”
Nodding she did as he said as he went to the kitchen. Taking the tablecloth from the table, she folded it in a neat square and put it aside. She arranged the chips and dip on the table casually and then removing the box of cards from her pocket, set it on the table. Only one thing was missing. “Hey Steven, could you bring the beer?” she called over her shoulder as she opened the little box.
He didn’t answer. Sighing she turned around to go retrieve the beer herself, but stopped before she ever took a step. There was Steven, kneeling on the ground with a grin from ear to ear– and he had a little box of his own.
“Chloe,” he said confidently as he opened the box, “You know I’m not a man of many words, so I’m going to put this simply: I love you. I’ve loved you from the moment I saw you and these seven years since. Would you please marry me?”
Chloe covered her mouth with her hand and tears began to sting her eyes. “Yes! I would have said yes years ago!”
Steven put the ring on her finger, stood, and moved forward to embrace her, but she held out her hand. “On one condition,” she said seriously, “You’ve got to move. I’m not living in a place with no elevator.”
Steven laughed, pulled her close, and held tight. “You got it, babe.”
They stood embracing, laughing, and crying for a long time. They spoke of plans and the future, of Saturdays in June and how they would tell their families. Finally, after all of that, Chloe looked up at Steven with a smile and said happily, “So I guess this means I can come to poker night whenever I want now, huh?”
“What? Of course not,” he answered, “Poker night is boys’ night.”
Kharis Courtney ©2013