This is a short story I wrote for a contest. The first sentence had to be, "The lights went out." It's about the innocence of love. I hope you enjoy.
"The Lights Went Out"
The lights went out as just as she raised the wine glass in a salute to her reflection in the wine bottle. That's okay, it would be easier to remember him in the dark. She thought of his brown shining eyes and how they'd always warmed her when she lost herself in them. The way they glistened when he smiled. No matter the situation those eyes had never failed to reassure her. To comfort her. She took a sip and ran a quivering finger around the rim of the glass.
They say the first anniversary is the worst. She laughed. Who are they, and did they ever go through it or are they just the appointed ones who tell everyone how and what to feel without having a clue of the richness of love. He'd been gone three months now and tomorrow would have been their fifth anniversary … and his twenty-ninth birthday. Peter loved to celebrate his birthday. She felt the corners of her mouth curve. He'd always wanted to open his present before going to work. Peter made a big deal about everybody's birthday that's why it had been so natural, and fun, to be married on his.
A loud blast of rain pelted the kitchen window and a brief flash of lightning lit the room to shine on his present waiting on the table.
The room seemed darker after the flash. She touched the bow on the box, then pulled it to her. He sure would have gotten a kick out of this year's present. She'd bought it six months ago, a little bottle of beach sand with a tiny mermaid inside perched on driftwood. A Kansas boy, Peter had never seen the beach. She had planned to fix that this year. In the bottom of the box lay all the paperwork and a brochure from the Anchor Kitchen bed and breakfast.
Some people are given a lifetime to share together. Some never find their soul mate. She and Peter were perfect together and they new it the instant they met. All their friends said so. She grinned when she thought of girlfriends' frequent threats to steal him away. Jealousy gripped her as she thought evil thoughts about how unfair it was to give them such a short time together.
Her throat tightened, her eyes let go a stream of tears as she cursed God for creating the perfect match … and then tearing it apart. How could he? Why would he? She gulped a swallow of wine and ground the heels of her hands in her eyes, "What am I supposed to do now?"
She looked around the kitchen, in the flashes she saw his boots sitting on the mat by the door. She hadn't been able to put them away. Hadn't been able to deal with much that she should have by now. Take it day by day, they say.
Day by day. That made her smile. Peter had said that too. On their wedding night when she was so scared she started to cry and she'd asked, "What are we going to do now?" She remembered his confident smile when he told her, "I guess we'll take it day by day."
"That was Peter," she told the darkness. "Count on him to make everything alright." She poured some wine and through blurry eyes asked his boots, "How do we make this alright? What do I do now Peter?" She dropped her head onto her arms and sobbed. "I don't know what to do." Her voice broke as she begged. "Tell me what to do … Where do I start?"
A thunderclap so loud it rattled the house preceded a burst of light brighter than any before it. After her eyes adjusted to the darkness she noticed a hint of morning's glow in the kitchen window.
Shuffling tiny feet turned her toward the living room doorway. "That was a loud one Mommy!" Their daughter announced as she scrambled toward her. "Today is Daddy's birthday! Can we open his present for him? If we hold it up really high will he be able to see it from Heaven?"