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Contemporary Fiction

This week, on The Lucky Seven! The lovely Veronica goes on seven blind dates with seven different suitors. These lucky bachelors have four hours to wow Veronica with a combination of flare, character, and creativity. We’ve already seen what six of them had to offer and now we are down to our final contestant. Will this be the one? Or has someone else already stolen Veronica’s heart? Let’s find out on this final episode of, The Lucky Seven. 

“Connor Evans?”

I nodded. 

“That’s me.”

The assistant ushered me out of the studio lobby and led me down the hall to the producer’s office. She sat at her desk wearing a low-cut, button-down shirt, tight-fitting gray pants, and a matching tailored coat. She took one look at me and curled in disgust. 

“You’re wearing…that!”

I looked down at my simple olive green T-shirt, worn blue jeans, and Merrell hiking boots. 

“What’s wrong?” 

The producer shook her head and rolled her eyes.

“What do you even plan on doing?”

“Hiking.”

“The other contestants have used this studio to rent out entire amusement parks, schedule minute reservations at expensive resorts, and hire famous chefs…and you want to go hiking?”

I nodded. “That’s right.”

She stared at me blankly and then made a call using her office phone. 

“Yeah, I’m gonna need some GoPro cameras…yeah…all the equipment.” 

She hung up the phone and gave a clever smirk. 

“You’re for sure not going to get picked.”

I shrugged. 

“Who knows,” I said, “I’m feeling lucky.” 

An hour later, I was on set in a small, lively room with a single white door opposite the cameras. The announcer just finished saying the intro and I eagerly awaited the arrival of Veronica. The studio did a good job at making sure the other contestants didn’t get to see her, or the other dates she went on, while the show was being filmed. The only description I had was that she was a cute blondie with emerald green eyes and a stare that could tame the fiercest of men. It was vague, but my imagination ran wild with it. 

Suddenly, all the cameras pointed at me, their reflective lenses like watchful eyes.

“Connor,” the announcer called, “Are you ready for your shot at love?”

I nodded.

The door opened and Veronica walked out with a calculated grace that commanded my attention. Her radiant smile made my legs feel like jelly. 

“Hey, Connor,” she mused.

It took me a second to gather my thoughts. 

“Hey, Veronica.”

Not knowing what to do I extended my hand and she shook it, awkwardly. 

“Pleased to meet you,” I said. 

“Likewise. What do you have planned for us?” 

“Hiking.”

It was as if a bird had pooped on her head. Completely caught off guard, she looked down at her cute white blouse, black skirt, and wicker-coated wedges.

“Umm…okay. Let me change real quick.”

Fortunately for me, my four-hour time limit didn’t start until we arrived at the trailhead and the camera crews finished attaching GoPro cameras to our backpacks and clothing. None of them would be joining us on the hike as the studio wanted the date to be as authentic as possible. 

“This is a first for me,” Veronica said.

“You’ve never been hiking?” 

“I’ve been hiking, but never as a first date.”

I smiled and shrugged. The towering redwood trees freshened the air with a distinct earthy smell and the birds sang; Joyously heralding the thin, golden sunbeams that managed to poke through the thick canopy.

“Some of my best memories have been out in nature, I’m excited to make another with you.”

She blushed and smiled as she adjusted her boots. They looked too crisp to have been properly broken in. 

That may be an issue…

Once the crew gave us the all-clear. I hit the timer on my watch and Veronica and I started our hike. The trail went up and down, twisting and turning around gentle slopes. 

“Why hiking?” Veronica asked a mile in.

“I try to keep things simple. That usually brings about the best conversations.”

“I dunno about that. I feel like you gotta ‘Wow’ the girl first, then get to know her. That way she knows you’re serious.” 

She laughed but I shook my head.

Two miles in, Veronica insisted we stop and take a break.

“It’s so damn hot,” she said as she sipped some water from her new camelback.

“Oh, it’s not that bad. Maybe 85 degrees. 90 tops.”

A single bead of sweat slid down her flushed face.

“Well,” I said, trying to lighten the mood. “Good news is we are halfway there.”

Veronica groaned.

“This is an 8-mile round trip hike?”

“I took you to be an adventurous woman.”

“Not in this heat,” she said with a sly smile. 

Veronica caught her breath, drank some water, and we continued. About 45 minutes later we arrived at the sandy banks of a large reservoir. There was an old dock not far away where one of my friends set up an umbrella and two lounge chairs before our arrival. 

“How cute!” Veronica said.

“You hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Well, let's go have some lunch.”

Sitting underneath the umbrella, the cool breeze tickled our cheeks and the mid-afternoon sun reflected off the water’s shimmering surface. I opened my backpack, pulled out two brown bags, and I handed one to Veronica. 

“Thanks,” she said and hungrily took it from me. 

She sifted through it. My heart flopped when she curled her nose and passed it back to me. 

“You don’t like peanut butter and jelly?” 

“I’m allergic to peanut butter.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. There’s some other stuff in there you could eat.”

She shook her head.

“I don’t want to risk it being contaminated.”

I put both bags back into my backpack and we sat in silence while watching the waves quietly lapping at the dock. Our stomachs growled at each other as if they were venting their frustration. Trying to lighten the mood, I pointed out over the water and said, “you know, this time of year the water is incredibly warm.”

“I’m not a good swimmer.”

“Oh…”

I asked if she wanted to head back and grab a bite to eat on our way back to the studio. 

“That depends on whether or not you still have time in your four-hour window.”

“We’ll make it,” I said. 

There was a heavy silence between us as we started our journey back to the car. I wanted to start up a conversation but, at this point, my optimism was starting to fade. Then, about a mile in, Veronica stormed over to a nearby log and sat down.

“My feet hurt so bad!” she lamented, “It’s like I’m walking on hot coals!”

I sighed and told her to take off her socks and shoes so I could take a look. As soon as she did so, I saw why she was complaining. Large blisters decorated the underside of her reddened feet. Veronica touched the biggest of them.

“Gross!” she shouted and then looked up at me. “This is all because of your stupid idea! Why couldn’t you have taken me on a normal date like all the other guys!”

Her head slumped into her hands and she started to cry. 

“It’s hot, I’m hungry, and now my feet look disgusting!”

I looked down at my watch. I had an hour and a half left. 

“Well, we still have to get back to the car. I guess I’ll have to carry you if you can’t walk.”

She looked up at me but did not protest. She got on my back and I carried her the three miles back to the car where she hopped into one of the large SUVs and drove off without a word. I still had thirty minutes left. 

“Dang, dude,” said one of the camera guys. “That’s rough.”

A few days later, all of the contestants were called back for the final selection of who would get to date Veronica. While we sat in the cramped waiting room, each contestant boasted about their date - each trying to outdo the other’s bravado. When it came time for my turn, they turned to me with a fierce stare, expecting me to spin a grand story. I simply shrugged and said, “I had fun.” 

Some laughed and then they went back to talking among themselves. 

When we were finally called up, all seven of us were arranged shoulder to shoulder, facing the white door. We all eyed it as the announcer called the intro. I couldn’t help but wonder which of the other contestants she would choose. 

“Now, let’s find out which one of these fine suitors will be Veronica’s boyfriend. Let’s find out!”

The white door opened and Veronica walked out wearing a flowing, white dress with matching shoes that covered her feet. All of our hearts thumped at the sight of the single red rose she held. 

“Over the past week,” she said, “Each one of you took me on a date and I got the chance to find out who was the best fit for me. This was not an easy choice to make as you all had proven worthy of my high standard.”

Silence crashed upon us as she brought the rose to center, pausing for dramatic effect. 

“This is tough but the person I choose is…”

There was another pause as cameras moved about trying to capture each of our reactions. While everyone else hinged upon who she would name, I remained calm, knowing she wouldn’t pick me. 

“Connor.” 

My jaw dropped. All eyes were on me. 

“What?” I breathed. 

“Connor, though our date was quite unorthodox, I must admit that when I look back on it now, I find you to be one of the most thoughtful and caring people I have ever met. You have a big heart and I admire that above everything else.”

She held the rose out in front of her and I eagerly walked up to take it. 

“Wow, I don’t know what to say. This is completely unexpected.” 

“Then don’t say anything at all.”

She leaned in and kissed me on my cheek, her supple lips making me blush. I pulled her closer and we shared a couple more. The other contestants groaned and stormed off stage. The cameras busily moved about trying to capture everything that was going on. 

“And Cut!”

Veronica pulled away and walked off toward the producer, leaving me just as stunned as when she had called my name. It was as if the wind had stolen something precious from me. She and the producer laughed as they looked over some footage, talking excitedly among themselves. I didn’t know what to do. After a minute of standing there, Veronica looked at me, saw my pitiful stare, and said, “Oh, come on, did you actually think you would find love on a T.V. Show?”

August 04, 2022 16:40

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4 comments

Tam Hoskyns
08:59 Aug 12, 2022

I really enjoyed this! The pace was great, the writing flowed in tempo with the time limits that the date was given on the show. Your descriptions are vivid and not over done, so the reader really gets a good feel for the simplicity of nature that matches the simplicity of Connor. For the critique circle feedback- I would have liked to have a bit more background on Connor. What brought him there? What made him truly believe that he would find love on the show, as that seemed to be a big point at the end. Truly enjoyable, I feel bad he didn...

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Kevin Alphatooni
14:01 Aug 12, 2022

Thanks for the honest feedback. I'll keep that in mind for the next piece.

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16:42 Aug 11, 2022

A fun read! Things I really liked is how it focused on only two people and the tension that held up throughout in how Connor goes it alone on a different path than the other contestant, and some great vivid descriptions. And you really nailed the twist/punchline to the whole story in the last sentence. For the critique circle feedback, I think I'd like to know more about why Josh is acting so casually, he would be more likeable if we know the reasons he's taking the date/reality show so low-key, is that his personal philosophy to just be h...

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Kevin Alphatooni
14:03 Aug 12, 2022

Thanks for the honest feedback. I guess I was a bit vague on the main character even though I had room to elaborate. I'll keep that in mind for the next piece.

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