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Romance

Slivers of sunlight radiated through Mary’s window casting a warm glow throughout her entire bedroom. The sultry smell of freshly cut grass blew in and tickled her nose. She woke up with a thundering sneeze and subconsciously cursed the neighbors for mowing their lawns so early in the morning. Letting her eyes adjust to the light, Mary yawned like a ferocious lion ready to devour the day. Stretching her arms high above her head, she was ready to get up.  

Off and running, Mary took a quick shower with warm vanilla sugar body wash to revitalize her senses. The popular Bath & Body soap was a birthday present from her boyfriend, John. Whenever she smelled that sweet aroma, her thoughts would immediately take her into his loving embrace. They had been going steady for about six months now, and Mary was ready to take things to the next level. 

Today’s the day I tell John how I really feel about him!

Rushing to the kitchen, Mary quickly fried two eggs and a piece of bacon. She had a big day and needed her strength to carry her through. She took a big gulp of orange juice and heard the roaring sound of a car engine pull into her driveway. She rose up from the table and pulled back her floral curtains to see a light blue 1957 Ford Thunderbird pulling into her driveway.

John gently stepped out and closed the door with a white handkerchief. He buffed his fingerprints away with a delicate rub. Mary ran outside with big round eyes and a smile etched from ear to ear.

“John, you bought the car. I knew how badly you wanted it!”

Turning his attention away from the Thunderbird, he opened his arms wide and said, “Oh baby, isn’t she cherry?”

Mary jumped into his loving embrace, and uttered, “She’s a real gem alright! Where did you get her?” 

“I got her down at O’Leary’s Auto. I got one heck of a deal.”  

Stepping back to admire the new hot-rod, Mary took a deep breath and ran her eyes from bumper to bumper. “I know how hard you’ve been working at the lumber yard,” she said in a soft comforting voice. “You deserve this tiger!” 

I can’t believe he bought this stupid car! I thought he was working hard to buy me a diamond ring…

Walking back to the car, John ran the white handkerchief along the shiny blue hood. “I’m so happy to hear you say that sugar, that’s really swell!” 

Mary pierced her lips together into a thin line to hide her frown. “So, are we still going to the park today?” 

John put the white cloth in his pocket and slowly shook his head. “Gee sugar cakes, I’m sorry. I thought we could take a ride down highway 606 to see what this Thunderbird can do!” 

Mary plastered a fake smile on her face and fought hard to hold back the tears of disappointment. “Sure, we can do that if you like. I know you’re probably anxious to let this car fly like the wind.”

John’s cheeks turned rosy red. “Ah kitten! That’s great, I promise we can go to the park tomorrow.” 

How could John do this to me? I had the perfect day planned where we would spend the day at the park, and underneath the moonlight I would confess my undying love for him. Then he would surprise me with a diamond engagement ring.   

John ran over and opened the passenger door. “Here ya go,” he waved with a free hand. “Have a seat my lady.” 

Mary sat down in the car and the first thing she noticed was the fresh brand-new smell. Everything looked so fresh and polished. John closed her door and ran over to take his place behind the wheel. He inserted his key and turned it with fierce determination. As the Thunderbird ignited like a phoenix rising from the ashes, John turned and looked at Mary with a boyish smile. Mary widened her eyes and gave him a reassuring grin.

“Well baby, are you ready for this summer road trip?” John said.

“I’m ready when you are!” Mary replied.

I need to keep my happy face on, so he won’t notice how upset I am. It’s not proper for a lady to do that.

John put the Thunderbird in reverse and backed out of the driveway like a professional driver. Mary folded her hands and took a deep breath to calm herself. Her love for John ran deep and although her expectations for the day had been postponed, she wanted to put those thoughts away and enjoy her time with him.

Maybe I’ll get my fairytale proposal tomorrow. I still can’t believe he spent his money on this car instead of a ring for me.

The air was hot and humid as they drove down Harrison Lane towards the highway. As the sleek Thunderbird roared through town, John and Mary glanced at people mowing their lawns and trimming their bushes. Some folks waved as they drove by and some people would just give them annoyed looks and go about their business.

With highway 606 coming up, John hammered down on the gas pedal and turned on the radio. The smooth sound of Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock erupted through the stereo speakers.

“Yeah! That’s my favorite song!” John screamed, bobbing his head to the beat and tapping the steering wheel.

Even Mary felt the good vibes and started tapping her hands on her legs. “It’s great John, I think this Elvis guy is going to be a big star one day,” she said smiling.

John raised his arms high above the wheel and yelled out to heaven, “You may be right kitten! Wooo!” 

Mary’s heart suddenly skipped a beat as her moment of joy was stolen by this act of stupidity. “Keep your hands on the wheel, John!!” she snapped.

Without uttering a word, he flopped his hands back down on the wheel and a joyful moment of teenage angst turned into a foolish embarrassment.

“I’m sorry Mary, I got carried away…”

“It’s ok John, I just don’t want you to have an accident.” 

John nodded his rosy face and gripped the steering wheel a little tighter. Mary knew she had embarrassed him, but she wanted to live to see tomorrow. He eased up on the gas as he merged onto highway 606. He turned the radio down and maintained a steady speed of fifty-five, because he didn’t want to startle Mary again.

The highway was a billboard Heaven surrounded by open farmlands and wide-open skies. With three lanes of burning asphalt there was plenty of room in the fast lane to let the T-Bird rip. Wanting to break the uncomfortable silence, Mary reached down and turned the volume up to hear the sound of All Shook Up by Loving You.

John quickly glanced over to Mary who was smiling ear to ear. “What you are waiting for?” she yelled. “You have the open highway! Step on it!”

Coming to life, John shouted, “Oh yeah, that’s the spirit!”

He pushed the gas pedal harder and soon they reached a speed of seventy miles per hour. The warm muggy air was blowing in through the car windows like a fire breathing dragon causing Mary’s hair to wisp around her face.

Holding her golden hair in place, Mary blurted, “This is a long highway, where are we going?” 

“Well, kitten I thought we’d go to the Barbour County fair grounds to show off my new ride to the boys,” John insisted.

“But John, it’ll be dark when we get there.”

“Mary it’s fine, I promise we won’t stay long. Billy and Anthony will be there, and I know they’ll lose their marbles when they see this car!”

Ugh! This night is going to be super boring. His friends are numbskulls!

Through foot tapping melodies and soul wrenching love songs, the night soon swallowed the day. Every time a ballad came on, Mary’s thoughts lingered back to the perfect day that she so desperately wanted. John looked antsy, like a little boy waiting for hot chocolate pudding. How arrogant to wallow in material things, Mary thought to herself.

At long last, they arrived at the Barbour County fairgrounds. The parking lot was jammed packed and fireworks were exploding in the night sky. People were sitting on blankets around the open campgrounds, and the smell of fried food was emanating from the brightly colored concession stands. The Fourth of July festival was underway.

John and Mary found one of the few remaining parking spots and quickly got out to stretch their legs. “Where are your friends?” Mary asked, stretching her arms high above her head.

John grabbed a blanket from the back seat and ran over to Mary. He took her hand and gushed, “Oh, don’t worry about those guys, I’ll find them later.” He pointed over to the open field and continued, “How about we go find a spot and enjoy these fireworks for a while?” 

Mary’s eyes brightened, “That sounds like a lot of fun! I like that idea.” 

Hand in hand they fumbled in the dark around other couples and families enjoying the show. Thunderous booms echoed through the sky and shook the ground like a giant hungry monster searching for food. They found an open spot near a weeping willow tree and John quickly unrolled the soft blanket on the ground. He helped Mary sit down and put his arm around her as he snuggled up to her.

How fitting to be sitting next to a crying tree. I’ve been fighting back tears all day. Mary thought.

John squeezed Mary tightly in his arms while the sounds of laughter and gasps of astonishment fluttered all around them. The fireworks were a sight to behold. Bright colors of red, green, blue, orange, purple and yellow painted the sky into a bright rainbow.

John looked at Mary who was staring at the ground, and noticed a single tear fall from her check. He took a deep breath and looked at his watch. He noticed that the show was about to be over.

He leaned over to Mary’s ear and whispered, “Sweetheart, I think you should look up to see the last hurrah.” 

Mary lifted her teary eyes to see several explosions painting the darkness of night in a wonderful display of bright colors. In the smoky afterglow was a dazzling message that read:

Mary, will you marry me?

Mary immediately looked over at John who was now kneeling on one knee. In his hand was a black box with a sparkling diamond ring nestled softly in white padding.

Oh my God, this was his plan the whole time!

“Will you marry me?” John asked.

Mary raised her trembling hands to her quivering lips as tears of joy flowed down from her blue eyes.

“YES!!!” 

John rose to his feet and threw his arms around Mary. As their lips met for a loving kiss they heard a roaring applause from the crowd. John reached for Mary’s hand and placed the ring on her finger.

“You had all this planned, didn’t you?” Mary mumbled.

“I did, sweetheart. I knew you wanted to have this special moment in the park, but I wanted to surprise you!” 

“But how did you buy this ring and the car?” Mary asked.

“The car isn’t mine, Billy bought it yesterday and it’s all a part of the surprise!”

Mary’s heart started beating like a big bass drum. “Oh, I love you so much!!”

“I love you too Mary, and I will for the rest of my life!”

Their lips met once again, and one last mighty explosion erupted in the afterglow of the night sky.

The End

Daniel R. Hayes

June 25, 2021 04:22

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44 comments

Shea West
06:15 Jul 02, 2021

I, like everyone else thought you'd drive them off a cliff. I totally got a kick out of the 60's dialogue!

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:16 Jul 02, 2021

Thank you very much Shea, I was very tempted to drive them off a cliff or something... lol. Congrats on being shortlisted, that's so great!!! :)

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Shea West
15:18 Jul 02, 2021

I kept picturing Marty McFly from Back to the Future. The language and way of life back then was so interesting to me. And thank you!

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Kanika G
15:15 Jun 27, 2021

Hi Daniel, It was a beautiful love story and I'm so glad it had a happy ending. The characters are both endearing and you put in quite a bit of misdirection so that the ending was a surprise for the reader. The language is great and I like the expressions you've used throughout. It was great to read this story from the past (when Elvis wasn't so famous). Great story with a fairytale ending! I would love your feedback on my latest! Thanks.

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:35 Jun 27, 2021

Thank you so much Kanika, I'm so glad you liked this one! I wanted to give the characters a happy ending :) I'll be glad to read your latest story tonight, I got a little behind on my reading :) Thanks again.

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John Filby
07:31 Aug 25, 2021

I liked the retro story line, but it felt so contemporary too. I like the 'head speak' of Mary, says a lot that we want too know but in a subtle way. I know this is a departure from the genre you have written, well done.

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Daniel R. Hayes
16:06 Aug 25, 2021

Thanks John, I really appreciate those great comments and I'm glad you liked the story. I love writing horror/supernatural stories, but every now and again, I like to branch out and try some different things. Thanks again! :)

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Eliza Entwistle
17:22 Aug 09, 2021

This story was sweet, with well-written tension from Mary up until the end. It's set in the late 50's/early 60's, correct? I thought you portrayed that well, with the way they talked and the music, and the ending made me smile :)

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Daniel R. Hayes
22:12 Aug 09, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate those comments. Your right, it takes place during that time :) This was a rare romantic story that I wanted to write. I usually write horror. Thanks again!

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Keya Jadav
06:45 Jul 03, 2021

Simple and elegant...just wow. You just drew the perfect example of a story not so complicated like strangling with people-keep-looking-in-dictionary words. It was a heart-melting story with a heartwarming end. Great work.

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:22 Jul 03, 2021

Thank you so much Keya, I really appreciate those wonderful comments! :)

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Alex Sultan
02:09 Jul 02, 2021

Not what I usually read, but I like your writing style a lot. I think this was well done with really catching similes.

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Daniel R. Hayes
04:55 Jul 02, 2021

Thank you so much, Alex!

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17:12 Jul 01, 2021

Beautiful story. I love the descriptions in the first paragraphs. I did have a problem with knowing the time period it was set in. You have a modern store where the gift came from then Elvis going to be a big star some day. I found that confusing. When you use nicknames like "Kitten" or "Sweetheart" those should have capital letters. The ending is sweet and satisfying, like chocolate pudding.

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:51 Jul 01, 2021

Hi Lu Ann, thank you for the wonderful comments. Good catch on the gift and time period, I didn't even put those two thing together... lol :) I think I started out wanting it to be set now, but changed my mind as I wrote.

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Aisha Khan
15:28 Jul 01, 2021

When I first started reading the story, I liked the sweet, simple premise and had a gut feeling it was set at a different time period. Then you wrote in the bit about Elvis, and I smiled. As the story progressed, I really started getting the hang of John's character. I like the idea of a road trip and a night ending in fireworks, and I was hoping he would turn the tables and propose in the end. Even if I was expecting it, the moment the words came in the sky, I smiled so hard. Goes to show that a simple storyline, with the right balance of...

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:30 Jul 01, 2021

Thank you very much Aisha, I'm really glad that you liked this story. I thought it was a sweet story, and it was kind of straight forward. I can't thank you enough for those wonderful comments. Made my day! :)

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N K
09:18 Jul 01, 2021

This was so lovely and heartwarming! It was a really fun and enjoyable read and I loved the sweet, feel-good ending. I was honestly so certain something horrible would happen when they were driving but I love how it turned out. It put such a smile on my face! Great job!

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:06 Jul 01, 2021

Hey Natania, I'm so glad you liked this one. I wanted to give those characters a happy ending. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it, I really appreciate it :)

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09:59 Jun 30, 2021

There are no words to describe how beautiful the story is. Sometimes it is the most simple things that makes a story memorable. Most of us obsess about unrequited or forbidden love stories. But sometimes a simple story of love leaves a greater mark. I won't go into technical aspects because I found the story flawless. I'll be looking forward to more of your works.

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:06 Jun 30, 2021

Thank you so much Madhuparna, I really appreciate you amazing comments. I'm so glad that you liked it. I agree there are not enough straight forward happy love stories. Thanks again :)

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Cole Lane
21:14 Jun 27, 2021

Oh man, you threw down the gauntlet! You wrote a romance. lol! I guess I'm going to have to kill one or more of my favorite characters now. The story genre tags just said romance, but I'm thinking this is a DH story, there is no way. So I started reading, then the reckless driving scene on the highway, maybe they would die together and forever haunt the road - that's romantic right? :) Or maybe John was a vamp and she wants to be turned to be with him - that's romance in a demented kind of way lol! You get the idea. But nope, you stayed t...

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Daniel R. Hayes
22:23 Jun 27, 2021

Hi Cole! Man you were spot on when you said that they were gonna die on the highway and then live on in the afterlife. I was going to do that... lol. I decided to let them live and have a happy ever after. The itch to kill them was there, always digging in my side. I think that's why it took me so long to post it. I got it in late Thursday night. I'm not going to hold you to killing off one of your characters. Let them live! I'll have plenty of killing in my next story. I'm working on another Mr. Macabre story... lol ;) Or at least he is...

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Kristin Neubauer
16:50 Jun 27, 2021

What a sweet story, Daniel! I kept waiting for something horrible to happen to Mary and John....like a three-head monster jumping in front of their car and devouring them 🤣 You did a great job with this, especially giving us the 50's setting and dialogue....you brought your characters and environment to life...I felt like I could see the whole thing unfurling like a film. Great work!

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:27 Jun 27, 2021

Thank you so much Kristin! A three-head monster... I love it!! Why didn't I think of that... lol :) Honestly, I wanted to write a story where I could give the characters a happy ending. I haven't done that since my first story. I thought about killing them when they were playing around with the radio, but I decided not to. Thank you so much for those wonderful comments. :)

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Kristin Neubauer
17:37 Jun 27, 2021

That's hilarious ...."I thought about killing them when they were playing around with the radio, but I decided not to." The power of an author! I'm glad you gave them a happy ending. You must read Kanika G's latest story when you have a chance. It totally made me think of your (pre-Mary and John) style.

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:48 Jun 27, 2021

I know, I'm going to read her story tonight :) In writing we are the gods of creation in a way. If you want to read something crazy, check out Mr. Macabre Rave from the grave. I'm writing the sequel right now... lol :)

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Kristin Neubauer
17:50 Jun 27, 2021

I will! I am at work and have a little down time since I'm procrastinating on my psychodynamic theory paper - I will read it right now!

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:12 Jun 27, 2021

A psychodynamic theory paper you say... That's awesome, I love that! I have no doubt that when you write it you'll get an A+ :)

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Beth Connor
06:38 Jun 27, 2021

I'm reading this thinking how this was a really depressing romance, and that Mary shouldn't settle- But the twist at the end was wonderful, and I was glad she was truly surprised. Great story!

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:32 Jun 27, 2021

Thank you so much Beth! When I started out I was going to kill them in the car when they were messing with the radio, but then I realized I never give my characters a happy ending. So, I gave them one :) Thanks again!!

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Gemma Mc Donald
16:36 Jun 26, 2021

Ok, but this is gorgeous! I love the descriptive language, and how she knew the exact model of car bcs her boyfriend/fiancé talks about it so much. This is beautiful, wonderful work 🙏🏻 And I love that it was set in the old days, it adds a bit of charm

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:58 Jun 26, 2021

Thank you so much Gemma!! I'm so glad you liked this one. It was very fun to write despite being a romance story. I usually write horror and I wanted to try something different. I can't wait to read your new story!! Thanks again! :) :)

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Blue Green
19:35 Jun 25, 2021

This is brilliant! I really disliked John from the start, and I only twigged he might have something up his sleeve when he parked the car and didn't go looking for his friends. But you strung me along until there :-) I also got a jolt from the line about Elvis being big one day - up until then I has assumed it was present day, and the guy had bought an antique car! I liked the little snippets of Mary's thoughts too. Nice work!

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Daniel R. Hayes
20:37 Jun 25, 2021

Thank you B.G. this one was very different for me to write. No one died... lol :) Well I was going to kill them in a car accident, and change the title to Gone to Soon, but I wanted to write a nice romance story where everyone had a happy ending :) Thank you so much for those wonderful comments! :)

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Shirley Medhurst
17:59 Jun 25, 2021

What a superb twist of an ending 🤣 & I take back all the negative thoughts I was harbouring about John... I had disliked him since you introduced him with the words: "closed the door with a white handkerchief. He buffed his fingerprints away with a delicate rub." I loved the way you led us all down the garden path right until the end. Great stuff!

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Daniel R. Hayes
20:34 Jun 25, 2021

Thank you so much Shirley, I'm so glad you liked this story. I wanted John to come off as kind of a selfish guy, but really he was a sweetheart at the end. :) Thank you so much for the wonderful comments! :)

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Palak Shah
08:56 Jun 25, 2021

This was such a beautiful story and I loved every bit of it especially Mary's inner thoughts. I love your writing style and the story has been crafted so well. ~Palak Shah :))

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:12 Jun 25, 2021

Thank you so much, I wasn't sure about this story because I usually write horror stories. I'm so glad that you liked it. :)

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Palak Shah
15:46 Jun 25, 2021

I love to read horror stories. I don't like watching them. Would you recommend any of your stories for me to read?

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Daniel R. Hayes
15:49 Jun 25, 2021

I would recommend "Tales from Mr. Macabre: Rave from the Grave” I went crazy with this one :) Your a great writer too. Are there any stories you could recommend to me to read? I usually read stories at night before I go to bed :)

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Palak Shah
20:36 Jun 25, 2021

You can read my recent story Deception if you like sad romance :))

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Daniel R. Hayes
20:39 Jun 25, 2021

Sounds great, I'll read that tonight :)

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