“Quite chilly, isn’t it?”
“And your special ginger tea is just the right thing for the season!”
“Hehehe….here….careful, it’s hot! I’m so glad you visited, Neena. I was beginning to wonder what’s new in your life. So tell me?”
“Ah! Anne, your mischievous smile and this ginger tea. You know how to get anyone to spill the beans.”
“See….that one again! It’s like you know everything and still want to indulge people in storytelling. Anyway, life’s going on fine….my editing job, husband, home….same old.”
“Uh-huh! Why….wait….you have something new! Tell me, tell me!”
“Well, I heard something…”
“There’s someone new in your life and don’t ask me how I know.”
“C’mon Anne…. There is no one “new” in my life. Plus I am married!”
“Your eyes don’t say that! O wait, ‘no one “new”’, so an old flame has started to glow is it?”
“Alright, alright. Tell me when you feel like. And you know that you can tell me, right? I mean, it won’t get past me.”
“OK now, stop blushing! And it is OK. I mean people have fantasies…”
“You really think it is OK?”
“Of course! It is human nature to want to look out for love or companionship or call it whatever. Both, physiologically and psychologically, we aren’t wired to make do with one companion. It is society and our upbringing that we are made to believe to stay committed to one person. Look at so many incidents of affairs outside of marriage or people having multiple partners. It boils down to our inherent need as humans.”
“So, you are saying, that it is completely OK to have an extra-marital affair?”
“I am saying that that is how we are wired. But that’s why we have the social norms in place to avoid animal-like breeding! What then is the point of getting married?”
“So, again Anne, you are saying, that though it is how we are constructed, it is not OK to live that way?”
“So, no matter the desires, one should stick to their destined lives no matter how mundane it is?”
“Don’t just sit licking the mundane, get up, and work on adding some spice!”
“It isn’t always possible, you know?”
“O my my! You’ve got to tell me about this old flame, my dear. Seems like you are totally engulfed by its warmth!”
“And there comes the blushing….hehehe”
“I will….but not now…..I want to be a little sure about it.”
“Alrighty darling. Have your tea.”
“I taste something….cinnamon….ah yummy!”
“Did I tell you about Iris?”
“Your neighbor? Yes, slightly. What about her?”
“She was a lovely lady…. Hazel eyes, brown glossy hair, and a beautiful smile. She had the best little garden in the front yard with blossoming hyacinths, lilies, and tube-roses. And those little yellow flowers that bloom only in the spring.”
“Yes, yes, I remember that! But it looks like now she’s stopped caring for her plants?”
“So one evening, I was returning from the vegetable market when I stopped by to admire her blooms. We got talking and I invited her for tea the next day. She was kind to bring a small basket of her homemade muffins and a bunch of yellow lilies for that vase.”
“They must’ve looked amazing in this black porcelain vase!”
“They did. And I playfully reprimanded her on plucking her hard-earned blooms. She had become a good friend. I learned that she had a broken engagement and thereafter didn’t dare to think again about marriage. I told her not to be so closed and that the one for her will come by one day. Here have some more tea, it indeed is chilly today.”
“O yes, I was going to pour myself some more. So did Iris find her someone?”
“One day, sometime during the beginning of last winters, I saw her talking to someone. It was after sunset and the twilight had almost faded. I was in my bedroom upstairs switching on the heaters when I saw them……the silhouette of a tall man standing very close to her. They kissed and he walked out of her picket gate. I saw them again the next evening and then the following evening. It was quite certain that the man was not a relative or a friend. Iris told me vaguely about him but didn’t divulge any details. She mentioned that she was taking it slow and wasn’t sure about him as yet. I understood her nervousness and didn’t prod.”
“Yeah….it must be really tough for her to trust anyone.”
“Do you want me to warm it up a little? The tea must’ve gone cold.”
“No, no. It is still steaming hot. See…Then what happened? Did she tell you about him?”
“We hosted a small party on New Year’s Eve and invited most of the neighborhood. It was a pleasant evening. I had cooked crostini Toscani that goes well with wine and cheese. It is his favorite. Everyone enjoyed it.”
“Oh! I remember now that I had to ask you for your recipe. Please teach me someday?”
“Really? I thought you hated cooking? It is to please your “old flame” is it?”
“Anne!! Stop teasing me now!”
“I am having so much fun doing that!”
“That you forget you were telling me about Iris..”
“Ah! Yes, Iris. So the party was going on really well. Everyone started to leave a little after the clock struck 12. Not much of a party stock, are we? Anyway, it was nearly 2 by the time I got done with winding up the kitchen. Stanford, the darling husband that he is, helped me clear it and then took the garbage out. I washed up and was about to hit the bed when I heard some noise…like a little murmur. Stanny didn’t respond. I thought of peeping outside the window before treading downstairs.”
“Was Stanford outside talking to someone?”
“Stanford was outside kissing Iris.”
“My jaws too dropped like yours. And my ears were on fire with rage.”
“I know, right? No one would have thought that a friend who confides in you and finds solace in your company can go and sleep with your husband!”
“You must’ve been devastated! I am so sorry…”
“I was, but not so much devastated as furious.”
“You confronted them?”
“I confronted Stan. He is the one I have the rights to. It was a long, teary night. He apologized profusely and promised to never break my trust again.”
“And Iris? You didn’t take her to task?”
“I did! In my own, warm way. After a few days of keeping it low, I called her for tea one afternoon. The breeze was chilly like today. Iris said it was “over with him”. It seemed Stan had stopped meeting her. I don’t know, I never asked him if he did. He promised me and I trusted him on that. But the rage had been brewing inside me since that night. She had attacked my home that I own with much pride.”
“So did you tell her that you knew?”
“I told her that she shouldn’t have back-stabbed me.”
“What did she say?”
“She couldn’t say much. The tea had done its job. But she did hear my words and it seemed from her bulging teary eyes and the contorted shape of her mouth that she wanted to throw out a “sorry”. Not that it mattered anyway!”
“Stan promised me, but as I said, it is human nature to look out for love or companionship. If given a chance, humans won’t mind behaving like animals. And that is why we have societal norms in place. Now, I won’t shatter my own home. But I won’t budge from crushing someone who breaks in.”
“Old flame, my foot!”
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Great job!! I was not expecting that plot twist. This is a super creative take on the prompt, and you did it without any dialogue tags!! Only thing is, it can be a little hard to tell who is talking at times. Making the characters “sound” different is probably the hardest part of this prompt, but I’ve found switching up word choice can really help. Overall, amazing job!! I really enjoyed reading your story.
Thank you so much! I tried keeping the track same so maybe that I should work on for more clarity. Them being friends, it was hard to switch the word choice though. Plus that could've been a give away too. But thanks again for your feedback, I will keep that in mind next time 😊
Gripping and compelling throughout! It’s such a slow build with a totally shocking payoff! Awesome job!
Thank you so much!! Means a lot coming from an amazing writer like yourself.
Really cool, the story was elaborate and good, the dialogue is smooth and understandable and also logical .
Thank you for your generous appreciation!
Woah! That was a fabulous story, I enjoyed it so much! The twist at the end was superb! The dialogues were so realistic and we understood so much about the two just by their dialogues itself! I loved the concept, and the story kept me hooked till the end, great job!
Thank you for your generous appreciation!! I tried keeping it conversational rather than narrative. Glad you enjoyed it 😊
OMG, this story is so good!! I really love the way you think (I mean the character about human nature). I study psychology therefore it was very interesting to read that because I agree with what you wrote. I am very interested in human behavior and how society influences it. And just one more thing, can you please tell me if I understood right, the person with whom she was talking was the girl with whom her husband cheated? All in all, once again a very good story and the ending was amazing!!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it and could relate to it, Nancy! Thank you for your kind appreciation. And yes, you understood it right, Neena (person who she is talking to) was the girl her husband cheated with for the second time. He did it first with Iris, the neighbor. And that's why the note on human desires which always want more. Hope I could clear that for you 😊
Yes! It is all clear now, thank you! Just wanted to check. 😊 once again, I have to mention that my jaw dropped at the end and I love when a story has a twist like that!!
Thank you so much!! Means a lot coming from an excellent writer like yourself 😊🤗
That was a really nice twist! I was sucked in to your story, you have a bright creative talent that has so much inspiring stories to write! You are such a good writer. Thank you so much for sharing this story with the world.
Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment! So glad you enjoyed it 😊
I felt I was actually sipping that tea while being audience to their conversation in that chilly weather....This deserves an uninterrupted screenplay. Awesome job in sequencing the dialogues and the pauses. Wonderful story. Full justice to the prompt. :) :)
Thank you so much for being so generous with your appreciation 💗