Contest #76 shortlist ⭐️

19 comments

Romance Lesbian LGBTQ+

Winter


Sadie is an overthinker. Sadie spent all morning deciding whether to wear the blue blouse or the green sweater. She contemplated too long on which shirt would make her look effortlessly casual and after much internal debate, she settled on the blue. As she walked out of her apartment, it just felt wrong so she turned back to change into the green sweater. She’s behind schedule now but she feels better in green so it was worth it.


Hi, I’m Sadie, the internal monologue rushes her along the street.


It’s a beautiful day isn’t it. I’m sure you hear this all the time, but your produce stand is by far the best one at this market.


Sadie repeats the mantra repeatedly as her feet pull her towards the market by the water. The breeze picks up and the words fly around as she struggles to keep them contained on her tongue. 


Sadie is late to the market as a result of the agonizing shirt decision. Her favorite (popular) produce stand is out of the Cara Cara oranges and she wonders if the green shirt was worth missing out. She’s never this late to the market and everything good has been claimed and off to their next destinations including Sadie’s favorite cashier, Victoria. She glances around the stall and rocks on her heels. 


“Can I help you find anything today?” Sadie is motioned over by a guy with a name tag that says “Simon”


“Hello,” Sadie breathes out, “are you all out of the Cara Caras?”


Simon winces. “Ah, yeah I just sold the last few. We have some regular navels though if you’re interested.”


“Can I please get 2 bags?” It’s hard for Sadie to hide her disappointment about the oranges and otherwise. 


“2 helpings of navels coming right up,” Simon leaves to bag the oranges and returns with a grin, “that’s a lot of oranges for one person.”


“I’m making chocolate dipped candied orange peels for my book club,” says Sadie as she retrieves the bag from Simon, “and they’re addictive so you need a lot of them. I’m going to make juice with the actual fruit and Cara Cara juice is just superior.”


“Sounds delicious! Our Cara Caras are very popular but better luck next time, right? It’s going to be $6.50 for two bags of navels.”


Sadie hands the bills over but stutters when she looks up to see Victoria standing next to Simon. Like she appeared out of nowhere.


“Hi there! I didn’t think you’d make it today,” Victoria beams as she takes the money from Sadie.


Sadie blushes. Was Victoria waiting on her? Does Victoria notice her? 


Hi, I’m Sadie. The words are on the tip of her tongue. 


“What do you plan to do with all that citrus anyway?” Victoria looks at the oranges clutched in Sadie’s hands.


Sadie opens her mouth to respond and nothing comes out. She’s obviously a fish out of water and she’s never been more grateful to hear Simon’s voice say “they’re for chocolate dipped candied orange peels.”


Victoria quirks her eyebrow first at Simon and then at Sadie. Sadie could say anything at this moment to make things less awkward but Victoria’s curious smirk is too loud for her to figure out how her mouth works. 


Simon notices and saves her again. “They’re for her book club. Can you believe we’ve never gotten an invite? And she actually came for the Cara Caras but we just sold out.”


Sadie nods, confirming that Simon has all of the right information. She manages to smile at Victoria and hopes that it didn’t come out as a grimace.


It’s a beautiful day isn’t it. I’m sure you hear this all the time


“Well, you know, I was saving these for me…” Victoria bends down and re-appears with a grotesque citrus that looks like mangled fingers, “but you might actually get better use out of them. These are called Buddha’s hands and they are absolutely perfect for candied orange peels because of the lemon-y citrus scent and they don’t even have any pulp or fruit. It’s all peel.” Victoria looks proud and offers the strange fruit.


Sadie takes the fruit and can only manage two words: “Thank you.”


It’s not her fault, she thinks. She had everything she was going to say planned out but then Victoria wasn’t here to take her order and then Simon answered all her questions and now Victoria is being so smart and generous that she can’t think anymore. Sadie sees Victoria’s face fall at the impersonal nature of her response.


“I mean, unless of course you want the navels then just go with that, ya know,” Victoria is chuckling, hoping that will ease the nerves all around.


“No, this is great,” Sadie re-assures her, “really, thank you. I’ll let you know how it turns out. How much do I owe you?” Sadie addresses her question to Simon. 


“Alright,” says Victoria, “well good luck and please do keep us posted.”


And just like that, everything went absolutely opposite to the plan.


--


Spring


Sadie works from home. It’s nice because she gets to choose her own schedule and she doesn’t have to waste her energy making small talk around the water cooler with her colleagues. It’s not nice because she doesn’t actually use her voice all day and then when she really should (like when a pretty girl is offering her rare citrus) it’s almost like she’s out of practice.


An instant message rings in her headphones.


Eve: So did you ask her? 


Sadie: Ask who what?


Eve: Stop - you know who and what. You should bring her some dessert. Everyone likes sweets.


Sadie: I’m not going to discuss this with you on a work chat. 


Eve: Okay fine - we’ll talk about it at book club. But seriously, just say something. Anything. You never know!


Sadie logs off. 


It’s like clockwork. Put on the sweater, check the mirror for flyaways and repeat the mantra: “Hi, I’m Sadie. It’s a beautiful day isn’t it. I’m sure you hear this all the time, but your produce stand is by far the best one at this market.”


Sadie finds herself at Victoria’s stall and she has two slices of pound cake in her hands. She’s going to hand over the container and say the words.


Except Victoria says, “Well hello there! What’s it going to be today? We have an excellent batch of strawberries...big, juicy and ripe as ever.”


Sadie stutters. How did she know that she came for the strawberries? She’s making a rhubarb strawberry pie for the book club and she already knows that Victoria has the best berries.


“Did you know that strawberries are the only fruit that wears its seeds on the outside?” Victoria grins as she says it. 


Sadie hesitates because not only did Victoria grin at her, but she’s spewing facts about fruit and who could possibly form sentences when that’s going on.


“I’ll take 3 cartons, please,” Sadie chokes it out and she’s disappointed because it’s not at all what she planned on saying. Victoria doesn’t even know her name. She thinks about how this isn’t an even playing field because Victoria has a name tag and confidence and all Sadie has is her words dying as they reach her shy lips.


Sadie thrusts the pound cake in Victoria’s direction. Victoria raises her eyebrows, obviously waiting for explanation.


“This is for you,” says Sadie.


Victoria grins again and accepts the container, “what is it?”


“It’s my pound cake. Maybe you can top it with your excellent strawberries.” Sadie is proud of herself. Actual words coming out of her mouth and into Victoria’s direction.


Victoria looks gleeful (and maybe a little surprised) and Sadie decides that she’s addicted to that feeling. That feeling of seeing Victoria happy and excited about something.


Victoria bags up the strawberries and Sadie leaves. Victoria doesn’t even know her name but she loves her pound cake.


--


Summer


Sadie is back at the market and this time she needs blueberries. She’s wearing a blue tank top because she’s trying to have fun with it now.


Victoria banters and Sadie smiles. Victoria never expects much from Sadie. Victoria just enjoys getting treats from Sadie and hearing her say a few words before she’s off with her bounty.


Sadie makes treats with Victoria’s produce. Cherry pie, apple streusel and sometimes peach cobbler. She hands it over and Victoria looks surprised every time and it’s like their little routine. It’s rehearsed and Sadie can manage that.


But sometimes, Victoria likes to deviate from the script. Like today. 


“I bet your husband must love that you’re making these treats all the time,” Victoria has a little bit of mischief in her eyes.


Oh no, Sadie thinks. She doesn’t have anything prepared for that kind of statement. But she also cannot possibly let Victoria believe she has a husband.


“Husband?” It’s abrupt and a bit sharp, but it’s clear. Sadie tries to save it with a light smile.


Victoria appraises Sadie and her response. Like she’s trying to parse something deeper from that statement. It makes Sadie want to clarify.


“I don’t have anyone,” she backtracks, “I mean, I’m not married. I’m single. And my name is Sadie.”


“Sadie,” Victoria lets it roll off her tongue, “Wow, I can’t believe I finally get to call you something more than my treat fairy.”


“Treat fairy?” Sadie laughs lightly.


“I like Sadie better.” Victoria says. 


And because she’s on a roll, Sadie decides to finish the mantra.


“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it? I’m sure you hear this all the time, but your produce stand is by far the best one at this market.”


Victoria lights up and Sadie thought that she liked the feeling of seeing Victoria happy, but she actually thinks this might be better. The pure elation that Victoria lets come out of her chest and eyes because Sadie is talking to her and it’s not clipped or short and maybe Victoria is a little addicted as well.


“Well, thank you, Sadie,” says Victoria.


“Anytime.” 


And with that, Sadie leaves and feels better than she has all year long. 


--


Fall


“Beautiful day, isn’t it?”


Sadie looks up from her book. She’s situated across from the farmer’s market next to the water, enjoying the crisp fall air as it settles around the people milling about the docks.


“It is,” says Sadie succinctly.


Victoria sits across from Sadie and settles her chin in her hand, propped up on the table. 


“So,” Victoria starts, “I’m on break and I saw you over here. So thought I’d say hello.”


“Hello,” Sadie is smiling and closes her book softly, “I wish I had a treat for you but I wasn’t prepared to see you today.”


“That’s okay. I like surprising you for a change.”


Sadie doesn’t know what to say. She never rehearsed what to say to Victoria when they’re not at the stall. When they don’t have carrots, grapes and lettuce standing in between them. Now it’s just a table and Victoria’s soft eyes staring at her and words begin to die again.


“You know, I’ve noticed something,” says Victoria. “You don’t talk much. Unless we’re talking about fruit and desserts, it’s very hard to know what’s going on in that head of yours.”


Sadie is unsure. She feels clammy under her gaze and wishes she was back at the stall where she has her lines and her desserts to defend her.


Victoria goes to stand. She knows that Sadie is spooked. Victoria is bold but she’s learned to be cautious with Sadie and maybe this was too much. 


“Well, I hope to see you this Sunday,” Victoria gives her best smile and begins to walk away.


Sadie has to riff. Improvise. Say anything that might make Victoria think that it’s okay to approach her outside the produce stand.


“Do you like dancing?” Sadie is abrupt and stands as she says it.


Victoria stops and quirks her eyebrow, “do you dance?”


“Dancing doesn’t require talking. We could go out dancing. It could be fun.” Sadie shrugs and she’s losing that little bit of confidence that caused her to even start this conversation.


Victoria clicks her tongue and looks up at the sky. The air is crisp and a breeze brings the words to her mouth, “Dancing sounds fun. It’s a date.”


Sadie grins and now Victoria is definitely addicted. Addicted to that feeling of seeing Sadie happy and excited about something.


It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?


--


Winter


“What can I get for you today?” Victoria asks Sadie like clockwork. The winter breeze bites at her hands that hold two coffee cups as she studies the fruit strategically placed on the stand.


“Hmm,” Sadie pauses, “do you happen to have any persimmons? Hachiya, specifically.”


“Oh no, Sadie, I just sold the last batch,” Victoria’s ear-to-ear grin contrasted with the bad news.


Sadie sighs, “Well that blows...I planned on making persimmon pudding cake. It’s my girlfriend’s favorite winter dessert.”


Victoria clicks her tongue and contemplates as she makes a show of looking underneath the tarp behind her, “Well would ya look at that — 4 perfectly ripe Hachiya persimmons that seem to have gotten separated from the group.”


Sadie laughs at the faux surprised look on Victoria’s face. Instead of taking the persimmons from Victoria, she moves behind the produce stall and trades them for the coffee cup in her left hand.


“How much do I owe you?” Sadie asks.


“Oh, for you? It’s on the house,” Victoria smirks over the rim of her paper cup, “as long as I get some of that lovely pudding cake.” 


“I think we can probably arrange that,” Sadie smiles lightly before leaning in to softly place her lips against Victoria’s. Sadie thought Victoria left her speechless before, but that was nothing. This is speechless. This is breathless and speechless wrapped up in one and she’s more than addicted at this point.


“Did you know,” Victoria pulls back slightly, “that there are over two thousand varieties of persimmons, but only two types are available commercially—” 


“Morning ladies,” Simon coughs from behind Victoria. Sadie watches a blush creep over Victoria’s cheeks.


“Hi Simon,” Sadie hands over the other coffee to him, “this is for you.” 


“For me?” Simon feigns shock.


“It’s the least I can do for subjecting you to this all the time,” Sadie motions between the small space separating her from Victoria.


“That’s very generous,” Simon nods, “and you’re welcome. For saving you when you were too useless to do anything about your crush.”


Speechless, breathless, useless. All of the above if that means Sadie gets to make treats for Victoria everyday.


Sadie blushes. 


“Oh don’t worry,” Simon adds, “she was just as useless as you. I’m just glad I don’t have to hear her agony as soon as you leave anymore.”


Simon ducks as a grape flies towards his head, “And with that, I’m off. Have a nice Sunday, ladies.” 


“That guy,” Victoria shakes her head and turns back towards Sadie. “Now, where were we?”


“You were telling me about persimmons,” Sadie is cut off by Victoria’s lips again.


“Ah yes, not important,” says Victoria, this time while placing butterfly kisses on Sadie’s cheeks. 


Sadie pulls back, “Well, I better go and get started on this dessert for my girlfriend. Where are you headed?”


“Closing up shop to go eat some dessert with my girlfriend. Strange coincidence.”


Sadie grins and leaves without another word. It turns out that every day with Victoria is a beautiful day.

January 15, 2021 06:21

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19 comments

Willow Byrd
16:50 Jan 23, 2021

Oh my gosh, this was stunning from beginning to end. Sadie was such an endearing character. Your heart just goes out to her, with her mantra for saying hello. I don't have the words to tell you how charming and perfect this was. Amazing job!!

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Tom .
19:06 Jan 22, 2021

Aah man, this brought back memories of my Victoria. She ran a cafe around the corner from where I worked. I went in everyday. The difference was in my Autumn, I turned up one day and the cafe was shut, out of business, and I never got to go dancing. Congratulations on your shortlist. The seasonal chapters and resolution was an inspired decision. Good Job.

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Anastasia Foxx
13:43 Jan 21, 2021

This is a beautiful, well written story! It was very enjoyable to read, especially since the characters were so real and relatable. Great work!

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Echo Sundar
20:22 Jan 28, 2021

Wow. This story is so amazing. Just so breathtaking it was so fun to read such a beautiful plot and a sweet ending. I was literally smiling by the end. This story is just so sweet!

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Lexi Hau
03:20 Jan 28, 2021

I love this!!! have never read something that flows so smoothly. I mean, it is absolutely amazing, I am like Sadie, left without words. You have genuinely portrayed this prompt so well. I loved how cute this story is and I am not disappointed with the ending at all, which says a lot about this short-story. I would literally read this over and over again if this was a book. When I tell you I am actually so impressed with this piece of writing. You absolutely nailed it! Thank you for brightening up my Wednesday evening.

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Victoria Keneoue
14:37 Jan 21, 2021

I love this story so much, the characters are realistic and easy to relate to, Jean Young has captured the everyday awkwardness of reality so wonderfully. Looking forward to reading more of the author's works.

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Coco Longstaff
07:16 Feb 07, 2021

Helluu WOW this was soo amazing and fun to read Loved it!

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Carolyn Mc Bride
00:53 Feb 06, 2021

Sweet, romantic, and there's food! LOL. Seriously, this is one of the best short stories I've read in weeks. Keep up the good work!

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Sarah 🖤💖
01:20 Jan 23, 2021

Don't mind me just DYING of how adorable and charming this story was!

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Cassidy Stiles
06:52 Jul 07, 2021

i love this story, it's so beautiful, sweet, and wholesome. and i love how the characters have a genuine and sweet connection. and i love how you made the characters like they are actual people, with real feelings, thoughts, and all those sorts of things. i would love to see where it continues with Sadie and Victoria, and i would love to see this wholesome and sweet serenity more often when i read stuff. i especially love how you used seasons to describe time changes, and i found that lovely and creative. i'd love to see more from you

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Gracie Jean
23:52 Jun 08, 2021

I really loved this, its just so romantic and honest, and I felt like I could relate with Sadie in so many ways. Nice job!

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Sadie Gabler
17:16 May 17, 2021

I love it...it describes how I was with my girlfriend when we first met...and another thing is that Sadie and me are the exact same...same name...same weirdness...and that's why i love it. Keep up with the good work.

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Chloe Mc Lellan
11:51 May 17, 2021

This story was by far the best story that I've read. Victoria's character is so relatable. I'm shy although I push that to the side and just use my ADHD to propel me forward and talk to the person. Keep up the great work, I can't wait to read more of your work!

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Adam Little
17:56 Mar 11, 2021

Jean. Wow. I am a sucker for romance and LGBTQ+ stories, and you delivered. If this was just a small taste of your writing capabilities, I want more. I love the progression of the story and the symbolism. Excellent, excellent, excellent. Well done.

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The story made my heart flutter, and the fruits made my stomach growl. amazing job.

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Gianna Fugazzi
15:50 Mar 01, 2021

This was a very interesting story and it had a very nice ending :)

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22:45 May 03, 2021

It was unexpected when sadie said “Well that blows...I planned on making persimmon pudding cake. It’s my girlfriend’s favorite winter dessert.” I was a little confused. Maybe next time give clues that they are now a couple because it's been a month gap difference since the 2 characters went dancing other than that I loved the story and would not change anything else about it. I know how hard it is to talk to someone especially if you are a shy person. It was very romantic and sweet

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19:22 Apr 29, 2021

This was an amazing story. I absolutely loved it, and I love how you made Sadies character so relatable. Although I do wish the story elaborated a little bit more on Victoria's character

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Mustang Patty
17:44 Mar 04, 2021

Hi, Thank you for sharing your story. I am putting together an Anthology of Short Stories to be published in late Spring 2021. Would you be interested? The details can be found on my website: www.mustangpatty1029.com on page '2021 Indie Authors' Short Story Anthology,' and you can see our latest completed project on Amazon. '2020 Indie Authors' Short Story Anthology.' (It is available as a Kindle Unlimited selection.) Feel free to reach out to me: patty@mustangpatty1029.com Thank you for sharing, ~MP~ Could you please drop by and read one o...

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