Contemporary Drama

When Jonathan started cooking and realized that the prawns he bought yesterday had already managed to go bad, he couldn’t help but think life was playing some kind of cruel joke on him. He spent weeks planning this night. Everything else was already prepared. The apartment was spotless. Freshly pressed napkins were laid neatly on the table. Expensive wine was cooling in the fridge. A bouquet of flowers was supposed to be delivered to his door in thirty minutes. And now this whole dinner idea was about to turn into a disaster.

His lungs seemed to tighten painfully in a matter of seconds.


The bag of smelly prawns was cold and heavy in his hand. He focused on the sensation and it grounded him back in reality.

The analytical part of his mind turned itself on. Ordering food was an option, but it wouldn’t be special. He could cook something else, but there wasn’t much more in the fridge and the prawns were his signature dish. He needed this dinner to be perfect. He took one quick look at a clock on the wall and made a series of mental calculations in his head. The is a small supermarket is just a few blocks away. He could still make it. He just had to leave now.

He grabbed the keys and ran to the elevator. When he made it to the car and turned on the ignition a quick smile passed through his lips. Only a few years ago he shuddered at the thought of eating seafood. If somebody had told him he would be racing to the nearest supermarket to buy prawns he would have laughed in their face. It’s wasn’t an ideological thing. He just hated it. Prawns always tasted bland and eating them felt like chewing through rubber. Same with crab or calamari. He didn’t even try mussels or oysters.

But then he met Diane. She was the one who suggested a seafood restaurant for their first official date. At that point in the relationship, Jonathan would have agreed to anything, so he just booked a table without a second thought. She ordered peri-peri prawns and he fell in love. Both with her and the dish. Later he learned how to cook it from YouTube videos and he prepared it for her many times over the years. And today was their anniversary. 

The parking lot was almost full, but he managed to find a spot. He got out of the car, ran through the sliding door, and then raced through the supermarket like his life depended on it. He passed colorful boxes of cereal, the long shelves filled with gallons of laundry detergent, some new popup stand with cheese samples, and finally stopped at the fish and seafood section. He took a glance through the glass and noticed beautiful tiger prawns.

“Oh, thank god,” he muttered.

“I’m guessing you want the prawns?”

Jonathan looked up. The clerk was staring at him with a bored expression on his face. It must have been a long day.

“Yes, I need around twenty,” Jonathan answered quickly.

“Around twenty? So what, ninety, twenty-one, or precisely twenty?” The clerk’s voice was flat.

“Twenty. Twenty will be fine.”


The clerk weighed and then handed him a bag of fresh prawns. Jonathan ran to the self-service checkout. Just as he was clicking through the transaction he felt his phone buzz in his pants pocket.

A new message. From the flower service.

We’re sorry. Your peonies paired with gypsophila bouquet is no longer available. Your money will be refunded o the credit card. Use the code SORRY to get 15% off with your next purchase.

Jonathan froze. That bouquet was supposed to be delivered to the apartment in fifteen minutes. He spent two hours picking the prettiest combination of flowers and even added a beautiful card in a shape of a heart. Diane loved flowers. He often brought her roses and orchids, but peonies were her favorite. The bouquet was exquisite. And now he didn’t have it. Everything was falling apart.


He gripped his phone harder to center himself and looked around. He was definitely going to write a one-star review for the service, but that could wait. He needed to salvage the situation somehow. The peonies weren’t as essential as the prawns, but this dinner had to be perfect. And for it to be perfect, it had to start with him wowing Diane with her favorite flowers. There was no other way.

Maybe the prawns were a blessing in disguise. He was already out. If only there was a florist nearby he should be able to buy the flowers and still make it back in time. He checked google maps. There was a florist a street away from the supermarket. He wouldn’t even have to repark the car. He took a deep breath and smiled. There was still hope.

He paid for the prawns and made his way out to the parking lot. It only took him five minutes to get to the florist. It was closing in fifteen minutes.

“I would like to buy peonies,” he announced the moment he stepped through the door. “Preferably paired with Baby’s Breath.”

“I have Baby’s Breath, but the peonies are sold out,” said the florist.

Jonathan’s heart sank and he felt panic swelling within him. He almost let it overwhelm him, but then he remembered. There was another flower that Diane really liked. He just always forgot its name, so he bought peonies instead. What was it? He was sure the name began with an A.

“Well, do you have a…am– ” he paused, hoping that the florist will help him figure it out.

“Amaryllis?” She tried.

“No, no, a different one. A… An–”


 Something clicked in his brain.

“Yes, that’s it! Do you have them? Can you arrange them and wrap them up?”

She nodded and went to the back to fetch some ribbon and paper. She worked quickly and soon a beautiful bouquet of delicate pink and gold took shape.

“They’re also called windflowers,” she said as she wrapped it. 

In ten minutes Jonathan was driving back home with the prawns and anemones in the passenger’s seat.

When he got home he started cooking immediately. He made a quick work of cleaning and deveining the prawns. He’s done it so many times over the years, it was almost muscle memory. He then moved on to preparing the marinade. He charred the bell pepper with onion and garlic and blitzed them together with lemon juice and spices. He covered the prawns with the sauce and set them aside.

While the prawns were marinating, he took out three scented candles and placed them around the room. Just an extra touch to make everything absolutely perfect. He looked at the clock. He had just enough time to take a shower and finish the prawns before Diane would get to the apartment.

He took the shower first and then prepared garlic bread before he returned to the prawns. They were the best right from the pan, so he waited till the very last moment. They needed to be perfect for Diane. When he had about fifteen minutes left, he fried them in butter until they turned white. He finished them off with a sprinkle of red chili flakes and added some more butter for good measure. They were cooked to perfection. The sauce looked rich and vibrant and the smell was making his mouth water. Perfect. 

He plated the prawns and set them on the table next to the garlic bread. He took the wine out of the fridge and carefully placed the bouquet of anemones near Diane’s plate. Then all he could do was wait. He expected to hear the doorbell any minute.

But ten minutes passed and the doorbell didn’t ring. The prawns were getting cold.

Jonathan berated himself. He was so stupid! He should have fried them after Diane got here, not before. She wouldn’t have to wait long anyway, and they would have been perfect.

Another five minutes passed.

He was starting to feel anxious. Fifteen minutes wasn’t much, but he wondered if he should put the wine back into the fridge.

Five more minutes.

Jonathan checked his phone but there were no new messages. Maybe she was stuck in traffic? He tried calling her cell but she didn’t pick up. He opened messenger and started to write.

Hey, where r u?

The dot next to the question stayed gray for a long time. He was about to give up when he saw the small avatar with her picture slide down to his message. Then, the three dots appeared. Then disappeared. Then appeared again. She was typing.

The answer appeared after another five minutes.

Jonathan, I can’t do this. We tried to make it work, we really did, but it just isn’t working. I don’t want to spend another dinner trying and failing.

Jonathan stared at the screen, dumbfounded. Didn't she understand? This dinner was supposed to be perfect. He got the prawns. The wine. The scented candles. The flowers. They were supposed to make up, end this separation, and finally moved on.

The tree dot kept appearing and reappearing on the screen. Then a new message finally popped up.

We should get a divorce.

Jonathan didn’t even try to answer. He put his phone down and for a minute he just stared into space. Then he blinked twice and reached for a framed photo he kept on the kitchen shelf.

The picture was taken exactly two years ago, on their wedding day. It was posed. Diane was wearing a long, white mermaid dress. Her hair was down and she was holding a bouquet of peonies. Jonathan was standing next to her, nervous and not nearly as charming, but still the happiest man in the world.

He wasn’t sure when it all fell apart. She would come back late from work. He had to leave for another weekend. She didn’t want to visit his family every two weeks and he didn’t want to get a dog. They stopped having sex and fought over who should do the laundry. Before he realized what was happening they were taking a break, and he was moving to this apartment, just for a little while. And that was six months ago.

He put the photo down and picked up the anemones from the table. There was no reason for such pretty flowers to go to waste. For any of it to go to waste really.

He filled a vase with water, stuck the flowers in, and placed the vase on the table. Then he sat down and started eating the prawns. They were still tasty even though they’ve gone cold. At least he learned how to cook them. He wouldn’t have known how to do that without Diane.

He finished both of their plates while staring at the anemones.

February 18, 2021 23:17

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Angela Halubobya
21:38 Feb 22, 2021

Its a cute love story, loved the dramatic ending of how they do not end up together. Its a tragedy! But I would add some flare to the characters just to bring the whole story to life and make it more interesting. Otherwise, I enjoyed reading this.


Zoe Knight
08:15 Feb 24, 2021

Thanks for reading! Maybe I'll bring more flare next time :D


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