Earier this year, The Brucedale Press of Port Elgin, ON, held an acrostic story contest. The story was to be 26 sentences long. Each sentence was to begin with a letter of the alphabet; that is, the first sentence with A, the second with B, and so on. The first sentence had to begin, "Airborne at last..."
I was runner up in this contest with a story called "A Lovely Family Visit" which is soon to be published in The Brucedale Press's magazine, The Leaf. Because it is as yet unpublished, but promised to them, I don't think I can legally publish it on my blog. However, I can publish the other story I entered, which I thought was better, but which did not make it into the finals. Below is this second, unsuccessful entry, "How We Fell in Love."
HOW WE FELL IN LOVE
(c) Ruth Latta
Airborne at last, the flu virus gleefully looked for a warm, moist target. Belinda walked through the fast food restaurant into the cough of an elderly man who had a sore throat and felt stuffed-up, but had decided that a morning stroll in the crisp air and a coffee and an English muffin might clear his head.
Characteristically, Belinda had good intentions about getting the flu shot, but just hadn't gotten around to it, and kept telling herself, "I'm young and healthy, so I won't catch it." Down her nasal passages and throat the virus penetrated and latched on. Expertly, Belinda balanced her coffee as she walked the block to the TV station where she was a receptionist, hoping anchorman Zach Carter would pause at her desk and chat. Formal and ultra-efficient on the outside, she turned to marshmallow whenever he walked by.
"Got something for you," announced the UPS man, presenting her with a cardboard box addressed to Zach. Heart pumping, she signed for it, and after stashing it in her foot well, she resolved to bring it to Zach's dressing room after he had finished the noon hour news broadcast.
In his dressing room, Zach was applying his make-up and feeling hung-over and exhausted. Just as Mom used to say, too many late nights in the bars would wreck his looks and his health.
"Kind of bloodshot," he murmured, squirting drops into his eyes. Looking for someone special wasn't as much fun as it used to be. Mom would say that bars were the wrong place to look.
Now, heading to the anchor desk, he stole a glance at the lovely ice-maiden in Reception, and wished - he wasn't quite sure what. Overall, the noon news program went smoothly, but left him drained. Plopping down on the sofa in his dressing room for a nap might be a good idea.
Quickly and silently, Belinda stepped into Zach's office with the parcel, and, finding him snoring on his sofa, she was seized with frustrated desire. Risking awakening him and looking like a fool, she bent and kissed his half-open mouth.
Since Zach was moving in and out of sleep, he thought at first that he was just dreaming that a goddess was in his dressing room kissing him. Though he'd been scared to approach Belinda, worried that she'd turn him down, he realized, as he lay there feigning sleep, that she was attracted to him, and he would have reached up and embraced her, had he not been so tired and had she not darted out of the room so quickly.
"Utterly irresponsible not to get the flu shot!" muttered Belinda's mother as she nursed her penitent daughter with aspirin, echinacea, chicken soup and every other remedy she could think of. Vitamin-C-stuffed and feeling better, Belinda returned to work the morning of the first big snowstorm of the winter, which Zach, looking wan, covered in detail on the news.
When she was back home that evening and was heating some soup for supper, she started feeling lonely and sorry for herself. Xylophone sounds, however, made her pick up her ringing phone, and who should be on the line but Zach Carter, asking her to let him crash on her sofa, because he was too sick to brave the drifts and drive back to his apartment.
Young love bloomed over the next few days, as Zach received tender nursing care in a bed so soft, yet so exciting, that he never wanted to leave it.
"Zach," Belinda would say in years to come, "tell the story of how we fell in love, the year we both forgot the flu shot."