Junk Drawer

For all those little papers scattered across your desk

Free-write—Late

Written 25 Apr 2017

A light blooms out of the dark. White and yellow-orange flash into existence, spreading across the expansive void.

A coffee stain spreads across half-inked pages. The mug lies on its side, next to the cracked and fallen pen.

A rose petal falls to the sidewalk. The rest of the blossom overlooks an empty sidewalk at dawn.


He hurried home that evening from work: he had a lot to do, a table to set, candles to light, the works. Date night was stressful sometimes, but this one had to be extra special, and that meant getting it ready was extra stressful. He patted his coat walking down the side walk towards his apartment. Yes, still there, right where he’d put it. Couldn’t lose that.

His key turns in the door, click. Briefcase in the corner, coat on the hook, no time to take shoes off. When was she coming? 7? Just an hour to get everything ready… breathe. He could do it. It would be so worth it when she got here.

Chicken in the stove, check. Vegetables roasted, just need reheating. Silverware! He needs silverware… the drawer, just there on the left. On the table; no, wait, tablecloth first. Where was that white tablecloth his mother had given him? Upstairs closet, no. Pantry? There it is! On the table. Now the silverware, the good stuff he’d inherited and polished meticulously the day before. She’ll be here soon, just 45 minutes. What else…

Right! The dishes! Such fine china, worn with age and use, the very dishes from his parents’ wedding. Does he put it on the table, or leave it in the kitchen to serve her? Kitchen it is. He steps back, breathes. Very nice. He shivers; it’s cold. That reminds him: the candles! On the table they go, a box of matches too. Is that everything? Chicken, veggies, cake in the cupboard, champagne in the fridge. Glasses, need glasses. There.

Now, he needs the romance. He hurries upstairs, 30 minutes to go. He smiles, the flowers on his windowsill having grown since they started dating a year ago. Now, they fill the box and remind him of those first days… but no time for that. Got to get everything together. Shoot! He needs a thin vase. Downstairs, cupboard—no, the other one—under the sink. There. And it needs water. 20 minutes. Upstairs again. Got to get that letter written. Is that this morning’s coffee, or yesterdays? Can’t say, doesn’t matter. He shrugs it off and sets the vase on the desk.

He picks up an old pen, his favorite, and begins the story of the day they met. Such circumstance, such happenstance. An accidental bump, a brush of hands, and then a look in the eyes and a conviction. This, he knew, would be her. The one he would win forever. His hand sprawls quickly across the pages, ink pouring out. Coffee mug spills, damn! It’s on the letter! Too late now. 5 minutes. Got to get that rose. The pen is thrown down, cracking on the side. He takes the second of two lone roses growing in his boxes, puts it in the vase. Hurry now, hurry. Vase on the table. The letter! He almost forgot. Upstairs, about to get the letter, doorbell rings. She’s here! He runs downstairs and throws the door open: empty. Empty? The sidewalk is bare, blank…

He fingers the ring in his pocket, turning it restlessly. She was supposed to be here hours ago… what happened?

Chest, hurts. Could she, doesn’t she? Wasn’t it love?

Cries, can’t stop, tears, sobs shake him.


The sun rises on a sad, heartless morning.

A light blooms out of the dark. White and yellow-orange flash into existence, spreading across the expansive void.

A coffee stain spreads across half-inked pages. The mug lies on its side, next to the cracked and fallen pen.

A rose petal falls to the sidewalk. The rest of the blossom overlooks an empty sidewalk at dawn.

A ring tumbles to the floor. His mother’s diamond shines brilliantly, and then fades, forgotten in tears.

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