Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/390493-Chili-By-Candlelight
by Sophy
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Comedy · #390493
A young married couple have an explosive evening, in more ways than one.
This story was written for the "You Can Quote Me on That" contest. The challenge was to use at least two of the quotes (found at the end of my story), as well as to try to find and use the hidden mystery quote.

Alas, I did not win the contest, but I had a blast writing the story, and I did get some gift points for using eight of the ten quotes, as well as for finding the mystery quote. *Wink*

Chili By Candlelight

"I’ve told you a thousand times – the candle holder is on the left!” Laura shouted at Ray as he fumbled in the china cabinet, reaching past her carefully arranged Waterford Crystal collection. Only God could help him if he knocked one of them over, and if he broke one, God would be of no help.

“Got it, thanks!” he smiled, hoping to charm her out of her bad mood. He placed the candleholder on the table, added a candle, and lit it.

“Well geeze, Ray, I have to tell you where it is every time you want it to use. You’d think you could remember something as simple as ….”

“Hey babe,” Ray laughed, cutting her off. “I’m forgetful, it’s one of the adorable things you love about me, remember?!” he winked at her.

She rolled her eyes at him and continued sorting through a bag of stuff she’d just bought at Target. “What time is it?” she asked.

“It’s five-nineteen... was that a purple bunny?" he asked, as she tried to stuff what appeared to be a fluffy purple rabbit back into the bag.

“Yes, no, nevermind, Ray,” she said, flustered. “When will dinner be ready?” she asked, putting the bags in the pantry.

“It’s ready now,” he answered, as he brought the bowls of steaming chili to the table.

“Want me to open some wine? Or a beer? What’s your pleasure?” he asked lightly as he headed back into the kitchen.

“I have water, I’m fine,” she answered, as she sat down and started to spoon chili into her mouth, without waiting for him.

He headed back with two beers. “You sure? Like I've always said, nothing like an icy cold beer to wash down a bowl of Mom’s HOT chili!” He stood beside her chair waving a bottle of Corona in front of her and smiling.

“No Ray, not even if it was naked and riding a horse,” she replied without looking up.

He set the beer down next to her water. “Well, just in case you change your mind later …”

“What part of NO didn’t you understand, Ray?” Laura barked at him as she practically threw the bottle back across the table at him.

“Whoa, Laura, no need to be such a witch about it!” He regretted his words as soon as they were halfway out of his mouth, but he was unable to stop them.

Humor, go for humor, make her laugh, he told himself, and putting on his best John Wayne voice, he hooked his thumbs through his belt loops and said, “Little lady, your kind isn’t welcome in these here parts, so by law, we'll have to impound your broom.”

Laura glared at Ray, who thought better of making another attempt at humor. He sat down on his side of the table, and took a long drink of his beer. "... shut down by his wife, and he did drank," he mused to himself. Or was it drink? Drunk? He was never sure.

After a few moments of silence, broken only by the clinking of spoons against stoneware, he tried again.

“So how was your day, honey?” Play dumb, that’s it, pretend he hadn’t noticed her previous outbursts.

“My day sucked, Ray, thanks for asking,” she said coolly.

“Sorry to hear that, Sweetie,” he said, as sincerely as he could manage.

For the next few moments, the silence was as thick as the chili - but not quite as spicy. Ray was stymied, he wasn’t sure what else to say to try to bring Laura out of her foul mood. He usually could make her laugh or at least smile with one or two well placed remarks. While he was searching for what to say, Laura interrupted the silence.

“I’m pregnant,” she said softly.

Ray looked up. Laura was staring into the candle flame. Had she spoken? Did she just say...? “Did you just say something?”

“Yes, Einstein, I said something: I’M FREAKING PREGNANT!” she shouted back at him.

Ray’s life flashed before his eyes. PREGNANT? She was pregnant?? How could that be? They hadn’t planned on kids for at least three more years, and they were so careful, using every contraceptive device known to the modern world, which made spontaneity something of a challenge, that was for sure.

She couldn’t be pregnant! There was NO way! Ray knew he needed to say something, anything, as Laura’s eyes bore down on him, challenging him, and so, always the clown, and in spite of knowing better, he croaked out the only words that came to mind.

“Is it mine?”

He’d gone too far this time, way too far. “Let the games begin!” he thought to himself as she glared at him through the candlelight, where the flames of hatred danced as if they worked in a topless bar. Laura looked as if she might fly over the table and beat the crap out of him, and suddenly he found himself wishing that he had paid more attention in gym class when they taught basic self defense.

The possibility of bodily harm was interrupted by a loud BANG in the kitchen.

“What the hell?” Ray asked no one in particular as he leapt under the table and reached up for Laura and pulled her down with him. “Stay down!” he shouted in his take-charge voice. He threw his body over hers and wrapped his arms around her.

“MVKSL KJSEW KLLHWE KJSDJWER!” shouted Laura, her voice muffled by Ray’s sweater sleeve, which had found itself half-way down her throat.

“SShhh, stay down,” he soothed into her ear.

After a few more seconds the coast seemed clear, and he eased off Laura and out from under the table. Laura stayed under the table curled up on her side, content to let Ray check out the danger.

Feeling like one of Charlie’s Angels, he assumed a defensive posture with his hands out in front of him, and made his way to the kitchen, wishing he’d taken the time to go to the garage and put on his safety goggles. But no time for that now, he was the man of the house, a father too, apparently, and he had to take care of his woman and child.

He pushed the swinging doors between the dining room and kitchen open with his hip, and jumped into the room, ready to attack or defend, whatever was needed.

He wasn’t prepared for the sight of chili all over the walls.

It was EVERYWHERE! He must have left the pot on the stove with the lid on, without turning the burner off. And the combination of heat and highly combustible ingredients that were the mainstay of Mom’s “TNT Chili” literally blew the lid (and most of the chili) out of the pot. The loud banging noise must have been the lid crashing from the metal stove hood, to the floor, where it now rested.

He burst out laughing. He was standing there, bent over, hands on knees, laughing himself sick when Laura finally joined him in the kitchen. She took one look at the chili encrusted walls and started laughing too. The sound of her laughter brought Ray upright, and he put his arms around her as they laughed together, tears streaming down both of their faces.

But soon Ray noticed that Laura’s laughter had turned to crying. He was always amazed at how women could do that ~ go from laughing to crying, or crying to laughing, on a dime. He stroked her hair and spoke softly in her ear. “It’s okay, Laura, don’t cry, I’ll clean it up, it was all my fault, I left the burner on the chili.”

She continued to cry, but her sobs began to lessen with her endearing hiccups, which signaled she was gaining her control back. “It’s okay, baby, don’t cry, ssshhhh….”

“I’m not <hic> crying about the chili,” she said between hics. “I’m crying <hic> about the baby. I mean I know <hic> we planned on waiting a few more <hic> years, and I don’t know how this happened <hic> and I don’t know how we are going to afford <hic> it and I don’t want to quit my <hic> job and ….”

Ray put his hand gently over her mouth. “Hush, don’t worry, don’t cry. We’ll get through this, just like we get through everything, together. Just don’t cry, Laura, please, don’t cry. We are gonna be okay, you know?”

“But how are we gonna do it?” she protested. “We aren’t old enough to be parents, we haven’t been married long enough, we aren’t ready for this, I don’t think we can do it!”

“Sweetie,” pointing at the chili on the walls, “I think, if you don't count the explosion, we're doing fairly well here.” He laughed, and this time she joined him. “We’ve been married five years, we are doing great with our jobs, and are pretty good at pretending to be responsible adults.” More laughter. “And if I do say so myself, I think we will be great parents. Sure it’s earlier than we planned, but it’s here, it’s real, and we’ll be fine.” He said it as much to assure himself as her.

“This isn’t how I wanted to tell you,” she said, blowing her nose on his sleeve. “I bought that purple bunny you saw earlier when I was at Target today, because when I first found out I was pregnant, I was actually a little excited. And I was going to do one of those good news/bad news things, about the rabbit dying ….” She trailed off. “But then I got scared, I worried about telling you, and well, you know the rest. I came home a bitch on wheels and didn’t give you a chance …”

Ray hugged her, and kissed the top of her head. “Sssh, don’t worry anymore, it’s okay, really, I’m not mad, I’m not upset, I was just a little surprised. Okay, a LOT surprised, considering all of the birth control we use, I didn’t figure it was humanly possible! But it happened. I must have really SUPER sperm or something ... and you can quote me on that!”

She laughed, and rolled her eyes, not for the first time that night, but this time with affection. “It’s always the man who’s the virile one, isn’t it? It’s always the man with the SUPER SPERM! It can’t be me, with SUPER EGGS or something, right?” Laura was becoming her old self again.

“Off course not!” he answered, laughing and putting his hands on his hips in a traditional superman pose.

She reached over and took a dish towel off the counter. “Okay Superman, you win. Better get going on that chili before it dries and you have to use your super powers to blast it off the walls!” She twisted the towel and flicked it playfully at his butt, and then turned and left the kitchen.

He smiled as he watched his wife and child leave the kitchen, and started wiping off the walls.

The End

1. ~ the silence was as thick as the chili - but not quite as spicy
2. ~ five-nineteen... was that a purple bunny?
3. ~ now drowning in much more than his sorrows, he gripped it tighter
4. ~ by law, we'll have to impound your broom
5. ~ I've told you a thousand times - the candle holder is on the left
6. ~ the flames of hatred danced as if they worked in a topless bar
7. ~ one whiff was all it took - the whiff of despair
8. ~ and suddenly he found himself wishing that he had paid more attention in gym class
9. ~ I think that, if you don't count the explosion, we're doing fairly well
10. ~ not even if it was naked and riding a horse
© Copyright 2002 Sophy (sophie at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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