Authors: Steena Holmes
Tags: #Fiction & Literature
by Steena Holmes
Originally published through Word Alive under the title Once Upon A Dream in 2005.
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Chocolate is a jilted brides best friend.
I should know.
Not the lingerie wrapped with vanilla scented beads or even that gorgeous white satin wedding gown hanging in my closet.
Not the groom who ran away.
Not the meaningful cards full of well wishes and deepest sympathies that accompanied the boxes of chocolates arriving on my doorstep.
No - I take that back. I love those people.
It’s the groom who hightailed it out of the rectory windows in his black tuxedo and chocolate colored satin cummerbund that I’d like to forget.
It was a beautiful color by the way. Imagine the color of milk chocolate as it melts on your fingertip, you know – that delectable aroma that tantalizes you until the only thing you can do it lick that tiny smear off your finger? THAT color. My bridesmaids looked beautiful, the cake – stunning. A three-tiered, white iced, triple-brownie cake wrapped in a simple chocolate colored ribbon. Elegant, simple and stunning.
Love is overrated.
But as I lay on my uber-soft couch bawling my eyes out while watching the unforgettable scene between Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in the LakeHouse I know I would take it all back if I could. For one moment, I want to be loved. Again. Like I was before my fiance realized he didn’t love me enough.
As Keanu takes Sandra in his arms and draws her close for their unforgettable kiss, I reach over to grab another kleenex off the coffee table, but misread the distance and ended up reaching way to far just as my front door opens.
Crap. Of all the times for me to keep my door unlocked, it had to be now.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I struggle to get up. Not happening.
“Ugh, in here Heather.” I’m not sure if she heard me or not, seeing how my lips are kissing the carpet.
Tilting my head for air, I noticed a pair of red heeled shoes, sitting beside a brown canvas bag bulging at weird angles. I looked up to find Heather covering her mouth. Tell tale signs of a smirk showed through her splayed fingers.
“What are you doing?” she said. “You’re supposed to be lying on your couch resting, not doing gymnastics. Although,” she mused, “that position does look kind of interesting.” Heather squatted on the floor with her head tilted to get a better view of my face.
“Oh, just help me up, will you?”
I with a little bit of grunting and stretching body parts I didn’t know I had, we managed to push my body back on the couch. I squished back down into my warm place and sighed. My uber-soft couch enveloped me like my mother’s hand-stitched blanket. I was in warmth heaven. When I caught Heather’s gaze, I tried to make the most pathetic looking face I could manage, hoping for sympathy.
“Ya, nice try. By the way - gymnastics are not your forte.” Heather lifted up her overflowing bag. “I brought over some treats for you,” she said over her shoulder as she meandered into my kitchen.
“Have I told you I love you?” I asked her. “How did you know I was home today?”
My pampering angel is Heather Manning, a gourmet chef who just happens to be one of my closest friends and ex-roommate.
“You forget I’m married to your business partner. He called to tell me how pathetic you sounded this morning. I’m here to rescue you, and to keep you from contaminating the store. Call me your personal pampering guardian.” Heather curtsied. Tall, elegant and without an inch of fat on her body, her curtsy would do any princess proud.
“I’m also here with strict instructions to make sure you don’t go into the store today,” she said as she brought me a steaming cup tea. Hmmm, hot honey and lemon.
“But don’t touch me, cough on me or expect me to pick up all your nasty Kleenex,” she said glancing around the room, distain evident by her puckered brow. “Drink your tea while I heat up some soup.”
“Please tell me brought me your famous chicken noodle soup.” I begged.
Her soup is literally on par with her chocolate, my chocolate or anyone else’s chocolate. It’s that good.
“What kind of friend would I be if I left you here in misery without my soup?” Heather said. “Now just relax. Dream of chocolate or some handsome fellow bringing you chocolate. I’ll wake you when the soup is heated.”
I liked the idea of having my dream man bring me chocolate. Being the good girl that I am, I try to always do as I’m told, so dream away I shall.
“You’re a sweetie,” I mumble as I burrow underneath my blanket. “Even if you did leave me to get married, I still think you’re the best.”
As I drifted off to sleep, I heard her giggling in the background.
I have the most amazing dreams. Take tonight for instance.
I am in a ballroom decorated to perfection. There’s an orchestra in the far corner. Soft music can be heard drifting throughout the room. The whole room is lit by candlelight. Waiters in black tuxedo’s walk through the throngs of people, offering glasses of sparkling champagne. I’m dancing in the arms of a very strong, handsome man. The man, he haunts my dreams nightly, leaving my heart aching every morning for the promise of what could have been. Tonight, he’s wearing a black tux with a hint of cologne that I know will always be just beyond my reach. He’s the man of my dreams. I never looked into his face, yet I know him deep in my heart. We’re dancing. I’m wearing a gorgeous Vera Wang gown that sweeps behind me as we move across the floor. In graceful steps, ones resembling Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, we sway to the beautiful music. I feel secure, wanted and loved. It’s the perfect night. I turn my head to gaze into his eyes. Tonight is the night. The night that I’ll finally tell him how I feel. The night I’ll finally look into his face. As my eyes slowly rise I…THUMP.
I’m on the floor.
It’s amazing how much pain one feels falling from their bed while they’re sleeping. Not only does my head hurt from hitting my night stand, but my shoulder is twisted under me in a way that is uncomfortable, my flannel nightgown is wrapped around my legs so tight that I couldn’t move them if I tried, and I think I landed on my nose. With my free hand (the one that’s not twisted under me) I gingerly touch my nose and realize I’m bleeding.
Just great. My first nose bleed ever and it’s from falling out of bed.
By some miraculous feat, I untwist myself just as the phone rings. With a disgruntled tone that is somewhat muffled by the Kleenex stuck up my nose, I answer.
“Well, good morning to you too sunshine. Don’t tell me I just woke you up. It’s already eight am. You’re not sounding that great, maybe you should get right back into bed and stay home again. Matt and Lily can handle the store for another day,” Heather said in her bubbly voice.
“My nothe ith bleeding. Call you bach,” I said as I ran into the bathroom. I’m surprised my mirror didn’t crack from my reflection. My head is tilted up to stop the bleeding, my hair is in wild disarray, and I have drool lines trailing down the pillows marks leading to the one side of my mouth. Quite attractive if I do say so myself.
I still can’t believe I fell out of bed. The memory of my dream still lingers, and I can feel strong arms around me as we are dancing to soft music. If only reality could be like my dreams, I would be happy and satisfied.
With my head tilted so I can count the dust bunnies hanging from my bedroom ceiling, I call Heather back.
“Was there an honest to goodness reason for calling me so early in the morning?”
“Umm, I think you want Heather,” Matt answered. “I’ll let her try to talk you out of this mood before you come into the store today.” I heard the phone drop and his voice in the background, “I don’t know what you did, but Wynne doesn’t sound too happy. Good luck.”
“Wynne? Did you fix your nose? What happened?” Heather said. Her voice was too chipper. Way too chipper.
“Apparently, beds aren’t meant for dancing and I fell out during a pirouette. I hit my nose on the floor. No don’t laugh. It was a perfectly good dream too. I almost saw his face this time.”
Heather knows all about my dreams. I’ve been having these for the past year or so. At first I found it very exciting, dreaming about a man deep in my heart I know that I know. At least, I think I know him. I’ve yet to see his face. Now it’s getting down right frustrating. If this is God’s way of preparing me for a new love life, He has a funny way of doing it.
“You almost saw his face? Wow. Go back to bed then and start dreaming again. I still say that it’s Rich you’re dreaming of,” Heather said.
“It can’t be Richard. We’ve already gone through with this. He’s got to be married by now. Along with the 2 kids, a dog with a loving wife to hand him coffee every morning. I can’t be dreaming of him. That would just be wrong.” I said. “He’s been out of my life far too long for me to start thinking of him again. Nope, this has to be someone else. Someone who can take his place in my heart.” Maybe I’m in denial.
“You don’t know he’s married Wynne. You just think he is,” Heather said. “You heard he was getting married, but maybe, and this could be true, he didn’t actually get married. Did you ever think it could be like you?”
I close my eyes. She’s going to say it. I know she will.
“You guys are soulmates. You need to find him.”
“And what do I do when I do find him? Do I call him up? What if his wife answers, or girlfriend – how do I explain to them or to him the reason for me calling? No. I don’t think so.”
“All right, live in your dream world,” Heather said. “The reason I called was to tell you I’m sending a surprise over with Matt this morning. This is the official phone call to tell you to keep your hands off. I want you to have complete deniability, at least for the first customer. You’ll need to add your own little personal touch to the boxes, but do not look inside. Got it?” Heather hung up.
That was so not fair. Knowing her, she’s made up something that tastes delicious. She always does this to me. She makes me wait, along with everyone else, to find out what it is. Once in a while I’ll take a peek, but I’ve experienced her wrath too often, to do that anymore. She doesn’t play fair. And she knows it.
In anticipation of what I will find when I get to the store, I quickly finish getting ready. I need to remember to take the muffins that I took out of the freezer last night and placed in the fridge to defrost. I always find myself excited to go into my store. A new day waits, and it’s been a few days since I have been there. I trust Matt to keep it running smoothly, but he doesn’t quite have that woman’s touch.
My phone rings as I head out the door. My arms are full of muffins, so I just let the answering machine take it. If it’s important enough they’ll call my cell.
Chocolate Blessings, my grand passion.
At the jingle of my door bells I take a deep breath and sigh. The smell of chocolate and flowers is amazing. I co-own this oasis with Matthew Manning, Heather’s husband. I have the love for chocolate and he has all the business savvy, and together we make a great team, if I do say so myself. Having only been in business for two years, we are already experiencing more growth than I dreamed of.
With that growth comes long hours though, especially this time of the year. Christmas. One guess for what the number one gift everyone prefers to buy. You got it. Who in their right minds would turn down chocolate?
Besides chocolate, we also help our local community by taking in one-of-a-kind gift items made locally. Our hand selected gift baskets ideas are a hot seller right now. Who knew that I would be able to turn a love for chocolate into a profitable career.
Christmas music wafts throughout the store. Fresh flowers, which are bought from our next door florist, are blooming on shelves, desks and tables. We offer a fresh cut rose free with every order – a little touch that I found the female customer just loves. Our showcase of chocolate is fully stocked, shelves are lined with gourmet boxes of chocolate, and I even see a few new gift ideas out. Mental note to self: check out new gift ideas and find more.
Lily, our front clerk, greets me warmly. “Wynne, it’s so good to see you. It’s been a long three days without you here. How are you feeling? You definitely look better. Oh, I have so much to tell you.”
Lily, if you can’t already tell, is a bouncy twenty-something. In her young adults group at church, she’s been classified as the bubbly blond greeter. Her bright smile and inviting laughter are always present. She’s the perfect person to have at the front counter.
“I missed your smiley face. Please tell me we have hot cider ready.” I pass her the container of muffins I brought in over the counter.