Ann’s challenge – Write a story using the sentence your pen landed on from the one page story she gave us. We had to close our eyes and put our pen to the page. My sentence was “A fire had been recently lit in the wide hearth.”
Expectation ran high as the glitzy-dressed patrons waited outside the door of the neighborhood restaurant at its grand re-opening. Windows, surrounded in flickering holiday lights, added to the festive atmosphere. Inside, a fire had been recently lit in the wide hearth of the walk-in fireplace at the corner of the dining room. A regally decorated Christmas tree glittered in the other corner.
Jessie’s usual calm nerves were close to their snapping point. She swiped at a loose lock of curly blonde hair that had escaped from a diamond clip, pushing it behind her ear. “Are we ready?” she asked her gathered staff. Their resounding chorus of “yes” helped to steady her as she walked toward the door, looking sideways at the dining tables set in fine china and crystal.
Here we go, she thought. Memories tumbled around in her head of the last time this restaurant had opened. She had been there too, but it had been her mother at the helm then. Had it only been five years ago? Could she repeat its success?
Her mother’s unsolved murder at this restaurant two years ago had left a hole in Jessie’s heart and life. This restaurant had been her mother’s dream and they had been a team, working more than full time to make it a success. James, her mother’s latest husband, had been the primary suspect, but never charged with the murder. She despised the man; he had not been good to her mother. Jessie had felt devastated. She had closed the restaurant, and moved away. It took her almost two years to realize this was where she was meant to be.
Jessie touched the diamond clip in her hair. It had been her mothers, and tonight it would be her good luck charm.
Friends and strangers greeted her at the door. She seated excited customers, table by table, until the restaurant was full. Her wait staff, some previous employees returning to help, efficiently handled the orders. The kitchen staff, cheered each other on, as they outdid themselves in preparation and presentation. Jessie’s smile never wavered as she received congratulations and accolades on her successful and welcome re-opening.
Half-way through the evening, Jessie turned towards the door as a new customer entered. The noise level in the restaurant went silent, and Jessie’s smile disappeared, as James stood at the door. She walked stiffly to meet him. “What are you doing here?”
This is the premise for a short story in progress.
Copyright Parrot Writes 2010