Flash Fiction: Just Like Her Mother

by Olivia Tejeda
Sunday mornings were special for Penny. It was the one day a week Julian didn’t rush off to work and they could spend time together. This Sunday was especially exciting. It was Valentine’s Day and she had plans.

Shortly after waking up, she took a deep breath and cuddled against Julian’s back, feeling his familiar warmth. He stirred slightly and she seized the opportunity.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Dreamboat,” she whispered into his ear.

“Oh, that’s right,” he mumbled. It’s Valentine’s Day, isn’t it.”

“Don’t pretend you don’t remember, Penny said, niggling him with her finger. He rolled his eyes, but was grateful for her trust. The truth was he hadn’t really remembered, not for her.

“I have a conn-fehh-shuuun,” Penny said, drawing out her sing-song statement.

She has a confession? Julian thought.

“Do you?” he said, forcing a smile and turning to face her in bed.

“Well, I didn’t want to spoil your surprise, but …” she said, stretching the short word into three syllables. “I stopped at the post office yesterday? To pick up the mail for you?” Her nervous habit of turning statements into questions infuriated Julian but his impatience was tempered by what she just told him. His smile froze as heat started prickling up his chest and neck, and his mind started running through the possibilities.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Sweet Dumpling?” He feigned patience. “You know I like to go to the post office. I drove all the way over there yesterday, and didn’t even need to.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Daddykins” Penny said, deflated. “I was on that side of town, and I thought I’d do you a favor. But then I saw something I shouldn’t have, and I … I just didn’t know what to do.”

Julian’s heart stuttered. Why would she pick up the mail? He didn’t even remember giving her a key to the box. He kept calm and turned his smile into the glare that kept Penny in line. Penny stayed silent.

“Well, Gum Drop,” he said in that clenched-jaw way he had that allowed him to be menacing, but didn’t allow her to protest. The few times she did, he told her she was being overly-sensitive and ridiculous, just like her mother. “Are you going to tell me what you saw or are we going to play guessing games?”

“Oh, Cuddlebug,” Penny sighed. “I’ve upset you.” She looked at Julian with puppy eyes. “I guess I have to tell you now.”

She took a deep breath. “There was a little envelope from Pamela’s Floral Cottage in the mail. I thought it was just an old ad, so I opened it,” she glanced up at him, his handsome face was not so menacing now. Penny blinked a few times, looked down, and continued.

“I’m sure you know what I found and … and … Well, I just think you are the sweetest husband in the whole wide world to spend that kind of money on roses for my Valentine’s Day gift!” She threw her arms around him and squeezed him tight.

“Well,” Julian breathed, relieved at having the moment to figure something out. “You’re the sweetest wife in the whole wide world, and you deserve them.”

“But listen, Sugar Cube,” he continued quietly. “Since you spoiled my big surprise. I think I should have a chance to get you something else.”

“Oh you don’t have to do that. I’d love to get those flowers. I’m sure they’ll be beautiful considering what you paid for them. And the invoice said two dozen red roses for delivery on February 14, so they’ll probably be here any minute!”

“But Angel Face, it is Valentine’s Day and you should have some kind of special surprise, so …”

Penny interrupted. “Well, my Prince Charming, when I was at Schneider’s Jewelers yesterday with my mom, I saw the most beautiful necklace I’ve ever seen. I didn’t want to get it without asking you first, so we put it on lay-away and …” She looked at him again, batted her big browns and looked away.

“Don’t say another word,” Julian said, happy to be reminded that his wife was so naive.

The next day when Penny and her mother met at the mall, her mother saw the necklace right away.

“He went for it again,” her mother said.

“He sure did,” Penny smiled as she twisted the necklace around her finger. “He got me roses, too.” she said.

“That’s my girl.”

Penny leaned over and gave her mother a squeeze. “You’re the sweetest Mom in the whole wide world,” she said.

“Come on,” her mother smiled. “I’ll buy you lunch.”

Thank you for reading my flash fiction. Please share any constructive criticism and feel free to let me know about any errors you find here. To read more flash fiction from a great group of writers, search #fridayflash on Twitter or visit Mad Utopia.

26 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Just Like Her Mother

  1. Great dialogue here. I could feel the tension between them — almost like the pet endearing terms were slung like insults.

    What I am a little confused about is — did she catch him cheating w/ the roses; or trick him by buying the roses and necklace for herself because she believed he was cheating — and she was testing him?

    1. Hi Tim, Marisa and David! Thanks for the comments. Tim, one of the titles I was considering was “Made For Each Other.” I think these two definitely were! I’m glad you thought so, too. Marisa, The nicknames were my favorite part of writing this story. I actually edited out a few because too much was too much. They made me laugh, too. I love when writing does that! David, Hmmm. Maybe he fell for it more than twice? Thanks for website nod. It’s coming along! ~ Olivia

  2. “Made For Each Other” (Mother?) is a great title.

    What you do well really here is give each of the two characters equal weighting so that the reader isn’t led by the nose to instantly judge and take sides. The pet names work exceedingly well, conveying an intimacy into which the reader is invited. What’s going to happen next valentine’s, or on her birthday? A car?

    marc nash

  3. Enjoyed this. And it reminded me of a quote from Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer:

    “Is that what love is? Using people? And maybe that’s what hate is – not being able to use people.”

  4. There’s an expression I heard years ago that stuck in my mind, which is fitting here:
    “They’d spoil another couple”

    Made for each other indeed!
    The scene was very vividly set, I could feel his tension (and his irritation at her!)

  5. OH, a shiny new site! Looks good, nice clean lines to dirty up with words. lol On to the story…god, I hope I never meet people like that in real life. I really just want to smack ’em both. Great dialog, too!

  6. Oh my god they’re both so cynical. I’m glad they’re both manipulative jerks though because their petnames for each other were making me want to throw my phone across the room 😛

  7. Oh my, now they really deserve each other. He is cheating and all she wants is a necklace?

    That was a good story – with excellent tension.

    And, I love the new website – glad it all worked out!

    1. Well, Anne, as they say, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

      Thanks for the help on my site. If you ever need help with yours, let me know. I got a great tech guy, and I’m sure he’d be willing to help you out cheap! ~ Olivia

  8. Hey Sugar Cube! Just love your Sweetheart of a new Website! And your story, lil Love Bug, is just the cutest little Dumpling I ever set my big brown eyes on!

    I hope your Daddykins is sweet as sugar dumpling pie to his honeybun this Valentine’s Day because you deserve it!

  9. I’d say a “perfectly matched couple” but I think “Gum Drop” or “Sugar Cube” as “Daddykins” outmatched.

    And a scheming mother-in-law as well! Julian hasn’t a chance – and we can bet his “little on the side” is costing him dearly also.

    Well done.

  10. Heh, I wonder how many expensive gifts she’ll get out of him before he decides it’s too much – he already finds her terribly annoying. Or how long til her fondness for sparkles overrides coming in 2nd place with him?
    In typical fridayflash vein – I wonder who’s the first to snap?

  11. Too funny! Yep, those two are definitely made for each other, and who’s the naive one? Having Mummy help out, too, is just great. Maybe her father cheated?

    So glad my Hubby’s not like that! Happy V-Day!


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