Jess lines the candles on the cake. First lining the sides with all twenty-three candles. Then randomly across the top, careful to cover up holes. Maybe it’s because she can’t decide. Or maybe it’s because she likes the excuse to lick the knife after filling the holes. Either way she sets and resets the candles until she’s convinced the cake looks like Swiss cheese under a layer of cream cheese icing.
Carrot cake was always his favorite. The texture of it made it hard for Jess to swallow, but Milo could shovel it down and be licking his plate all the while staring at Jess’s plate. He knew she would give it to him. She always did.
She spells his name with the candles.
Twenty-three years, but Jess had only been around for the last three. And what a three years. Excitement? Oh, yes. More than her fair share, she was sure.
He stole her heart the first time they met, and he refused to give it back. Not that she ever really wanted it back. She did wonder at times if she had stolen his equally. That’s usually never the case, is it.
She groups three candles in the center and places the rest to the edges.
Of course he stole more than that. Never from her. Well, nothing important, anyway. She learned too. Teaching might not have been his strong point, but she caught on easy enough. A trinket here. A snack there.
Without a doubt it always differed on what they stole. Milo thought it all should be his. No, that’s not it. He thought it all was his. it might be in your pocket, but it belonged to him. It was only a question on whether or not he thought he needed it at the moment.
Jess thought of it more like a game. A small game. If it interested her, she took it. Sometimes she would walk out of a store and not even realize until she got home that she had something new in her purse or pocket. Usually she only did it when he could see.
It was for him after all. She imagined it felt like lifting her skirt or opening her blouse where only he could see. Though she would never do that. That would be indecent.
She puts the candles in a straight line, one hiding behind the other. She almost lights them then.
Jess watched Milo steal lots of things. Watches, cars, cash. Sometimes he even stole them for her. Not that she wanted them. Just him.
She always remembered his birthday. None of the other dates. Not the other stolen hearts. Not the last job. Not the media coverage. Why would she want to remember that? She even thought about adding more candles.
No. Twenty-three was the number. No other.
The knife clatters on the table. Done filling holes, Jess lights the candles. This year ending with them in the shape of a heart. A rather lopsided heart with one hump larger that the other, but unmistakably a heart.
This little piece of flash fiction differs from my usual brand of story. I took the prompts from the last 500 Club (I’ll let you decide which prompt I used), and decided to just go where the story took me. I think I might be as surprised as you to find a story devoid of ghosts, demons, aliens, action, or dialogue. I think it’s good enough to share though. Feel free to let me know what you think. It’s all for fun, but there’s no reason I can’t turn it into a learning experience.