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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: Once Upon a Napkin


Jennifer refilled his coffee the second time and he noticed her eyes were green, a grayish-green and very lovely. Her mouth, a permanent smile. She enjoyed waiting on people, running to get an extra napkin, refilling their water glasses and chatting cheerfully with each of her customers. Her long, dark hair was caught up in a high ponytail and it swung to and fro as she moved about the restaurant. In this diner, most of her business was repeat customers he noticed. He recognized faces. He had become one too.

“Morning, Gary. How was the sausage today?”

“Very good. Did you find a new supplier?”

“No. Same sausage, same supplier. Maybe the pig was healthier?” She smiled at her own joke. He smiled too. In an instant, he felt drawn to her. After coming to Mel and Sal’s Diner for the last four months, he knew he was in love.

There was one problem. How does a shy guy ask out a beautiful woman like Jennifer? He drank his coffee and pondered his little situation. Adjusting his glasses that had a habit of sliding down his nose, it suddenly came to him. He needed to know something first. He pulled out a pen, scribbled on the slightly soiled paper napkin. He left the napkin with his tip. Without looking back he left.

The next morning, he forced himself to the diner. Afraid, concern, and almost embarrassed by the note he left, his size 13’s wanted nothing to do with walking to his usual spot.

He grabbed a menu and studied it intently. He felt her presence before he saw her. He caught himself looking for her. She was over booth six, along with her smile and those lovely grayish-green eyes. She looked at him. Quickly he dived back into the menu.

“Good morning, Gary. What will you have today?” She sat down a coffee cup and filled it.” He mumbled ‘the usual’. He missed her knowing smile as she walked away.

His heart was torn. She never mentioned his note the entire time he sat there eating the breakfast. Today it tasted like sawdust and cardboard. He couldn’t finish and waited for his ticket. Jennifer must have been watching because instantly she was taking his plate.

“Anything else today, Gary?”

“No. Guess I wasn’t very hungry.”

She laid the ticket on the counter and then took his plate. Gary glanced at the total and noticed more than the price of his meal. She had written were ‘yes, I know Him’.

The young CPA took a deep breath and whispered ‘thank you’. A flood of courage raced through his heart. He felt the world come alive. The normal noise in the diner developed into a concert of clanging dishes, tingling glasses and murmuring voices.

She is a believer.

They exchanged notes but not the usual love notes. They exchanged Bible verses. Gary treasured each one, saving all of them in a small box. Some nights he would touch each piece of paper tenderly, thinking of her. Other nights he reread the verses that were her favorites. After a month, he decided that he was ready. He must ask Jennifer out.

The next day, as usual, he ordered his breakfast. When he finished, he reached for his pen and scribbled a note on his napkin. As he pulled out his wallet, a thought knocked his brain; just talk to her.

No, he argued, feeling his face redden. Go ahead and talk to her insisted the voice.

Squaring his shoulder, biting his lip, he sought her and found her at the cash register…alone. This time his size 13’s quickly covered the distance.

“Hello. My name is Gary and…” The words cascaded out he went dry. How did sandpaper get into his throat?

“Yes, I know your name.” She waited, a knowing smile on her face.

Clearing his throat he tried again.

“Jennifer, I’d like to…” There it was again, that irritating sandpaper.

“Yes?” He noticed a twinkle in her lovely grayish-green eyes. His knees felt like rubber bands.

Bracing himself, he blurted out what was on his mind, unaware that the whole diner had stopped to eavesdrop.

“Jennifer, I would like to take you out.”

There. He did it.


His world, his heart stopped. Was he even breathing?

“Yes, I’d like that.”

Instantly the air was flooded with hullabaloo. All the people in the diner cheered and applauded. But he didn’t care. Jennifer said yes.

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This article has been read 626 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini04/27/07
Great title, and such a sweet story. Great descriptions of characters, his rubber band knees. Loved how you kept the size 13 theme throughout the story. Wasn't sure if it should have read "She was a believer" or "She is a believer." That part isn't my strength but I loved it all the same!
Sheri Gordon04/28/07
The storyline was very nice -- true romantic genre. Just a couple of errors/typos I saw -- Paragraph 6, 'concern' should have been 'concerned.' Paragraph 12, the word 'were' doesn't belong.

Good romance with nice character interaction.
Bob Zoellner04/28/07
I enjoyed this - I think many of us "guys" can relate to what Gary was going through.

I'm glad she said yes.
Dolores Stohler04/29/07
Such a lovely story. I prefer guys like Gary to the overly confident type. You did a good job on this but next time check for typos.
Mo 04/29/07
LaNaye Perkins04/29/07
What a sweet romance! I really liked your story.
Loren T. Lowery04/30/07
To me, from a male's perspective - this was a great, true-to-life romantic tale!
Jacquelyn Horne05/02/07
Good portrayal of a shy guy and a not-so-shy young girl. (if I read her personality right). Good story.