A Man to Fall for (Flash Fiction)

With Fall right around the corner, I wanted to write a fall themed meet cute. The characters from this story will probably have another appearance in the near future, because I do want to flesh out their story a little more. Maybe I’m just becoming a full-on romantic!

“That’ll be twelve dollars,” the round-faced woman behind the register glances past me and adds, “Is anyone else joining you?”

“No, just me,” I smile at her, handing over a twenty.

“Ah,” she frowns sympathetically as she counts out my change. “Here you go, dear.”

I take the money and the basket she hands me. Before I can thank her, she turns back to the register. I leave out of the side door with the sign that reads Welcome to Chauncy’s Farm! Cool air welcomes me as I step outside, and I take a deep, steadying breath.

Chauncy’s Farm is small but well-known in the area for having the best apple orchard and pumpkin farm. They boast of corn mazes, hayrides, fresh apple cider, and the best homemade donuts.

Everywhere around me, people are laughing and talking. A small girl is excitedly telling her mother that she’s seen the perfect pumpkin. Someone has brought their puppy and a gaggle of children have surrounded the floppy-eared dog to rub its soft belly.

The families make me smile; it’s the couples that hurt a little to see. Couples of all ages are meandering around. Most are holding hands, giggling happily as they go to pick out pumpkins together.

No wonder the woman at the register looked so…disappointed for me. She must have thought I was so sad, coming alone to this place filled with happy couples and families.

Well, it doesn’t matter. I’m not here to be sad. (Really, I know nineteen isn’t too old to find love, but I just can’t seem to find a decent guy who doesn’t just want to immediately hook up or is only interested in me for a week until I tell him I’m serious about marriage. It’s not crazy to love love, is it? No!) But anyway, I came here because I love fall and I love apple picking. And apple cider. And apple pie. Really, I love anything and everything to do with apples.

Raising my chin, I march toward the apple orchard, clutching my basket as I go. To my slight relief, the orchard doesn’t have many people in it. The pumpkins appear to be the main attraction, but I’ve never been much for all that. Pumpkin carving is messy and pumpkin pie is just plain gross.

Finding a lone tree, I begin plucking the smooth rounded fruit. I’m pretty sure they’re gala apples, which are some of my favorite. I take a satisfying bite from one and relish the crisp pop of the skin breaking against my teeth. A pumpkin never popped when you bit into it!

Closing my eyes, I soak up the moment. The sun is shining. It’s not too hot with the cool autumn air and a light breeze. The fresh taste of apple is filling my mouth and distantly I can hear children laughing. All the stress of being alone has vanished and I’m just existing.

“Excuse me,” a voice interrupts my perfect moment. “Did you drop this?”

Opening my eyes, I turn to face my interruption. The first thing I notice is that they’re holding my scarf, which had once been draped over my arm because it’s not quite cool enough to wear yet. I figured it would get cooler later and brought it along to be safe.

“Oh, yes! Thank-” the words die in my mouth as I take in the man holding the scarf out to me.

He’s gorgeous. I mean, truly handsome. He’s taller than me by a good six inches, which is probably why I noticed the scarf first since it was closer to my eye level. He has thick dark brown hair that’s cut short and neat. His thin, but muscular, and for a moment I have a wild thought of him carrying me from the orchard in his arms. I shake the thought away even as I feel my cheeks heating up.

The man smiles, waiting for me to take my scarf, and flushing even more, I grab it. “Thank you!”

“No problem,” he smiles and my heart stutters.

His eyes, which are a lovely shade of blue-gray, crinkle as he smiles, giving him a boyish and teasing appearance. He has a slightly crooked smile, which adds to the rakish charm and somehow he seems to be turning me into pudding by simply existing.

“I’m Emma,” I hold out my hand to him and he takes it. I was right. He has a strong but gentle grip. Perfect for carrying people through apple orchards.

“Hi, Emma. I’m Heath.”

Even his name is perfect.

Then, I realize that this is literally couples central. Chances are he’s here with someone. My cheeks get hot again as I drop his hand.

“I’m sure you have to get back to your…”

Shrugging, he shakes his head. “I have no one to get back to. I work the morning shift here, but I’m off now. I usually come through here to snag an apple on my way out, but…I could stay. If you’d want some help picking your apples, I mean. I can hold your basket if you like.”

Silently, I hand him my basket, but I can’t stop the huge smile from spreading itself across my face. Is this love at first sight? Am I being naive?

Stop it, Emma. He’s just being nice. I scold myself.

But then we start talking, and something…clicks. It’s not even that we automatically agree on everything either! Heath disagrees with my pumpkin opinion immediately, (“Pumpkin pie is pretty much perfection!”) and I can’t agree with his music taste (I mean, the Bee Gees?), but there is just something about him.

Maybe it’s his smile. That endearing crooked smile that makes me want to kiss him so badly, even though we’ve known each other for approximately five seconds. Maybe it’s his easy confidence. Whatever it is, I’m hooked.

We spend all day together. After the apples, he convinces me to pick a pumpkin. He claims I’m helping him, but somehow we end up with two and he insists I take mine home. It’s a pretty cute pumpkin though.

Then we go on a hayride, bumping into each other as the wheels of the old-fashioned wagon catch in every rut and hole along the way. And the whole time we talk. We don’t stop talking until it’s starting to get dark and Heath buys us some hot apple cider.

We sit by on the back of the hay wagon, which is retired now that it’s getting dark, and sip our hot drinks. Heath pulls on my scarf, stretching it between us and draping it around both mine and his neck. I scoot closer to him, laughing.

The sun is nearly set. It’s sinking so fast that I finally realize that if I wanted to see Heath again, I’d better approach the subject soon before the farm closes and I have to leave.

I’m just trying to figure out how to ask him if he feels what I feel when he turns to face me.

“Emma, I know we’ve only known each other a day, but I feel like this is going well, and I’d like to continue to see you.” His blue-gray eyes hold me.

“Yes,” I breathe. I can feel my stomach doing a little dance. This polite, attractive man wants to see me again. Me! “I’d love to. See you more, I mean.”

Again, his crooked smile flashes. Then, leaning a bit closer he lowers his voice. “May I kiss you?”

I’d never had a man ask before. Men usually just try to kiss me, whether I want it or not. It’s so startling, I almost pull back. For an intestinal moment, neither of us moves. Finally, I find my voice. “Yes.”

As his mouth meets mine, I feel an explosion go off in my body. So many sensations sweep through me; from sweet apple on his mouth, to a warmth that’s spreading through my whole body, to his hand gently cupping my chin and making me feel like the most precious thing in the universe.

And then, it’s over. Heath pulls back and I can see in his face that he felt the same rush of emotions.

“I can’t wait to see you again,” he whispers. I noticed that his already deep voice has dropped another octave. I can hear our future in that deep voice. 

“Perfect,” I whisper.

Because it is.

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