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A Flaming Disaster: A Short Story

Full time medical student at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in Shreveport.

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"Happiness is the flavor of life, and you are the chef." - Unknown

“Ahhhhh!”

The scream barely leaves my mouth before the array of pots and pans come crashing down upon me. Groaning audibly, I sit up and place my hand on my throbbing forehead, where, no doubt, a bruise is inevitably forming. Taking in a deep breath, I slowly stand up - causing the cooking utensils to clatter to the floor around me - and take in the mess I had made.

The once adorable little kitchen that was situated in my living quarters is hardly recognizable. Covering the counters is an assortment of ingredients that are scattered chaotically across the surface. Spilled milk lay in small puddles, while jelly dripped down the side of a cabinet (when was I using jelly…?), and butter was smeared on the fridge. The mountain of dishes in the sink, all due to my previous failed attempts at preparing the food I desired, threatened to tip over and suffocate me in an avalanche of pans. And to top it all off, smoke was filling the air while my fire alarm screamed loudly at me.

“Oh, no!” I shouted and sprinted for the oven, tripping over a pot in the process. Snatching up the oven mitts, I yanked open the oven door, and pulled the dish to safety. However, as I gazed mournfully upon the black surface of the what-was-supposed-to-be-lasagna, I knew it had not survived. Moaning with frustration, I dropped my head in my hands and sank unceremoniously to the cluttered kitchen floor. “What am I supposed to do now?” I complained, exasperated with my current situation. I was a mess, and there was no hope in salvaging this night that I had planned so hard for; I felt like a stupid, incapable person.

"Spilled milk lay in small puddles, while jelly dripped down the side of a cabinet (when was I using jelly…?), and butter was smeared on the fridge."

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Okay, I know I may sound harsh, but looking at the disaster I just caused, it is pretty difficult to dispute. After all, I only wished to do something sweet and romantic for my fiancé, but even I couldn’t seem to do that right. Alex and I had been dating for two and a half years, and that time has been the most amazing and blissful period that I have ever experienced. Alex was the best boyfriend anyone could ask for. He was kind and smart, yet funny and friendly. Without even trying, he could talk to anyone, and always knew the exact words to say. He was dependable, fun, romantic, and, overall, the perfect man.

Yet, somehow, he is in love with me. Me, the little reserved girl who always put her studies and books above going out and having fun. The fact that he even set his eyes upon my brunette self, and decided to talk to me, still amazes me. More so, the fact that he desires to have a future with me is even more beautifully unbelievable. I can still remember that night last week – the night he proposed. My clumsy self had only just pulled another stunt, tripping over the stone step and falling forward, the ground rising up to smack me in the face. However, like always, he was there to save me, catching me before I could contact the ground. Thank God – that was one thing I did not want to meet. Yet, as I stared up into his dazzling green eyes, his thick hair waving in the light breeze as he laughed at my silliness, I somehow knew he would always be the one to catch me before I fall. And when he got down on one knee later, as we gazed at the beautiful lake before us, revealing a gorgeous stone gift, I knew I didn’t have to be afraid of falling anymore, for he was worth the fall every time.

"...I somehow knew he would always be the one to catch me before I fall."

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Ding dong! Ding dong!

Snapping me back to the present, I froze up, glancing toward the hall that leads to the front door. As the doorbell rang again, I jumped up, knocking the dish that was sitting precariously on the stovetop to the floor, as well as banging the top of my head on an open cabinet. Cursing loudly, I ran to the freezer and yanked it open violently, quickly skimming the assortment of food stored inside.

“Hello? Grace, are you there?” a familiar voice asked, muffled by the walls.

“One moment!” I answered, grabbing a box of ravioli and Texas toast, causing a few other boxes to fall out. Racing toward the microwave, I popped the box open, and slide the frozen food inside the magic cooking machine (thank the Lord for microwaves) before hurriedly setting the timer. That finished, I jumped over a pot, but subsequently landed on a banana peel, causing my feet to fly out from underneath me and my bottom to take the brunt of the hard floor’s punishment (remind me to NEVER scoff at the danger of banana peels). Standing up with a groan, and wondering how a banana peel came to be in my house when I hate bananas, I slowly limped my way toward the banging that was ensuing on my door.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Thwarp!

"...remind me to NEVER scoff at the danger of banana peels...."

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Blinking open my eyes, my vision gradually began to clear, and the fuzzy shape looming above me sharpened into a head of brown hair and concerned green eyes. Seeing that I had awakened, he carefully helped me up into a sitting position, trying to be as gentle as possible.

“Are you alright? Do you hurt anywhere?” his voice came to me, his French accent laced with deep worry and guilt. Now that he mentioned it, my head began to violently throb, and I winced in pain. Oh, well; it wasn’t like my head wasn’t used to absorbing hard knocks.

Rubbing my head, I grimaced and nodded. “I’ll be fine,” I replied, opening my brown eyes to meet his jade ones. Seeing that I wasn’t hurt badly he smiled and helped me to my feet.

“I’m deeply sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you. I was just so worried when I heard that crash, that I was so consumed with desire to make sure you were alright; I didn’t consider the change in my surroundings. I hope you can forgive me.” He looked so earnest and honest as he said this, looking deep into my eyes that I couldn’t help the small smile from appearing on my face. I slowly shook my head in amazement and smirked at his clever words.

“Of course I forgive you, silly. Accidents happen all the time. I should know,” I smiled sheepishly, and he laughed at my expression.

“Of course you do,” he agreed, shooting me a grin. “So it’s a good thing we’re staying here for dinner, so you can rest your battle wounds.” Suddenly, his face took on a confused expression. “Do you smell that?”

Just then, the memory of the disordered kitchen and failed dishes flew back to me, and I gasped in panic. Sprinting down the hall, I danced around the spilled orange juice, leaped over the cutting board, and squeezed by the pile of pots to reach the microwave. Before even setting my eyes upon the machine, I could hear the bursts of electricity and smell the flames. Jerking open the door, I snatched the burning dish from the microwave and threw it on the tile, before slapping the dish towel at the dangerous flames that threatened to lick my fingers.

"Accidents happen all the time. I should know...."

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Sphewwwww!

Before I can blink, the flames are out, and my floor is covered in white, as am I. Blinking, I looked up into the face of my fiancé, who had somehow grabbed the fire extinguisher in the midst of my panic. The mix of emotions on his face was so evident, that I couldn’t help but laugh uncontrollably in response. His eyes had looked so shocked, taking in the disaster of my kitchen. He was so obviously horrified at the condition of the place, as well as the food, that he could only stand there, an aghast look on his face. However, as my unladylike laughter finally registered in his brain, he put down the fire extinguisher and laughed along with me.

“Now I know why you always refused to cook for me,” he mused finally. “But I can say that your horrific cooking ability does amaze me. It truly does. I have never seen such disaster in my life. You really deserve an award, Grace.” Immediately, he returns to a fit of pure laughter.

Although I attempt to look offended, I can’t help but smile as well. I always knew that I possessed no talent in cooking, but I couldn’t help but try for the sake of the one I love. After all, he always does everything for me, making me fall in love with him more every day. And as he sits me on the coach with the order to rest, and sets about cleaning up the mess and redeeming our night, I can’t help but fall a little more. While I may not be able to cook for him (or for anyone really), I resolve to do something that will make me worthy of such a good man. Yet, even if I fail again and again before that happens, I know he will always be there to pick me up, no matter what.

"I always knew that I possessed no talent in cooking, but I couldn’t help but try for the sake of the one I love."

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© 2021 Victoria Umling

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