Wednesday, April 26, 2023

"I'll have the small latte" ; prompt challenge WEEK #2

He dropped his keys in his nervousness to get inside. Knowing her as well as he did, Alara was probably still asleep. After a moment of fumbling, once he finally got the right key in, he placed the food on top of the counter and limped to the kitchen. Jonah hissed as the pain in his right leg grew sharper and the adrenaline wore off, like his body was cooling down and he was finally noticing how bad it actually was. He could feel his own warm blood dripping down his calf now.

A few months ago, right after they moved in, he might have struggled to find what he was looking for, going through the cabinets for a long time before finally finding it. But at this point, they were well acquainted—the first aid kit and him. Jonah crouched down to the floor with a painful sigh and leaned back, shielded by the counters and cabinets around him, just in case Alara decided to wake up.

She'd throw a fit.

He felt for the edges of the box and found the antiseptic spray, cotton, and bandages exactly where he'd left them last week when a tree branch scratched his cheek. He felt his shin, the tips of his fingers warm with more blood. Looking at it, it wasn't so bad. The red stood out. It looked worse than it actually was. Jonah cleaned the excess blood and hissed once more when he got to where the pain emanated from. A small cut, and yet big enough to make a mess.

He did his best with the bandage, which wasn't saying much, then stood up. And much to his dismay, there she was, behind the counter, her silhouette against the light coming from the floor-to-ceiling window, clear enough that he could see her arms crossed and imagine the thin line of her pressed lips.

"I got you bagels," he said sheepishly. "I'll have the small latte, please."

She was unconvinced. Alara walked up to him and took the first aid box from his hands.


"I already took care of it," he complained.


"Seriously, you're overreacting."

"There's a trail of blood from the door to the kitchen," she said coldly, but her tone revealed the stress behind it. "It's bleeding right through your patch right now, in case you haven't noticed. Sit."

Like a dog, on command. He hated it when she used that voice, but he still complied. Obeyed. She set the box on the table and pulled up a chair. Hitting the table with his hip definitely didn't help his case. Jonah sat down and watched as she uncovered the wound. It did look worse in this light.

"This looks awful."

The wound or his lame attempt at bandaging it up, he couldn't tell. It didn't feel that bad. But he didn't really know. Her hands were soft, but practical and fast, routinely even. He dared not ask. He felt like a child coming back from soccer practice. That’s how she made him feel—cared for. But also silly and—

"You need to use your cane," Alara said.

He sank down, knowing exactly what to expect. He dreaded it.

"It was just an accident," Jonah said, shaking his head.

Her voice got a couple of pitches higher. "I watched you get run over by a teenager with a scooter last week!"

"Sidewalks are no place for scooters," he mumbled.

"Listen to yourself, Jonah." Her voice sounded softer now. "One of these days you're not just going to scratch your face or bump into someone. What's so bad about it?"

Everything, he thought, pressing his lips and shrinking into himself. He looked at the light behind her, making the living room bright, then at the shape of her head, its shadow, unable to make out an actual expression. Spots floated over her face, no features or definition, a blur. Coming to that realization was like getting punched in the gut over and over again.

"I'm not blind," he said, too angrily.

She scoffed, "You're just really dumb."

"Maybe that."

There was a long silence between them.

"Every time you leave by yourself, I wonder if you're coming back. If you're hurting yourself, or getting lost again." His face burned and he lowered his head, closing his eyes.

"It was snowing—"

"Except that you don’t see enough anymore," her words were harsh but delivered in the gentle way only she could manage. She touched his hand. "Please. We can call the people at the blind center. The doctor said they offered classes to teach you how to... move around."

A deep feeling of dread filled his stomach. For months now, he’d refused to think about it. About any of it.

"I can still do it. My vision isn’t that bad."

Which was a lie. A complete, total lie that not even he believed anymore. Months ago, that might have been the truth, but things changed so fast not even he could keep up with them.

"You look at your phone with your nose touching the screen, Jonah. This isn’t ‘fine’ at all. In fact, you can’t even look at me right now."

And she was right. When he looked at her face, he saw no features anymore. And she was so close to him. He could guess where her almond-shaped eyes were, based on her head, but he couldn’t see them. They were green, he remembered, which looked so stunning with her warm brown skin. Her dark, silky hair was in a side braid across her shoulder—he could tell that just from knowing her and its general shadow. He couldn’t see anything clearly anymore, and that realization was like a bucket of cold water pouring down his soul.

"Look, I—"

"I’m serious, babe. I can’t stand seeing you getting hurt."

→ → →

She felt him getting up from bed in the morning, but instead of simply turning around and going back to sleep as she usually did, she watched him get dressed and walk out of the bedroom. Stealthily, she tiptoed after him. He was going out—getting breakfast, probably. He liked to surprise her in the mornings after her long shifts at the hospital, which was always so sweet and thoughtful of him.

He didn’t notice her standing underneath the arch that separated the bedroom from the living room, which hit her like a punch in the gut and made her feel guilty about not letting him know she was right there. He was leaving, and she watched as he hesitated before opening the door. Take the cane, she thought, biting her lip. Please. And as if he could hear her, his hand hovered over it, hanging behind the door in its folded mode, as if he wasn’t sure about it. Ultimately he stuck it inside his back pocket. A breath of relief left her lungs once he locked the door behind him, but her heart was still hammering in her chest.

Allie didn’t think straight. She rushed to the bedside, tied her shoes, placed her hair in a quick bun, and covered her Mickey Mouse pajamas with a long trench coat. She wanted to see for herself. For the past week, every time they went out together, he didn’t take the damn cane. Then, when she was out, he’d say he tried it, but she didn’t really believe it. Alara needed to be sure he was safe and confident, so she took the stairs down as he took the elevator, and walked several feet behind him, watching like a cartoon spy.

What am I even doing?

Jonah had the cane in his pocket, and until he left the building, he hadn’t unfolded it. From where she was standing, she could see his hesitation. And he didn’t—not until he turned the corner. Was he afraid someone would see him? Was there a part of him that felt it was a big secret he had to hide? Alara watched him unfold the rods and test the cane on the pavement, move it from side to side, and take his first step. Soon enough, he was walking forward. He was still too careful in the way he walked, trying to get out of everyone’s path with the vision he still had, but people mostly avoided him.

He was doing it. Her chest was about to burst with pride and joy.

Jonah’s next obstacle was crossing the street, and here she drew her first breath of hesitancy, standing back but ready to step in. He felt for the bumps on the curb cut and waited, but before he could cross, an old lady latched onto his arm.

“Here, son. Let me take you.”

She could tell he was taken by surprise, his pale skin flushing and his body language immediately retracting. She could swear he’d refuse it; Alara knew he hated when people noticed him—it was impossible not to now. But she watched, equally surprised, as he mumbled an almost silent “Thank you,” and let himself be guided by the old woman, several feet shorter than he was, grabbing his arm with a good-samaritan grin on her face. They crossed the street far too slowly and when they got to the other side, he thanked her again and tried to take back his arm from her grip.

“Let me take you there!” she said.

“No, I’m—good. Thanks.”

“Do you even know where you’re going?”

“Yes,” his voice was more insistent now, and he pulled away from her. “Thank you.”

The woman wasn’t too happy when he simply walked away, fast-paced, following the raised path on the sidewalk with his cane, still looking tense and straight ahead. That will be pretty common now, Allie thought. He’d learn how to deal with it. After that, it was a short walk to the coffee shop. She waited until he was at the counter before she walked in and took a seat by the window. God, she felt like a weird stalker now, but curiosity got the best of her.

“Hey, Jo.” The barista smiled at him. A smile too wide, she thought, but kept watching. “What’s that?”

She shamelessly pointed at the cane he was holding close to his chest. Jonah scratched his head.

“This—oh, it’s, uh—” He stuttered, his neck growing redder. “It’s a white cane.”

She raised an eyebrow, but he couldn’t really see it.

“Nice,” she said. “What are you having today?”

“Just the bagels, please.”

As he waited, he pulled his phone from his pocket. As the months passed, Alara had noticed how much bigger the letters on his phone had gotten. Right now, the only way he could read anything was by basically touching the screen to his eye, zoomed in so much there were only individual letters or syllables filling up the entire screen. That always opened a pit in her stomach, a feeling of ‘it’s really going away, isn’t it?’

At first, when he told her about his diagnosis, it had seemed like a distant thought, like something that wouldn’t really happen, that there were still alternatives, right? But week after week, and month after month, it seemed like he lost more and more. And he never told her about any of it—she just noticed it in the small things, like the zoom on his phone, and the way he didn’t watch TV with his eyes open anymore, and how he hadn’t looked her in the eyes in months. Sometimes he tried, she could tell, but his eyes just danced around aimlessly, not really finding the target.

Right now, he was checking something on his phone by getting the screen close to his eyes. Paired with the cane, he looked undeniably blind. And god, he’d denied it a lot. But they were making progress, weren’t they? Going out with the cane was a huge step.

When he left the shop with the bag of her favorite bagels, instead of making his way back, he kept walking down the street. She wondered where he was going, and again, curiosity got the best of her. She watched as he walked a little more confidently and wondered if he’d gotten lost, maybe. But then he stopped right in front of another store and walked in. Alara frowned, and the air around her grew heavy.

It’s a jewelry store.

Through the glass, unable to move, Alara watched as he talked to a pretty woman in high heels who seemed happy to guide him through the rings. She felt numb, like she shouldn’t be seeing this—damn her curiosity. She didn’t think of anything else as she turned around and literally ran back to her building. Stripping off the trench coat and getting rid of her shoes, she jumped back in bed like she’d just witnessed something secret and forbidden, with a bunch of different feelings at the same time. She was giddy, excited, fearful, and ready to burst.

Allie didn’t know how long she stayed in bed before she heard him unlock the door. In a haste, she pulled the blanket over her body and closed her eyes tightly shut, like a kid pretending to be sick to skip school. She doubted he’d be able to even tell if her eyes were open, but she still did it. Much to her absolute despair, it took him a while to walk into the bedroom, and then she had to open one eye to see him thoughtfully carrying her breakfast on a tray. Which wouldn’t be unusual, but there was a single red flower on top—which was unusual. Alara held her breath.

He’s doing it right now?

Her heart was so loud in her ears that she thought it was impossible for him not to hear it. She closed her eyes, this time for real, tightly, unable to think. That’s when she heard a loud, muffled noise that made her open them again. Jonah was on the floor, the tray in front of him, and her bagels, coffee, and even the red flower scattered near the bed. Alara sat up straight, forgetting her act.


“Shit—” Jonah hissed, sitting up from his belly-down position, massaging his chin.

“Jonah—what happened?” she asked, alarmed. “Did you trip?”

He frowned, seeming to search the room with his eyes. He touched the carpet in front of him, finding the tray and its spilled contents. Jonah sounded angry. He seemed ready to snap, No, I’m just testing the floor, but softened a bit, sighing heavily.

“Yeah.” He looked around, then took the object he’d tripped on in his hands—her shoe. “The great offender.”

Guiltily, Alara pressed her lips and climbed off the bed. The shoes she’d disposed of so quickly, trying to get back into bed as quickly as possible, carelessly thrown around the room—a tripping hazard.

“I’m sorry. It’s mine.” She crawled next to him, helping him with the contents of the tray.

“It’s alright.” He sighed. He patted down the floor for something else he might have dropped when he found her hand. He pressed it gently. “I’ll clean up this mess. Go back to bed.”

“No, it’s my fault.”

“It was my silly, silly idea.”

“I shouldn’t leave things around like that,” guilt was eating her from the inside. “I’m really sorry.”

“I guess we’re both still adapting,” his eyes danced in her general direction, almost perfectly focused on her, caressing her skin. “Allie, I know this is a mess and I wanted to—”

She released a breath. “Yes.”

Jonah frowned. “What?”

“Yes, to the question you were going to ask.”

It took him a while to take it in. Surprise and confusion were washed away by a look she couldn’t quite read—love, amazement. He took the small velvet box from his pocket, and she honestly felt like she might pass out.

It’s happening. It’s happening right now.

“Allie, will you—”


“—let me finish?” He chuckled, opening the box. Inside was a small but elegant single diamond ring that was possibly the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Not because it was particularly big or different, but because it was hers. “Will you make me the happiest of men and marry me?”

She jumped on top of him, her arms hugging his neck tightly.

He already had his answer.


  1. Great story, I love it. Thank you for sharing.

  2. A beautiful story, thank you!

  3. Lovely story, I really enjoyed it!

    My prompts:
    pretty please with a cherry on top
    I really love this song

  4. Oh so very cute! Loved the story. Haha, yes she is a bit of a weird stalker, with good intentions.

  5. God, I love it. I want more!

  6. Makes want to know their history…