The box lay open on the kitchen table. The chocolate glistened
invitingly, and as she walked past, the thick summer air wafted the
heavy scent toward her.
No, I shouldn't, she thought as the
sweets beckoned. Over twenty-five years and seven children had
wrought a difference that still surprised her when she glanced in a
mirror. The once slender, athletic figure had given way to the
round curves and heavy hips that refused to be trimmed, no matter how
With another glance at the temptation and a sigh, she pushed through the door carrying a heavy basket of laundry to peg out.
* * *
summer heat had driven him from the shed. He collapsed into a
chair with a glass of water and noticed the box on the table. It was
filled with a mouthwatering variety of chocolates – at least twenty
different types, he guessed. The top liner of the box held a map
that revealed the secrets of the assorted shapes and patterns.
His eyes fell on a rounded mound with a fanciful swirl on the
crest. Strawberry mousse. Her favourite.
glanced out the window to see her stretching up to peg out an endless
line of socks. The years had changed her. He knew that she
missed her old figure, but every curve reminded him of glorious days
past. The mound of a child growing in her belly. The wonder
of the feel of kicks of that new life. A child suckling at her
breast as she looked at him with a glow on her face. This woman had
given so much to make a home for him and the children. She could
make six grown men and a fiery young woman quail under her stern glare,
yet show them love that they knew would never die. This woman
made him fall in love all over again, every day.
picked out the sweet and wrapped it in his handkerchief. The door
snapped shut behind him as he strode across the yard to the woman with
her hands full of socks.
* * *
lay open on the kitchen table. They came from the parlour in a
rush of laughter, sharing the energy of young love. He saw the
box first and reached for it, but her hand knocked his callused,
freckled fingers out of the way. With a demure smile, she
carefully inspected the choices, then lifted out a square of dark
chocolate. She held it tantalisingly in her long fingers for a
moment, then lifted it to his mouth. Catching his arms around her
waist and pulling her close, he took a bite. As she pulled the
remainder away, a long thread of caramel fell on his chin. She
wiped it away with her finger, giggling; he grabbed her wrist and put
the caramel-laced finger in his mouth. She popped the rest of the
sweet into her mouth and wriggled out of his grasp. With a shout,
he chased after her.
* * *
The box lay
open on the kitchen table. She walked past with her broom on her
shoulder, pleased that they had finally invited her to join their
game. They had finally quit treating her like something delicate
that would shatter if put to test, and she had shown them, she thought
with a grin. She had got three goals past Ron. She glanced
at the box and was tempted by the luscious sweets glistening in the
heat. This occasion called for a celebration, after all. She
hesitated, trying to decide which one to choose. In the centre of
the box lay two pastel coloured ones, different from the rest.
Sugar coated almonds, no chocolate. Her hand hovered above
them. No, she thought. I'll leave them. He doesn't much care for chocolate anymore. He can have them. She took the plain chocolate block, sinking her teeth into its richness, and headed for the cool of her room.
* * *
box lay open on the kitchen table between the stacks of books.
She didn't seem to notice it, but he couldn't ignore it. Rather
than reading the text he had open before him, his eyes kept being drawn
to the box, with its neat little compartments full of delicious treats
that were carefully seated in a ruffle of waxed paper. Her
movement, reaching up for a lock of hair to twist around her finger,
brought his attention back to the book. He found himself reading
the same paragraph over and over again and knowing he had not absorbed
a single fact. He watched her twirl a lock over and around her
neatly manicured fingers. The brown spirals of curls had
lightened again this summer with days spent outside in the garden or
sitting in the paddock reading as the rest soared overhead in a casual
game. The afternoon sun occasionally caught a strand and the
light reflected in a streak of gold. She often caught it back in
a clip or elastic, grumbling at its stubbornness, but he liked it best
down. The riot of curls was like her, fiercely independent and
refusing to be tamed.
She gave him a glance that drove his
attention back to his reading. But rather than his book, his eye
was caught by the box lid. Its diagram showed what each piece of
chocolate was hiding. That one had a peanut butter centre.
Another, a hazelnut cluster. That lumpy one had caramel and
pecans. Then he spied it. Dark chocolate with a raspberry
centre. She didn't eat sweets often, but she had a weakness for
raspberry. His fingers reached for it, then he hesitated.
She hated to be interrupted when she was on a quest for an
answer. But, then again, it was raspberry. He plucked the
piece out of the box, trying carefully not to let the papers make too
Now what, he thought. Should he call
her attention, and thereby risk a scolding? Should he wait until
she was done and give it to her then? That could be hours.
The thing would probably be a puddle on the table by then. Taking
a breath to strengthen himself, he reached out and placed it on the
centre of the page she was reading. She jerked her head up in
surprise. He grinned at her. She barely suppressed a roll
of her eyes. He lifted his brow indicating she should take the
offering. She shook her head in resignation. Lifting it to
her mouth, she took a tiny bite off the end, as if hesitant to indulge
in such decadence; her eyes wrinkled in pleasure at the taste of the
tart fruit. He watched fascinated as her even, white teeth bit
into the sweet and she snatched a wayward piece off her lip with the
tip of her tongue. She finished it with a tiny sigh of
satisfaction and went back to her book. He smiled to himself and
went back to the same paragraph, determined this time to at least get
through the first page.