Blame the Refill!

So I’ve been hanging out at this awesome message board for science-fiction and fantasy lovers (both readers and writers) called Fantasy Faction.  Interesting conversation, excellent reviews and like-minded writers in one spot.  They have a monthly writing challenge, open to all comers.  February, being full of hearts and romance, posed the following challenge: ‘Write a 500 word scene that involves romance. There must be fantasy and there must be at least one laugh.’

What follows is my entry.  Let me know what you think.  (And thanks to my lovely wife for help with the title and edits)


Blame the Refill by Matthew T Maenpaa


I struck the match against the side of the box, the sulfur mingling with the faint scent of sage burning in my bedroom as I lit the taper candles in the dining room. The overhead was turned down low, my attempt at creating a nice romantic atmosphere.

Talia and I had started as coworkers, then friends, and had been dating for a couple years now.  I had known right away that I loved her, but there were moments that seemed as if she were only biding her time.  Tonight would be the night though, when I would know for sure that she loved me.

I could hear the flush of the toilet and the tap turning on in the bathroom. With dinner on the table and the candles lit, there was only one thing left. After filling each of our glasses with pinot noir, I fished a vial of murky liquid from my jacket pocket. The gypsy woman had warned me that the potion would take a while to set in, at least an hour. I uncorked it and poured a splash into Talia’s wine glass. The love potion seemed like cheating but nothing wrong with giving Fate a hand, right?

The sound of running water ended and I could hear the bathroom door open, followed by the clatter of high-heels on hardwood. I replaced the cork and shoved the vial into my pocket, smiling at my future wife as she entered the kitchen. “The candles are really sweet, Marlon.  They make this place look cute.”

I offered her my most handsome grin as I pulled out her chair. “Thanks, Talia. It’s usually fine for Winston and me, but we wanted it to be special for you.”

She settled into the table, eying the meal. “Lamb chops! Marlon, these are my favorite!”

“How could I forget?”

We made small talk as we ate, a bit about work, a bit about our families. I kept waiting for our eyes to lock, to feel that spark between us. The gypsy had told me that the potion was simple. Mix it in her drink. Wait an hour. Make sure you two are absolutely alone in the room. She will only have eyes for you thereafter.

With the meal finished and the table cleared, Talia and I moved to the small sofa in my living room. Before leaving the kitchen, I refreshed our wine and added another splash of the potion to hers for good measure. The jangle of a collar told me that Winston, my French bulldog, had woken up and decided to visit with the company. Carrying both of our glasses in one hand, a plate of chocolate truffles in the other, I entered the living room.

Talia was on her knees petting the dog, their eyes locked. The tone in her voice made my heart sink. “Marlon, your dog is perfect.”

I tried to smile. “Isn’t he just?”

She glanced up at me, enough to see the glassy look of devotion in her eyes before she returned her gaze to my dog. “Winston, I could just love you forever.”


Relationship Status Quo

I make no attempt to hide my relationship status nowadays.  I am married to an amazing woman, she loves me for reasons untold and she often presents a quandary even to her adoring husband.  We have a wonderful partnership that only seems to strengthen as time goes on.  And for some reason, people keep coming to me for advice.  I find this quite hilarious.

I’ve been in my fair share of relationships.  More than my fair share even.  Okay, I was a man-slut.  But as my wife is fond of saying, reformed rakes make the best husbands.  The best advice I can give is to put in the work.  That’s right, work.  Maintaining a relationship requires effort, attention, work, willpower and patience.  Infinite amounts of patience.  For example, I let my wife suck me into the occasional TV show that I would typically snort derisively at.  *cough*GLEE*cough*

So this is my relationship advice post.  Here’s my advice.  Ready?

Understand the psychology and needs of your partner, in the time and place of the relationship.  Or, in summation, pay attention to your surroundings.  Emotional surroundings.  Simple, and yet so incredibly difficult that we all forget.

There we go.  We, as people, are prone to get lost in our own issues.  Maybe you haven’t dated in a while, so you’re nervous that you’re going to smother someone.  Or you date too much, you have a reputation as a slut.  (That was me.  Man-slut.)  So you get caught, tangled in drama of your own creation.  Let it go.  Relax.  Go with the flow.  I’m sure I could come up with another cliche to throw at you, but why bother?  You’re smart people.  You get my drift.

The best relationships take work, but the two in the relationship make it look easy.  Zoe and I have a great chemistry between us, we love each other.  But we also communicate.  That is number two.  Communication!  See, exclamation means importance.


Talk it out.  Don’t let your temper take you through to an argument.  Recognize that there are two sides.  Maybe you’re both wrong.  Or you’re both being stupid, selfish, neurotic, impossible, difficult, crazy, bitchy, wrong.  Easier said than done, right?  Psshhhht.  You want it, you have to work to get it.  If it didn’t take work, it really isn’t what you wanted.

I should wrap this, because I’ll ramble on incessantly otherwise.  I don’t know a goddamn thing about your relationship.  But odds are, you know you and what you want.  So, lets recap here:  Pay attention and communicate.  Key to a relationship.  I should throw in an old adage as a closer:

Know Thy Self.