Hey! It’s March and once again time for ’Nathan Burgoine’s super-fun 2018 Flash Fiction Challenge. This month we had to write a romance that takes place in a fire watch tower, and we had to include VHS tapes in the story. Here’s my entry: I Won’t Fogget About You
— What’s that thing? The Buckle Test?
— Bechdel Test.
— That’s where we talk about men, right?
— Wrong. We have to discuss something other than men.
Miriam sighed, then typed:
— Tell me about Stewart.
— It’s okay.
— Seriously, Iona, go ahead.
— I’d rather hear about Rangerman. He sounds shagable!
I can’t argue with that. Miriam stared out at the forested landscape below. Every fire lookout on staff had been warned to stay extra sharp. The dry season threatened to make this an eventful summer. While she hated the thought of those beautiful trees reduced to soot, and worried about the danger to homes on the fringes, there was one thing she didn’t mind—being assigned with Jonathan Fogget.
— I really oughta go. John will be here soon.
— Ooo, John, now? On a first-name basis, are we?
— You shaddup.
— Love you, stupid.
— Love you more, stupid. Enjoy climbing that tree!
Iona sent a winky face, then another text telling Miriam to be safe—meaning condoms, not avoiding forest fires.
Miriam pushed her curly chestnut hair from her face. Her springy tresses annoyed her. She grabbed a scrunchy and pulled her mane into a ponytail.
“I never noticed that before,” said a voice from behind.
She turned around. John smiled brightly.
“When the sun hits, your hair looks red, blonde, and brown.”
Miriam’s cheeks burned. “Yeah, my hair doesn’t know what colour it wants to be.”
“Decisions can be overrated.” A dimple deepened on the left side of John’s face whenever he grinned. His teeth were straight and white, but with one slight imperfection. The corner of his right front tooth had a little chip. Miriam found his smile more endearing because of it.
“Maybe. Dunno. Can’t decide.”
He laughed easily. Her heart leapt.
“Hey, we’ve a long shift, so I brought reinforcements,” said John, lifting up two gym bags.
Miriam had become distracted by a lock of black fringe that had broken free from his slicked-back style, sweeping to the side. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to fix it or do something yummy that could mess up the rest of his hair.
John seemed confused at the expression in her green-grey eyes. “Mir? You still with me?”
She jumped. “Oh! Yeah, sure.” Miriam glanced at the bags. “Whatcha got there? Please say chips.”
He chuckled. “Yup, the potato kind and maybe also the chocolate ones, embedded in cookies.”
Excellent. You may ask me to marry you now.
They crouched on the floor, unzipping the bags. Miriam hoorayed at the snacks in hers, then made a face when she pulled out a VHS cassette. What the? She scavenged about and saw the bag was filled with them.
He proudly held up a VCR that had seen better days. “Charity garage sale on my street. I got all this for only $25! I’d have paid more, but the lady wouldn’t let me. She was quite sweet, actually.”
“But we can see newer films on the cloud.”
John clicked his tongue in jest. “Ah, but it’s important you know the classics.”
“Eighties movies are classics, huh?”
“They are! And what better way to watch them than going old school?” John’s eyes twinkled. “Come on, let’s do Breakfast Club the right way!”
His enthusiasm was infectious. Plus, hello—chips! “Okay, you win. But we still hafta do this thing called our job.”
“Absolutely. I’ll set up by our monitors so we can sweep the area while we recite movie dialogue.”
She laughed. “Know it that well, huh?”
John quickly connected the VCR to a 20” HDTV set from the break room, which he placed on a nonintrusive spot at the workstation. He then grabbed a small table and set the food on it. Loosening the tan tie of his khaki ranger uniform, he leaned back in his seat, offering Miriam some chips.
I can picture Iona texting, “Hope these aren’t the only lays he’s doling out. Miriam tried not to roll her eyes so John wouldn’t mistake it for anything he’d done.
“Ready?” he asked.
Within seconds of pressing Play, the guitar chords of that famous 80s anthem rang out.
“This is nice,” she said.
He turned to her. “Well, I figured it was one way to ask you to the movies.”
Her eyes widened. “What?”
He blushed. Miriam didn’t know an Adonis like John could do that. And for her? How could she make him feel flustered?
“You’re life seems so jammed packed, so I never wanted to push,” he said. “When I saw the VCR and tapes, I thought it might be fun to show you I’m not so bad to be on a date with.”
Miriam blinked. “I only said I was busy so I wouldn’t come across as having no life. I’m a total homebody who loves watching movies. I consider myself a Netflix and chill person.” She gasped after that last sentence.
He laughed. “What about a VHS and chill?”
“Oh, sorry,” he said. “That was over the line.”
“No, it’s fine. I just …”
He watched her intently.
“How about a VHS and peck on the lips?”
John smiled, revealing that adorable chipped tooth. “I can do that.”
He leaned over to kiss her. She moved closer.
An alarm went off.
They inspected their monitors and scanned for the location of the blaze. Before they could assess the source, Miriam’s comm crackled.
“Ranger Cohen, come in! Over.”
Miriam picked up her device. “Bradley, it’s Miriam. Over.”
“Did we set something off? Over.”
“I don’t know, did you? Over.”
“Just ignore it. Barbecue malfunction in the courtyard. We’re on it. Should be out in a moment. Sorry about that. Over.”
Miriam shook her head. “Bradly, you dufus. Over.”
“I know, I know. Bradley out.”
When she looked at John, he was trying so hard not to laugh. Miriam found herself giggling, too. They sat back down.
“VHS and peck?” she asked.
“I’d love it,” he said, pressing his lips against hers.
I Won’t Fogget About You © 2018 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague. Cait is currently working on a prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a rom-com military space opera. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors are writers with disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake.