Even in the Dark

What makes a romance? Is it love possessed or love shared, love timeless or love out of time? In this exercise to write in the style of romantic novels, I tried to find out.

Timothy cupped his hand around the wick to shield it from the wind as he struggled to light the candle. The scent of roses wafted around him as he tried to concentrate, but the lightest breeze was always enough to cause the flame to flutter out.

After a few moments, he set the lighter aside and turned around.

“Perhaps a candlelit dinner on the beach wasn’t such a good idea,” he whispered.

The other figure, cloaked in shadows, nodded. The silhouette softened as Timothy’s eyes glossed over only slightly with tears; all his hopes for the evening began with lighting a candle. How could anything be salvaged if all they had between them was darkness?

He grabbed the lighter and settled into one of the wicker armchairs around the table. He struck the lighter till a flame appeared; the sudden orange light glimmered on the silver tray between them, but once more the breeze proved too strong and blew it out before he could see anything else.

They sat in silence for a while, the sky darkening through shades of magenta and violet before turning so deeply blue one couldn’t distinguish the sky from the sea any longer. Timothy was certain their food had turned cold, was certain he’d turned cold himself, but without any light, he knew they might as well each have been alone.

He turned back, to gaze across the table, but now his eyes only pierced the dark silhouette as if it weren’t even there, as if the entire evening had been the echo of a memory and nothing more. After another few moments, he grabbed the lighter and, determined to spend at least one moment looking into the eyes of his love before the night ended, cast the flame about them once more. But when the light came, he was already alone.

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