Hello everyone and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Today I’m posting a flash fiction story I wrote for Spark magazine in August 2017.
This cute, romantic story is very special to me. When I was young, my grandmother used to tell me how she met my grandfather. They were standing in line for a boxing match in small-town Louisiana and some roughhousing boys shoved my grandfather into my grandmother.
She was mad at first but thankfully for me and the rest of my family, she didn’t stay angry for long.
Most of Knockout Love is fictional but I did use my grandparent’s meet-cute and their names Millie and Emmett. Oh, the boxer was trying to date my grandmother so that’s another true part of the story.
I hope you enjoy Knockout Love.
by Sharon Rene
Millie smoothed her brown bobbed hair. The humid Louisiana air caused the ends to curl around her fingers. She sighed and swatted a mosquito.
“It’s not dusk yet,” she said. “This creature is getting an early start.”
Millie’s friend Julia giggled. “Maybe he’s extra hungry.” Julia tugged on the long strand of fake pearls falling to her waist. “Never seen the boxing match draw so many people.”
Millie surveyed the line behind them. It snaked its way through the field, around a moss-drenched oak tree, then stopped beside the muddy bayou. Teenagers huddled together, older men smoked or spit tobacco on the ground, and married couples held hands. Barefoot children ran and played, their feet kicking up the dirt.
“Look at all the girls.” Julia motioned to the gaggle of females. “That’s because Curtis is so good-looking.” She clutched Millie’s arm. “Lucky you. You’re the only girl he wants.”
“You do exaggerate. We’ve only had one date.”
One so-so date. With his swarthy complexion and boxer build, Curtis was good-looking. Every unmarried female in the parish chased him, but Millie’s heart didn’t soar at the sound of his voice and her knees didn’t buckle at his smile.
She pushed the silly thoughts aside. War brewed in Europe, and the U.S. suffered in a depression. At twenty-one, she should wise up and bury her romantic dreams.
A firm body struck Millie’s back, and she squealed as the force shoved her toward Julia. A shoe scratched the back of her ankle, and Millie cringed.
“I’m really sorry, Miss.” A man spoke, and he grasped her arms to steady her.
Millie shook herself free and raised her head. She’d give that menace a piece of her mind.
A pair of liquid brown eyes stared down at her. The young man brushed his hand through his thick dark hair and grinned.
Millie swallowed her angry words and took a step back, eyeing his muscular form. She pressed her hand against her forehead. Well, he did make my knees buckle.
Her hose tickled her flesh as the silk ran across her ankle and up the back of her leg. “You tore my hose.”
“I’m sorry. My buddies shoved me.” He motioned at the boys beside him dressed in overalls. They laughed and slapped each other on the shoulders.
“This is my only pair, and I worked all week in the strawberry field to afford them.” Millie bit her lip. Her mama would be mortified that she’d discussed hosiery with a male stranger.
The man clapped his hands together. “I’ll buy you another pair.”
Millie blinked and licked her lips. The offer was tempting, but she couldn’t.
“No thank you.” She grabbed Julia’s arm and pushed her ahead in the line. Hopefully, he would take the hint and leave them alone.
A warm hand touched her shoulder. “My name’s Emmett. What’s yours?”
Millie groaned and spun around ready to yell, but his wicked smile and tempting eyes caused her heart to turn a somersault. “Millie.”
Julia stepped in front of her. “Millie is here to watch her boyfriend box.”
Emmett hooked his fingers in his belt loops and rocked back on his heels. “Which one?”
“Excuse me,” Millie said. Did he have to keep staring at her?
“Which one of the boxers is your boyfriend?”
“He’s not exactly my—”
“Curtis Nelson is her boyfriend,” Julia announced as if Millie were dating the president of the United States.
“You’re much too pretty for a guy like that. You deserve a lot better.”
Pretty. Millie’s cheeks burned. She put one hand on her hip and stretched to her full height of five foot two. “Thank you.”
Julia grabbed Millie’s arm. “The line is moving. Let’s find a good seat.”
The boxing ring occupied the corner of a wide pasture. A cow mooed in the distance, and flies buzzed through the crowd. Emmett sat beside Millie on one of the plywood planks, while his buddies took seats in the row behind. Millie rolled her eyes and groaned.
The boxers stepped into the ring. Millie smiled and waved at Curtis. He raised his arm and half the crowd cheered, especially the female half. The other half cheered for Curtis’s opponent.
The two boxers danced around each other. Curtis threw a few punches, but the smaller, quicker boxer dodged each blow.
“Your boyfriend isn’t doing so good. Bet I could do better,” Emmett said.
“What makes you an experienced fighter?” Millie twisted her hands in her lap. She’d rather make polite conversation than watch a boring boxing match.
“I’ve got nine brothers and sisters,” Emmett said. “I’ve always looked after them and kept them safe.”
“That’s noble of you.” At least he had a protective nature.
“You talk real fancy. You’re not from here, are you?”
“My family moved from Missouri a few months ago.”
“I knew it. You’re different from the local girls.”
Millie wrinkled her nose. “Is that good or bad?”
“In your case, it’s very good.”
In the ring, Curtis groaned and swayed on his feet. The speedy boxer had landed a punch. Blood gushed from Curtis’s lip. Millie shuddered.
“I plan to travel someday,” Emmett said.
“I’d love to see the world too.”
Emmett leaned closer to her. “What do you think your pa would say if I showed up at your door asking to court you?”
Millie pressed her hand against her fluttering stomach. “You should be more concerned about what I would say.”
Emmett cocked one brow. “What would you say?”
Something wet and warm slapped Millie in the face. She squealed, and the audience booed. She glanced at the boxing ring. Curtis lay on the ground.
Emmett pulled out a handkerchief and wiped splattered blood from her cheeks, nose, and chin.
“I’m a better fighter, and I’d make a better boyfriend. Give me the chance to prove it to you.”
“I’d be happy to take you up on that offer.” Millie gently punched Emmett’s chin. “The boyfriend part, that is.”
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