Author’s Note: Didi Oviatt has a new WIP challenge for September. The theme this time is: Anniversary. The challenge is to throw one’s characters into an Anniversary scene and see how they fare.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this one.
It ran a little long and could have easily ran a lot longer, if I let everyone have their say. But I’m happy with how it turned out.
Ambrose held Barbara’s hand. “I want to just stay here with you.”
She smiled. “I know. I want you to stay with me too. But you know it has to be done.”
He huffed out a wounded sigh.
“You are the show runner. Without you, there wouldn’t be any story.”
“Oh, there would be. It just wouldn’t be the same.”
“That’s true. So, go up there and do your thing.”
Ambrose kissed her, a quick tease of a kiss. “I’ll be back shortly.” He stood. “At least, as shortly as I can.”
“I’ll be waiting for you, kitten.”
He smiled. “I’ll come running back to you, love. I always will.”
Ambrose strode past the other tables.
Past Hildreth and Elsie, Jeff and Darius, and their master.
Past Jeff and Missy, Raven and LM, Sarah and a very uneasy looking Carthage.
Past Robin and Isellta, Dave and Hank, and Jay and Maelin.
All the way up to the podium.
He cleared his throat and tapped the microphone. “Hello? Is this thing on?” The microphone magnified his voice. “Okay. I guess that’s yes. Hello, everyone! This is our fourth year anniversary reunion special…thing. Although, to be honest, our anniversary was on May 26, but we all seemed to have forgotten about it. So! Here we are now!”
Ambrose scanned the audience. “I see a lot of people who were with me from the very beginning. Elsie and Hildreth. Mark Caten. Preyuna. But I also see a lot of people who have joined in over the years. Robin. Isellta. Dave. Hank. Jay. Maelin. And many others. I see even the unnamed Red Envelope hostess is here. Good for her. I’m glad you could make it this time.”
“I could stay up here and continue this monologue and bore everyone into a turgid stupor. Or I could—” He unhooked the microphone from its stand. The microphone let out a sustained objection. He smacked it against his hand a couple of times, which kicked its objections into a higher register. “Darn stupid thing.” he muttered.
Raven came on stage. “I beg your pardon, sir, but I believe this is not a portable microphone.”He took it from Ambrose and reconnected it to the base. The objections ended.
“So, what? I’m stuck standing up here? That’s dandy. I can just see the audience going deaf from boredom.”
“Sir. There is no need for such complaints.” Raven reached into one of the shelves at the base of the podium and pulled out another microphone. He pressed a couple of buttons on the handle and it buzzed to life. “Use this one.”
Ambrose frowned. “It doesn’t have a cord. How is it gonna work?”
“It will work, sir. Trust me.”
Ambrose took it. “If you say so.” He tapped the mic’s fuzzy head. “Testing.” It magnified his voice. “Oh, good. Thanks, Raven.”
Raven bowed. “My pleasure, sir.”
“Since you’re here, do you want to say a few words?”
“Just a few, sir.”
Raven took the mic back. “Well. I hardly know what to say.” He seemed to think about it. “I am. I.” He cleared his throat. “It has been a privilege and an honor to spend so much time with such worthy companions. Robin and Ambrose and Missy and so many others. Because of you all, I have shattered the barriers around my heart. I have found happiness.” His expression softened. “I have found love. Love that I can hold and embrace. Love that I can share. I need not keep it hidden and confined.”
He left the stage and carried the microphone over to Missy.
She looked up at him. “My pretty shirtless Raven.”
He smiled lovingly at her. “My Missy. I love you so much.” He offered her the microphone. “Is there anything you wish to say?”
She eagerly took the microphone. “Lots of things but you know how I am once I get talking it’s hard for me to just stop. I’m just disappointed you aren’t wearing that see through shirt I bought you for Christmas last year. It looks so good on you and I think everyone should see how good it looks on you.”
He choked out a laugh. “Not in public, Missy.”
She shrugged. “I don’t get it. I probably never will.” She handed it to Jeff, but Mark Caten swooped in from seemingly nowhere and grabbed it from her.
“Ahh! Now this is so much better. Admit it, you dear slovenly masses. You were hoping I would go next, although, honestly, I should have gone first. I am the most important person in the whole room, but of course, you all knew that. Especially my dear Preyuna. She knows how important I am.”
Jeff snatched the microphone back. “Sorry. You’ll just have to wait your turn.”
Mark Caten gaped. “But I’m a god!”
“Tough. It’s my turn. Go back to your seat.”
“I see no reason why I should listen to a slug-faced dungbat like you.”
Jeff glared at him.
Jay and Hank came over and rescued Mark Caten from himself. They forcibly ushered him back to his seat. He objected the whole way back.
“Sorry about that.” Jeff said into the microphone. “Well.” He stood. “This past year…It’s. It’s been something. I’ll say that much for sure. The year isn’t fully over. We still have a few more months left to go. It’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen in that small space of time. I will say that I’m. I’m happy. It’s been a long, hard road for me. I’ve had a lot of regrets that I’ve borne with me over the years. A lot of grief and a lot of pain. I could list them all, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I am slowly working my way through overcoming all of my negative feelings. Having Missy with me again helps. Being around Hildreth definitely helps. So, I’m going to hand it off to him.” He laughed. “Because I’m sure that dweeb has plenty to say.”
He walked over to Hildreth and handed over the microphone. “As long as he doesn’t get stuck inside his own head.”
“Who me? Never!” Hildreth took the microphone from his friend. “And for the record, I will pound you to the earth for bringing in those lemon custard doughnut holes.”
Jeff laughed. “How could I resist? They were there in the display case and I just had to do it.”
“Bleah!” Hildreth friendly punched Jeff’s arm. “I will totally pound you later.” He stood and glanced around. “Wow. This is a nice sized crowd. I wasn’t expecting everyone to show up. Hey! If anyone has a craving for lemon custard doughnut holes, there’s a box of 250 of them backstage.”
Dave jumped out of his seat and ran backstage. Hank got up and followed him.
“Huh. That’s a surprise. I didn’t realize anyone would take me up on that offer. Anyway, hi, everyone! It’s good to see us all together like this. It doesn’t happen very often. We’re usually sequestered in our separate cities.” He frowned. “I don’t think I’ve had any on screen time with a lot of the newbies. It probably will never happen, but who knows? Life can be pretty unpredictable. I know that for a fact. When I first showed up, I had no idea about all of the situations I’d get myself into. I had no idea I’d fall in love with—” He looked down at Elsie and smiled. “—my frizzy-headed wench.”
Elsie scoffed. “You would go with that one.”
He shrugged. “I wanted to work both frizzy-headed wench and Marauder into the same sentence, but it just didn’t work out.”
She took the microphone from him. “Such an idiot. But I wouldn’t have you be any other way. I love you, Hildreth Mayhew, just the way you are.”
He sat beside her. “And I love you too.”
Ambrose sensed that the microphone was never going to come back to him. He smiled and returned to his seat.
Barbara’s face lit up. “You’re back!”
“What did I tell you?” He kissed her. “I will always come back to you.”
“Hmm, but you didn’t run back to me.” she said teasingly.
He laughed. “You brat.”