MODERN LOVE • by Elizabeth M. Thurmond

Missy slid into the booth in the very back corner of IHOP, crossing her arms in front of her and dropping her head to rest on them with a thud.

“Nice to see you, too,” Sean remarked around a mouthful of pancakes.

She tilted her head slightly to glare at him with one eye. “No sane human being is up at this hour.”

“Get something to eat, you’ll be fine.”

She reached across the table for his coffee. He slapped her away with his fork. “Get your own.”

“You’re so charming this morning I don’t think I can stand it.”

Sean wiped his mouth and signaled to the waitress, grinning at Missy. “You know you love me.”

“I know I’m trying to figure out how much damage I can do to you with just a fork.”

“Oh, sweetie, you’re so romantic early in the morning.”

The waitress, an improbably-beehived woman named Edna, shuffled up with a menu, which Missy waved off. “Short stack and coffee, lots of it.”

Sean sipped his own coffee placidly. Once Edna had shuffled away, he said, “I guess you’re wondering why I called you here today.”

“I’m wondering why it had to be at the asscrack of dawn.” Missy indicated her faded Old 97’s concert t-shirt and cargo pants. “I haven’t left the house like this since college.”

“You’re gorgeous.” He took another gulp of coffee and set the cup decisively on the table. “So. I have a plan.”

“Oh, God.” Sean’s plans rarely made sense or ended well. They had nearly broken up before over one of his schemes involving a goat, an inflatable snowman and Dodger Stadium.  “This isn’t the thing where you live in your car for a week like the guy in the commercials, is it?”

Sean, seeing Edna approaching with Missy’s pancakes, waited a few moments and made sure Missy’s mouth was safely full — the better for her not to yell at him — before explaining. “So I’m thinking you and I get in the car and we drive to Vegas. It takes about four hours, so we’ll get there before lunchtime. We eat, we lose a little money, we go get married and get back to LA by bedtime.”

Missy nearly choked. Fighting the impulse to spit her food into her plate, she chewed, swallowed, then took a deep breath and said, “You want me to blow off work, skip a major department meeting, and go to Vegas for the day just…” She trailed off.

The penny dropping was almost audible.

Sean grinned, folding his arms smugly across his chest.

“Did you just…”

“I did.”

“And you think I…”

“I do.”

Missy rubbed her eyes. “Am I hallucinating?”

“You’re not being very romantic about it,” Sean said, pouting comically.

“You called me at 5:45 a.m., in the morning…”

“That’s what a.m. usually means.”

“…To come down to IHOP to suggest a spur-of-the-moment trip to Vegas and just ever so casually slip in the suggestion that we get married.” Saying it out loud didn’t make it make any more sense to her.

“That appears to be the case.” The shit-eating grin was back.

“And… tell me again why I should say yes?”

“Because I am awesome and you love me just that much.”

She laughed. “You are a lunatic.” She stood. “I am going to go home and get ready for work.”

His face fell as she started to walk away.



“Oh, and be outside my office at a quarter to six.”


She grinned. “If we beat the evening rush we can be there by midnight.”

Elizabeth M. Thurmond lives in Los Angeles. She owns more books than are strictly necessary, and always has at least two manuscripts in the works.

Rate this story:
 average 5 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • I liked this; lots of love but not mushy!

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Very well written, but I had problems with Missy’s motivation in wanting to marry a man who appears to be a complete waster.

    Oh, and what’s an IHOP when it’s at home?

  • Well written and likeable characters, Elizabeth.

    Paul- International House of Pancakes.

  • Delightful.

  • Really enjoyed this one. I like them both. They are very suited to each other and I like the way you get a very clear picture of each character. Well done. Definitely a five!

  • R.A.S.

    A fun piece. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Loved the way these two interact.

  • This was a fun story. I like the casual writing style that fits the casual marriage plans. I also like a romance that’s not a “fantasy” marriage proposal.

    The only line that tripped me up was Missy’s comment about the asscrack of dawn, and I’m not sure why. It came across as a cliche, and yet it fits her character.

  • This is decidely a more benign view of Modern Love than is warranted. I saw the thing in a darker way in my “Modern Love”–same title–published by Short Fiction World (now defunct) last year.

  • Great! Her apparent refusal and then the sudden twist at the end really got to me. Definitely rates 5 pancakes.

  • A.L. Sirois

    Not bad, but why bother naming Edna the waitress? She has no part in the story, and the few words used on her could be put to better use on the two mains.

  • J.C. Towler

    Some POV shifting and awkward sentence construction (For example: “Sean wiped his mouth and signaled to the waitress, grinning at Missy”) knocks down the score a bit. On the plus side, this slips into the personality of these two characters easily and both are likeable. I’m not quite sure how the title ties in. People have been running off to Vegas for so long that it has become a cliché; getting married on the spur of the moment isn’t anything new either.


  • Jen

    Very cute little love stories.

  • Jen

    By which I meant “story.” Ugh.

  • Kate Thornton

    Loved it – a great story. I particularly like the tone, and aren’t all the waitresses (at my local IHOP, anyway) nemed Edna? She’s gotta be my favorite, witness to more hare-brained schemes and domestic drama than any other casual observer. Both MCs had the right amount of reckless youth,unfocused passion and desire for The Real Thing, whatever it might be. It’s a hopeful and upbeat view of Modern Love.

  • I really liked this witty love story. It was well written and lighthearted. Nothing too sappy, but sends the same message. Sure a Vegas spur of the moment wedding is a little cliché, but that wasn’t the point. The point was the way they understood eachother despite their quirkiness. Also slipping in a proposal in such a casual manner is very creative.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    With all the lack of emotion, will it break up just as casually?

  • Margie

    Sweet! :~)

  • Mike

    Cute. A little puzzled by the line—The penny dropping was almost audible.— Seems out of place to me; made me stumble a bit.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    To continue after the interruption – A good snappy, bubble-blowing well-written story. The man’s character comes across very clearly. I knew a man exactly like that. The trouble is that inside his shy, feeling-hiding carapace he turns from cool to cold snap. I agree with Joyce, the two are well suited to eachother, she no doubt will have the best car in the neighborhood waiting for him outside her office and he won’t spend his life bothering her much.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    Cathryn – The phrase “asscrack of dawn” is her subtle way of indicating to her potential spouse that she’s not “Rosy fingered dawn.”

  • Rob

    Fun story. I’m still wondering about ‘the penny dropping’ myself. It could mean so many things . . . Anyway the only thing missing was passion. But, then, every relationship is different. Good, O-dark-early in the morning story and the IHOP setting was a great choice.

  • Angela

    Very funny and clever!

  • Sharon

    I l-o-v-e-d this, in a very modern way. Both MCs came across clearly in my mind. I could smell the coffee and the stacks, hear the flatware clattering, and see Edna’s plump, chin-hairy face (thanks for naming her–that was a big plus for me.) Missy & Sean will no doubt celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2039 and still be laughing about that penny dropping.

    Best line: “They had nearly broken up before over one of his schemes involving a goat, an inflatable snowman and Dodger Stadium.” Sure you haven’t been stalking me? 5 forks way up!

  • yea i think that penny dropping line was a bit awkward as well.

  • Did the pancakes make them do it?

  • I had no problems with the penny dropping. But if you don’t like it, maybe something like “You could see the little light bulb flash on over her head” would convey the same feeling with a more familiar cliche.

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  • jennifer walmsley

    I’m not into romance but this was enjoyable. Short and sharp with realistic dialogue.

  • Dora

    This was an amazing story. It was sweet without being schmaltzy, and romantic without being cliche-d or unrealistic. Never before has a Vegas wedding sounded so appealing.

  • I really enjoyed this story. Well written!