“How Love Happens” — a short story by Brian Greene

May 6th, 2019




 “How Love Happens,” a short story by Brian Greene, was a finalist in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. It is published with the permission of the author.




“Waitress,” by Elliott Erwitt, New York, 1955


How Love Happens


Brian Greene






…..On my second date with Samantha, I told her, “We shouldn’t fall for each other.”

…..Samantha was a hostess at a seafood restaurant in my hometown. I worked there as a waiter for the summer season, after my second year away at college. Samantha had also just finished her first year of college, at a local school. She was from the area, and a year younger than me.

…..As a hostess, Samantha constantly sat customers in sections that were closed, or gave one wait person three parties in a row while others on duty stood around without any customers at all. Upon realizing her blunders, she ran around and, in a heartfelt way, apologized to all concerned and set out to correct her errors.

…..Samantha talked loudly and flailed her body a lot. She looked you straight in the eye when she spoke to you, and gave her full attention to the conversation.  A few times, I overheard other female members of the staff making fun of Samantha, calling her a “spazz” and a “ditz.” She’d made it clear she had no interest in being accepted into their cliques.

…..Samantha’s uninhibited gestures, and her sometimes out-of-place loud laughter, could either put you off or make you notice her wavy blond hair, bright green eyes, nice figure, and smooth, olive-colored skin. After we’d been working together for a month or so, she told me that she was adopted, didn’t know who her birth parents were, and wasn’t particularly close with the couple who raised her and in whose home she still lived.

…..As I set into my summer that year, all I wanted was a couple months of relative ease. Going to the beach, earning some pocket money and finding fun ways to spend it, hanging out with old friends, spending quality time with my mom and enjoying the comforts of home, etc. I didn’t want to get emotionally involved in anything during my summer break.

…..But the more I worked with Samantha, the more I kept drifting up to the hostess stand to chat with her if I had a little downtime. All the dining room staffing schedules were posted to a bulletin board in the restaurant’s break room. Sometimes I swapped shifts with another wait person, to ensure I worked at the same times as Samantha. Once, when I was behind with my customers on a hectic dinner shift, as I stood at a wait station, furiously gathering items for my parties, I felt a hand slowly caress my back and neck. I knew it was Samantha, before I turned around to face the person who’d been touching me. She said, “You’re doing fine.” I said, “Now I am.”

…..Later that night, when I was about to settle up with my last table for the shift, Samantha approached me and, with her usual exaggerated smile, said, “Will you take me out to get fries after work?” When I nodded, she did a loud cheer and hugged me tight, drawing attention from customers and our co-workers.

…..Our first date went well, and the second one was heading that way. But I was thinking about my last two romantic relationships, both of which ended painfully. And I was thinking about August, when I’d have to leave the area. I looked into Samantha’s goofy/pretty green eyes and told her we shouldn’t fall for each other.

…..She crinkled her nose, shook her head wildly so that her blond hair flew around, put her hands on my shoulders, stared intently into my eyes, and said, “You can’t plan how love happens.”






Brian Greene writes short stories, personal essays, and pieces on books, music, and film. His work has appeared in 30 publications since 2008. Greene lives in Durham, North Carolina with his wife, their two daughters, and two cats. He’s on Twitter @greenes_circles and his writing blog can be reached by clicking here: http://briangreenewriter.blogspot.com/




Details about our 51st Short Fiction Contest




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