Fiction Fest: Final free glimpse at Dustin Bradshaw’s ‘Counting Candles’

Counting Candles 2x3 WEBWhether you’ve stopped counting the candles on top of your birthday cakes or you proudly display them, Dustin Bradshaw’s “Counting Candles” is a tale that is sure to touch your heart.

If we could all know the impact our actions have on others, we would likely be surprised.

Here’s the final free peek at “Counting Candles.” You’ll need to get your own copy to learn the rest of the story.


Molly sat down at the kitchen table, still unable to comprehend what James had said. She was worried enough that trying to do something productive was fruitless—she couldn’t concentrate.  She waited until she heard his footsteps returning. Without a word, James put the medicine back into the cabinet and the spoon into the dishwasher. He walked over and sat kitty-corner from her. Molly reached out for his hand over the table when he did. She just waited for him to talk.

“Molly, I’m so sorry. I know this is going to put us in a horrible position financially. I never meant for this to happen.”

Molly tried to keep the quavering out of her voice. “James, stop apologizing and just tell me what happened.”

James took a long exacerbated sigh. “It all happened so fast. It is still a bit shocking to me.” He paused as if collecting his thoughts and Molly waited patiently. “You know that Near World has been struggling for the last year. Mr. Barnes has his entire board working to keep the company moving forward. His goal was to not effect any layoffs. After trying for months and months, he and the board realized the numbers just weren’t adding up. We had some long heated conversations about it and the decision was finally made that we had to let people go.”

Molly was hit with anxiety again, followed by a selfish respite knowing her husband hadn’t been one of the ones cut.

James continued, “Mr. Barnes announced to the whole company two days ago that the layoffs would start next week.”

“What? Why didn’t you tell me?” Molly was reminded of the last time this happened when James had been offered this job.

“I know, I should’ve said something last night, but I was too saddened by it all to talk about it.” James’s eyes had genuine sadness, and a wave of sympathy spilled over Molly. “Yesterday, our first meeting was with the entire board to discuss which positions we deemed unnecessary. I could tell that all of them were having just as hard of a time as I was.”

“I’m sure. Nobody wants to decide who gets cut.”

“Then I spoke up. It was just a fleeting thought. I never expected anyone to take it seriously, yet alone for the board to carry it out.”

“What?  Say that again.” Molly was trying to grasp what he was saying.

“It occurred to me while I was looking around the room with all the high level officials that if we all took a pay cut there may be enough money to cover the salaries of the employees who may lose their jobs. I said it out loud, and before I knew it I was tasked to join in with a team of two other board members to work the numbers and see if they worked out.”


“And it looked like it would work. Mr. Barnes called all the executive leadership together and surprisingly, after my presentation of the results, there was a resounding approval. Within two hours a formal announcement went out to the entire company about the decision.”

“James, that is great! You saved all those people’s jobs!” Molly was sincerely impressed with her husband.

“Yes, I’m happy that we didn’t have to cut anyone.” Then he became serious again. “Molly, a ten percent pay cut is destructive to our own household. We’re already living pay check to pay check. Mr. Barnes and people like Susan Priar can afford to take a ten percent pay cut with their large salaries. I’m just the accountant!”

Molly could see why James was worried. James had just voiced her own concerns, yet she was still full of gratitude for her husband’s giving and caring nature. He had saved so many families from despair. Yes, it would be hard, but they can make it. “James, what you did is amazing. You and those board members did the right thing. It may be hard, but we can make this work.”

James smiled, a weary unconfident smile. “I hope so. I hope it can all work out. I can’t defeat the feeling that I sacrificed the happiness of my own family.”

“I’m proud of you, James.”

He pulled her over for a hug, “Thanks, Molly. I hope that I did the right thing.”