Simon was a scientist working for NASA. He hadn’t thought he’d marry until he saw Nancy. He was walking past her office and the sight of her muttering equations with her hands twisted in her long brown ombré hair made him stop.
Her skin tingled. From the corner of her eye Nancy saw an attractive dark haired man studying her. She didn’t recognize him. “Can you come back in an hour? I can’t lose my train of thought.”
Then, she felt a hand on her shoulder.”Here you need to do this.”
The man pointed out where she was having problems on her laptop screen, astonishing Nancy. She noted his thick navy glasses frames on his angular face. She could also tell he was taller than her. Most of her dates eventually told 6′ 0″ Nancy she was too tall and/or fat.
She breathed deeply shivering, was this chemistry? “But what about this? I tried what you said, it’s not what I’m missing,” Nancy told the man.
They argued over her equations for the next three hours. Nancy was to her surprise completely comfortable around him, learning his name was Simon. She didn’t mind how near he’d pulled his chair.
By 6:00 p.m. Simon realized he’d been so absorbed in Nancy he hadn’t noticed everyone else had gone home. “Nancy, would you let me take you for dinner? I’ve kept you too long, you’re probably starving.” Simon’s thumb grazed her nape.
“I would love that,” she said.
Two years later Nancy was pregnant. Simon created the finishing touches to their baby’s Space Ship mobile. He didn’t want his son to hurt himself, by being able to reach the mobile.
When I was in university my friends and I enjoyed going to country bars often. If you ask many woman they will tell you how country singers, male or female, have a kind of talent you can’t fake. They have genuinely wonderful voices as most of them can sing with nothing but a guitar. Moreover, a country song is the best song to dance too whether it’s an upbeat tune or a tear-jerker ballad to slowly dance along with. I was and am also a big fan of line dancing, it’s a lot easier to catch onto than two stepping for me.
I have always had trouble two-stepping because I find it difficult to keep in time — despite playing piano for ten years. Several times I remover thinking I finally understood the rhythm of two-stepping and than the next time my friends and I went out, I’d find I could no longer do the correct steps. Maybe I had to be drunk too do it? I’m not sure but usually I faked it as best as I could. I can do some basic two stepping moves — some simple steps, turns, and twists but I always ended up messing up the rhythm and stepping on my partners feet. My biggest fear was being pulled onto the dance floor alone with a guy, forced to two step in front of a crowd as some of my girl friends had had happen quite a few times. Not surprisingly, however, the best two-steppers can make a terrible dancer appear as a decent one.
On one occasion I was out at a country bar with a bunch of girl friends and the night was winding down. The last energetic set of songs were being played by the DJ and a hot bartender who had been giving me eye all night , pulled me onto the dance floor twisting and turning me, even picking me up and making me squeal. I was embarrassed because I knew I sucked at two stepping. Had it been a slow song at least I could have gotten by with a simple waltz and faked two-stepping.
Instead, I was at the center of attention in the bar being thrown into the air, swished off the dance floor, spun, and turned by this bartender who was an amazing dancer and always kept us moving to the right rhythm. We remained dancing for about three songs and even though I kept messing up, the bartender only laughed and kept moving me in such a way that my mistakes were not obvious. It was exhilarating and dizzying as we moved speedily from one end of the dance floor to another, back and forth, than again.
Finally I had enough as the upbeat songs became slow dance songs and the bar was emptying out as last call had passed much earlier. Everyone around the dance floor clapped as the bartender escorted me to the place he was tending bar. He winked at me and poured me a drink before we clinked glasses. A minute later the bartender was called away and I slipped out cabbing home with my friends who teased me knowing I hate being the centre of attention when I’m clueless. It might have been nice to talk more with the bartender, but we had all drunk a lot and were falling asleep in the early morning hours.
Having to do something like that in front of a crowd, something I was terrible at, was a first for me. But a sexy bartender and his amazing two stepping skills saved my inept dancing in front of a lot of people. As it was, I’m pretty sure most of the crowd was too drunk to note my missed steps and my high heels on the bartenders poor feet.
“We Were Us” – Keith Urban featuring Miranda Lambert
(I truly meant for this to be Flash Fiction, but the story just developed. Sorry about the way – over word count.)
Grandma June huffed at Natalie, her granddaughter visiting her at home.”You’re not getting any younger, you’re thirty-eight. You can’t barely have babies anymore!”
Natalie rolled her eyes at Grandma June,”Gran, I’m an elementary school teacher. I like going home and not having to worry about kids.”
June sighed,”It was that man, you were supposed to marry. He’s a thief and stole your heart; I’m right aren’t I?”
Natalie ignored June’s question. She hated when her Grandma or anyone, talked about Christopher. She’d never admit he was her one.
He hadbeen since she was in grade ten and Christopher an attractive senior in high school. It was when he had first asked Natalie out. They’d broken-up, having had incompatible lives with Christopher away at university soon after.
Then, seven-years-ago, they’d ran into each other and started talking and dating again. Natalie had convinced herself this was finally it. Sadly, a few weeks before the wedding, Christopher had disappeared; the memories were agony for her.
Two-week’s later, Grandma June called Natalie up to invite her to a wine and cheese night she was hosting for her neighbours. She had tried to decline but June was adamant Natalie attend.
She arrived at her Grandma June’s surprisingly lively wine party, in jeans and a white t-shirt. She had barely bothered to apply makeup as Natalie had come from the gym and was worn out.
“Oh you came,” Grandma June said excitedly, approaching Natalie as she let herself inside. She hugged June and kissed her cheek, as June poured Natalie a large glass of red wine and filled her plate with bread and cheese. She winked at Natalie and left her alone in a small sitting room to rest before joining the other guests.
“Natalie?” A deep voice said. She turned on the sofa towards the sitting room door. Christopher’s voice shocked her, she had almost doused herself in red wine. His familiar timber filled Natalie with great pain. She peered up at him feeling raw, as if he’d only left her yesterday without explanation.
Tears began dripping down Natalie’s cheeks; she was crying and couldn’t stop herself. Christopher immediately sat down on the sofa beside Natalie and pulled her close; he wiped her tears away with his thumb. She tried to jerk out of his arms, but he wouldn’t let her move.
“I’m not letting you go, ever again,” Christopher swore.”I can’t explain much about why I had to leave you, only that I didn’t have a choice.”
Natalie shoved him hard, “You have nothing more to say, nothing at all?”
Christopher was noticeably upset, “I told you I worked as an IT consultant. But I could never tell you or anyone who I worked for until recently. I worked for Special Forces in the army and I was called out to a job. It’s the only thing I can’t about. The job lasted years, and I wasn’t allowed to contact anyone. We saved countless lives, but it was awful what I did to you and being without you. I’m sorry.”
Natalie rubbed her swollen eyes, “You’re a liar Christopher. You could’ve mentioned something, anything. What do you want now? To stay for a while and then leave?To rip me apart again?”
Christopher buried his face in his hand, before gazing up at her: “I’m out now Natalie. I swear to you I work for regular businesses now, nothing to do with Special Forces or the army. I’ve no more secrets other than experiences of war and blood. I came back here for you, I even moved into a house on your Grandma June’s street. I hoped somehow, you and I could be together again. I love you.”
Natalie made a sound of frustration. Emotions of both anger and feeling relieved assaulted her. Despite her anger at Christopher, Natalie knew inside, there would never be another man for her but him.
To Christopher’ surprise, Natalie moved to sit in Christopher’s lap and be closer to him, to breathe in how delicious he smelt.
“Marry me now and we can do whatever celebration our families want later. I’m still mad at you Christopher but you’re it for me. I’ve always loved you and always will. If you can be with me and never leave me like that again, I can forgive you.”
Christopher nodded at Natalie, saying: “I promise.” He held Natalie tightly and kissed her lips hungrily.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the sitting room door and Grandma June walked in, a smile on her face. June’s boyfriend Nigel was with her and so was the local United Church minister.
Natalie looked at Christopher, “Did you do all this?”
Christopher shook his head, squeezing Natalie tight and kissing her cheek. He pulled out a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring set from his pocket. He slid the engagement ring on Natalie’s finger, and Grandma June handed Natalie a ring which had been her Grandfather’s wedding ring.
June smiled at Natalie and Christopher, a gleam in her clever blue-eyes. All was at it should be, she thought as her and Nigel witnessed her granddaughter’s wedding ceremony.
Tallia anxiously glanced at Teegan who was asleep on her waiting area couch. She was sure Teegan would be angry at her for drugging his coffee, but Tallia didn’t feel she had a choice. Something was off about Teegan and the darkness surrounding him and Tallia didn’t want to make his potion rashly; there could be dire consequences.
She had found one ingredient which was odd, scrawled off to the side of the ingredients and directions for the potion for Teegan in her Aunt Willow’s tome. Apparently, the potion required a giant gold fish. Tallia wasn’t sure why Teegan’s potion would require the gold fish, but it was something she would have to leave the store to buy.
Teegan had told her if he drank his potion the darkness surrounding him, the shadow that caused a sensitive magically inclined person such as Tallia to hurt and feel pain, would leave for a long time. How long was a long time? And how old was Teegan really? To her he looked about thirty-five.
If he was as old as she thought he might be, she knew he might understand the sleeping drought in his coffee, knowing Tallia as a magic shop owner, had to be wary if Teegan’s potion involved dark magic. Tallia had no way of knowing how long he would be asleep from the drought. She had tried calling Jude, the owner of The Black Coven magic store numerous times on his cell.
Jude must be having a brisk business at his store because he or his assistant, never picked-up the store phone either. Jude was about eighty-years-old as best as she could guess. But his family magic shop dated back to the Middle Ages. He had to know something about Teegan and the potion.
Tallia checked on Teegan one more time, she hoped he’d be out another two hours at least. She needed to leave the store buy the giant goldfish as well as visit Jude. Something inside her told Tallia it was vital she gathered as much information she could get on Teegan and his potion before she set about making it.
She drove her Vespa to The Black Coven first. It was located in an ancient, rundown part of town dating back to the 1400’s. But those who needed to visit Jude’s magic shop, knew how to find it. As Tallia’s own magic shop had been with Aunt Willow, Jude’s place was also a hole in the wall.
The streets were narrow here and Tallia knew her Vespa would be more inconspicuous, as well as, she would be able to travel down narrow streets she couldn’t maneuver with her car. There was a bit of parking lot a block down from The Black Coven. Tallia parked, leaving her Vespa in a parking space.
She walked down to the ancient magic shop, opening the creaky old wooden door and removed her side-bag. She had placed her Aunt’s great tome in her bag. She turned the book to the correct page, listing ingredients and directions to make Teegan’s potion in the script Tallia did not recognize.
Then she called out, “Hello Jude, are you there? It’s Tallia, Willow’s niece. I’m sure you felt me coming. Was there a reason you didn’t pick up the phone? Or have you guys been extremely busy today?”
Tallia received no answer. She gazed around the dusty store, it appeared empty.”Um, Jude’s assistant, Aspen, are you here? We’ve never meant, but last time I talked to Jude, he’d said he hired you to take over from him?”
Again Tallia received no reply. She walked around the magic shop. The Black Coven was a mishmash of magical items all stored on old stone and wooden shelves in no particular order or thought to design.
Powerful and dangerous items were among those items which were standard, and pretty harmless magical items. She saw crystal balls, different statues, and a wall with ingredients for potions and spells kept in jars.
She was shocked to see certain items used only for dark sorcery. These items frightened Tallia. She could sense there blackness in her mind. They were much worse than the darkness which followed Teegan — at least she thought so.
Jude had always been grandfatherly to Tallia. She had meant him many times as grew-up. He often had coffee with her Great-Aunt and Aunt. She wondered why he wasn’t answering her. Tallia walked up to the counter where a 1950’s cash register sat in dust. There was a bell and Tallia dinged it a few times.
Eventually, a man about the same age as Teegan came out. He looked Tallia over and before she could say anything he held up his hand.
“We knew you were coming Tallia. It’s alright. Jude hasn’t been well lately and he’s in the hospital. For his age, he has done well until now. It’s why he hired me to handle things. I’m one of his great-grandsons, I’m. . .”
“You’re Aspen. I know, Jude told me about you last time I saw him a few months ago. He attended my shop’s re-opening. I run Fairy Dust.”
“Yes, Jude told me about you. You rang his cell, but he has trouble talking right now my Aunt told me. He had a stroke. I’m sorry I was busy when you called out in here. From what I can glean from you, you’re dealing with some sort of darkness from a client and you need some advice,” Aspen said.
Tallia nodded, “Poor Jude, that’s awful. I’m sorry for your family.” She put the tome in front of Aspen and waited as he read and reread the potion procedure and ingredients.
“These seem to be pretty normal ingredients, except for the large goldfish. But maybe the potion requires it’s life force? I’m not sure what to tell you Tallia. What’s Teegan like?”
Tallia couldn’t help but blush thinking about Teegan.”He’s demanding but seems to be understanding enough. I thought he was about your age, when he first came to my shop. I could feel the shadow emanating from him. It made me sick, especially when he came back the second time.”
“The second time?”
“Well I pretended I was sick the first day, even though he did give me a headache. I went home for the afternoon and I hoped he’d go somewhere else. But the next day he was back. He told me he was old. My Aunt and Great Aunt made him his potion before. He was able to stop me from feeling ill, from hurting me, by chanting a few words,” Tallia said.
“I’m not sure what I’m dealing with, will the potion truly make Teegan well? Will it make such evil leave him?”
Aspen was paying attention to Tallia’s words carefully. She noticed he was concentrating. He wasn’t bad looking himself. He had auburn hair and bright green eyes. He was tall but not as tall as Teegan. He was attractive but more in a nice guy way. Teegan was definitively what women would call a bad boy.
“Well,” Aspen said,”I think your Teegan is cursed. That’s why he needs the potion, quite badly I’m afraid. You really should hurry back and make it for him. We’ve an extra goldfish around here somewhere, we must.”
“Cursed, cursed by what or whom?”
“It’s hard to say Tallia. Jude would know more I think. Even so I believe Teegan is much older than Jude by hundreds of years. I’ve heard whispers of Teegan. He must have done something terrible in the past would be my guess. Something awful enough to warrant being cursed to live so long and to require a potion.”
Tallia sighed, letting out her breath.
“I have a feeling if he doesn’t get this tonic, he’ll be a resistant foe to deal with Tallia. There’s a reason he takes it. I doubt he wants to be who he is when he’s dark. He wants to be normal and this potion allows him to be.”
“You know all this?” Tallia questioned. “How did you know?”
Aspen smiled mysteriously, “There’s things I’ve heard Tallia. Also, I can read through you, what you felt around Teegan. I can feel his presence too, so could Jude; he’s a powerful guy. Go back and make his potion quickly. He’ll be awake soon.”
“But . . .”
“Tallia, such as you and many other magically inclined people, I have a sixth-sense. That’s how I know these things.You have one too, although less developed. It’s telling you to go back to Fairy Dust and hurry.”
Her blue eyes became huge and Tallia nodded mutely. Aspen handed Tallia a bag with the giant goldfish.”On the house,” he said with a grin. She wondered how they had this giant goldfish just lying around. It wasn’t a typical magical ingredient.
Tallia called back to Aspen lightly,”Stop by come check-out my store some time; have coffee.” He walked her to the door and Tallia stuffed the tome back in her side bag.
“I’d like that,” Aspen said grinning. He winked at Tallia as she left. She was deep in thought and was surprised to find herself getting onto her Vespa, placing the fish on the back of it.
She told herself to payattention and hurriedly drove back to Fairy Dust. Tallia too felt she needed to make Teegan his potion and fast. She prayed he wouldn’t be angry with her or worse. With such darkness within him, she didn’t want to be an object of Teegan’s wrath.
Jared was the kind of man who made any woman who saw him stop and stare. He was classically handsome, with blond hair and blue eyes; he was told he resembled a thirty-five-year-old Brad Pitt.
Jared was blessed, but he didn’t realize how much. He owned his dream company, made tens of millions of dollars early in his career, had mansions all over the world, cars of various makes and models from classics to brand new, as well as, any toy he desired — skidoos, motorcycles, dirt bikes, (etc).
Yet, Jared was alone in life. He had no emotional relationship with any woman he dated. He felt many women and men were worthless beings, wasting their life focusing on helping others and building relationships which, ultimately, ended.
Jared believed he was “better” than other people due to his wealth, prestige, and attractiveness. He knew he needed a partner, a woman who had similar qualities to him. He also knew it wouldn’t be a love match for he had no love in his heart.
One night at a charity reception, a hideous girl named Ali approached Jared. She carried with her a basket of the most delicious looking apples.
People were drawn to their ruby shine and many people begged Ali to have one of her apples. Yet, they cringed at her repulsive faces and body, ravaged by burns and disease.
Ali’s form was bent and crippled and she dragged behind her a club foot. Her eyes were beady and when she opened her mouth, she revealed rotten teeth with many missing. Her basket of apples, in fact, was the only attractive quality about Ali with exception of her beautiful golden hair. It was thick, lustrous, and reached her waist.
Jared was appalled when Ali approached him but he noticed her mouthwatering basket of apples. As with everyone, he was drawn to them. But Jared didn’t understand why Ali carried the apples around, not willing to give them to anyone, despite offers of large sums of money and contacts for proceeders to alter her appearance.
“What do you want?” Jared asked Ali, gazing down on her in her repulsive ugliness.
Ali laughed. Her voice deceivingly youthful, “I can give you anything you desire with these apples. What you want the most will be yours with only one bite.”
“Yeah right,” said Jared. “Why would you give me a bite of one of your apples? And for free? You’d be stupid to do that.”
Ali giggled,”I didn’t say I’d give you a bite for free. Nothing’s free in this world as you well know.”
Jared peered again at the apples which called to him, a sirens song from forbidden fruit,”What’s your price hag?”
Ali smiled and her rotten teeth and foul breath made Jared take a step-back. He knew what the ugly woman would request, but for some reason, he let her ask for what she wanted.
“I want a kiss. A real one,” Ali said.”For a kiss I will give you one apple. Perhaps, then, you will find the woman who will truly be your other half.”
Jared gasped, afraid the horrid woman could read his mind. He nodded to her and said: “I accept your bargain.”
“My names Ali,” she said and drew closer to Jared. She stopped for a moment,”This will only work if you truly desire a partner to love, with a pure-heart.”
Jared brushed Ali’s words aside, “My intentions are honourable enough.” He tried not to gag as Ali’s mouth drew closer. But he stared at her gorgeous red apples and imagined an apple in his mouth; it was how he managed kissing Ali.
Her lips were dry as they rasped against his. Ali’s tongue dove in his mouth and when she groaned, he felt as if he might throw-up. She bit his lip and she laughed when he cringed.
When Ali stopped kissing Jared, she stepped back, her mouth in a mischievous smile. She drew a beautiful ruby apple from her basket and presented it to Jared with gnarled fingers.
Jared grabbed the apple, greedy for its taste. He gorged on it as if he was Eve and the apple, the forbidden fruit in Eden.
Suddenly, both Jared and Ali began to glow with white light. While Jared withered, developing scars and burns all over his skin, Ali became stunningly beautiful. She became a curvaceous and breath-taking woman in her prime. She attracted the crowd in the room to her presence.
Jared’s hair had fallen out and his expensive clothes hung on him as his muscle tone disappeared. In minutes, no one recognized Jared; he was as ugly and as repulsive as Ali had been. His only remaining attractive feature were his bright blue-eyes.
A beautiful golden haired goddess stood before Jared. She sighed, grasping his scarred hand.
“I told you Jared. You had to want what you desired with a pure-heart. You had to be ready to love the perfect woman for you; but you love no one but yourself. I was the perfect woman for you, but you loath me. You called me a hag.”
Jared laughed, “You were disgusting and now you made me disgusting too.”
Ali let go of Jared’s hand, offering the basket of apples to him:
“Only, give an apple to the most loathsome and disgusting person you can find on the earth. Remember appearances are not everything and under the most beautiful and sometimes successful people, hides a monster,” Ali warned.
“You’re a monster Jared, but you have been given a chance to redeem yourself. To learn to love and be human, until you find the most terrible woman and find the smallest glimmer of hope inside her. She will either become your true–love and save both you and her, or become as you have, taking your place. You will return to your former privileged life and body, but with a changed heart. You will know when you find the right person and will wander the earth until then.”
Ali dropped Jared’s hand and disappeared into the crowd. No one noticed him for once. They only noticed Ali who had become his philanthropic sister. She became owner of all his wealth, company, mansions, and life, when he disappeared.
Jared wandered the earth an evil gnarled old man for years and years. Some say, he still wanders today. No one knows if he’s changed.
The Poetry 101 prompt is a screen of any kind using enjambment. I’m also incorporating a word from The Daily Post, Darkness.
Behind the screen I keep myself veiled, a Japanese screen with paper too thin and I keep on wondering if he’ll look, wishing Luke wouldn’t because I know I’ll be doing the walk of shame back home. And I don’t know why but I’m so ashamed, the wine went to my head last night; I knew better. Luke was attractive, he was kind; for a moment I thought he cared more about me than a few statistics and few words; but this morning, Luke left his house empty but for his cleaning lady and cook who made me crepes and said, “You need to get ready to go home. Mr. Luke doesn’t like his lady friends to be at his home if he decides to drop by at lunch to take the dog out for a run especially.” I didn’t understand why Luke was screening me, why I awoke from euphoria to a cold empty bed; the hand stroking my cheek in the night wanted only one thing, and didn’t want it from me again though Luke and I had been friends before. There was no text message, no note, and I wondered if I would see Luke again. No doubt, he’d try to avoid my favourite hangouts from now on, he knew most of them. But I didn’t get why I felt so exposed that morning getting dressed. We’d been naked all night but when I woke up and Luke saw me; I felt judged. Judged by the bite marks, the bruising, my careful movements. Luke gazed at me grinning, when I hid behind that Japanese screen to dress after my shower. “It’s no use to hide behind the screen Katie. I can see right through it in the morning light. Come back to bed . . .” So back to Luke I went though sorely overused, and when I fell asleep he was gone and I was alone; Luke’s pillow was cold. I wish I’d screened him better, I wish it was him who was exposed and not me. He hides all his secrets in the dark, he thrives in its opaqueness. The darkness lets him treat women how he does, another notch in a metaphorical bedpost. Walking home, I felt empty, caught in Luke’s darkness, as if I had wasted so much time and conversation, in the end only to be screened, told I wasn’t right for the position.