Please vote for the piece that you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Aug 8, 2010.
  1. ilocar - Susan

    5 vote(s)
  2. Joules03 - The Other Side of the Door

    3 vote(s)
  3. Cougre - Unexpected Love

    1 vote(s)
  4. Jane Beryl - Mind-crossed Lovers

    0 vote(s)
  5. cmgay59 - A Special Place

    0 vote(s)
  6. Eric Regal - The Corner of Crest and Pine

    1 vote(s)
  7. TodgeWatherly - Fine With Being Soft

    1 vote(s)
  8. ThadOcho - The Creature and the Flame

    1 vote(s)
  9. Elgaisma - Sparrow Through the Heart

    1 vote(s)
  10. mintyleeks - Major Proposal

    0 vote(s)
  11. jo spumoni - Love at a Dinner Table

    1 vote(s)
  12. thecox - Only Shadows

    3 vote(s)
  13. fighter25 - Clouds of Grey

    0 vote(s)
  14. Manav - Delhi Sojourn CAUTION: Mildly Sexual

    2 vote(s)
  15. MissLotty - Laptops and Lipstick

    4 vote(s)
  16. sassenach - Maggie

    1 vote(s)
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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest 72: Unexpected Love

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jul 26, 2010.

    Voting Short Story Contest (72) Theme: Unexpected Love

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned. No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 8th August 2010 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    ilocar - Susan

    My name is Cyrus, and this story is not about me.

    I met Susan by pure chance one day when I was walking to the bus stop. My oh-so-lovable friends had ditched me at the book store as a practical joke. To be honest, I’m glad they did. If I had been driving back with them I would have missed seeing Susan climb out of the dumpster where she’d been sleeping.

    When I saw her, I stopped. I’d like to say this was love at first sight, but I have to be honest here; I thought she was terrifying.

    “Please, Here’s my money, don’t kill me,” I said, laying my wallet on the ground. This girl, three years younger than me, yawned, gave me a look, stole my cash, left my wallet, and started walking casually in the same direction I was going. I stood there like an idiot for a while before she called back to me.

    “Thanks for the cash,” She said, practically laughing. I picked up my wallet and ran after her. When I caught up to her she looked at me and laughed. Then she handed me back my money. I saw she was probably just some homeless girl, so I told her to keep it. She didn’t ask twice, she was the most straight forward person I’ve ever met. She kept walking beside me as we passed the coffee shop.

    Okay, here’s where the lovey-dovey stuff starts.

    “Hey, want to treat me to coffee?” I smiled at her. She stared daggers at me, like I was the most hideous ignoble annoyance in the world. This is the point where the noble, proud way she moved became clear to me. She smelled like dead possums and looked like she could use several showers, a hair brush and some make-up. The way she bore herself like everything she did was on purpose made dead possum seem like Chanel and her au natural look seem the most perfect example of beauty.

    “What’s your name?” Her tone was anything but questioning. Somehow I couldn’t help but answer her. She was enchanting even as she was rude and contemptuous.

    “Cyrus, and yours?” She stared at me as if my response was unnatural or wrong. As if I had told her that the answer to the radius of a circle defined by x^2 + y^2 = 49 were twelve. The answer is seven, if you care.

    “I’m Susan. Why do you want to have coffee?” Her questions were formed as accusations more than inquiries. For some unfathomable reason I found it endearing.

    “Well, I think you’re cute,” I said honestly. Susan looked shocked, as if no one had given her a compliment in her life.

    “Fine, we’ll get a coffee,” She said, steering me toward the Starbuck’s I missed so much. I took the time of weaving through traffic to look at her while her back was to me. She had beautiful blood-red hair that fell in wild curls about her head, covered at the top by a Gatsby. I have a thing for that kind of hat; I can’t express how adorable it looks on girls, but I digress. Her hands were small and her clothes had holes in them and looked old and moth-eaten.

    When we finally reached the coffee shop she turned her emerald eyes back to me, finally starting to show some interest in me. She handed me a wad of cash.

    “Guys are supposed to treat girls. I take my coffee black,” Susan spoke in short, curt, commanding words.

    I always feel like a douche when I go to Starbuck’s, because I order a hot chocolate or Vanilla Bean. I hate coffee. I ordered a hot chocolate this time, and a black coffee for Susan. She was already seated in one of the comfortable couches. I was nervous, so I waited until the drinks were ready before I went over and sat with her. Man, she stunk. But I honestly didn’t care.

    “Thanks,” Susan said, taking her black coffee from me. I sipped my hot chocolate and watched her. I mused at how similar watching Susan was to watching a storm, I never could predict what she would do next. “What’re you staring at?” She asked in her adorable accusative manner.

    “You,” I replied, pleased to see my comment made her blush. She tried to ignore me while she downed her hot coffee.

    “I’m sorry, this is my first date, it’s weird for me,” Susan confided after a while. I marveled at her. Even if she was homeless and rather smelly, she was still beautiful.

    “Well, all the men in the world don’t know what they’re missing.” She blushed again.

    “What… Do you want to do?” I stared at Susan, wondering what exactly her words could mean.

    “I’m content to stare at you… I would hope to one day get to know you and maybe, if we’re right for each other, marry you.” She blushed deeper at my honest reply.

    “I don’t want to forget you… Can you take me somewhere private?” The way she had changed was strange, still curt, but less commanding and domineering.

    “Well, my car is in the shop, but I do know a motel that’s within walking distance. Not that I’m suggesting we go to a motel. I just figured that’s the closest private place, short of a bathroom stall, and we could always take the bus to—” She shushed me and put a finger to my lips. Then she kissed me. Oh my God, she smelled terrible, but it was the best kiss of my life.

    We walked to the motel and got a room. Susan almost immediately went for the shower. I smiled as I sat on the bed and waited for her. When she came out in nothing but a towel and smiled at me I just about fainted on the spot.

    “My God, you’re beautiful.” She smiled wider and blushed. She climbed into my lap and began to kiss me, still in nothing but the towel. At some point the towel came off and so did my clothes. And what was at first a hot, wet kiss became hot, wet sex.

    We spent the rest of the day and the night together. She was my first and I was hers. I fell asleep with Susan’s body in my arms and thought that my life had finally turned around. When the morning came Susan was gone. She had taken the motel’s soap and shampoo but hadn’t taken the money she had given back to me. There was a note on the table under her Gatsby hat.

    I picked up the hat and held it close to my chest as I grabbed Susan’s note and began to read:

    Dear Cyrus,

    I know you don’t understand what I’m going through so I won’t try to explain myself. I just want you to know that you made me feel beautiful for the first night of my life. I will always remember you and always love you. Please keep my hat safe; one day, when we meet again, I want it back good as new. I think someday we’ll be right for each other, but for now just wait for me and never forget what we shared.

    Lots of love,


    I clutched the message and the hat close as I cried. I knew I would never love anyone the way I loved Susan, and I knew I would wait until the world ended for her to come back.

    It’s been a year, I’ve been engrossed in work at the lab and rather sullen. It’s the only thing I can do to convince myself I’m not lonely. Susan’s hat is safe in my bedside table, where I can hold on to it on nights when I miss her a bit more than normal. Well, I have to go now, there’s someone at the door. Although I don’t know who’d come calling this late.
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Joules03 - The Other Side of the Door

    She had been pounding at the door for hours when she heard his voice.

    “Hello? Is somebody in there?”

    Beth stilled her hand, feeling it throb against the cool metal of the door. Was she just imagining it?


    Oh, thank you! “Hello, yes! I'm stuck! Please get me out!” Beth's voice cracked. She didn't know how long it had been exactly, but she was hoarse from yelling.

    She felt the door rattle in her hand, and heard a few low curses come from the other side. “It's locked.”

    Beth laughed, maybe more shrilly than normal. “I know.”

    She heard her rescuer chuckle. “Yes, I suppose you do. What I mean to say is, I don't have a key.”

    “Well I do,” Beth said. “A lot of good that does me when I'm locked on the inside.”

    “Could you shove it under the door?”

    “No, I already considered that – this metal door is foolproof. It's okay, I've had some time on my hands so I have my rescue all planned out. Do you have a phone? All you have to do is call Mr. Roper and he'll let me out. He's the only other one who has a key.”

    Beth heard rustling on the other side of the door. “I have my cell here somewhere. Just bear with me.”

    “It's okay. I wasn't about to do anything else,” she said. She heard him chuckle again. She liked the sound. Of course, she was bound to like any sound at this point, after the hours of panicked solitude.

    It had to be around 9 or 10pm by now. She had gotten home from work around five as usual – had cooked up a nice pasta and curled up on her couch with a good chick flick and her cat Timone, when she remembered that she hadn't re-booted the main hard drive at the office. It wasn't something that she could leave for the next day. Her mentor, Steve, had reminded her so many times that she had finally snapped at him to leave it alone, she would remember. Only she hadn't, and there was no way he would let her live it down if he found out.

    So she had gone back to the office, flicked one switch – what a nuisance – and was about to head back out again when she discovered that the door had locked behind her. It was only then that she recalled Steve saying something about the room becoming self-locking after-hours. It was a security measure. And so she was stuck.

    She knew the office building was deserted, but there was always the chance that someone would come by late like she had. So she had banged away at the door, as consistently and as loudly as she could. She had almost given up.

    “Found it!” she heard. “Okay, so who am I calling?”

    “Mr. Roper. The janitor. How can you work in the building and not know Mr. Roper? He's an icon.”

    “Who says I work in the building? How do you know I'm not robbing it?”

    “True – I don't. Are you?” she asked.

    Pause. “No. And I know Mr. Roper. But I call him Mr. One-Word.”

    Beth laughed, genuinely this time. “I love it! Why does he do that? Do you think he has a word count for the day, and once he reaches it, he can't talk any more?”

    “Why speak two, when just one word will do?” he said, laughing too. “Okay, I'll call him. I just have to find his number.” More rustling.

    “Thank you.” Beth decided she could relax a bit now that the situation was in someone else's control. She slid down to sit on the floor, leaning against the door. “Sorry, I don't know your name.”

    “It's Paul.”

    “Paul. I'm Beth. Thank you so much for doing this. I hope I'm not keeping you from anything.”

    “Nothing but some leftover Chinese food,” Paul said. “Okay, I have the number. Just a minute.”

    Beth listened to him make the call, hearing his voice fade in and out as though he were pacing in front of the door as he talked. “Hello, Mr. Roper, sir, this is Paul Blaine... have a situation here. I came in to pick up my files and … not sure how long she's been in there but do you think you could … Yes sir, I realize it is late, but she has no other... thank you very much. We'll see you then.”

    “He's coming?” Beth asked. He had to; she couldn't stay here all night.

    “Fifteen minutes, I believe. Unless 'fifteen' meant how many beers he had, in which case, we're in trouble.”

    “Sounds like he wasn't too pleased to be disturbed.”

    “Guess not. He kind of grunted and said 'Late'.”

    Beth sighed. She hated to bother eccentric Mr. Roper, but she was glad he was coming for her. “Thanks for calling, Paul. I'll be okay now.”

    “I'm not leaving until he comes to let you out.” Beth felt the door push against her slightly, and heard his voice lower, close to her ear. She guessed they were now sitting back-to-back, with only the door separating them. “I'm not in a hurry,” he said.

    “Thank you,” Beth whispered. She hoped he'd heard her. She was not prone to tears, but despite herself she felt her throat clog up. It was so nice of him.

    “Tell me something about yourself,” he said.

    She laughed, composed once more. “Well, for one, I'm a little scatter-brained at times.”

    “We all are. I came here tonight because I left the paperwork I was supposed to work on tonight. Good thing I did.”

    “I'm forever indebted to your lousy memory. What do you do?”

    “Chartered Accountant,” he said.

    “For Fiskin's? I do their computer tech work for them.”

    “Oh yeah? Would I have seen you around?”

    She shrugged, forgetting that he couldn't see her. “Probably not. I just started last month.”

    They lapsed into silence for awhile, but Beth didn't mind. She liked his presence on the other side of the door. She could hear him tapping out a tune on the floor, probably with his keys. It was an oddly comforting sound.

    “What do you look like?” she asked. It was strange not to have set eyes on him.

    He paused. “You tell me.”

    Beth grinned. “You do that too? Form a picture of someone from just their voice? It's not often I get to find out if I'm right or not – I usually just do it with telemarketers.” She thought for a moment. “Okay, I'm going to say this: you're tall, about six-one or six-two, with a somewhat lean build. You have dirty-blond hair that usually just looks brown, glasses, and blue eyes. You lean towards golf shirts rather than button-down, and you have perfectly straight teeth – product of childhood braces, of course.” Beth paused. “How'd I do?”

    “That was amazing,” Paul said. “You got all that from my voice?”

    Beth shrugged, pleased. “Your turn.”

    There was silence from the other side of the door for a few seconds. Then he said, “Curly brown hair, pulled back into a ponytail most of the time. Blue eyes. Freckles scattered across your nose, which you hate. Tall for a female, maybe five-nine or five-ten. Dresses professionally at work, but casual at home – usually ripped jeans, which you're currently wearing. Your smile is sexy without you realizing it.”

    Shivers went up and down Beth's arms. She couldn't say one way or the other about her smile, but he was bang on – except for the hair. She would have been freaked out if he had gotten her hair colour right. It was flaming red – not really something someone would forget.

    “Your favourite movie is Die Hard,” she said.

    “Yours is Love Actually.”

    “Your favourite ice cream is Mint Chocolate Chip.”

    “Yours is Mocha Chocolate,” he said.

    “You rent an apartment downtown, and are forever telling yourself you need to buy.”

    “You live in a townhouse you bought yourself, but you can't afford the furniture to furnish it.”

    Beth laughed, the sound echoing through the room. Paul's laugh joined hers, loud and boyish.

    “Did I get anything right?” she asked.

    “Not a thing. Did I?”

    “Just the ice cream.”

    They continued with their game, never revealing anything about themselves unless the guess had been right, and Beth realized that she was starting to figure him out. The longer they played, the more she got correct.

    Awhile later, Paul broke off the game. “Wow, Mr. Roper must have really had fifteen beer – it's been almost an hour,” Paul said.

    Beth sighed. “I have to say, Paul – I don't much mind.”

    “I would have to agree with you there.”

    By the time Mr. Roper showed up – another thirty-five minutes later – Beth couldn't wait to meet the man on the other side of the door – for the barrier between them to be opened so she could finally match the picture of him in her head to the Paul in real life.

    “Tired,” Mr. Roper said, when he turned the key in the door, and it opened to let Beth out of her self-imposed prison. “Bed.”

    Beth grinned. “Thank you very much, Mr. Roper. I'm sorry to have kept you up so late. It won't happen again.” His terse speech always made her chattier than usual, as though she were compensating.

    The janitor grunted and trudged down the hall, leaving Beth alone with her rescuer, Paul.

    He had been standing off to the side, letting Mr. Roper do his thing, and he stepped forward. Her eyes widened in surprise.

    The tall, dirty-blond man she had been expecting was not there. Instead, the man standing in front of her was a couple inches shorter than herself. He had dark hair, almost black, with a small bald patch at the top of his head. He had thick, dark glasses. He was indeed wearing a golf shirt – it was tucked in, showcasing his slight paunch. Beth would have looked past this short man to see if Paul was standing around somewhere, if he didn't immediately speak. The voice was unmistakingly Paul's.

    “I'm sorry I'm not what you pictured,” he said.

    She cocked her head. His eyes were soft, and his mouth was curved upwards in a small smile. No, he wasn't what she had imagined, but it was Paul. He knew she visited her Aunt Jodie in the nursing home every Sunday. She knew he had a thing for antique cars.

    “Coffee?” she asked.

    He paused for a moment. A second later, the curve of his mouth split into a full-on smile.

  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Cougre - Unexpected Love

    It has been another lousy day at work. The boss had chewed him out because he missed a deadline by a few stinking hours. Oh well, that was behind him now and he took his usual seat on the subway for the thirty minute ride home.

    He pulled out the afternoon newspaper that he picked up on the way to the station and held it out in front of him. That's when he spotted her sitting directly across from him. She looked nervous. It was obvious that this was her first time on the subway. She looked like the type that would be chauffeured around in a big black limo. He wondered what the heck she was doing down here by herself.

    That's when it happened. She glanced up and their eyes met. Perhaps she saw the concern for her in his eyes, perhaps she just needed a friend. Whatever it was she chose that moment to fire off her deadliest weapon. She smiled at him. Instantly his heart melted and he felt as awkward and intimidated as a kid at a new school wearing last year's fad.

    He decided to play it cool and met her smile and raised her one nod. Then he casually looked back to his paper. He pretended to be reading as he was planning out his next move. He knew she was out of his league, but as the old saying goes, 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained'. He had to be careful, because anything too forward might just scare her off. He decided to play the waiting game and see if she provided an opportunity for further interaction.

    It wasn't but two minutes later, that she carefully opened her purse and pulled out a compact mirror and touched up her lipstick. He couldn't tell if it was on purpose or not, but it slipped from her hand, hit the metal floor with a thunk, and rolled right to his feet.

    He nonchalantly put the paper down, leaned over and retrieved the small golden tube. He stretched across the isle to hand it to her and their hands touched. She smiled again, and coyly mouthed, 'Thank you.' He nodded and smiled back.

    The train pulled into the next station. He was heart sick as she gathered up her things and was about to stand, but then realized that she wasn't at her stop yet and sat back. He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that they had at least another ten minutes together until the next stop. He decided not to waste it and pretended that he was bored with the paper and put it down.

    He casually looked her over out of his peripheral vision. She appeared to be about his age, obviously had money, and was quite attractive, but in an understated way. He noticed that she was looking at him. It wasn't as if she was checking him out though, but more like she wanted to get his attention.

    He glanced up and she pointed to her wrist and mouthed, 'Do you have the time?'

    He glanced at his watch and said back, 'Six ten.'

    She smiled and nodded. The trained slowed down and stopped at the next station, and she gathered up her things and headed for the exit. He was half tempted to follow her out, but decided what was the use. What would a women like that want with him. He was trying to make up his mind, knowing that the train would leave in seconds and if it did, she would be out of his life forever.

    He watched her exit the train and the unexpected happened. She looked back at him with an expression that mirrored his own. He was stunned, and lost precious seconds. When he finally realized what was happening he grabbed up his things and was about to make a dash for the exit. At that moment the doors slammed shut and the train continued on. Their eyes were locked on each other as he watched his dreams pass away in the distance.

    He let out a sigh, sat down, and pulled out his newspaper.
  5. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Jane Beryl - Mind-crossed Lovers

    Free thinking was the release of my demise. For years, my footprints had been scaling up the walls in chaos with sword shattering words etched deep into the white wash of my mind. The words brought down nothing but paint chips and my sanity.

    It wasn’t terrible before. Then I moved. I moved to this strange bubble land filled with the rich cats and wild coyotes. My mother never there and my father barely said a word to my flesh before. Then when I moved, my family was in a lecherous leisure. They were able to slither into the hottest part of my spiritual self and bite down while their paralyzing poison filled my aura. While they numbed me of my sanity, they would trap me in the corner of their burrow until I regained motion and tried to escape again. I was their game; to play with but never to eat until death did I part from them.

    When my love walked down my life, I didn’t have anything left but paper and pencil. I had become the anti-social sheep my parents had never wanted to display, as if they didn’t mean to domesticate me this way. No books. No sports. No friends. It was just discipline to them. How else were they to trap the wild horror that had corrupted their other children’s blue eyes from the beast they gave birth to? Instead, they banned me into isolation, with all the kindness they could spend.

    They made me sit at the glass table with the white dusty chairs with only paper and pencil in hand. My eyes would glare at the white walls, hoping they would blind me back. It would have been an excuse for me to gain their pity. For me to gain my freedom! Even at the tender age of eleven, I had wished for the black mysterious void to rapture my soul and take it to the holy light above.

    I sat there with paper and pencil and a learning disability. The vital tools of my shaping into a better person for them were also the weapons that would destroy my parents’ sanity. My head rested on the ice table and stare upon the clawed yellow pencil. I breathed it beat back. My hand would bring it forth in time. The clock being our beat, my hand became its dancing partner. Then suddenly my mind began to create a strange tune that mixed my soul to ignite.

    The mixture of the song intrigued me. The upbeats, the fast rhythm, the sugar pop sweet singers musing about romance and rivalry. As quickly as a glitter costume change, I remembered a cartoon I had watched while in the desert spices of sweet childhood. A girl in glittering pink aura, bright yellow hair spun around as she wrangled with those vile vixens, the moon’s waxing power on her side.

    My brain began to shimmer with the imagination of my past. Beautiful lover of justice fighting with her elemental warrior ladies in waiting, only to be faced with that terrible terror tiding back and forth in the sulky shadows. I stared off into the setting sweet candy colors of the distant light, until my father slammed his fist into the table and asked about my progress.

    I stared at the paper below my hands and there were hearts and sparkles across the borders of the page. I bit my tongue and shrugged my shoulders as my math workbook was thrown before me. Don’t defy me, he said. He slapped the back of my head and quickly went up the stairs towards his lair and breathed his fire again. I stared at my shaded cartoon hearts and giggled to myself. Pushing back the workbook again, I glared at the artificial lights. I began to create my love. After that night, we were always together.

    On the desk, on the table, or on my homework, we had many passionate moments. Her body was stiff and flat, her eyes glittered with the greatest of joy. She made my hands ick at the grime. She made my heart beat at the game. She made my brain toss the night gone. I made her dance in short skirts. I made her fight with little puff creatures. Even if my eyes were sore from lava tears that I kept inside my head, she would pop out from the sides of the paper. She clapped her hands in a strange dance in cheers. I then gave her friends, they all had friends they all had stories. In the corners of the margins my love would beg the question, “Who is she? Who is he?” I would introduce them together and watched them play. I didn’t mind if she cheated on me at times. She would sometimes leave me for dumpy days. As long as she came back when I called her, she would be my one and only love.

    And what an unexpected love my parents could not face as their foe. My Juliet, their Capulet. A match they could not stop.

    Her beauty maturing with my maturing immortal disease. She still whispers the sweet something I do beg to hear in the shadows of the night.

    “Draw on and never let me die.”
  6. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    cmgay59 - A Special Place

    Every Saturday morning it was a tradition for Pamela to get up early and go to the track where she would walk five miles. It had been only six months before that she had gone shopping, and became depressed after noticing that styles which did appeal to her was in the smaller sizes. That day she decided that it was time for her to lose a few pounds.

    She began by changing her eating habits and getting on an exercising plan, which included walking. Pamela would walk every afternoon after work, and Saturday and Sunday mornings.

    After her Saturday morning walk, another part of her tradition was to go to the nearest supermarket, which was located a couple of blocks from where she lived, and shop for her weekly groceries.

    On this particular Spring Saturday morning, Pamela had just finished one of her morning workouts, and arrived at the supermarket as usual. As she was about to get out of her car, she noticed a bright red Cherokee jeep parked two parking spaces over, jacked up on one side. Staring curiously at the jeep she slowly got out and walked toward the rear of her car, where she noticed a pair of well built legs sprawled out from under the vehicle. Pamela thought to herself, who could those legs belong to?

    It had been a couple of years since Pamela had been out on the dating scene. Her weight problem had caused her to develop low self esteem and she felt no man would be interested in a woman who was 5'3" and weighed 220 lbs. Pamela's weight was never a problem for her until after her divorce. She found herself eating her way out of bad or depressed circumstances. Now after beginning to work on her weight problem she had proudly lost 20 pounds the weight, and gradually gaining back her self esteem. Lately she found herself getting bolder and becoming more aggressive; doing things that she never thought that she would do.

    Bravely she moved closer to the jeep to get a better view of the pair of legs that showed a "no less than five day workout at the gym" look. She stooped down, paused for a moment, then she cleared her throat and blurted, "Can I help?" After realizing what she'd asked, she felt like a fool, but she knew she had to go on with this ordeal; she had gone too far to stop now.

    Suddenly the rest of the body appeared from under the car and a head popped out, "Excuse me?" he asked, still lying on his back with a dirty hand from the oil and grind now cupped over his eyes, shielding the sun from his face and also getting a full view of who he was talking to.

    Pamela heard herself saying again, "I was wondering if I could be of any help?" she repeated. This time a bit bolder.

    He then sat up and grabbed a towel laying nearby and began wiping his hands, looking at her in amazement. At the same time, Pamela was getting a good look at him and noticed that the rest of his body was not disappointing either; but did align with the legs she had noticed earlier. He was gorgeous, she thought to herself.

    His face reminded her of a bronze statue crafted out of a mold poured just for him. His neatly trimmed beard and mustache was the work of a great masterpiece. The receded hairline added to the work of art, and it greatly impressed Pamela because she was impartial to guys who were bald or balding. She noticed the pair of deep set dark brown eyes and the high cheek bones, which added to the perfect picture that she would define as a "to die for" hunk.

    She was suddenly jerked back to reality when she heard him ask, "Do you know anything about cars?"

    "No I don't, but I know a wrench from a screwdriver," she replied.

    "Thanks for your offer, but I think I have it under control. I don't want to sound rude," he said looking at his watch, "but I'm running late. Thanks again..."


    "Pamela," he said sliding back under the jeep.

    Pamela thought she was going to die, as she embarrassingly walked away with her knees shaking so hard that she could barely move. She wandered who was that woman back there who had made a fool out of herself. She stopped for a moment and leaned against a car nearby until she could regain her composure, then she made her way into the store, where she completed her shopping.

    That afternoon she replayed the incident over and over in her mind, still not believing what she had done. Pamela finally decided to stay away from the store for a couple of weeks to insure that she would not run into him again; instead, she drove five blocks out of her way. If it meant not having to experience another embarrassing moment like the one before, she was willing to make the sacrifice.

    Three weeks had passed since the incident in the parking lot, when Pamela found herself once again stopping by the grocer. She'd wanted to prepare a casserole dish, but needed to pick up a few items she did not have.

    As she hurriedly dash from her car and walked toward the store, a few drops of rain began to fall and changed her quick footstep into a slow trot. Then all at once it seemed as if the sky burst open, and the rain began to pour. By the time Pamela reached the sidewalk she was soaked. As she rushed to the door not paying attention to who was coming out, Pamela accidentally bumped into someone and groceries spilled everywhere.

    While mumbling words of apology and shaking off some of the water, she heard a familiar voice, "We have got to stop meeting like this, don't you think?"

    Pamela surprisingly looked up to see that it was him - the guy who was under the Cherokee jeep. All of a sudden she felt herself feeling very embarrassed and dumbfound, but he saved the moment, "I can't believe you're lost for words." Stooping down to pick up his groceries that was spilled everywhere he continued, “Today I could have use your help, if it had been offered. By the way my name is Jerod Swap."

    Pamela blurted out, "I'm sorry. The rain caught me off guard and before I knew it I was drenched. I was in such a hurry to get out of the downpour, I guess I wasn't looking at where I was going. Here let me help you."

    Pamela disappeared through the door, only to return moments later with fresh bags, where they were able to savage and collect all the spilled articles. As she placed the last piece of item into one of the bags she said, "My name is Pamela Gates, are you from around here?"

    "Yes I am," replied Jerod. "I live in the Fifth Street Apartments a couple of blocks from here, but I do most of my shopping on the other side of town. The stores over there are more reasonable and within my budget. I only stop here for emergency pickups. Do you live close by?"

    "Yes I do," answer Pamela. "I live in the Skyking Apartments over on Geyser Street. This is my usual shopping spot, and I find it very convenient. The prices are a little high but I figure that by the time I drive anywhere else, the gas usage will have eaten up the amount of dollars that I would be saving on groceries. So I may as well shop here."

    "Well you may have a good point, but I think I'll stick with the change of scenery. So tell me Jane, if you're not busy Saturday night, how you would like to go to a movie?" he asked.

    He caught her off guard with the question, but she was able to regain her composure and quickly responded before he changed his mind, “I would love to."

    "Would you prefer the seven or nine o'clock showing?" he asked.

    "The nine o'clock would be fine."

    "I'll see you then. It was nice running into you again Pamela, even if it's under awkward circumstances," he said walking toward the door. Then he turned and asked, "Oh, I almost forgot, what is the address?"

    Digging through her purse for what seemed like an eternity, she pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil. Quickly she jotted down her address and gave it to him. "Just in case you got lost I added my telephone number for extra measures." He chuckled as he took the piece of paper and out the door he disappeared.

    In all the confusion, Pamela had forgotten that it had only been thirty minutes before when she had gotten drenched by the rain, which now had subsided into a drizzle. Amazingly enough, she noticed that her rain soaked clothes and hair was almost completely dry, so she preceded to pick up the grocery items she needed and this time instead of leaving the store feeling like a fool, she left feeling like the luckiest person in the world. This store was going to be her "special" place, because it had brought she and Jerod together. Pamela returned home with a renewed sense of fulfillment that afternoon.

    The remainder of the week passed quickly for Pamela, and before she knew it was Saturday. The day greeted her with loud thunder, clashing of lightening, and buckets of rain beating against the window. She sleepily rolled out of bed and made her way to the bathroom, where she splashed cold water on her face and took a quick shower.

    Then she found herself in the kitchen, where she made a pot of steaming hot coffee, and helped herself to a cup. Standing there staring out of the window at the rain and sipping on her cup of coffee, Pamela thought, this is not a good day for walking or shopping. So she pull out the treadmill, worked out, and decided to shop for grocery as soon as the weather cleared up. Then it hit her, I have a date tonight. What I am I going to wear? Well it's only a movie, a pair of slacks and a shirt is casual enough. But what shirt, what pants, what shoes? For a moment she panic, but then she calmed herself down and headed for her closet; where she found a pair of black slacks, with a simple short sleeved sports jacket to match, and a pair of black flats.

    The day could not go by fast enough for Pamela. As the evening arrived, she began to dress, carefully placing every strand of hair in place, and making sure her makeup was just right. Then she patiently waited for Jerod.

    Pamela checked her watch to make sure it had the right time, because it was now seven-thirty. She was almost sure he had said seven o'clock. She walked over and peeped out the window but he was no where to be seen. Then she walked over to the television set and surfed the channels, trying to find something on that was interesting enough to take her mind off of Jerod's being late.

    Eight o'clock had passed, and Pamela had really began to get aggravated, but at eight-fifteen there was a knock at the door. Boy am I going to give him the once over, she said to herself. The nerve of him knocking at my door an hour late.

    When she swung open the door there stood Jerod with a big smile on his face, "Good evening Ms. Pamela. I hope I'm not too early."

    "Early? You was suppose to be here over an hour ago. The movie started at seven o'clock remember?"

    "Seven o'clock? I thought we decided to see the nine o'clock show?"

    "Nine o'clock?" she said. She had been concentrating so hard on making the best of this evening, after she had made such a bundle of their last two meetings that she had completely forgotten about the nine o'clock show. She threw both hands up in the air, and once again she couldn't believe she had made such a mistake. "I'm sorry. I have been so busy, that it just slipped my mind. I thought it was at seven. Come in," she said ushering him through the door.

    "That's okay. We all have a little memory lapse from time to time. I'm just lucky you remembered it was at nine, or I would have been a dead duck. Remind me to never get on your bad side, okay?"
    She was embarrassed but Jerod had a way of making a bad situation better, "You look lovely tonight. I feel like going back and changing into something a little less casual."

    "Oh please don't, your outfit is perfect. If anyone needs to change it should be me," she said observing him clad in a pair of knee length stone wash shorts with a short sleeved plaid shirt to match. The baggy shorts and loose fitting shirt was not enough to take away from the well built features of his muscular frame.

    "I wouldn't have it any other way. Let's just go and enjoy the evening," he said looking at his watch, "I think we have about twenty minutes before the nine o'clock showing."

    Off to the movies they went, walking in just as the lights were lowered, signaling the beginning of the feature. Pamela kept stealing glimpses of Jerod during the movie, and she could not help but notice how handsome he was. At one point he reached over and took her hand, and it was hard for Pamela to keep her mind on what was going on the screen. She thought her heart was going to jump right out, but they finally made it through without any more mishaps.

    On their way to the car, Jerod turned to Pamela and asked, "Do you like hamburgers?"

    "They use to be my favorite, but now that I've changed my eating habits, I have to be careful what and where I eat."

    "I understand. So may be you could suggest some place where we go and have a bite to eat."

    "How about my place?" she asked. "I've been told that I make the meanest omelet you could sink you teeth into."

    "Sounds good to me. Then its off we go to "Ms. Pamela's Place", where you can be served up the best omelet in town."

    They both laughed as they climbed into his jeep and drove off to her apartment. Pamela felt alive again and full of life. It had been a long time since she had felt this way.

    She learned quite a bit about Jerod that night. He was a divorcee with two girls - seven and twelve. He was from a family of four - two sisters and one brother, and he was football coach at the local high school. Jerod was a simple down to earth person who enjoyed the simple things of life, but every now and then he liked to live on the edge and do something different - like bungee jumping or skydiving. But his most favorite past time was spending time with his girls at the zoo, on picnics, at the movies, eating out, and whatever other fun things they could find to do together.

    Pamela and Jerod enjoyed a night of omelets, coffee, good conversation, and each other. They made plans to be together the following weekend, only to be followed up by weeks and months of bonding into a relationship that would last a long time.

    Pamela and Jerod were married two years later after they first met in the parking lot on that spring morning. From that marriage three beautiful children were born, and along with his two girls, they are now parenting five children and loving every minute of it. That was a spring morning that Pamela will never forget. A morning she decided to be bold enough to approach a stranger in a special place.
  7. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Eric Regal - The Corner of Crest and Pine

    Peggy Davis and Linda Mitchell sat no their cushioned wicker chairs , sipped lemonade , and talked quietly in the summer night. It was Sunday , and Sunday was bridge night , after their guests left the two old friends were in the habit of sitting on the porch and conversing until the fireflies had come and gone , or until they got tired. Their idle talk stopped when they saw a young woman walking down the side walk towards them. She was tall and slim , wearing a white dress , and had her straight black hair fashioned so it cascaded onto her narrow shoulders.

    “There she goes.” They both murmured at once.

    The “she” they were referring to was Cassandra Hollins , a young girl who had grown up on that very street. As she came closer the venerable ladies realized that the white dress they had thought she was wearing was in fact a wedding dress. It wasn’t large or ostentatious , merely a simple white dress. They knew it was a wedding dress because they were familiar with Cassandra’s mother , it was her dress , one day to be worn by her young bride , today apparently. She walked slowly , dignified , as if to some unseen alter at the end of the street. The night was quite and dark , the moon was full and clouds were few , fireflies were still flitting about in the air as Cassandra walked down the sidewalk. Seeing Cassandra out walking did not surprise Peggy or Linda in the least , watching her nocturnal strolls was as much a part of their routine as bridge on Sundays. Every night , at ten , Cassandra Hollins could be seen walking down that very side walk , at ten fifteen she could be seen standing at the end of the aforementioned walk way , at the corner of Crest and Pine street , and at ten twenty she could be seen sauntering home. This had been a nightly occurrence for about two years now , at first the neighbors talked , as they will always do , but they grew accustomed to it. Cassandra was a shy , bookish girl , so people assumed that this was just another way in which she was , “ odd” , as they affectionately put it. No , seeing Cassandra walking didn’t surprise the two old ladies , what did surprise them was the wedding dress , and the tears. As she passed them they could see two streams of silent tears wash down her thin , pale, face. Cassandra was a naturally skinny girl , but tonight she looked almost emaciated , almost , because her face wasn’t haggard and he steps were sure and stately. Far from looking pitiable , her face seemed serenely grief stricken , if two such opposing emotions can be expressed on a single face. As she walked past the porch she didn’t look at them , she looked forward , walking tall and regally. A pair of antique glasses , with antique eyes behind them followed her as she came to the end of the side walk , at the corner of Crest and Pine. She stopped , as she always did , but she stayed , much longer than was her habit. The two old women sat watching silently , with that strange knowledge that is the prerogative of all of the aged , particularly aged women , that something was going to happen. The intuition of women rarely fails , and something did happen. A large black van came roaring down the street , it’s engine unimaginably thunderous in the hitherto tranquil night. Cassandra glanced at the truck , then turned her head and mournfully regarded the house behind her , forty Pine Street. Cassandra stepped lithely into the road.

    The driver saw her but his reactions were not what they once were. By the time he realized what had happened Cassandra Hollins was an inanimate patch of snow on the black asphalt. Police were summoned , Paramedics were called , witnesses were questioned , but all in futility , Cassandra was dead. The coroner had never seen anything like it , she was killed instantly but no signs of trauma scarred the young corpse. Only a single , bleeding line was discovered on her lower lip.

    Cassandra was bookish , she was , ‘odd” , and she was shy. She was also in love. She spent most of her time alone , reading about that one ting she wanted most from life but was far too afraid to pursue boldly , love. Romeo and Juliet , Antony and Cleopatra , Othello and Desdemona , were all her friends and objects of envy. She knew well the tragic romances of the ancients , she commiserated with Penelope , wept with Orpheus , and most of all identified with Echo’s unrequited love , for she too adored a Narcissus. She was even intimately familiar with Poe’s darker love poetry , she knew every word and line of "Annabel Lee" like her own name. She desperately wanted to love and be loved like the people in her books were , but she was a very shy girl , and her superficial beauty did nothing to detract from her timidity. She had loved someone , but he had not loved her. His name was Leo Jacobs and he lived at forty Pine street , on the corner of Crest and Pine. A relationship with him would have been impossible even if Cassandra was not so shy. Leo was handsome and athletic , he could have any girl he wanted , but he didn’t. There was something about him , he was different from the other guys on the basketball team , he was quieter , nicer , more intelligent , and that was why Cassandra loved him. Her love wasn't a crush , caracterized by writing his name over and over on her notebook , of gazing longinly at his face sighing , It was a simple , powerful love. She would have died for him without granting it as much thought as her next breath.

    But his bright life was cut short by the indifferent shears of Fate. Last Sunday he was out running in the neighborhood , staying in shape for basketball. The sun was a bloodied orb sinking into a burning horizon when Leo ran up to his house. He had finished his run and was standing with his hands on his knees in the road , panting. He was hit by a red pick up whose driver had had one too many , he died on the pavement ten minuets later , right outside of his own house , on the corner of Crest and Pine.

    “It’s a shame about that girl. She was so young , so young .” ,

    Peggy Davis said thoughtfully , somberly sipping her lemonade. It was the following Sunday night and the fireflies were out dancing in the night air as they always did.

    “ Yes , why do you suppose she did it? Walked right out in front of that car…” , Linda asked , no less pensively.

    “ I don’t know, … I don’t know…” Peggy trailed off ,

    they both knew. A half hour later Linda had gone home and Peggy sat alone , watching the moon and the fireflies do their best to illuminate the night. And as she looked idly down the street she saw something , something she saw only once for no more than ten seconds before it faded away like mist , but something of which she absolutely certain was real. She remembered the image , clearly and sharply , for the rest of her life. She saw two figures illuminated by the moonlight , one , a young woman in a wedding dress , the other a tall handsome young man. They were standing , locked in an embrace, on the Corner of Crest and Pine.
  8. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    TodgeWatherly - Fine With Being Soft

    This is the story of how I met—

    No, that’s a terrible beginning. Oh, I don’t know how to do this. My hands are all clammy, and there’s a wet spot forming on my jeans where I keep rubbing my palms.

    Deep breath, deep breath. I can do this; I can do thi—

    Now the paper’s all wet. I can’t write on wet paper: the ink doesn’t come out of the pen properly, and the results just aren’t worth looking at. I should just try this again some other time, when my hands aren’t so sweaty and my palms aren’t so raw from rubbing denim.

    Okay. I’m done. Not with this, mind you, but with all these nerves. I just have to write what’s honest. Grammar is all out the window, and punctuation can take a nap.

    Dis iz da storey ov hao I mett da luv ov mey lyf. There: I’m relaxed, cool, casual, loose.

    No, I’m sorry. I can’t do this:

    This is the story of how I met the love of my life. Much, much better. Now I can begin:

    It’s just so hard, writing this, knowing that a bunch of people are going to see it. I should never have told Mr. Kline that I loved to write and that I would totally love to write a piece for this month’s newsletter. And Mr. Kline never should’ve told everyone about it. And Susie never should’ve taught Dad how to use the computer and the internet.

    Dad is not going to take this well. He’s going to hate reading what I have to say. He doesn’t even know what kind of newsletter it is—it’s so opposite everything he is. Whenever they come up on the news, he always switches the channel or turns the TV off or starts off a stream of insults that make me want to go suck on a bar of soap. He’s going to hate the title, too; I already know he will.

    “It’s too sappy. It’s too cliché. It’s weak. It’s soft. It’s feminine. It’s stupid.”

    I’m not trying to impress anyone with my writing right now. It’s about getting my story out there. I just wish my dad wasn’t part of ‘out there.’

    I already know how he’s going to look at me, disappointed, disgusted, appalled, confused, bewildered, angry—

    And then I’ll try and tell him that he’s got it all wrong.

    “Dad, they’re not like you think.”

    “Yes, they are. They’ve brainwashed you to think just like they do. It’s all nonsense.”

    “No, Dad, it isn’t. Listen, Dad: it’s all about love. They’re just full of love. And now I am too.”

    “I can’t listen to this anymore. You’ve gone mad.”

    “I haven’t. I’m happy now, Dad. He makes me happy.”

    “Don’t you talk that garbage to me. I didn’t raise you to be like this, boy.”

    How do you even counter that? How exactly did he raise me to be—what, was there some sort of blueprint he had in mind? Punish him here, ease back there, advise there and here and there…

    I can’t blame him too much. I’m surprised to hear myself say the words. But I truly do love Him.

    I love Jesus. Christ. My personal lord and savior with all of my heart. Who would’ve thought? I certainly didn’t. I was just like my dad: I thought Christians were either crazy or lying or some combination that was even more off-putting. I used to think they were clogging up the subways with their pamphlets and loud words or making me uncomfortable with their too-friendly smiles and firm handshakes. I thought it was just another way of making themselves unique, like going Goth or preppy.

    And then I went to the conference. Wow, this sounds soooo cultish. But it’s soooo not. I don’t even know how to describe the feeling that’s come over me. As though every care and worry has suddenly shrunk down to the size of a period and as though every obstacle in my life has become a mere comma.

    You never realize how empty you are until you meet people who are full.

    And all these people were sooooo full, and I realized as I sat there, crossing my arms and scowling at Joey for forcing me to come, that I was so angry because I wanted to be just like them. Free, dancing all over the place, crying tears of joy that they had found the only source for perfect peace.

    And as the speaker delivered his message, I found myself hanging onto every word, salivating over each point he made, wanting to take a moment to digest and at the same time wanting to hear everything he had to say.

    I remember wanting to slug Joey. He looked so smug. But he was right, darn him. He was so right. Jesus Christ was everything I needed in my life and so much more.

    I don’t remember much from that night, other than the feeling that rose in my chest when the speaker called people to the altar. It was heavy, and it ached, my heart ached so badly because I was so torn. Torn between what I had known all my life and the longing that was consuming me.

    I was shaky as I got up; I had to brace myself on Joey’s shoulder for a second before continuing the trip. There were a lot of us walking to the altar, but somehow I still felt as if I was making the journey all alone; at the end of it stood the only thing that has given my life any real meaning.

    I said the words. I prayed the prayer. And that was that. I didn’t feel any crawling sensation on my skin, and there was no sudden burst of fire on my back, but I knew something was different.

    And when I woke up the next morning, feeling as though I could sprint a marathon, I knew what that something was. I am being soft, but life is so much better this way. This is the story of how I met the love of my life, and I don’t care who reads it.
  9. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    ThadOcho - The Creature and the Flame

    Upon a large cliff standing high above an ocean of dark saltwater crouches a creature.

    The creature is a marvelous sight. Many visitors see it as human, but it sees itself as a monster. It has deluded itself with negative thoughts for so long that now all it sees in the reflections of the water below it is a monster staring back at it. And because of this, the creature weeps in a sea of self-pity so deep, it is by far more black and cavernous than the ocean that lays before him. So, upon this cliff crouches this creature, being blown to and fro by the velocity and ferocity of the gusts, and soaking in delusion and salty water, with almost nothing to care for it.

    Almost nothing. Also upon the cliff, unharmed by the storms and the waves and having no mentality to delude itself with, is a flame. A flame made by two ever-burning logs that seem to never rot. The flame is beautiful, and the creature knows this, and so it talks to the flame, and the flame talks back to it, and soon it is all the creature looks at, all the creature sees. The flame haunts its mind from sun up to sun down. It is in love.

    As much as the creature loves the flame, it has not the courage to approach it and feel its warmth. It feels that if it plays with fire, it shall burn. But the burning desire in its chest to draw near the flame is too much to bare.

    So the creature ignores the flame. It crouches in another location, watching it enigmatically, eyes wide in a trance as the fires of the flame do their eternal dances, and sometimes its love is too much to bare but it cannot move from its stoop.

    For ages upon ages this occurred, until one final day, the storms still ceaselessly blowing around the cliff and controlling the waves like marionettes, the creature silently crawled to the flame. Its love for the fires had tortured it, and now it really was a monster, but it did not see. It could not see anything but its love for the flame.

    And it approached the flame, felt the flame’s warmth for an instant, and the flame was everything that the creature thought it would be. Its heart leapt, and tears came pouring out of his eyes, mixing with the heavy rain.

    “I love you,” it crooned.

    But fate had other plans for the creature, and up came a grotesque, black wave that crashed right in front of the creature, consuming the fire and the logs. The wave slithered back down the ocean with the creature’s love, taking the flame for itself.

    The creature wept for days, weeks, months, and soon became a monster. On the final day of its life, the monster crawled to the peak of the cliff, where its beloved once burned seemingly forever, and tore out its own heart.

    Blood running in streams through its fingers, the monster croaked, “Finish the job,” and the heart, the tool used to corrupt the creature, was dropped down into the sea. It landed in a grotesque splash.

    The monster, now a creature, fell to the ground in a pool of its own blood and lay still. No wave came at it to bring it down to the sea. The job was done.
  10. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Elgaisma - Sparrow Through The Heart

    Raven Tane stretched forth his arms and invited the magic of the Island to turn him into the bird of its choosing. In a life filled with monotonous endless days, he needed excitement. He became a sparrow. Typical, did they not hear him about excitement.. Flapping his wings he flew out of the Sacred Temple skylight. This should be his home, but after centuries of being stuck there waiting for something to happen it felt more like a maximum security prison. Only instead of guards and bars, his upbringing and conscience were what kept him in his place, Celibate to the core, because if he reproduced his body would start to die. His Mother had started to die when she had given birth to Raven and his siblings. She had left him with the charge that he must care for the Sacred Temple until the time came. She never did tell him what that time was.

    He flew to the park in the centre of town, where he situated himself on a branch, waiting for suitable people to present with his extra special offerings. He just loved the sparrows ability to dump their cares on any passer by at will. He preferred being a pigeon from that point of view, the cares they drop are more satisfying. He bombed a couple of courting couples and a couple that seemed altogether too cheerful, today he was jealous of their happiness. During lunch he spotted a couple snogging underneath his tree how dare they, he spat the seed in his beak at them.

    A little sparrow came and sat down beside him. She was excited. Bird is difficult enough to follow, but sparrow are a verbal automatic weapon. Did she wink at him? He hadn't worked out how to do that as a sparrow. Then she waggled her tail feathers at him. The little flirt. He felt, the heat rise inside him and he was all excited. Then they tweeted and flapped ferociously. Feathers everywhere. He gave her little peck on the bottom. They disappeared behind a bush together.

    Raven had been picked up by the Maggie May of the bird world. He wasn't happy about the subsequent bird seed payment And he wasn't sure doing it as a bird satisfied his needs very well. . Was he going to die, did it count if he was a bird? What had he done. Who would care for the Temple. A voice came to him from the ancients., 'Your answer will come. Show patience'

    Only a couple of months later he was sitting enjoying tea, and scones in his conservatory when he heard a knock on the glass. He opened the window and in flew Maggie May. She had with her a small bird, with aquamarine eyes. He picked up enough from her to understand this was his son. When he picked the bird up a human baby appeared, very skinny and small, his face had birdlike features but there were no doubting who the eyes came from, Raven saw them in mirror every morning. Maggie May flew off and left Raven holding his baby, For the first time in many years Raven knew love.

    The baby grew, he was very sparrow like in his behaviour. He talked fast and learned quick. Raven was no longer alone. He named the boy Jizi after his Father. Maggie May visited occsionally but she had no desire to be a full time parent. She firmly believed Jizi should have been kicked out of the nest years ago. To Raven, Jizi was everything he thought he could never have. Jizi brought fun and laughter to the Sacred Temple. Raven was promised that soon the Sacred Temple would be needed again, he could then go forth and start to live amongst the people on the Island he lived on. When the time was right Raven would be allowed to progress beyond the world he had always known.
  11. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    mintyleeks - Major Proposal

    "I never would have purchased this house if I'd known that!" she screamed as she slammed down the phone. She was upset. She had every right to be upset, but why did she always have to take it out on me. I was just the messenger. The post had arrived that morning and I had opened it, along with the other unopened letters that were gathered in the hall. She had been away on business and left it down to me to keep her up to date, as usual. It had annoyed me that six months after buying the dream home, she had barely unpacked. Her career was everything to her and I felt neglected. She must know how much I love her and how much I want this to be our dream home, where we live together.

    The letter had explained in detail about how a proposed major road that would be built behind the farmhouse, in order to relieve traffic in the village. I wasn't a solicitor, but I deal with legal paperwork on a daily basis, and I knew that this was at an advanced stage and would be impossible to overturn. I did a quick calculation. I was sure that the property, having been bought for £1,500,000 would now be worth less that £1,000,000. Six months and nearly six hundred thousand had been wiped off the value of the house. I didn't speak to her for a couple of days. I thought it best to keep my distance and let her calm down. It would be a week before she was due home, so I kept myself busy at work. I’d get back just after 9pm, have a few glasses of wine and go to bed. I am a deep sleeper, but I always had trouble getting to sleep; I always did when she was working away.

    I decided to sleep on her side of the bed. I had found an old nightdress in one of the suitcases at the back of the walk in wardrobe. I kept it tucked under the pillow while I slept and I could smell the faint smell of her favourite perfume. I missed her. I missed her now more than ever. Why did she have to work away so much?

    The first half of this story was told by Michael, the second half will be told by Sally

    I was so angry. I made plans to come home immediately. Michael can’t even handle simple matters, there is no way I want him dealing with complicated legal affairs while I’m away. It took me a couple of days to arrange flights. I could have got home earlier, if I had been prepared to change planes, but I wanted a direct flight. It meant arriving late at night, but I could get a taxi from the airport, charge it to the company and still be in bed before midnight.

    Straight away, I realised something wasn’t right. The hall light was on. Michael always turns off the hall light. The house was a mess. There was a red stain on the carpet, by the sofa. There was no sign of a break in, but something wasn’t right. I made my way up the stairs and opened the bedroom door and there he was. My estate agent, Michael was asleep in my bed. He was clutching my nightdress and the room smelt of stale red wine. I felt sick. I trusted him. I let him keep the keys that he held to the property as I worked away so much. I had asked him to pop in from time to time to collect the post and to keep an eye on the property and the surroundings. I sneaked out of the bedroom and collected my thoughts. My heart was racing. I called Maddy, my secretary. I checked my watch. It was 11.45 pm.

    She was used to me calling her late at night and she answered quickly, but with a little anxiety in her voice. I asked her to check the documents that were saved on her laptop, specifically relating to the house purchase. She confirmed that my house was insured for £1,500,000, with no exclusions. Michael had at least got something right. I thanked her and told her to take a week off. I didn’t need to ask her why she seemed anxious and upset. I knew, because her husband was asleep in my house. That’s why tomorrow I’m setting it on fire
  12. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    jo spumoni - Love at a Dinner Table

    The summer evening streamed through the windows of the Walshes’ dining room. Lucas Ardal noted the way the light lit his wine goblet, as though it were made of diamond and not mere cheap glass. As he cut the tough steak with difficulty, he felt a small, cold little hand touch his thigh under the table. Nearly dropping his fork, he regarded Ida Walsh out of the corner of his eye; she was smiling at him coyly from the seat on his right, her oval face with the perfect nose and the hilly cheeks eager to please him.

    “Sorry,” she whispered, the gloss on her lips nearly touching his ear lobe.

    He nodded awkwardly and turned away as best he could without making a scene. His heart pounded in his throat as he dabbed at his mouth with a napkin. He glanced to his left at Ida’s twin brother Simon who was trying not to laugh through mouth full of steak. White cheeks burning hotly, Lucas finished his mashed potatoes.

    His father and the Walshes were in a long discussion about improving crops this year on the Walsh farm and Dr. Ardal’s plans to refinance the house in order to pay for Lucas’s attending medical school in the city.

    “Of course,” Dr. Ardal added slyly, “Lucas may change his mind.”

    Startled at hearing his name, Lucas jumped. “Change my mind about what?”

    “About school. It takes years to become a doctor, you know. In my day, you could learn everything from apprenticeship. And that’s how I did it. I learned from my father and he learned from his father and so on.” Dr. Ardal looked fondly across the table at his son, a tall, pale boy of twenty-two whose intelligent blue eyes were regarding him with surprise.

    “My plans won’t change, Dad. I’ve wanted to be a doctor my whole life.”

    And Dr. Ardal beamed in pride. “It’s in your blood, I suppose. But I was thinking about…well...” he trailed off glancing at the Walshes cautiously.

    Mr. Walsh finished chewing his green beans and cleared his throat.

    “Lucas,” he began in his hoarse voice, generated from chain-smoking three packs of Camel Cigarettes every day. “We…uh…we know of your desires.”

    Lucas raised his eyes cautiously to meet Mr. Walsh’s. “I beg your pardon, sir?”

    Mr. Walsh continued gently, raising a rough hand to his cheek as he spoke. “My wife and I, well, we know that you are in love.”

    Lucas loosened his collar uncomfortably. “How did you know?”

    Mrs. Walsh smiled warmly. Had she been thirty pounds lighter and with fewer creases in her face, she would have been the spitting image of her daughter Ida. She regarded Lucas fondly and said with an unexpectedly maternal air, “Dear boy, it’s very obvious. You come here every day, acting so nervous and anxious. We understand; we, too, have been in love.”

    “Did my father tell you?” Lucas mumbled without looking at Dr. Ardal.

    “Well, we had always suspected,” said Mr. Walsh. “But he did mention something.”

    “Dad,” murmured Lucas, his stomach sick with embarrassment as he spoke to the stained linen tablecloth. “How could you do that?”

    Dr. Ardal looked at his son, his face full of tenderness. “Lucas, I only want what's best for you.”

    “You didn’t have to tell everyone,” Lucas said, barely managing to keep his voice even.

    “We don’t really see the harm in us knowing, dear,” Mrs. Walsh said kindly.

    Lucas turned to her. “You mean…you’re all right with it?”

    “It’s lovely having you here. It’s like having another son.”

    Simon was looking at his parents quizzically. “We thought you wouldn’t approve,” he remarked suddenly.

    “Oh, Simon, you know we aren’t concerned with silly social convention. A doctor and a farmer…well, why on earth not?”

    “You mean we could live together? We could be partners if we wanted?” Lucas asked them, beginning to feel hopeful.

    Mrs. Walsh beamed at him. “That’s exactly what we mean, Lucas. If you so desire, you should exchange rings and inform the pastor.”

    “I don’t know,” said Lucas. He was smiling cautiously, still slightly shell-shocked. “I don’t think the pastor would approve. I haven’t been to church in years.”

    “It has been a long time, but I’m sure if we asked the preacher, he’d perform the ceremony,” said Dr. Ardal, pleased that his son seemed so happy.

    “Do you really think it would make sense to have a big ceremony?” Lucas asked. “I mean…I think I’d prefer it to be small. I don’t know that the townspeople would want to come.”

    “Of course they’d want to come! Your father’s their doctor, and soon you will be, too. And we all know you’ll make a fine doctor.”

    Lucas sighed, beside himself with joy. His desires had finally been laid bare, and he had not been hanged or stoned. The people who had loved him still loved him. He took Simon’s hand under the table, and saw that Simon had tears in his eyes. They had kept their love a secret for almost a year now, scarcely daring to speak of it. But their families knew now. They would live together, as lovers.

    “Yes,” said Mr. Walsh happily. “Everyone will want to attend the wedding of Lucas Ardal and Ida Walsh.”

    Speechless, Lucas looked from one face to another. Everyone was smiling, and Ida was beaming at him, her eyes full of enchanted tears. She took his other hand and squeezed it.

    “Oh, Lucas! This is the happiest day of my life!”
  13. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    thecox - Only Shadows

    I pulled back the Mickey Mouse head from the PEZ dispenser and grabbed the edge of hard candy with my front teeth. I chewed the strawberry candy methodically, stuffing the plastic toy back into the pocket of my ragged khaki shorts. My PEZ kept company with a soggy Winnie the Pooh band-aid and a wedding ring. In my right hand, I hefted a spear, hand-crafted from the branch of a eucalyptus tree. A series of notches etched into the soft wood climbed halfway up its face.

    I crouched behind a low bush. As I waited for my quarry, I became aware of the forest as a living entity. It surrounded me like a cocoon. The heat smothered me. The oppressive humidity matted my hair to the sides of my head. The steady whoosh of the ocean waves coaxed me back to the depths of their cool waters.

    But I couldn’t abandon my post. I chanted quietly: “I am happy and healthy, ever alert, happy and healthy, ever alert.” The final syllable trailed off as I heard a rustling in the bushes to my left. The formidable figure of a wild boar crashed through the bushes and into a sunken watering hole ten yards from my position.

    My grip on the spear tightened. The boar’s massive flanks shifted as it crashed around in the water. It snorted wildly, shaking insects from its hindquarters. Then it bent down to drink. At that moment, I began to rise from my hiding place. I held my spear above my right shoulder and pulled my forearm back.

    The boar lifted its head and turned towards the forest interior. Before I could release my spear, it squealed and ran away towards the shoreline. I couldn’t see what it was running from. I sprinted from my hiding place and splashed through the watering hole. Without missing a step, I dashed forward into the heart of the forest.

    As I tore through the initial undergrowth, I caught sight of a shadow. It resonated like the flicker of an old memory. I sprinted after it. The slight figure danced just beyond my vision, ducking behind a tree, over a fallen log. I leapt and slid through the forest, tearing my legs on outstretched foliage. I stumbled through a rushing creek and up a steep, ivy-covered hill. I chased the shadow for an eternity, never gaining ground or losing it. I wouldn’t allow myself to be beaten.

    “Happy and healthy, ever alert,” I panted. Spots began forming before my vision, dancing to the rhythm of some universal drumbeat. Blood seeped down my shin in an intricate crimson web. My legs refused to travel any further. I bent double. Sweat sheeted down my forehead.

    I lifted my head and searched the thick forest. At first, all I could see was a green pallet. Then, between two low-hanging branches, I caught sight of the shadowy figure standing motionless. It couldn’t be any taller than a child. A chill passed through my body like a wave, shooting down my spine.

    “Happy and healthy, happy and healthy,” I rasped. Tears welled up in my eyes. “Hello?” I croaked but my voice seemed to stick in my throat. I coughed. Keeping my eyes trained on the shadow, I side-stepped through the trees. No matter where I moved, the figure seemed to face away from me. I could hear the steady whoosh of the shoreline maybe two hundred yards away.

    Finally, I started walking towards the shadow and towards the sound of the ocean. My mind argued with my legs but I willed them forward. I fiddled with the wedding ring in my left pocket, rubbing the grit and sand from its warm band. I picked at the empty diamond-mount with my fingernail.

    The trees dissipated ahead in a burst of light from the noonday sun. My shadow guide vanished as quickly as he had come. I stumbled through the last trees and allowed myself to roll down a sand dune to the shoreline below, dropping my spear. Lying in the warmth of the sand-bed, I retrieved the PEZ dispenser from my pocket. I pulled the top back and grabbed another hard candy with my teeth.

    Lifting my head from the sand, I saw a familiar shape jutting out of the low tide like the skeleton of a small whale. A canvas sail writhed in the wet sand. A sailboat had been torn apart by the rocks along the shore, summer dresses and broken Zinfandel bottles strewn across the golden sandbar.

    I sat up. Then knelt in the sand, rocking back and forth.

    The memories I tried so desperately to bury began to resurface, one by one. I pulled the wedding ring from my pocket and held it up to the sunlight. An etching on the inside of the band declared: “My Marissa for time and eternity.” I stared through the band straight into the sun until my eyes began to water.

    With my other hand, I searched for the Winnie the Pooh band-aid and flicked at it absently with my head down. “Lucas,” I whispered. “Why bring me here?” My tears streamed freely.

    I stood up, retrieved my spear and walked to an outcropping of trees along the beach. Two awkward mounds jutted from the sand there. I knelt and settled the wedding ring in the sand above the larger mound. I set the band-aid down on the smaller mound. I thrust my spear deep into the ground behind the mounds as a marker. I left the spear and its forty-five rough notches at the head of their graves.

    I took a seat between Lucas and Marissa. I let sand sift through my fingers and whispered. “What could I do?”

    I thought I caught sight of the shadow figure watching me from the ring of trees before it disappeared again.

    I stared out at the never-ending ocean. Miles away, something shimmered in the steady crash of waves.
  14. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    fighter25 - Clouds of Grey

    Right as Brock Rivers finished up closing reports, he took a well deserved pause from his Mac, closed his straining eyes and leaned back in his computer chair. As the soothing rain made music to his ears, the stress that came with pesky clients, making phone calls, and being called a, “complete moron,” by his boss, began to wash away. With his head tilted back, all he could think about was his date- Brock opened his eyes and came face to face with the clock. Nearly falling over, he began to panic. He was late. Again.

    “****!” Brock shut the laptop, threw on his suite coat and headed for the front door. Still not used to the cubicle maze, he wasted valuable time trying to escape. He hesitated as a flash of white light shot across the night sky. What was coming next should’ve been expected, but wasn’t.

    “One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three-“ Just as Brock put his hand on the knob, the door went back and smacked him in the noggin.

    “Oh! Mr. Rivers, what… what are you doing here so late?“ Mrs. Gabby, the janitor, grabbed for Brock’s head and just about smothered him with her breast. She then lifted his face by the checks and covered him in plum-colored lipstick. The smell of Lysol was too much for Brock to handle, and he had to pull away.

    “Please, please, Gabby.”

    “My kisses make you strong again.” Gabby’s thick Cuban accent came through like a freight train and reminded him of his grandmother. Gabby was a stout lady, no taller that five foot. During their first encounter, Brock had seen a mop stick that appeared to be dancing in the air. He’d tried to see over the cubicle walls, which stood at five-foot-six, but had seen no one. He waited for the dancing mop to reach his cubicle and was confronted with a jiving Gabby who’d been dancing to Ricky Martin’s, Livin’ la Vida Loca.

    “You shouldn’t be here so late. Don’t you have little ninos?” Slowly, Brock inched his way past her mop bucket.

    “No children. Not for me.” Poking his head out the door he saw his destination.

    “No children! No?!” Gabby lightly smacked his cheeks. “Look at you, you are so handsome. You should have what…? Five ninos by now!” Gabby was right. Brock was more than just a man, he was every woman’s man. “And look at those eyes…” she continued. With his steel grey eyes and olive toned skin, Brock had the power to make women trip in flats.

    Brock began to tune Gabby out and turned his focus to the falling light above the elevator. He looked at Gabby’s chattering mouth and knew he would be there another two minutes.

    “The heavens are not happy tonight,” she said. Slowly, he pulled away from her, hoping she’d get the hint. She hadn’t. “There’s a sale at Lucy’s. You know Lucy?” Every step he took back she took another one forward.

    “Look, Gabby I can’t chat tonight,” Brock said.

    Gabby grabbed her mop. “Ok, ok. Maybe another time, eh? “ Before she had time to finish the question, Brock took off down the hallway. With each step he took away from Gabby, he felt even guiltier. Was it the way she treated him like her own son? Brock wasn’t sure, but he had to make it up to her.

    “What about lunch tomorrow?” Brock yelled.

    “Lucy’s at four! And no running down my hall!” Brock pretended not to hear her. The disappointment of not catching the elevator would’ve been too great. Right as he was about to press the button the elevator passed his floor.

    “Damn it!”

    “A little faster perhaps?” Grabbing her mop bucket, Gabby laughed her way into the maze.

    “Come on, come on…” He wiped his sweaty palms together and pushed back his jet black hair. He then remembered there was another elevator down the West Wing and started running in a light jog, which after a couple of seconds turned into a full on sprint. There was no time to wait another sixty floors. As he ran down the dim hallway, flyers on the walls nearly flew off their tacks. And then he heard it. A distant “ding” went off and he knew someone had stopped the elevator. Brock sped up even faster. He turned the last corner and just about slipped when he saw the elevator doors closing.

    “Hey! Hey! Hold it!” The crack of light between the gates of heaven continued to close. This was his last chance. Without hesitation, he jammed his hand in between the doors. Pain shot threw his fingers, crawled up his arm, and like a windup doll, Brock let out a yell he was sure pedestrians outside the skyscraper heard as well.

    As the doors opened, a boy came into view, and a wisp of smoke seeped out. The entire elevator smelt like musk and cigarette butts. The boy threw down his cig and lit another one. Coughing, Brock tried to create some type of mask for himself. He could taste every cigarette butt that had been lit which must have been fifty.

    “Jesus,” Brock said. What used to be the gates of heaven were now the gates of hell, and as they closed, Brock tried fanning the smoke out of the elevator. “What floor you headed to?” Brock asked. The boy coughed, and like a dragon, smoke escaped his nostrils. He hadn’t even acknowledged Brock was there. Once he realized getting anything out of the boy, besides smoke, was going to be nearly impossible, he smacked the button for the first floor and walked to the left corner of the elevator.

    Brock stared at the boy for a couple of seconds and was sure he’d seen him around. With bright, blonde hair and skin that made milk look tan it was hard not stare. The muddy cleats in the corner and the odor of musk that lingered about indicated he’d just come from either a soccer match or soccer practice. Soaked with sweat and rain, his jersey and ultra short shorts outlined his muscular anatomy. He took another long drag, and a falling ash bud just about burned through his nylon shorts.

    The elevator finally reached floor twenty and Brock was getting antsy. Constantly, he looked at his watch. He wasn’t going to blow it this time. The phone rang and before he picked it up he knew it was her.

    “Hello? Hey… Traffic is really bad right now- I’m actually on 4th and…Lafayette.” The boy looked at Brock and continued smoking. “Yeah… yes. I made the reservations. 9:00- I know it’s 8:45… Listen, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” He hung up and dialed for the restaurant. Brock’s good looks didn’t make up for his lack of time management. He had several dates before and they’d all ended because of some lame excuse given to why he was late.

    “Hi- Of course… of course I’ll wait…” Brock was met with the stare of the boy. It was the first time the two actually looked at each other. Caught off guard, Brock began to pace, and the boy chuckled to himself. “Hey! Can I make a reservation? For two… Rivers… Yes. With a “s”. For 9:00. Yes. Thank you.”

    Brock hung up the phone and began talking to himself, which usually started off in a low humming sound. Along with being late, this also factored into the rejection of a second date. Looking up for an answer from some higher power, he took a deep breath and sighed.

    “There’s no way you’re gonna make it in time.” Brock looked at the boy who was now opening a new pack of cigs. “But I’m sure you already knew that.” He pulled out his lighter and held it up to the cigarette. Nothing but sparks flew. “You’ve gotta’ be kiddin’ me…”

    “Maybe it’s a sign,” Brock said. The sound of thunder grew louder. “Two miles away-”

    “ I suppose you wouldn’t have a lighter,” the boy said. “You don’t really look like the smoking type.”

    “Neither do you.”The two stared at each other. Feeling uncomfortable, Brock pulled out his phone and pretended to text. This had been a habit sense he could remember.

    “Gonna’ call your wife back? Tell her the truth?“ The boy picked up a cigarette butt and began chewing on it. “Gotta love it,” he laughed.

    “She’s not my wife… just a friend.”

    "A friend? So let me get this right… you lied to your friend about where you were because…?” As much as he hated this brat, Brock knew he had a point. The lying wasn’t intentional; he just never had anyone call him out on it.

    “Because…” He couldn’t even answer the question himself; but, why should he have to answer a complete stranger? As the elevator reached floor five, Brock began getting himself situated.

    “Because, I want people to expect more out of me than what I’m willing to give them.” This time the boy gave Brock a look of confusion. He wasn’t really sure how to take his answer.

    Brock turned to the door and sighed. His patients were wearing thin, and he knew his date was going to leave the restaurant before he got there, but that didn’t matter. All he wanted to do was escape the elevator and the awkward, musky, butt-chewing soccer player, who was crouched in the corner.

    The elevator reached floor two. “Tell your date I said, hi,” the boy said. As Brock stared straight ahead at the cold, metal doors, lightning struck and a loud pop vibrated the iron cage, which sent Brock tumbling back against the wall. The lights began to flicker and the two looked at each other. At that moment darkness took over the tiny box. The faint sound of rain pounding the skyscraper was all that could be heard.

    Brock closed his eyes and slammed his fist into the side panel. Soon regretting that decision, he shoved his hand in his lap and tired to ignore the pain.

    “Easy there, Hulk.”

    “I can’t believe this!”

    “Could be worse. You could be in here alone.”

    “Oh, I’ll make sure I thank the big man for that one.”

    “You gonna call her. Let her know you’re not going to make it?”
    Brock threw his head back and closed his eyes. “What does it matter to you?” The question came off cold and unwelcoming, but Brock didn’t care. He took off his suite jacket and balled it up into a pillow.

    “How long you think we’re gonna be in here?” the boy asked.

    “Don’t know. Don’t care.”

    After a couple minutes of silence, Brock began to wonder if he’d been too harsh. Maybe this guy was having a bad day as well, and if he had, he covered it better than Brock ever would have. Then again most people hid their emotions better than Brock. His guard was up and he knew it. Brock knew nothing about this guy, yet for some reason he hadn’t cared to know. If he was going to spend the next several hours or more with him he figured he’d better start talking.

    Brock opened his eyes and tried to make out what he could in the dark. Nothing. There was no light coming from the bottom of the elevator doors nor from the emergency panel. He began to think about his date. Was she there waiting on him? Or was she sitting in the dark as well? Maybe, she backed out like he had.

    “So…What’s your name?” Brock asked.

    “Oh… now you wanna talk. You’re a jackass… you know that.” Brock didn’t need to see his face to know the boy was somewhat frustrated. In some ways, not confronting him face to face was comforting. The darkness provided an invisible blanket that Brock wished he could rap himself in.

    “Yeah… I guess you can say that. Not like I meant to be.” At that moment Brock found himself more vulnerable than ever. He was beginning to let this boy in and there was no turning back now. “So what’s your name kid?”

    “Kid? Wow. How old do you think I am?” The question took Brock by surprise. His frame was small and muscular, but his height put his age into question. He had been smoking, but that meant absolutely nothing; for all he knew he could’ve been 16.

    “Well, at first glance... not gonna lie-“

    “That’ll be a first tonight.”


    “Naw… Twenty. Last month in fact.” In some ways Brock was glad he was a bit older. Maybe they’d have more to talk about.

    “How was the birthday?” Brock asked.

    “It was ok.” Brock detected hesitancy in his voice.

    “Just ok?”

    “It would’ve been if…”

    “If what?” There was an eerie feeling that left Brock a little uncomfortable. He knew if he wanted to leave he couldn’t. He wasn’t exactly sure how much of this guy’s life he wanted to know anyway.

    “My dad passed away a couple months ago…” Brock clenched his fist.

    “I’m sorry to hear that.” Brock had never handled death very well. It was one of those things he’d always avoided.

    “Don’t worry ‘bout it. He actually used to work here. 60th floor. West Wing.” Brock began wondering if he’d seen his father around. They may have passed each other once, but there were at least 4,000 workers there. If he had he wouldn’t have recognized him.

    “And the smoking?”

    “Bad habit I picked up… Well not the chain smoking of course… That’s…” The boy began to pull on the cross hanging from his neck. “I guess it’s my way of numbing the pain.”

    “I see…” Brock grabbed for his phone. “I guess we all have different ways of dealing with pain.”

    “So what about you?” the boy asked. Brock wanted to avoid the question every way possible. There was no way he was going to let this guy know anything.

    “Well, I work here- “


    Brock couldn’t understand why this guy was so interested in him. He’d rather just sit in the dark and not say a word. “And I’m twenty-three…”

    “What’s up with you?” The question came off very unsettling. “Is it the smoke? You’re the one who jammed your hand in the elevator trying to get in here.” Brock just sat there motionless. “You’re like a clam, you know that?”

    “The name’s Brock…”


    “Nice to meet you, Carson.” Immediately, Carson began laughing. “What’s so funny?”

    “Nice to meet you, Carson? Dude, no wonder you’re having problems with the chicks. Hope you didn’t use a pick up like that.”

    “This is different.”

    “How so?”

    “Well for one, I’m not hitting on you-”

    “Well, you should be…” Brock wasn’t sure what was going to happen next and he didn’t care. His breathing became heavier as he sensed Carson coming toward him. His scent was no longer repulsive but actually made Brock crave him even more. The body heat from Carson climbed up Brock’s neck and sent chills jolting through his body. Motionless, Brock sat there. He’d never felt so much tension and excitement in his life. Like two magnets, they began kissing.

    Out of breath, Brock said, “I swear my heart is beating like crazy.”

    “I can hear it.” Carson grabbed for Brock’s tie and began loosening the knot. ”Let’s take this off.” Brock wanted him so bad and knew he could have him, but he also knew if he wanted to see him again he’d better take things slow.

    “Wait. Wait,” Brock said. Immediately, Carson backed off.

    “Listen I’m sorry if I-“Another loud popping noise occurred and the elevator shook, sending Carson back on top of Brock. The lights flickered back on and the elevator began to descend.

    Laying underneath Carson, Brock said, “I wanna get this right this time. No way am I letting you get away.” The two looked at each other and smiled.

    “Does this mean we’re going on a date, Mr. Brock?” The elevator came to a stop and the sound of whistling could be heard from outside the doors. Without hesitation, they scrambled up and tried to situate themselves.

    “Ding!” The elevator doors opened and a confused Mrs. Gabby stood at the door, mop in hand.

    “What? What is this? Look at this mess!” The two glanced at each other and tried to stifle their laughter.

    “What? You think this is funny? Cigarette butts and-” Mrs. Gabby looked down and was confronted with a tent pole poking from underneath Brock’s pants. Connecting the dots, her eyes darted from Brock to Carson and finally back to Brock. His face turned redder than a fire hydrant as she focused in on him. Brock smiled and tried to straighten out his disheveled hair.

    “Lucy’s at four,” Mrs. Gabby said, pushing along her companion, Mr. Mop-it.

    “Yes’m,” replied Brock.

    Looking straight ahead, Brock and Carson rushed out of the elevator as Gabby stood there shaking her head. Carson looked back and smiled while the elevator doors closed. The two walked silently through the lobby and to the front doors.

    “You wanna do this right? Meet me at Lucy’s. Tomorrow,” Carson said.

    “What time?”

    “Four. Don’t be late.”

    “Wait!” Before Brock could say anything else, Carson had disappeared into the rain.
  15. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Manav - Delhi Sojourn CAUTION: Mildly Sexual

    If something has to happen, it just happens. Every tiny thing played their part to that end in the first night of my Delhi sojourn. Unseen hands had urgent business with our host and he wouldn’t be home for the night. Akash and I were left stranded in an apartment surrounded by a sea of concrete buildings dwell by total strangers. Akash seemed glad that he has my company at least, and I couldn't ask for anything else.

    Akash was the cousin, I was the friend and our host was a bachelor; we had no qualms raiding our host's kitchen, freeze, and exploiting the TV, music system, DVDs, anything in sight. Still, stubborn time refused to pass by, and we found ourselves returning to the couch again and again almost waiting for the bedtime to arrive. It was not surprising then that we were discussing where to sleep once the much awaited yawns come. It was decided that we would at least show the courtesy to leave the privacy of our host's bedroom. That left us with the guest-room and the couch. Despite my protests, he offered me the bed.

    “You should rest,” he said reminding me that I was in Delhi for my half-yearly medical check-up. I had been free of cancer for three years but people never stopped treating me as a patient.

    “Yeah,” I said somehow more disappointed than usual. Sympathy wasn’t what I wanted from him. I watched him walked towards the bathroom inside the guest room.

    He emerged with just a towel wrapped around his waist, his wet hair a bird’s nest. Tiny streams of water traced the contours of his neck and chest, and shiny droplets cling on refusing to let go of his torso.

    “It’s all yours,” he said indicating that the bathroom was free.

    “Not now… later,” I said worried that the slightest move I make will be my undoing. His lips spread a little as he went pass me. Was it a mocking smile? It was bad enough that I was attracted to this, most probably straight guy, it was worst if he knew what was on my mind. I was very scared.

    The time to sleep came, but sleep was hard to come by. I kept thinking that Akash was in the next room. This must be what insanity is like, you think of only one thing until you forget everything else, even sleep. However, I was no insane and I felt asleep, awaken only to find a hand wrapped around my naked waist as I lay on my side.

    “Akash?” I whispered.

    “Yes.” I felt his warm breath on my neck.

    “Problem sleeping on the couch?” I asked.

    “No.” His voice was small but firm, and I need not ask anything more.

    I grabbed his hand with both my hands and held it tight in my chest, pulling him even closer to me. I felt his naked body. I turned and saw him in the faint light creeping in from the bathroom light I had left unattended. It was just enough to reveal his face. I closed my eyes and felt his face with my hands, as if trying to imprint his face forever in my mind as a blind man does.

    He closed his eyes when my lips touched his, then his hands grabbed my head when I kissed his neck. It must be a dream, I had thought. In the silence of the night, there was only a rhythm, a rhythm filled with ecstasy, a rhythm of lovemaking. It became faster and faster like the rhythmic vigor of a long distance racer who sprint as he nears the final stretch; control was no longer with me anymore.

    The white sheet that covered us fell off the bed. He lay on the bed and I was on my knees besides him. We saw each other naked for the first time. A strange feeling of familiarity, then coyness and then regret hung in the air of the small room. He cuddled a pillow and curled up on the bed. I sat on the bedside wondering if I should feel shame and walk out of the room. I had to say something, anything.

    “First time?” I asked.

    “Yes,” he replied in that small but firm tone.

    I tried to remember my first time. Gosh! It took me some time to shuffle my mind and remember it. The details had become vague with rust of time. However, I remembered that teenage boy who really wanted to see a penis. One day he met a nice and friendly person who had shown him his penis, he was excited when he let him touch it, he felt good when he was kissed, and he was thrilled to be in the arms of another man. Soon he felt miserable because he realized he was not like his friends anymore. Sometimes he cried and sometimes he felt good remembering that 'nice and friendly guy'. And his cozy arms. And his penis. After all these years sometimes I asked, "Is the nice and friendly guy and the day I spent with him the reason I am a gay today, an outcast?"

    As I sat on the bedside that night, I asked myself, "Am I going to be the reason this wonderful guy beside me will become a miserable gay his whole life? Is there a chance that if nothing had happened between us tonight he might never know he was gay?" However, I should know better. It might take his entire life but someday, somehow he will know.

    Feeling guilty nevertheless, I lay on the couch wide-awake. I wanted to hug him and stroke his head in understanding of his despair, but I was too afraid to touch him, afraid to leave any more proof of my murderous act if he were to die the death of an imprisoned gay his whole life from now on. I felt miserable all over again and screams from my past echoed again, why me?

    I felt his hands once again later that night, firmly lifting my cheeks. I did not open my eyes but I knew he watched me for a good few seconds as if trying to decide whether to hate me or love me. Then warm moist lips touched mine. I tried protesting, but it was too faint and besides, his hand was already between my legs.

    "Shall I kiss it?" my virgin lover asked.

    "Yes," I replied.
  16. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    MissLotty - Laptops and Lipstick

    I sat at the coffee shop window with my laptop. The day was slow; the clouds didn’t seem to move much. Others came and went from the sweet little shop on Wicket Street. My fingers idly wrapped around the hot mug the waitress has just brought over, and the smell of the liquid played with my senses. Mrs Pepperpot’s was a little hot spot; people knew where it was even though it wasn’t in view. Inspiration flowed freely sat at my usual table by the window. I could watch different people order their coffee and walk away none the wiser that I sat waiting for one of them to give me a character to play with.

    Today was no different to be honest. I arrived early to get my window seat and to order orange juice and a cream cheese bagel for breakfast. I am an unemployed writer working on a novel. I sell a few reviews here and there to keep my bills paid, the heating on, that sort of thing. I live about five minutes away from Mrs Pepperpot’s coffee place and desperately wanted a puppy, but the fact of the matter was my landlord was a mean old man and didn’t allow pets. So I had two goldfish to compensate. I also run away with my thoughts, frequently.

    Slightly laughing at myself I spilt my hot chocolate on my chest and lap, then sigh as I clean myself up and look around to see if anyone has noticed me make the spill. The coffee shop started to pick up the pace, more people piled in to the small place, queuing to reach the dark wood counter to order mid-morning coffee and something for brunch. Then he walked in. Talk dark and tasty just like my hot chocolate. Sorry can’t help myself, he is gorgeous. I watched him with his confidence. He caught the eye of every single and coupled girl in Mrs Pepperpot’s. He stood in the queue with his dark hair, trendy clothes and oblivious stance. My mind flowed freely on to the new page, my marvellous new character strolled confidently. As my typing portrayed him I kept my eyes on the keys only to look up slightly to catch my next words.

    The queue had died down and he drew nearer the front, nearer to me, my laptop and the dark wood counter. My eyes darted back to my page where he was conjured at my will. The best thing about writing is that you can make anything real.

    “May I?” he pulled out the chair opposite me. My eyes traced from his hand on the chair up to his boyish smile. Unreal? I think not! I couldn’t have written this. I could never think it would be possible. My characters imitation wanted to sit opposite me. I was the creator of the unreal version of this beautiful creature.

    “of course, go ahead” I attempted to shift my scarf over my hot chocolate stain. “I’ve not seen you here before, is it new to you?” my feeble attempts at conversation with a God. His eyes never left mine and his smile didn’t fade.
    “Yea, it’s pretty new, I’m working round the corner, I’ve heard good things about this little place” I smiled knowing he was right, anyone who walked in was in love with the place. “Then there’s you, I’ve seen you sat every day this week so far. Is it you’re place?” his eyes smiled sweetly at me, luring me in, closer. Closer, okay not too close, he’ll notice.
    “No, I’m a writer, and this is where my inspiration grows, my bum gets numb a hell of a lot but it’s the best place to watch people. They’re interesting.” Man I sound like a nerd. I hoped to God he would see my quirky charm rather than the face I was a nut job.

    We sat together and sunk into our conversation. His voice was sweet and carried the interaction. It kept me from day dreaming. The background faded even though I could feel other women’s eyes burning in to me. My hands on my warm mug and my eyes in his gaze. He never moved, he was content on our conversation, flirting even.

    “Can I get you anything Serina?” the waitress smiled as she interrupted. I opened my mouth to tell her what I wanted and to ask him if he wanted anything, but before I could my words weren’t mine. He looked at his watch.
    “Yea, can we have two coffees to go please”
    “certainly sir, I’ll bring them over, they’re on the house Mr. Moure.” She smiled and scuttled back to her desk.
    “Are you leaving?”
    “Yes we are, I want to show you something” he was firm nothing that I said would change his mind so I didn’t bother.
    “So Mr. Moure, do you have a first name?” he flashed me an award winning grin
    “yea, I thought you would have guessed by now. Ryan”
    “****!” I spat before I could control my throbbing heart
    “What did I say?” he worried.
    “O God nothing, I just, I didn’t put two and two together, I didn’t even realise. Sorry.” Okay so I panicked, what are you suppose to do when you find yourself sat opposite the new actor who is the world’s largest and latest heartthrob?

    “Wow, I just thought you were playing it cool. Man. Come with me still?” I nodded slightly star struck “sorry I didn’t mean to sound bigheaded” the waitress put the polystyrene cups on the table. He stood up and waited for me to put my coat on. Handed me a cup and took my free hand and marched us out of Mrs. Pepperpot’s.
    We walked hand in hand down the high street, people starring but he just gripped my hand tighter. He laughed at my bewildered look as I kept my eyes on him. He darted up a side street and dragged me with him.

    “Hold it right there cowboy!” I stopped “Where are we going?” he faced me and put his hand on my waist
    “Serina, trust me. Come on we’re going to be late.” He set off again and I just let him pull me.
    Five minutes later, after we got out of the hustle and bustle, he pulled me through a shop door. The shop was selling photo frames and cameras. We toddled round the back and up a flight of stairs, to be greeted by a loud over exaggerated character.

    “Ryan, you’re two hours late honey” he said then caught a glimpse of me, hiding behind Ryan “and who is this adorable creature?
    “Jazz, this is my girl Serina, well if she’ll have me” he looked at me and I stuttered “fix her with a cute dress, charge me, I want photos and I want her to join me at Lizzy’s do tonight” turning to me he asked “will you?” I thought of this evenings plans.
    “Sure, why not” I said so unsure. I mean the only thing I’d be doing tonight would be going home to two goldfish, and curling up on the sofa with pride and prejudice for the seventh time. The over exaggerated character, Jazz pulled me in to an over sized wardrobe and pulled things out and held them inform of me shaking his head at many of the dresses he picked out. He finally came across a long fitted cocktail dress. It was a red alter neck, with a low back which scared me because it would be so near me bum. It also had an extremely revealing front. Jazz nodded enthusiastically and sent me to put it on.

    I stood, not quite believe what was happening, in front of the mirror with a beautiful dress on.
  17. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    sassenach - Maggie

    It was just a regular night, like every other one before it. He walked up and down this path more than a hundred times over. Up Magnolia Street, turn right on to Jefferson, and down Waters Road, repeat. Nothing was ever out of the ordinary, everything calm and peaceful. He’d sometimes wish that something, anything would happen. At the same time, he knew he didn’t have enough gumption to go do something if the out of the ordinary occurred. He had always been shy, timid, but he always did what he was told. So maybe that’s why he made such a good police officer. He was on the football team back in high school, but he didn’t go out and celebrate after a win, he went home to his mom. He smiled at the thought of his mother. She was a strong, stubborn, but sweet woman. Throughout her entire life, Maggie had gone through a different battle each time she turned a corner. When she was eighteen, her mom got cancer and died. When she had him, she was 25, and his dad contracted lung cancer. He died ten years ago. Then, two years ago, Maggie got breast cancer like her mom. She’s been battling it ever since, and it hasn’t gotten to her yet. Who can keep a strong-willed girl down even when she’s in her old age? He was reflecting on this when he came across her. She was on the rooftop of one of the buildings that he walked past every night. The wind was blowing so her curly brown hair was billowing out behind her. Her face was set with a determined look about it as she neared the edge. Her face also looked like it had a sad desperate undertone beneath it. Why in the world a girl that pretty would be up there, just floored him. Wait a second, he thought, she’s not actually going to do it? He watched with an increasingly worried state as she neared the edge. “Oh no, not on my watch.” he said to himself as he jogged over to street corner where the building resided. “Hey, hey, hey you up there!” he shouted up to the girl. She stopped suddenly and looked down. “What do you think you’re doing?” she asked defiantly, acting as if it was him on the rooftop, not her. “What am I doing, what are you doing lady?” he asked. She was silent and stood there in thought. “I’m ready to go make my case with Him and ask Him why the heck He dealt me this crappy hand at life.” She said to him, almost as to convince herself as well. “How about you go do that at a church instead?” He suggested. She shook her head sadly laughing while saying, “Haha, no. I’ve already tried but, I just couldn’t,” she looked for a word, “express what I needed to.” “Well, how about this?” he said praying for a chance to convince her to stop and look at the gravity of the situation of what she was about to do. “I get to ask twenty questions, you give me twenty answers. If I haven’t convinced you to come down, I’ll walk away and pray for you. If I have, you come down, and we go get ice cream. How’s about that?” he asked hopefully. She was silent for a moment and looked quizzically at him. “Ice cream?” she asked. “Yes, ice cream, the happy food of women besides chocolate.” He said smiling. She gave him a smile back and sat down on the ledge. “Ok, begin.” She said tauntingly. “Let’s start with question number one, what’s your name?” he asked. “Margaret, some people call me Maggie.” Surprise must have showed on his face as clear as day because she gave him a look of concern. “What is it?” “That’s my mom’s name. You're like her in some respects.” He said honestly. “Oh, well then, thanks.” She said. “What’s your name?” “Frankie, short for Francis. Yeah I know it’s a funny name.” he said sheepishly. She just looked at him and said, “It’s not a funny name, not at all.” He smiled and then she in turn smiled. It was a great smile, it was straight and white. A definite poster child of childhood braces. “Ok, Mr. Frankie Smiley Face, next question.” She said with a twinkle in her eye. He asked her several different questions, all really generic. Her favorite color was green, she liked the Washington Redskins despite the lack of wins, and she enjoyed big band music and the way it sounded. She got her first kiss on her doorstep on her thirteen birthday, “A terrible kisser I might add, but it was still a perfect first kiss anyway.” She said thoughtfully. He nodded solemnly and responded with a, “I bet you’re an amazing kisser.” “Ha, yeah I am.” She said. This continued on and on, until he asked a sensitive one. “How long have your parents been to together?” She stood up and walked away from the ledge until he couldn’t see her anymore. “Maggie?” he called out. Oh please God, don’t let her walk away. She came back with tear tracks down her face and with such a sad face it made him wish he could fly up there and comfort her. “Um, my parents,” she stopped, “My parents just recently died. It would have been their 25th come Sunday.” “Oh, I’m sorry. My parents were at 20 years before my dad died.” “How did he die?” she asked. “He had lung cancer, held out against it for ten years to see me graduate high school. My mom got breast cancer two years ago, she’s still going, bless her.” He said lovingly. She looked down at him with emotions going through her eyes. He was starting to hope love was mixed in there. He had only one question left to convince this amazing girl that he could possibly be the reason for her to keep living. Maggie was such a smart and talented girl. He still couldn’t fathom why she wanted to end it all. “Maggie, last question, you ready for this?” he asked. “Bring it on Momma’s Boy.” She said teasingly. He laughed, he had been called that many times in his life, but coming from her, it sounded more like a cute little sobriquet and he didn’t mind. “What made you come up here tonight and why do you want to end your life?” he asked. She laughed, “Well, that’s two questions but, I’ll humor you. I just can’t…I just can’t keep living. I feel like it’s dealt me a final blow. My parents’ deaths just tipped me over the edge, I have depression and my parents they helped me through it. I didn’t really have too many friends I could really talk to when I went through my down phases. So, I talked to Momma and Daddy, but now they’re gone, I don’t know who to talk to.” She said with a single tear slipping down her face. “I don’t want to talk to my friends and burden them. I just want to feel free and happy so I thought, this is the way to do it. Now, I’m not sure.” She said, looking down at me. He felt hope rising in his chest. “So, that’s twenty questions, will you come have ice cream with me?” He asked with his heart in his throat and hope in his chest. She didn’t say anything, she got up and turned around and walked away. “Maggie?” He called out in a raw voice. She didn’t respond. He couldn’t breathe; he heard a loud thump and then nothing. He got up; he could feel the tears in his eyes. He felt a click with this girl. No, more than a click, he felt like he was talking to his own soul. He started to walk slowly back to where he had parked his car. His shift ended an hour ago. “Frankie!” he heard a voice call out. He lifted his head with a slow smile. He turned around to see this amazing girl walking towards him. “You're not skipping out on our deal. You promised me ice cream.” Maggie said smiling at him. “Why, yes, yes I did.” He said smiling at her. He held out his hand and she took it. They walked to his car, just as the early rays of sunlight were coming out of the darkness.
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