Tag Archives: short story

Jezebel

Look closely, love.

She’d invited me to dinner. And she was striking. We met on an elevator in the downtown Sanford & Sons, Inc building. The doors opened on the 16th floor and there she stood, looking down and to the right. One brilliant face in a sea of blurred eyes and noses and mouths. They mattered naught. Obviously uncomfortable, she had tear-stains barely noticeable in the corners of her eyes. A beautiful sight. Poor thing. Weak and distressed. Perfect. I chose to occupy a space beside her. How could I not?

“Take this,” I whispered as I pressed a small handkerchief against the outside of her left hand. She pulled away slightly, paused, then turned her palm open to mine, and accepted my small gift. Connection. No one else in the elevator would’ve even noticed her delicate movements. She dabbed the sides of her eyes with swift precision, as though she’d done it before….many times. The memory of those first few moments are as sharp and piercing as, well, the final.

Her skin was like the finest velvet, the passes of blush on her cheeks danced just ever so slightly on her supple skin. Her eyelashes were like tiny palm leaves, but thick, languid…and dark. But her lips, her lips, they were like something carved from marble. Full, curved, red, inviting. And yet…they were attractive in an unusual way as well. Attractive in their…familiarity? We left that elevator, the quickest descent I’d ever experienced, together. And we walked. I stayed by her side and she never flinched. With each step she staightened further, her steps became less inconsistent and she gained confidence. Her shoulders pulled back and her chin raised. She lifted her lashes in my direction.

“Well”, she breathed “I suppose we should at least have a coffee”. I nodded. Coffee. A walk through central park. A movie. Another coffee. Lunch. Dinner. Another dinner. And by this time our third day of acquaintance had arrived I was yearning, dreaming, enveloped in the thought of those beautiful lips. Her warmth and attraction was inexplicable. I wanted her. The decision was made and decisions aren’t made to be retracted. She invited me to her place for dinner.

The table was set beautifully. Champagne awaited us. Her dress, though, my goodness, it was exquisite. White and slender, gently wrapping her curves in a halo that only silk can achieve, she occupied every thought, every moment. I was drunk at the very sight of her, but accepted the champagne with a welcome pause. She asked me to be seated while she prepared final touches. I could think of no better thing than to remove myself from an upright position, I was already afraid of stumbling. This woman, so foreign yet so familiar. The mystery, her beauty, her mystique…I was dumbfounded.

“I made your favorite,” she cooed from the kitchen her back to me. I could only muster a murmur of acknowledgment. I was fixated on her visage. She turned with two plates in her hand and smiled. I almost died. She set her place first, then came sround to serve me. The plate came into view, and so did the harrowing glisten of a medical-grade syringe. But her movements were too swift, and it was too late to question, to jerk away, to do anything…the steel tip had already found a home in my side. I winced…and slumped. She returned to view in front of me. Her chin up, and eyes piercing downward from under those incredible lashes. She pulled her long gloves from her wrists and I saw them. The answer to the questions that’d been swimming in my head for these few days. The reason. The explanation. The tattoos.

This was the Jezebel I had tried so hard to avoid. This was the woman who, deep down, though I avoided the thought for knowing it’s truth, I knew would always be the end of me. This was her sister. This was the woman she said would hunt me down for all of my indiscretions. Here she was. Staring. Her sweet smile turning sinnister. Sickly. She was looking at her one hatred. She pulled a photograph from under the table and opened it before me. I could feel myself fade, whether from shock or the drugs, it didn’t matter. The energy of my life was rushing from my body….each second a decade of life, gone. There she was, the photo, my ex-wife. I had had it taken before I’d done the deed. I wanted something for her family to have, after all. How haunting it was to see her now. How haunting it was to see her lips on the paper as well as before me, pursed and seething. But they were so beautiful… “I want you to see her face as you die,” she growled. “I want her face to be your last and everlasting thought. And consider it a favor, you sick pig. If it had been anyone other than Daisy I would’ve dismembered you section by section and had you watch your own body be fed to dogs”. I looked at her, imploring. No speech. No words. Nothing left. This was my due. This was that moment. Her lips curled upward. Her lashes lowered…and she looked down and to the right.

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Love and Hesitation: The kiss

It didn’t matter that the sun had set an hour ago, I was melting. And sitting in the back of the truck, legs dangling, the cool steel soothed the fire in the air. This dress might be too short – I thought. Too late.

“This is some view, huh…”. His voice carried off, almost dreamily, into the warm high desert air. And he wasn’t wrong. The city skyline blazed before us, all lights and energy, set off by the vague outline of the desert mountains behind it. It was a bold frame. His body was close to mine, he had been inching himself nearer for the better part of the last hour. And not unnoticeably. My brain was whirring, like it always does. The romance, the beauty of this moment was undeniable. My own loneliness, also undeniable. His heart and genuine personality, a catch. And yet…my hesitation. It was present, it was palpable, it meant something.

“You’re incredible, you know that. I’ve never met someone so beautiful. And I can’t even find words for how you look tonight…” his voice trailed. I wasn’t used to men like this; men who expressed their emotions so freely. Not that I didn’t like it or want it, I just didn’t know quite how to accept it, or process it. “…you’re just so beautiful.” His eyes went from mine, to my neck, down to my legs and back to my eyes.

He wants to kiss me. 

And so my brain became a snake caught in the claw of a hawk. So squirmed the thoughts of a girl torn between the beauty of a romantic moment, and the realities of her heart. I didn’t want to be with this person. He wasn’t for me. I wasn’t all that physically attracted to him. That was the brutal truth of it. But every other aspect of the moment, down to the spreading blanket of stars above us, his endearing smile and sweet half-sentences, had me caught up and ready to compromise. Was I a terrible person to think this way? Was this misleading? Am I that person right now?

The silence lasted too long. My thoughts had dissociated me from him and he felt it. He jumped down from the truck and stood in front of me. I grew anxious. Yep, this dress is definitely too short.  I put my hands in my lap to cover what else I could. He pulled my legs from my feet…bringing me closer to him. His hands made their way from my ankles to my calves, but his fingertips hesitated just above my knees.

“Your legs are absolutely amazing”. His hands traced them, his face was innocent and focused. And I, well, I just laughed…nervously. Do I want this? Should I rationalize my impulse to say no and chalk it up to just being nervous? Could it be that I’m just being hesitant to get back into the world of dating? His hands began to go further up my thigh, and when they reached the point where my legs met the steel of the truck, they stopped. He pulled his hands down, let them take a place on the truck on either side of me, and leaned forward.

He was no longer tentative. I had really counted on his hesitation matching mine. But it didn’t. He surprised me. Crap.

He pulled my eyes to his and locked them there, softly. With no expression, he let one hand slide behind me and rest on the small of my back. He lightly maneuvered his body so that I opened my legs and with a quick surge of strength he pulled me close to him. Oh, and I melted. I melted and the hesitation evaporated in the heat around us. I hadn’t counted on that. I hadn’t counted on a burst of passion.

His lips brushed against mine. What wisps of second-thoughts I may’ve had…were lost in the swarm of new, more powerful emotions. We kissed.

I let go…

And for that moment I was in heaven. Giving in felt like, undeniably, the right thing to do. Letting his words calm my nerves, letting his touch breathe new life into my skin, it felt so right. And I clung to that moment, that swarm of new emotion for as long as I could. And yet soon the firefly I’d found, so bright and instantaneous, wondrous and beautiful, began to slip away. I could feel doubt creeping back in. And then guilt. Guilt. The true gradient by one can decipher one’s actions. That manipulative little devil had found her way inside and latched onto my conscience.

I am that person right now. I swallowed hard, pushing that bitch, guilt, down into my gut where she belonged. He was ready to continue. His eyes had closed, he was leaning in again. I put a hand on his chest, stopping him. His eyes opened. And I’m sure he saw mine, pained.  He must’ve understood. His body relaxed under my hand and he drew away, but only slightly. He wasn’t giving up entirely.

And I realized…”letting go” had led me to fall down a Wonderland-like hole: confusing and complicated, and my responsibility to fix. Such a brief moment in time, and so important. It was a lesson that stuck in my heart, guilt’s menacing scar, a brand that I’ll always have as a reminder of the importance of even small actions. And that there are no small actions when it comes to love.


“Hero” ….a little tale of love

You heard my anguished cry and came running. Opening the door, you saw me: pained. I’m sure I was a pitiful sight, holding up the dress that embodied so much of what the weekend was meant to celebrate. One hand in the front, the other wrapped around my back, I’m sure I looked traumatized. And I was. I really was.

“The zipper,” I mouthed breathlessly, trying to mask the mounting disappointment in my voice. “The zipper… broke”.

And you were the very embodiment of empathy. Your eyebrows went up in the middle and your eyes grew wide as you strained to understand the situation. You took a few steps forward and saw me. You’d later tell me that I’d never looked more beautiful to you…and how much it hurt to hear the sadness in my voice when I called out to you. I’d later tell you that you never looked more handsome. And that I almost cried in those first few moments when I realized my wardrobe malfunction had ruined your night.

So we couldn’t go to the ball. The dress, a simple black A-line beauty with rose details on the skirt and a classic strapless top; a dress that I’d purchased months before and doted over; a dress that I’d anticipated wearing like none other before it… had failed. A small bend on one side of the zipper had caused it to catch, and it refused to budge from that point. Thanks, Dillards. But I never told you that your uniform was breathtaking. You really were my hero. Your smile, your embrace, you took me in your arms and told me it was okay, that everything was okay.

We stripped down from our dance attire, all the while I fought back tears and you fought to keep me smiling…heroically. It was no big deal to you, there’d be other dances, there’d be other occasions, we’d be able to salvage the night, and in fact it would be better, we’d get to spend the night together, just the two of us – you had me convinced. Even though my sad-puppy routine lingered.

Sipping on wine, we watched the fog roll in over the bay. The remnants of a lovely meal before us, the remnants of what’d become a lovely night behind us, we sat in silence as the lights on the Golden Gate fell into the oncoming soft sea-born clouds. You had my hand in your hand, you’d had me laughing again, your heart was light and mine was on fire.

You really were my hero.

Some nights, this memory creeps in and settles in my sleepless mind. And it’s when I miss you the most.


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