Sunday, March 21, 2010
Today's muse: I don't know where it came from; the vision for this story just kept swirling in my head.
* * *
The shrill ring of the telephone yanked him from his dream. The same dream he’d been having for months now: secluded beachfront cottage, salty breeze, shapely brunette. He could still smell her perfume.
Fumbling for the receiver, Simon knocked over the stack of books he kept on the bedside table.
He held the phone to his ear, scrubbed his hand over his face, took a deep breath.
“Hey, baby.” The low, sultry voice radiated sex.
Simon glanced over at the clock. 2:51. Right on time, he thought. He adjusted the pillows behind him.
“Where’ve you been?”
“I’ve been around,” she purred. “You just haven’t been paying attention.”
“I guess I haven’t,” he said, trying to sound sheepish. If he was honest, he’d admit that he’d been avoiding her. But he wasn’t ready for honesty.
“I like the beard,” she said.
Simon rubbed his hand over the new growth. “You noticed.”
“I notice everything.”
“You always did.”
Her laughter danced over him. God he missed her smile.
“When did you see me?” He mentally flipped through the last few days, wondering when they had crossed paths, questioning why he hadn’t noticed her.
“At Pierre’s the other night. You were…”
“Yeah. Right.” He closed his eyes, recalled the scene. A quiet table in the corner where no one would bother him. He drank too many Manhattens; felt like shit the next day.
“I was there with a friend,” she explained. Simon nodded.
“I wasn’t.” His voice was flat.
She paused. “Simon…”
“Look... forget about it.”
She was quiet for a moment, then: “Simon...” he knew what was coming. It was the same tone he’d heard last time, “ ...we need to talk.”
Yeah, he thought, we need to talk alright.
“You know where,” she said, her voice a little sad.
“Yeah, I know where.” Did she think he’d forgotten?
“Tomorrow. Same time.”
“I’ll see you then,” he replied, but she’d already hung up.
He glanced over at the clock. 3:01. Figures.
* * *
Simon stopped for a latte on his way to work. Intent on reading the morning paper, he failed to notice the tall brunette ordering an espresso. She sauntered by him, hips swaying in invitation, her perfume wafting over to him, waking his senses.
He glanced up in time to see her leave the cafe, the door chime ringing a cheerful farewell. He knew it was her, knew he should probably follow her. It was, after all, what she expected. But he stayed in his seat. He’d see her later.
He tried to keep occupied all day, calling pointless meetings and writing reports for matters he cared nothing about. He just needed to keep her out of his head. He knew why she wanted to see him. She wanted to say goodbye. For good. They’d been down this path before. When she left last time, he thought he wouldn’t see her again. And he didn’t for several months. Then she started coming around, calling him.
Not that he didn’t want to see her. He did. But it just made it harder. He knew she wasn’t staying, knew she couldn’t. He didn’t want to ask her to leave—-God, he just wanted to hold her again—-but he knew she needed to move on. And so did he.
* * *
Simon sat in his car. The radio played a heart-break country song. He looked out the sunroof at the black sky dotted with diamonds. No moon tonight, he noted and nodded. Of course. New moon, new beginnings.
He glanced at his watch. 2:50. Right on time.
He reached over to the passenger seat and scooped up the yellow roses he brought for her. The same bouquet he’d been bringing her every week for a year now. Simon stepped out of the car, crossed the gravel road and walked across the manicured lawn.
She stood beneath a giant oak tree. Raven curls framed her face, hanging past her shoulders. The thin white shift she wore seemed to float around her, just covering her bare feet.
“For me?” She gestured at the flowers he held.
“Yeah. Yellow’s your favourite, right?”
She smiled. “You remembered.”
“I’ll always remember.”
She looked away then, as though she’d lost her nerve.
“You know why I invited you here.” It was a statement more than a question.
“I know this has been hard for you,” she said.
He ached to reach out, to play with those soft curls, wrap his hands in that rich velvet and lose himself in her kiss.
Instead, he shrugged, kept his hands in his pockets.
“I can’t stay here anymore,” she said. “They need me.”
He nodded. Did it matter to them that he needed her too?
“I won’t be coming back, Simon.”
“Yeah, I know.”
She pressed her cheek against his, rubbed it against the bristles.
“I really like the new beard.”
Simon laughed. She smiled back.
She turned and walked away, fading into the darkness, her perfume lingering in the air.
Simon glanced at his watch. 3:01. Of course.
He stared at the yellow roses he held in his hand. The last bouquet and she forgot to take them with her. Well, he’d just leave them here for her.
He lay them on the grass, in front of the granite stone etched with her name.
Maybe she’ll come back to get them.