Thomasa Pridgen Feb 2019 Love Story for Creative Writing Workshop
He touched her arm and she could instantly feel the heat. She craved his touch so it wasn’t that she didn’t like, she did- a lot, but she could feel herself start to boil and she wondered if he would notice, if he could read the thoughts racing though her mind. She imagined him grabbing her and pulling her into him and the thought made her smile. She looked into his eyes knowing that if he never let go she would simply float away and somehow she’d be perfectly happy with that.
“I know we shouldn’t…” He said, his breath warm and heavy. She wanted to say something but his scent deep inside her lungs was suffocating. If only she could breathe, than she could talk, tell him she agreed, that they shouldn’t. Shouldn’t be so close. Shouldn’t be talking to each other at all. But she couldn’t take a single breathe so the protests never left her lips.
She remembered the first time she’d laid eyes on him. She’d fallen asleep, a peaceful dreamless sleep, on a dark and chilly evening in the middle of October, alone on the shore of the Nero river near the outskirts of town. She’d spent the day basking in the sun, absorbing its rays and looking at the beautiful autumn leaves. Her father told her when she was just a little girl that the rocky shore was a magical place, a safe place and had loved to take her there to lie down together in the high grass and imagine. They would create worlds and the life that lived on those worlds. Creatures large and small, intelligent and dim sprouted from their fingertips. An in-between place, he’d called it. They existed in the spaces like the cracks where it is neither light or dark, day nor night. No one could find you in the in-between.
When her eyes opened again she saw a young man, bare chested and strong. He was dancing; his arms circling, raised toward the heavens, his every movement electric. She’d never seen anything so majestic. Her jaw dropped. Nothing about this dance felt rehearsed; every movement was emotion. She gasped, her heart beating wildly, as he began spinning and turning, faster and faster, whirling in ever smaller and tighter rings his long locks whipping around covering his face. He leapt into the air then flipped upside down before turning like a gymnast. When he landed he was still. That is when she could finally see him clearly; his hair framing an impossibly handsome face. Eyes, with the depth of ages, stared directly at her. She didn’t know what to do, frozen in shock, until slowly the smile graced her lips and she clapped. He laughed and took an elegant bow.
They’d both come to the river since, in whatever tiny scraps of time they could arrange. Sometimes months or years would pass between visits but for ages, they’d stolen moments and she was, each time, driven to the river by the memory of the look in his eyes- the longing she found there when they‘d first met hers.
His hand danced gently on her skin, one night, as they sat by a roaring fire on the shore.
“We two are quite the pair,” He laughed seeing her happy expression. He reached for her face. She pulled away.
“We are opposites, you and I.” She said touching his lips with her fingertips. He kissed them gently. “We can never be together.”
“Why? Aren’t we here together now?” He asked, mischief leaping into his eyes. He looked ready to pounce.
“Oh, no you don’t!” She warned playfully but too late. He grabbed her and kissed her. Kisses were forbidden. They’d both agreed. But who could blame them for stealing a peck here and there? He pulled her in harder and she jerked away.
“Ouch,” She whispered. Touching her fingers to her lips then feeling the place on her back where he’d been holding her. Her skin bubbled, burned by his touch- the pain radiating from the spot was terrible. She could see the effects of their kiss on his lips as well. No longer plump and rosy, his lips were darker and cracking.
“Damn it!” He screamed standing, his face in his hands, “I’m sorry, I just want to hold you.”
“I know, my love.” She said standing slowly to comfort him. She placed her hand gingerly on his back and then put it back at her side. Small touches, short touches only stung a little- they’d agreed that they could only touch is this way.
“I don’t want to hurt you…” His whispered finally after a pause that seemed like an eternity.
“Nor I you,” She said with a weak smile.
“I know. You wouldn’t ever want to hurt anyone.”
“But I can and I do sometimes.” She sighed and looked into his eyes, guilt frowning in them. She remembered the times when she’d decimated whole cities. She remembered the faces, the people and shuttered.
“You are not nearly as destructive as I,” He countered, hoping to cheer her. “There is good and bad to every being, it’s the choices we make that matter.”
“And I choose you.” She said tilting her head as she gauged his reaction.
“Truly? Surely you will leave me for one of your own?” He said, his normally playful nature absent from his words.
“I will not.” She said simply.
“Even if we can never be together?” He seemed pained- this was a conversation they’d danced around before but never was the question asked directly.
“Even then, but you know there is a way…” She offered.
“The Old Ones help no one,” He spat.
“There are others who have convinced them. Who is to say they will not hear our prayers as well?” She asked this hoping to sooth his anger. He looked at her earnestly.
“They will own us,” He sighed sadly. “We will belong to them- to be summoned and used as servants. The winds and the directions will call upon us. They will expect us to use our powers to do their bidding.” He continued disgusted. “We’d be giving up our lives.”
“That is the great sacrifice the Old Ones demand.” She whispered. He was silent. “But with their help we could be together.”
“Like the others.” He sighed. She nodded. This option didn’t make her very happy either but it was the only one.
“Is this what you truly want?” He asked, the flame light dancing in his beautiful eyes.
“I want you. I want us,” She shrugged sadly, tears in her eyes. He paused and thought for just a moment. What was freedom without her?
“Shall we call them then?” He said with a weak smile.
“Are you sure?”
“I choose you too,” He said and she smiled. She stood and walked over to the shore and sliding down into the water- He waited near the fire.
“I call upon the Old Ones. I call upon the powers of the North and South, the East and West. I call for aid and understanding. Air, carry my words!” She repeated this over and over. Her voice rising and falling carried to the heavens on the wind until the night fell silent and the air grew heavy.
“We are here. We know your hearts and have heard your pleas.” A calm blending of male/female voices said from above. The Old Ones were beyond time, space or matter. They were the beginnings and the ends. They were the creators and the destructors.
“Do you give yourselves willingly?” The Old Ones asked despite their omnipotence.
“We love one another.” He called from the shore.
“We willing give ourselves to you oh Great Ones.” She said bowing her head.
“Good. We will grant you peace to love at the dawn and sunset of each day when the sun touches the sea on the horizon.” The voice said “For a few minutes only in this world you may love one another and neither will parish.”
“That isn’t enough!” He called from the shore. He edged toward the water. “Please!”
“In the in-between at dawn and sunset.” The voice repeated. “Are we agreed?” He face contoured in anger. He prepared to shout again be then he looked at her, his love. Tears streamed down her cheeks and her silent sobs heaved in her chest. He sighed.
“Agreed,” He said. She looked up at him and a disbelieving smiled covered her face.
“Agreed,” Said the voice and with that the Old Ones were gone. She walked smoothly back to shore toward the fire. She smiled sitting down next to him. They sat silently in thought for what felt like ages. Each accepting the truth of their new reality, the actuality settling in.
“It is dawn…” She said finally looking toward the horizon. Her hands found his face and their lips met. They kissed and steam rose from the place where their skin touched but for the first time neither was in pain.