The Man Who Found Yesterday

Submitted into Contest #120 in response to: Write about a character who yearns for something they lost, or never had.... view prompt

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Speculative People of Color Fiction

"Sampa! Ipa sampa! Sampa pour macaben."

"What is that young woman saying? My God! She is strikingly beautiful."

"She's saying "Peaches. Fresh peaches for sale," and don't ask how I know that," I replied.

Walking the market street of Montmartre, Paris, has always been one of my favourite activities. The colourful stalls, the hectic sounds, the scent of spice and differing tobacco, and the perfume

of fresh fruit drifting through the air, everyday, rain or shine.

"But, how do you know that, Tomson? She speaks with a French accent, but I don't recognize that as French," Edmond said.

"It's Romani, the world language of the gypsies."

"Really? And where and when did you have time to pick up that language?" Edmond asked.

"I said, don't ask."

But now I hurt his feelings. Edmond likes a good story. Doesn't matter if it's true or not, he just really enjoys a good tale. And now he feels like he is going to miss a good one. I made him

curious.

"Ok, you big baby. You buy the wine and pay for the taxi, and I will tell you about Esmeralda, my gypsy love. This patio bar looks good."

"Esmeralda? That's ridiculous! Like the 'fiery gypsy girl' in TheHunchback of Notre Dame? Puh-lease."

"Bonsoir, garcon. Two bottles of your best house red, si vous plait. He's paying."

Before Edmond could protest, I began to speak. "It was the late 80's, here, in Paris, on a day very similar to this--same time of year, same climate, actually," I said, looking over my shoulder, "same market, just the other side of the street. It was during the years that I wanted to be a writer, to be known as a writer. I was totally in love with the idea of being a writer. I thought I was good at it, I thought it would be easy to do. Stupid kid. I was 20 years old. So, it was during this time I met her..." but Edmond interrupted, rudely.

"Who?"

"Just drink your wine and listen. Any more questions and story time is over. As I said, I lived here on my own, trying to make it as a writer. Hemingway did, but I was young and naive. Still

am, I suppose; naive, that is. There was a fruit vendor right over there. Absolutely beautiful. Dark, dark eyes, dark brown hair, honey gold skin. Full lips, creating a sensual smile. High cheek bones, mildly Asiatic, perhaps."

"She called out "Sampa, sampa" several times, but that's obviously not French, and she had such an intriguing accent, I just had to meet her, to talk to her. I approached her table and asked

"quoi franc?" and instead of answering me, she asked, in English, "How come you are so dark?"

"The very nerve!" Edmond exclaimed, slamming his palm on the table, "What kind of question is that?"

"Kind of like your question--unexpected, because I told you to stop doing that," I replied.

"Sorry, Tomson, old boy. Sorry. I'm all ears. Pray, continue."

"It was quite forward of her and I was completely unprepared so I said "Because it is summer." She tilted her head back and to the side and said "No, I think something else."

"I simply said 'Ok, you asked and I answered. Now it is my turn to ask. I figured out that 'sampa' means peach, but it's not French. Or Spanish. Or Italian. What language is that?”

"My language," she said. "Some say 'Gypsy,' some say 'Roma,' some say 'Romani.' I say Sinti-Manouche. Those who have ears to hear it, know it--other people, they don't matter to me," she said with great confidence and indifference, but not arrogance. “I am Manush Clan. Ok,” she continued in her exotic accent, “I answered you, but I don't accept your words--because it is summer. I am not dark because it is summer. I am dark because of my lineage. Now--why are

you so dark?” she demanded.

"The cheek..." Edmond started to say.

"What, then, is your ancestory?" I asked her.

"Ah, ah, ah," she responded, shaking her pointing finger at me, "it's still my turn to ask."

"Ok. I am Canadian, and like the USA, Canada is, I am sure you know, a collection of people from all over the world--kind of like your 'world language ' comment. But, ok, I am partly First Nations, what you might call 'Indian.' Killer Whale Clan. Acceptable answer? Good. My turn. You—who are your people?"

"Wine," she said, "we should have some wine."

"Edmond, my friend, to make a long story short, wine led to bed. Mine. It was an incredible first encounter. Deeply passionate, deeply meaningful. An investment in time and hope. Nothing like

it before, nothing like it since."

"Fine," he replied, "no questions, then, but tell me, why are we here talking about sampa?"

"You have been paying attention. Excellent. Have you ever heard of the mark-of-the-mongol?" I asked.

"You know I am a marine biologist, not an anthropologist. So, no."

"The mark of the mongol is a light blue stain, birthmark, on the hip of children who are born to parents of a European and Asian mix. Or any of the world's indigenous people and a 'white' person."

"Yes, I have actually heard of that," Edmond acknowledged.

"So, you accept that as real. Good. Here is another one for you, then. The first time we made love, I noticed a mark, a tattoo, just below her beltline on the front of her hip. It was dark and we had already emptied several bottles of wine, and at first, in all of the excitement, I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at, but it soon became clear--it was a tattoo of a peach. I can only confirm

that, because after I was certain what it was, I was instantly flooded with the scent and taste of peaches. I mean, my mouth was watering and my scent receptors overwhelmed my mind with the essence of fresh, juicy, peaches."

"Sampa!" Edmond nearly shouted. "But what do you mean you confirmed that 'after' you confirmed it was a peac..."

"I am interrupting you in order to prevent a question. Do you have Attention Deficit Disorder? Don't answer that. A little too personal to share, perhaps, but as she began to peak, to achieve climax, she held me by the back of my head, her hand gripping a fistful of my hair, and, with beautiful dark eyes smouldering, she stared into my eyes for the entire length of her orgasm."

Edmond was oddly silent for the first time. Visibly excited, but stunned into silence, anticipating more detail.

"It felt like we were making love in a sauna or a jacuzzi completely filled with ripe peaches, but here is the most unique aspect of the encounter. Take a drink of your wine and then close your

mouth, Edmond. I was determined to keep my eyes open too, and even though I did, I saw images, ethereal mind pictures that she seemed to send me."

"Gypsy mind-craft...I mean, sorry, that's a statement, not a question," Edmond apologized.

"I thought about it the whole next day. The experience was just so erotic, I didn't want to spoil it by asking questions. And it wasn't scary, just highly unusual. I didn't know if I would ever see her again. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime sexual exchange. But when I went home the next day, there was a peach at my front door. And even though my house was locked, there she was, in my bed."

"A peach in exchange for a peach," she said.

"Edmond, this went on for 7 evenings straight! The love making was so intense, so full of energetic understanding, culminating in the most blissful after-effect, followed by deep, liquid, sleep. And in the mornings, she was simply gone before I woke."

"The visions," Edmond prompted, "I don't know if I can believe that they..."

"Visions, visualizations, images, memories, simple pictures--I don't know what they were. But they occurred because she directed them. Everytime. A hint of the 2nd re-building of the walls of Jerusulem, some mountain caves in Romania, a storm while on a boat in the Black Sea, formation soaring through the mist with hawks, descending on castle ruins in Scotland. A cedar covered island, circle drumming with Sami, sailing, and lots of naked swimming in the Pacific Ocean. It's difficult to believe, to accept the visions, so let's go back to what you do know and believe--the mark of the mongol."

Edmond started, sitting upright suddenly, spilling his wine, "How," he spluttered, "can you possibly make a connection between that and...oops...sorry. Continue."

"All of her people have a mark like that on their skin. Except theirs take the shape of an image and a certain amount of power and energy. When we were in bed, she always had a mild peach

perfume, in her hair and on her hands...that's to be expected of a fruit vendor. But, when I looked down at her birthmark, honestly, it was like I was swimming in peach wine, instantaneously—scent, taste, and oily smooth, alcohol, warmth."

"On the 4th evening we were together, I teased her into the shower with the promise of a standing massage before our daily love making. I soaped her body, heavily, from top to bottom, but I had my eyes closed the whole time--I didn't want to see her birthmark. I wanted to remove any perfume or peach resin she might have moisturized herself with. Edmond: close your mouth. She raised her arms wide, gazed up at the ceiling, and, while I was kneeling in front of her, she said "I know what you are trying to do. It won't work."

"I rinsed her off, still with my eyes closed. Nothing. Just fresh, smooth, tight brown skin. But the moment I looked down at her birthmark--instant peach tsunami."

"So, mind over matter," Edmond offered.

"Definitely. And here's the final proof of that. During our 5th evening together, our 5th session, I instinctively became aware that the images she transported to me were parts of a whole. That is, I knew, with enough time, I could piece them all together and make sense of them, make a 'mind-movie' of sorts. Particularly in trying to understand my part in this passion play. But after 7 nights it was over."

Edmond leaned in "What? What-do-you-mean-it-was-over? Why-didn't-you-get-enough-visions-to-answer-your-questions? Why- didn't-you-ask-more-questions-while-you-had-time, Tomson. You-expect-me-to-believe-you-now?" he asked, staccato like.

"I came home on day 8--there was a peach on my pillow with a bite taken out of it. Never saw her again."

"In Asia, peaches are symbolic of immortality, " Edmond offered.

"Well, I have no idea whatever became of my gypsy love. That was nearly 30 years ago. I can tell you only believe parts of this story. But, I can make you a believer of the whole thing, if you want. It will just take a bit of courage."

"I have emptied 2 bottles by myself. I don't need courage. I need proof," Edmond slurred.

"Ok, Mr. Scientist. Remember the young lady over there selling sampa? Tell her, in French, "I will always buy fruit from you, for forever, if you provide proof of your "world" family." But you have to say it like that, exactly."

"Easy," he said standing up too hastily and then nearly falling over, "w-watch th-thisss."

Edmond staggered down the lane apologizing to an old lady he nearly knocked over. As he approached the young lady selling peaches, he seemed to hesitate, losing nerve perhaps. But then he walked right up and fixed his eyes on hers and mouthed several words. She seemed shocked, then angered, then statuesque for a few minutes with her arms folded. She hesitated, but then I

could tell she asked him "Pour toujours?"

"Toujours," Edmond replied.

She took a few steps back, concealing herself somewhat in the shade of an umbrella. She discreetly dropped the right front hem of her skirt a hands-width, and with her left hand, pulled

down the lace of her panties a few inches exposing her hip.

I watched Edmond as he casually looked left and right to make sure no one was looking. He leaned in and down, squinted, then opened his eyes wide, raised his eyebrows with an expression of confusion, stumbled a bit from side to side, and then put his hands out to steady himself. He looked momentarily unwell, nauseous or motion sick. I always thought it ironic that a marine biologist should suffer from sea-sickness.

He straightened himself, bowed to the young lady, muttered something in convivial French, and then meandered back to our patio.

"You look like you've seen a ghost," I said, chuckling. "Now do you believe my peach story. Those birthmarks have quite an effect on doubters or those people who are un-prepared. Pray, tell me, what did you see? More specifically, what did you experience?"

"Remarkable," he whispered, "Wine...fill my glass." He swallowed most of what I served, then placed his hands flat on the table still trying to establish some stability.

"It was remarkable," he repeated. "You know I don't like being out on open water. This was even more terrifying. The moment I saw her tattoo, birthmark, I was plunged into the depths--cold, silent, green water. Immense pressure, darkness, taste of salt, feeling of hypothermic loneliness."

"Hypothermic loneliness? You are becoming quite a poet, my scientific friend. You've told me what you felt...now tell me what you saw."

Edmond continued, "From the depths, I looked up and saw a warm light. The sun. I was drawn to it in the same way people describe being pulled to the light during a near death experience."

"But...this didn't seem anything like that, you were not, as I saw it, near death."

"No, Tomson. It was odd. No fear, no danger, just approaching light. Then, I burst through; taste of salt and warm sunshine."

"Ok, ok, ok. You've told me what you felt, what you've experienced. Now, tell me what you saw," I insisted. "How did her birthmark create this sensation? What was the image?"

Edmond looked away from me, towards the girl. He hesitated a long time. "Orcinus orca," he said. "Northwest Pacific killer whale."

The End

November 18, 2021 19:53

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1 comment

Alice Richardson
06:11 Nov 22, 2021

An interesting concept. I like it.

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