Romance Fiction Fantasy

“We’re running out of time,” the voice in her head kept saying.

She lay there, longing. If only he were here. If only they could engage in the youthful desires that bedeviled them, to enjoy the luscious fruit of their lust. Life soared on the wings of frivolity and tranquility as it always did when their passions intertwined.

Of course, family matters had tied up his weekend in another state. Though this annoying association occurred without fail, she learned to accept his familial loyalties, albeit with a grain of irony. He was a good man. He cared about others. That’s part of what drew her to him. But sometimes his heart for others was so big she felt small, irrelevant. Why couldn’t she be with him all the time, live out their fantasy every day? Why did she get his leftovers every week?

It was Sunday night. Earlier in the day, she had put in a long, hard shift at the coffee shop, serving truckers and factory workers. Waiting tables at the dependable greasy dive, though it didn’t buy her glamor, did land her him. He used to be one of her regulars when he hauled locally. As she lay on her lonely bed, she recalled the fascinating, limitless topics they mused over during her shifts. Her heart fluttered at the exhilarating memories.

Now he trucked all over the country and “raked in the dough,” as he put it. Money or position meant little to her. She’d rather do without all that money if she could skillfully live each moment with the one who spoke her intimate language. He was the only one she shared her true self with. Together, they wrote the most beautiful love story.

Sleepy, beyond her reckoning, she lay in the dark, moonlit room where only the centuries-old, five-day hourglass reflected light. Would this be the week it all came together? She always enjoyed her time with him. But they never took their love and passions to that next level, to the realm of pure bliss, where absolutely nothing else mattered for the whole evening. Something always got in their way. Their timing was always off.

She looked at the family descended hourglass, remembering all the magic it supposedly possessed down through the generations. It was worth a try, she wearily decided.

Before she wavered, she reached over and flipped the hourglass. The sand began to trickle. Her eyes closed, and she slept, alone again.

She awoke late the next morning. As expected, he had come in the night, and left early in the morning. “I’ve got another all-nighter,” a note read. “Be home late Tuesday… hopefully.” Would they ever connect? She looked at the sand slowly, inevitably, sifting through the hourglass.

The morning dragged on. She cleaned her room, but had no motivation to tidy up the rest of the house or make herself breakfast. Life without her love withered her energy. It was all she could do to force her discontented body into work by noon.

After working late into the evening at the all-night coffee shop, covering half another gal’s shift, she learned that the schedule for tomorrow’s graveyard shift bore her name. The news crushed her already tattered sensibilities, for she’d likely be without him for yet another night. Would they ever write the story they ached to live?

She slept through most of the next day, worn out from the thought of missing him again. By the time she went to work late that night, he had still not arrived. They would remain separated still longer. Her note to him read, “I’m working all night. Miss our special, magical time together like you wouldn’t believe. See you real soon… I hope.”

His note to her, when she came home, said, “I miss our rendezvous too. But our story will be that much better when we finally have our moment. Hang in there. I’m headed north and may need to take more cargo to the southwest route from there. Hope to see you no later than Friday.”

She looked at the nearly half-empty hourglass. Their time was running out. Had she made a foolish mistake turning it? She had hoped it would sweeten their time together. But if they ran out of time…. She bristled to think of the ramifications. Most of the stories she had heard about this enchanted hourglass favored its user. But there were those exceptions when the users failed to respect the dream’s time and their greed came back to haunt them when the sand ran out. Would they write their story in time?

His notes kept her craving, but sometimes the need was so strong that the words on the note tempted her to wonder if he was merely placating her, that maybe he found interest in another love. Was she losing his intrigue?

The potential fracture in their exclusive, intimate ventures ironically fueled her yearning even more. For without the fear of missing out, she knew, a transcendent affair would not be possible. Only through the torturous waiting, the aggravating unknown, and the fickle slice of wanting could her dreams come close to meeting her glorious wishes. No, she would override her misgivings and fight for the magical chemistry their minds and bodies were destined to explore.

So enveloped with need, she called in sick Friday. The hourglass continued to ebb. Their time was running out.

Tears flowed down her face as she lay on her bed alone all morning. Likely hungry, she had no appetite. Though boredom teased her, she had no compulsion to turn on the TV or read a book. She longed to unite with the one who could answer her thoughts, join her ideas, and inspire her creativity. Only he knew her. Only together could they write the most beautiful story.

Shortly after noon, the front door opened. She wiped her pickled face and sat up. Could it be?

She heard footsteps. Closer. Her heart beat faster. She unwittingly held her breath.

“Hello,” he said as he walked through the bedroom door. “Sorry, I’m late. Are you ready?”

“Of course,” she said, and she glanced at the hourglass. “But we’re running out of time.”

She slid off the bed and flew to him. Fresh, happy tears replaced the sad, fearful ones. Her effervescent smile lit up the room. She grabbed his hand and led him to the other side of the room. Motioning to the desk, she said, “This is where it all happens.”

He sat down beside her. “I love doing our thing, here, on this desk. There’s just something magical about it, about us.”

“I know,” she said. “I’ve been a wreck waiting for you.”

He smiled, obviously excited too. “So, did you bring the… you know?”

“Of course, silly.” She blushed and reached into her purse next to the desk. “I thought we’d try to do all five of them this time. I bet it’s never been done before.”

He narrowed his eyes, weighing the suggested challenge. Then he lighted. His eyes widened. You’re amazing. This is going to be fantastic. We’re going to write a story that will shock the world. I can feel it in my bones.”

She giggled. Stealing another glance at the lapsing hourglass, she said, “I feel it too. But we need to hurry. We don’t have much time.”

He looked at his watch. “We’ve got till 12 midnight, right?”

She nodded. “Right. Do you want to go first, or should I?”

“You can,” he said. “I’ve got to look over these Reedsy prompts a little. Wow, all five of them in one story. This could be the best tandem story we’ve ever written together.”

She giggled again. “Yeah, this could be the one to finally win that short story contest. Okay, I’ll write the first sentence.” She sidled up to the keyboard and wrote, “She lay there, longing.”

After studying the five different prompts thoroughly, he read her first sentence. “Hmm. Provocative. I like it.” He looked to the ceiling and around to the side. “Let’s see.” Then he wrote, “If only he were here.”

She leaned closer and closer to the screen as he concluded his typing. Then, with the surprise of a shooting star, her back abruptly fell back onto the chair. Her mouth gaped open, and she gazed into the atmosphere. The magic was happening, just like she’d longed, just like she’d dreamed. She wrote her next line, “If only they could engage in the youthful desires that bedeviled them, to enjoy the luscious fruit of their lust.” She sat back and watched his reaction, his enthralled rapture. Writing together as one, their essence blossomed. Their creation became alive, as she and he were alive.

Her vision of feeling her story with another, skillfully, trustingly, line by line, sang out before her. He wrote the next line. She wrote the next. He wrote, she wrote. On and on they tarried like lovers embodied in their craft, swept away in the yarn of their fluid, synchronized imagination.

Midnight drew near while the hourglass emptied. As he strove to share his heart’s voice through the lettered keys, she considered the miracle of the family hourglass. Grateful beyond her mortal words, she marveled at the extraordinary collaboration the heirloom enabled them to enjoy. If only the moment could last forever.

As thankful and convinced as she was that the hourglass was fulfilling her deepest desires, she also knew that allowing the sand to run out before the dream ended could spell disaster. She mustn’t let that happen. “We’re running out of time,” she said.

He looked at his watch. “Holy….” He typed his last word. “Okay, you finish it.” He slid the keyboard in front of her.

She looked at him, then to the waning hourglass, then back to the screen. Her pulse quickened. His last line read, “He dasn’t leave, but could not stay.”

Did this really have to end? She looked once more at the hourglass. Their time was running out. Her words needed to draw nigh at this very moment. She wrote, “She said goodbye to him, but not to their perfect story.”

She sat back.

He said, “Good enough. Send it.”

She could do better. If this truly was the perfect story, it needed a perfect ending. What if she wrote, “She said goodbye to him, but not to the enchantment their magical tale unleashed.” That was better. But did it befit this extraordinary night that tethered them?

“Send it,” he said again.

She could say, “She said goodbye to him, but the enchanting tale they wove together would live perfectly forever.” That hit the core she wanted. To think that she and he together wrote the perfect story. It was every writer’s dream—to find the best words for the ultimate love story, intertwined with both their hearts. And now it will be out there for everyone to view forever. She will win first prize and…”

“Send it!” he yelled.

Out of her revelry, she focused back on the blinking cursor. Had she written the perfect ending, or had she just dreamed it? If she sent it imperfectly, wouldn’t that tarnish the story, the entire experience? …What to do?

“It’s too late.”

She looked at him. He looked at her. She looked back at the five-day hourglass.

The room was dark. She lay on her bed alone as the moon shone off the hourglass. The curse of the unfulfilled dream returned her to Sunday night, anxiously waiting again, dreaming of that perfect encounter with him.

Oh, the angst! The moment of moments had passed and may never come again.

But oh, the anticipation! Maybe, just maybe, she—they—could write their enchanted moment into being once again. For, to write is to savor the moment, whether it be this moment, the past moment, or the moment dreamed.

July 15, 2022 22:15

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