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Fiction Fantasy Happy

With eyes half lidded and his body anesthetized with a generous layer of whiskey, Eric bounced off the crowd of party goers like a pinball. The sea of people had swallowed his friends what felt like ages ago, but had probably only been mere minutes, he couldn’t be sure. He had thrown back his sense of time along with that last Jagerbomb. 


The sounds of jazz permeated the streets and his eardrums were blasted with the blaring of trumpets and the low strum of bass. Bourbon Street was often littered with partiers of all ages, and tonight was no different. They all came for the mouthwatering food, boisterous music, and of course, the drinks. All the reasons why Eric had suggested New Orleans in the first place. That and this might be the last time they were able to get together. Marco and Ben were both married with kids either on the way or in the near future, and Jamie just moved in with his long time boyfriend. Everyone was settling down. Everyone except Eric.


Eric was the only single one in the bunch. Dating was something he had done here and there, but only at someone else’s prompting. He was occasionally asked out or set up, but was certainly not the pursuer. And those dates were never anything to write home about. Eric was intrigued by the lovey dovey feelings that seemed to radiate off other couples. He didn’t know what that felt like, or if he was even capable of those feelings. Was there even a heart inside that chest? But none of that mattered now. The only feeling he could muster at the moment was sweet numbness.


In an effort to avoid the young woman quietly retching on the curb, Eric swayed into a group of raucous men on the corner. The shove he received in return caused him to stumble through a doorway, nearly tumbling down a set of dark, carpeted stairs. All street noise dissipated when the door closed with an audible thunk behind him. An earthy scent of incense immediately filled his nostrils, firing some lazy synapses in his brain enough for him to take in his surroundings. He had landed in a dark, circular room covered from floor to ceiling in thick, crimson drapery. A round table overlaid with a black cloth, and two matching chairs were the only pieces of furniture in the room. In the center of the table sat an ornate silver base made into the shape of a hand with a round, clear ball balanced on top. Flickering candles gathered on each side of the polished stone, providing the only source of light. Hypnotic music and spicy incense swirled around him like seductive fingers drawing him into the room.


“Sit,” came a low feminine voice from out of nowhere. A tall, lanky woman wearing a long, flowing black dress, appeared from behind the curtain. Her pale shoulders shimmered in the candle light as she glided into the room. Eric’s brain, still foggy from the alcohol, could do nothing but comply. He lumbered over to the large high back chair, upholstered in the color of midnight, and lowered himself as carefully as he could. Without a word, the woman took the chair across from him, her long chestnut plait swinging across her back. 


“Shall we see what’s in store for you,” said the woman, more of a statement than a question. Eric just shrugged in response, not really sure he could do anything else. Slender fingers skimmed the surface of the shiny orb and a low hum emanated from the fortune teller’s throat. She was quiet for so long that Eric thought maybe he had actually passed out in an alley and this was all a dream. 


“Love,” she said suddenly. Eric only had time to blink before she continued. “I see love in your future.” She tossed him a sly smile. “Love is what you want, yes?”


His brows drew together in concentration as he thought for a moment. Of course I want love. It would be nice to finally see what the fuss was about. To have someone around to eat dinner with every night or enjoy an evening stroll together. Eric nodded and gave the woman a shy smile. 


“I can see the one you love,” she said, her hands cupping the crystal ever so gently as she continued scrying. “Your love is beautiful. I see shiny, copper hair and a big, easy smile. They give love easily. A perfect partner.”


A perfect partner? That seemed too good to be true. How would he go about finding this person anyway? And when? Tomorrow? Next week? Ten years from now? 


As if reading his thoughts, the fortune teller answered, “Love will find you. Very soon.” Her hands abruptly dropped from the ball, and her head jerked up to look at him, as if attached to marionette strings. Clear blue eyes bore down on him, staring into his soul, as the music swelled and incense smoke danced in his vision. A quick crack of thunder sounded and suddenly, everything went black.


One week later


It was one of those beautiful days where one couldn’t possibly be in a bad mood. A cloudless Saturday morning, the sun radiating its happiness down onto the world. With a spring in his step, Eric walked from the farmer’s market back to his one bedroom apartment. The guys had made it back from their Louisiana trip safe and sound earlier that week and were back to the daily grind. While fun was had by all, they barely remembered anything from their vacation, which was probably the point.


As Eric fished in his pocket for his keys, a force flew at him from behind, knocking him to the ground. His bag of fresh veggies went flying from his hands, potatoes and carrots cartwheeling across the sidewalk. “Scout, no!” A frantic voice shouted behind him. “Scout, drop it! Leave it! Oh, I’m so sorry!” Eric clambered up to see a young woman scrambling to pick up his produce before the dog could give them all a taste. She quickly filled his bag with what she had collected, apologizing profusely. “I’m so sorry! Are you ok?”


Eric looked at her and nodded, in a bit of a daze. Short copper waves escaped the messy bun on the top of her head, falling into her eyes. Freckles dotted the bridge of her nose where a pair of emerald green glasses were perched. Full, pink lips stretched across her face into an easy smile, accentuating a large dimple in her left cheek. Eric blinked. This moment felt strange, eerily familiar even, though he had never met this woman before, he was sure of it. A thunderous bark from below snagged his attention. He looked down at the dog that had assaulted him. 


“This is Scout,” the woman said, “he’s a Golden Retriever, obviously. A bit of a rambunctious one at that.” Eric squatted down to Scout’s level.  


“He’s not mine,” the woman rambled on, as if he had inquired. “The Humane Society has a tent at the farmer’s market this morning and I’m just volunteering. Scout is here because he’s up for adoption. Normally he’s a good boy, aren’t you, Scout?” 


Eric set his bags to the side to get a good look at the dog. His silky coat was the color of rust, and smooth to the touch, as if he had just been groomed. He scratched behind his ears and Scout leaned his head into Eric’s palm for more. His mouth hung open in what looked like a happy, lazy grin, slobber drooling out the side. Then their eyes locked. Eric’s lids felt heavy all of a sudden and a spicy smell of smoke filled his nostrils. The sound of thunder crackled in his ear and then everything went dark.


One month later


Eric had always thought of himself as pretty content with his life. He worked hard, enjoyed the outdoors and had plenty of interests to keep him busy. It never occurred to him that something was indeed lacking. Who would have thought that having another to share life with would change things so dramatically? He could no longer just think of himself, there was another one around to care for. It did something to Eric, pricked at his chest, causing him to feel things. This inexplicable longing had suddenly consumed him. A desire to share dinner after a long day’s work, to walk along the river every evening, basking in the pink and purple hues of the sunset together. And the need to feel the weight of another next to him in bed, as he did right now. Eric reached over to touch the face of his love. Panting through a slobbery grin, Scout leaned into the touch. Their eyes met, Scout’s intense gaze reached all the way down into Eric’s soul and plucked the man’s unused heart strings. Liquid tenderness spilled through Eric’s chest. So this is what all the fuss is about. 


July 02, 2022 02:34

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2 comments

Kevin Marlow
07:15 Jul 03, 2022

Clever angle; why do men need that? At some point he says wait, copper hair, Huh?

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Shalon Atwood
14:59 Jul 03, 2022

Let's be real, he's not the brightest. 😆 I'm not sure he could have handled a real human relationship. Thanks for reading!

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