(Author’s Note: I’d like to give a shout out to Jason E. Gillikin, a good friend of mine who I have had the pleasure of contacting and being in contact with for many years. We both grew in our writing, and he is the Editor in Chief of Caffeinated Press, an anthology publisher based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has helped me, in many ways, to get back to writing the way it should be. If you get a chance, you should visit his website: http://www.jegillikin.org/ )
Never one to dally, he reached over to the table and grabbed a charcoal pencil and his paper, and started to sketch.
A smooth nose, sleek lines jutting back from the rounded nose. A bump on the top towards the front, and a long tubular body. Each part of the drawing called upon the memory of his dream, the horror and awe of what he imagined.
Two ellipses, flattened, bisected the main body, rounding on either side, but thin enough to look like the blade of a knife.
Pia Nagala was incredible. No one who looked upon her would have doubted it.
Among the world of the urban man, she would have been called “on fleek”, or looking very fine. The air about her was captivating, and she held your gaze constantly. For any man, she would be considered as close to perfect as one could get.
The guy on her arm, however, would be another story.
Charles Trainor would not be considered “on fleek”. He was a good looking man, but unremarkable compared to Pia. A lot of people wondered why they ended up together, first in a touch-and-go relationship, then much more steady. Some even warned Charles to be careful, that he wouldn’t rush too far and be too focused.
“So, what do you plan to do now?”
The question from Darryl, one of Charles’s good friends, was pointed. It cut home quickly, without much of a fuss, and Charles shrinked down in his chair at it.
“Plan to do about what?” he responded.
“About Pia. You two have been dating for a while, and now there is full on, undisputed evidence that she’s been involved in some really nasty behaviors.”
“Yeah, but you’re the one who gave me that evidence.”
Darryl’s olive green eyes narrowed as he looked at Charles. He was correct, it was his investigation of Pia that brought up the evidence of her dalliances with tarot readers and illicit sex acts in places that Charles would never go to. He looked over at the manila envelope, sitting lazily on an end table, the contents of the package spilling out onto the floor.
The color photos that were visible had showed the chestnut haired woman with a blissful look on her face as she was leaving a tarot parlor. Another photo, laying on the floor and facing towards the ceiling, had the oblivious woman walking towards a warehouse door. She was wearing skintight clothing that showed off her endowments, uncharacteristic of the normally demure young lady commonly found on Charles’s arm.
“Pictures don’t lie, Chuck. She’s been playing you this whole time.”
“But, how can it be that she would do this? I mean, she was the one who helped get me straight with my father. She was the one who helped me get in touch with guys who were able to keep me accountable about my binge drinking. Heck, she was able to help me find you!”
Darryl’s face grew a slight bit more red, more from embarrassment than anger. Again, a true statement, as Pia introduced Darryl and Charles at a dinner party a few months back. They had become very close, due to their higher age and their similar tastes in music and food.
“C’mon, Chuck, you know me. You know my record, and you know that I wouldn’t lie about Pia.”
Charles ran his hands up his face and through his straight, thick black hair. The expression on his face was like a man who was about to crack up. His neck muscles tensed as the factoid bounced through his head like a small bouncy ball.
He sighed, his shoulders slumping down in defeat.
“You’re right. You wouldn’t lie about her.”
“I don’t like saying things like that, man. I know she was something very special and she made you feel really good.”
“You’re right. She did. But, I know that she has other…”
He stopped for a moment, shaking his head as he thought about the depravity of it all.
“Seriously? That warehouse was a sex club?”
“Yeah. The PI that went in there came back and showed me the video that was in there. I had to tell him to turn it off after the first minute…”
“Yeah, yeah. No need to recount those details.”
“So, as I asked, what now?”
“I am not sure what exactly to do about it.”
Charles looked around the beautiful living room that was part of his new place. He gazed at the crystal light that hung over the living room table, remarking in his mind about how beautiful it made the rest of the living room.
The new place was possible because of her help. A fact that Charles knew could be a big problem if things blew up.
“It might just be good to get it into the open and just break it off with her cleanly,” Darryl said, taking a sip of his dark Colombian roast coffee.
“But, that could mean trouble. Remember, she’s pretty influential among my friends.”
“Duh! I know that! Remember that most of them are my friends, too!”
As Charles started to stand, the screech of tires emanated into the house. Darryl looked at Charles for the briefest of moments, locking eyes with him, before he bolted from the chair to the pictures. As Darryl furiously scrambled to put all the evidence back into the envelope, Charles paced back and forth.
The slam of the car door lightly reverberated into the house. The wrinkles around Charles’s eyes became more pronounced with each second’s passing.
Charles’s heart panicked and quickened as he heard the keys slide into the door to the garage.
The door opened, and Pia walked in. As she closed the door, her green A-line skirt twirled around her, barely showing her knees. She turned around, her fuzzy white sweater covering her torso and arms, holding a bag of groceries.
She smiled as she looked at Charles.
“Charlie! You’re here! Can you help me with these groceries?”
Charles’s face froze in a look of petrified shock. He could not move, could not blink, could not do anything. When Pia looked him in the face, her infectious smile lessened.
“Charlie, are you okay?”
Charles blinked, then smiled bashfully.
“I’m sorry, Pia. I had some bad news come to me today that caused me some issues. I was just talking with Darryl about it when you came in.”
He walked over to her, picked up the bag from her hands, and started to unpack them. Pia just smiled and bit her lip as she walked back to the garage. After a few minutes, and putting the bags away, she put her hands around his waist. She pressed herself into his back.
“So, dear, what was the bad news?”
“Oh, you remember that job I applied for? The one at the newspaper?”
“Yeah, you were happy about that one.”
“I didn’t get it. They called me just before you got here, and told me that I had excellent references and information.”
“And other people were more what they were looking for, right?”
Pia turned Charles around with her hands and gazed into his caramel brown eyes. Her own deep, dark eyes showed sincerity.
“Don’t worry. God’s on your side, and you will get that job. He provides.”
“I know he does, Pia. I just hope that something comes soon. It’s really gonna be hard to deal with if I can’t find something here to provide for my living expenses.”
“He’s already come through for you before, right?”
“Yeah, he has. I just really wish there weren’t so many other issues to deal with.”
She laid her head against his chest, as Darryl carefully walked into the kitchen.
“Hey there, Pia.”
“Heya, Darryl. How’s everything been?”
“Eh, not much to say. Rita is doing alright, but she’s mostly home for now.”
Pia looked into his eyes, giving a solemn nod.
“I gotta run, Charlie,” he said, taking one last look at his friend. A friend who was locked in an embrace with a temptress.
He looked at Pia, sweet and innocent Pia, as the images of her in revealing clothing flashed past his eyes. His face became stony, and he quickly walked out of the kitchen. Neither Pia nor Charles did anything until the door slammed.
Pia was the first to break the silence.
“Is it just me, or did it seem like he had something wrong with him?” she asked, as she turned towards the stove.
“Nah. I think he’s just been under stress with the children at school.”
“I thought he liked his job.”
“They take a lot out of him and today was his first real day off.”
“That would explain it. So, what do you want for dinner?”
Charles was about to say something when she turned around and looked at him, with the usual and beautiful smile she always gave him. He worked his hardest not to show anything but an emotion of gratitude.
“Oh, whatever you wish. I am more interested in just resting than watching you cook tonight.”
“Aww,” she pouted, making herself look more enticing than before, “I was hoping you’d help me.”
Charles nervously laughed, looking everywhere for a way out.
“That news really took me hard. I think I’m just going to go into the living room and lie down.”
“Okay!” she beamed, “I’ll let you know when dinner is ready.”
As Charles left the room, he breathed a sigh of relief.
“I really don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up…”
The Lady In White
(aka Take Me With You)
by Miles Rost
I’ve seen her before. In the recesses of my mind, when I haven’t been paying attention, she’s there.
It usually starts the same way. I’m doing some sort of work-related task, maybe grousing a bit, or I hear a certain song. My mind drifts off to a beautiful beach. I assume that I am on a beach somewhere in the Southern Pacific, somewhere like Australia. That seems to be where my mind drifts off to, lately.
I’m on this beach, and I see this woman in front of me. She’s grabbing a hold of my wrist and forearm, laughing and being playful. Never do I see her face, but I do see what she wears. Each time I have the dream, or vision, she’s always wearing the same thing.
She wears a white cord-knit sweater, a slight bit bulky but not too big. Big enough to hide things, but not enough to make it a true mystery, even though most times the dream is a bit fuzzy (like when I don’t wear my glasses.) The sweater is a long-sleeved one, and reminds me of an older style of dress. She also wears a pair of white pants. I’m not sure if they’re jeans, capris, thin material, or whatnot. They show her curves off, but not so much as to make her look like a Kardashian or Mitsune Konno. Finally, she wears a pair of white canvas shoes. I know that they are because I cannot perceive holes anywhere on the shoes. It would also fit the idea of beach attire.
Strangely enough, I never see her face. She seems to have long hair, but I’m not sure what color it is exactly. It could be brown, black, or even red. But never do I see her face. It’s always obscured, or blurred out like one of those pixelated pictures to hide a person’s identity. Always a bit frustrating, but hey, who said dreams and visions weren’t a challenge?
The first part of the dream or vision, as I said earlier, is her pulling me along the beach. I can feel the salt in the air, and I can see that she is laughing. Apparently, she’s either wanting me to see something, or she’s just happy that I’m there. It’s in slower motion, but I noticed that she’s trying to keep me close as we stumble down the sandy shore.
Each time I’ve had the vision of her, it’s been a bit different. The first time I had the vision, we were as said above. But in later ones, she’s always been in my mind. Recently, when going through the final processes of giving up an addiction from which 20 years descended, I saw her in my dream. She wasn’t pulling on my sleeve. The air about her seemed to be serious, but with loving concern, and she gave me a thumbs up. It seemed like she was saying “You’re gonna make it through, and I’m here for you.”
Other times, I’ve had more than one dream or vision in sequence. The other dream is of both of us on a porch, looking over a hilly meadow and a tree that has afternoon autumn sunlight peeking through the browning leaves of the tree. She’s laying against my shoulder, while I hold her gently. We just sit for hours as the sun falls below the hills off in the distance.
I keep wondering about this lady in white. It feels quite a bit like one of those bad anime where a boy makes a promise to a young girl that they will be together and get married, and they move away from each other for 15 years or so, and meet up again to find that they’re different…and yet, so alike.
There are so many different possible explanations to what it could be. From wild and creative ideamaking, to a personal prophecy, to inter-soul communications, there are hundreds of explanations.
But I realize that sometimes, an explanation is not the thing that one needs. Maybe, just maybe, one may have to enjoy those fleeting moments in your own mind. If it turns out to be true, then all the better…
He walked down the street, small rolling suitcase following behind him like a stray puppy dog looking for an owner. He was despondent, and tired, but he had to get to his destination. So he kept on walking.
He was close to his destination, when he looked over at a bus stop. Normally, a bus stop wouldn’t inspire any sort of pause for him, but the plexiglass and metal frame, with a bench and transit computer inside, immediately shot a memory into his head, sending him backwards a moment.
His mind carried to the forefront a memory of a woman that he gave his heart to. The image of him on a cold winter’s evening, holding her from behind, overlayed his vision of the now-empty bus stop. His vision filled with the warm feelings on his face as he nestled it next to hers. He played the role that night, of the knight in armor bright, faithful and true.
He continued to look at the bus stop, and he saw the moment where things went south. The vision of himself and his beautiful young woman, having a battle of major proportions there at that bus stop. He didn’t even remember what it was about, it was so long ago. All he saw was the fight that they had, and how the tears that flowed from her eyes broke his heart even now. He knew he made a mistake, but there was nothing he could do about it.
In a moment’s blink, the bus stop returned to it’s empty state, with a bus pulling away from it and roaring down the street. In his heart, he felt the hole in his heart. It was always there, ever since that day, but there was nothing he could do to fill it. All he could do is let time heal his wounds.
He started walking again, slowly, as he approached his destination. He went to the counter, and the Korean woman asked him where he wanted to go.
“Busan,” he said. After a moment, and a swipe of his card, he received his tickets and went downstairs to the departing buses. He took up a seat on a bench near where his bus was, and he just looked around.
Twenty minutes passed by before his bus to Busan pulled in and started loading passengers. As he walked up towards the door, he took a look back at the terminal and saw a blonde-haired figure standing far back, looking at him from a distance. He tried to see if it was her, but he couldn’t see her face. After a few second and a blinking of his eyes, she was gone.
He put his suitcase under the bus and got on board. As the bus pulled away, he looked at the terminal and the city surrounding it. He sighed, knowing that his time was finished and he was moving on. He wished that he didn’t have to go. He wanted to be the one to hold her in his arms. Yet, he knew it could never happen.
He would never know if he could love anyone else again, and as he traveled in silence towards the eastern coast and a ferry that would transport him to his new home, tears started to flow down his face.