Friday, September 29, 2006

FFF#5 or Indian Summer

Vanessa stared at the mask before her. She was mesmerized by the bright colors, the way the eye of the creature seemed to gleam and change shades in the light, almost as if it were alive. The mane of the beast was made of cobras all smiling like benevolent gods.
Of all the masks on display this one spoke to her the most. Was it because it was a fertility mask or because of the person who donated the mask to the exhibit, or was it a combination. She wasn’t sure and she did not want to delve deep enough to find out.

She shook her head. ‘Snap out of it girl,’ she thought to herself as she took aim with her camera, ‘get the shot and get out.’
No sooner had she taken the last shot than she heard the voice she had been hoping to avoid.
“I was wondering if they would send you.”

Vanessa slowly lowered the camera, trying to collect herself. She knew, when sent on this assignment, that she might run into him.
“Rob, I thought you weren’t expected until later.” She turned with a smile fixed in place. Rob looked almost exactly as she remembered. She had to take a step back to be able to look at him from a comfortable angle. His hair had a bit more grey peppering it. His polo shirt accented his defined chest, the sleeves hugged his arms. The hours spent in the sun on digs, showed in his tanned skin and fine lines around his eyes.

“When Cathy told me you were working for the paper, I thought they might send you. So I came early, I wanted the chance to say hi.” The familiar grin that graced his mouth sent memories flooding back. Memories Vanessa did not want to dwell on.

“Imagine,” He continued, ”our class gossip, became a newspaper reporter, who’d a thunk it. What made you come back here? I thought you would be traveling, taking pictures around the world. Not here in our home town.”

Vanessa moved to put her camera away. She needed time. She needed to not be here. Damn Cathy for sending her on this assignment. Leave it to her best friend to stick her nose where Vanessa didn’t want it.

“Thanks. Cat’s not a reporter, she’s the editor now. A lot can happen in five years.” Vanessa shrugged trying to appear casual, “As for me, I saw what I wanted of the world, but home kept calling me back. And here I am.”

Picking up her equipment Vanessa prepared to leave. To sail out of the museum as neatly as he had sailed out of her life.
“It was good seeing you Rob. I hope your exhibit goes well.”

“Nessie, can’t we have dinner or something? Old friends catching up and all?” The nickname stopped her. The memories she was trying to hold at bay came flooding back.

The huge crush she had on him in high school when he only saw her as a friend. The dream come true at the reunion, when they had danced “Just for old times’ sake” he had said. Finally in his arms, the weight of his hands as they rested on her hips, his body pressed to hers, and whatever had lead up to that kiss. The first time his lips touched hers, almost as if it was an accident, then they came back for more. His mouth, soft and firm at the same time. Leaving the reunion and finding their way to his room in the hotel. The weeks of passion that followed and just as she was letting herself believe that they would be together, he was gone.

“Nes, please” his voice softer now, caressing. Vanessa closed her eyes willing herself to be strong, not to give into the temptation, even though her body woke when he spoke the first sentence, she knew she was fighting a losing battle. Her body and her heart fighting her mind.

One night, she could say yes to dinner and have one more night to add to her memories. Or she could say no, he would leave in a day or two and her life would continue on as it had been for the past few years.
“Sure, dinner sounds fine.”

“I had forgotten how good a Sal burger is.” Rob held the door open for Vanessa as they left the restaurant, “But I think ate to much. Want to help me walk some of this off?” He pointed to the park across the street.

Rob took her hand and tugged slightly “Come on. Just a small walk?”
“Just a small one.” She said against her better judgement. She expected him to let go of her hand. It felt so natural that she didn’t argue when he didn’t.
They reached the edge of the park, the lights from across the river reflecting on the water. Rob stopped and leaned against the railing. He held on to her hand but he didn’t look at her.

“Thanks for having dinner with me. I was surprised when you agreed.” He stole a glance in her direction,” I really expected you to just slap my face in the museum and keep going.”

“Don’t think, I didn’t think about it, for half a second.” She turned her back to the river, leaning on the rail.
“So you forgive me?”

“What is there to forgive? We had fun, no strings attached remember.” She smiled trying to keep her tone light.

“You’re lying.”

He moved his arm around her pinning her to the rail. He didn’t give her a chance to move, even if she had wanted to. Her stomach tightened into a ball of need as soon as his lips touched hers. Her mind tried to reason to remind her this was a mistake. Her body told her this was just right. Her skin tingled where his body touched hers. Her breast ached with sweet intensity, wanting, needing, to feel his hands on them. For the first time in years, she was fully alive. Every cell in her body telling her brain exactly where it was and what it wanted next.

When they finally broke apart neither spoke, but walked together in complete agreement toward his hotel.

“How did it go yesterday?” Cathy stepped up to Vanessa’s desk and leaned against it.
“Went fine.”
“Well, was he there? Did you talk to him? Come on give. I waited like a good girl all night for you to call me.”
“What’s to tell? We ran into each other, he asked me to dinner, end of story. He’ll leave in a few days and that will be that ” Vanessa moved papers around on her desk, hopping Cathy would drop it.
“No..he..won’t” Cathy stared hard at her friend.
“What..what do you mean ‘he won’t’?”
Cathy put her hand on Vanessa’s shoulders and looked straight into her eyes, “I mean he took the job of principal at the elementary school.” Cathy shook her head.” He won’t be going anywhere for a while.” Cathy pulled off the desk and looked back at it, “I thought you knew that, Ness.” And she walked away.
Vanessa could only stare at her desk. At the picture of the four year old little boy with Robs smile, who was starting kindergarten in two weeks.

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Blogger leyna said...

You sure hooked me, i was disapointed when the story ended.

9/29/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Yomomma said...

Great ending, room for the imagination to run free.

9/29/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger JDB said...

I like the way you used this otherwordly object as a jumping off point for a very real story. Nicely done.

9/29/2006 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Kappa no He said...

Great story and friggin'-great ending!! You should send it to some of the mags!

9/30/2006 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Bk30 said...

Thanks guys!
Kappa send me some sugestions..I might :)

10/01/2006 01:50:00 AM  
Blogger Cave Dweller said...

Now that leaves room for so much more in the story. A whole can of wormy snakes opened up in the ending.

Are you planning to add to this? You really should think about it.

Great story!

10/01/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Kappa no He said...

Recently I like Duotrope. If you go there you'll see a "Search for Publishers" part where you can choose all sorts of things (genre, length, payscale, etc.). If you choose short-short under length and leave everything else as it is, you will get a TON of markets. I waste many an hour combing through those.

10/02/2006 04:51:00 AM  

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