AN ILLUSTRATED SHORT STORY
She made a grand entrance, as usual, causing quite the disturbance. Bob’s glasses fogged up, causing him to bump shoulders with the maître d’ as he rose to greet her. His wine glass soared through the air, spinning end over end as the crimson liquid showered down onto the patrons below. Finally, it hit the checkered tile floor in front of her, shattering into a million pieces.
Unfazed, she strutted her way across the debris and onto the stage…
“Good evening,” she said as the microphone reached her lips, “this one’s for you Bob.”
The crowd applauded, not just for the woman but for Bob as well. He had gone unrecognized until the wine debacle caused every eye in the room to gaze upon him. He had removed his dampened jacket, revealing a colorful football jersey.
His face displayed the signs of a life well lived, and his balding head was covered with a handsome newsboy cap. His firm and muscular body, the one that had taken the team to the championship years ago, revealed his true identity… the town’s former star quarterback.
Bob was enjoying the attention, but he was having difficulty seeing the faces of his admirers since he’d lost his glasses in the confusion. It wasn’t until he heard the room gasp that he noticed a striking figure at the back of the room. There he was. His nemesis.
Bob recognized him immediately, dressed in his old familiar garb, looking like old Willie from the Chocolate Factory had just stepped down from the stage and was now basking in the audience’s cheers for an encore performance.
“I believe these are yours,” he said with a straight face, holding Bob’s glasses in the air.
Things hadn’t always been uneasy between Bob and Draco. Years ago, the two of them—along with Anastasia who was now watching from the stage—were thick as thieves. They lived in a land that was like no other. The valley was lush and green, surrounded by fragrant purple and blue mountains that sheltered the town from the icy ocean winds.
The three grew up together, there in the valley, and they loved each other in the most pure and transcendent way possible. It was childlike and platonic. Until the summer of ‘85, that is, the year that changed everything.
Before Bob could respond, and before Draco knew what had hit him, the host pranced by on horseback – looking like Lady Godiva, no less – and she snatched Bob’s glasses away from Draco. The mob roared, and some bloke in the back let out a loud catcall. His wife slapped him so hard that the entire room fell silent, and then Draco began to shriek with laughter.
No one knew what he had come there to do, but the madness that had enveloped the room seemed enough to satisfy him and he left the building almost unnoticed. The only signs of him that remained were the echoes of guffawing slowly fading down the alley.
Bob gestured to the onlookers, getting them to settle down and turn their attention back to the stage. Anastasia had written a new song and this was the night of its unveiling. He worried that she might blame him for all of the disruptions, since his presence was what had instigated the fiasco, but she reassured him with a warm wink.
As she raised the microphone, Bob blushed at how elegant she looked. She had slipped out for a wardrobe change when everyone else was preoccupied, and she was now adorned with the most intriguing dress. It had lettering on it, like nothing he had ever seen before.
He wasn’t sure, but it looked as though it was some kind of excerpt from a dictionary, or maybe a thesaurus. The significance of it came to light when she began singing the chorus, and he realized that the song was about “word games.”
“How could I ever stop loving this woman,” he thought to himself.
He never had stopped loving her, he had simply left town with the hopes of forgetting her. It wasn’t even his idea to leave, it was his father’s recommendation. He thought that Bob needed to make a clean break—that he should start afresh. And now, some ten years later, and in spite of the fact that Bob had made a name for himself, he realized that moving away had been in vain. No matter the distance, or even the amount of time apart, she would always be his one true love.
He watched her on stage and imagined the two of them dancing together, like they had that night in ‘85, when the moon had cast its spell on them, and they had forgotten that anything else in the world existed—including Draco.
It was humid that summer evening, like June usually is in the valley, and the three of them had gone down to the swimming hole to cool down. Draco wandered off, like he always did, trying to trap fireflies in a jar. Bob and Anastasia stayed in the water, swimming until their arms and legs were so tired that they could barely climb up the shore.
It’s when they got out to rest that the moon enraptured them. Bob’s hand touched hers as they looked up at its magical light, and each of them smiled with both joy and confusion. Neither one had thought of the other as anything but a friend, like brother and sister, but with this new sensation, their world was suddenly different.
As if they were hypnotized, perhaps by the moon itself, Bob and Anastasia held each other and began to move. They danced to the sound of a melody that only the two of them could hear.
It wasn’t until they heard Draco returning that the strange spell was broken. Unsure of what had happened, and afraid of what Draco might say, the two scurried around for a hiding place until they settled behind the velvet grass.
Bob was lost in his head (thinking about that night some seventeen years ago) when Anastasia finally finished her song. As the applause died down, she gestured to someone behind the crowd and every eye in the room looked to see a stunning young girl. She seemed to be a teenager, but her beauty was that of someone much older. She moved as Anastasia did, with a swagger that could turn heads.
As Anastasia began to speak, the young girl opened the window to reveal the beautiful night sky and an explosion of colorful fireworks. Anastasia’s words were silenced beneath the thunderous noise, but Bob was sure that he could tell what her lips had said, and he was flabbergasted… in disbelief of what he had heard.
“… this is my daughter everyone…”