The Perfect Way

Prompt: Quicken

vodka-ice-water-ice-8493509

“Only you make my heart quicken,” said Kenneth, sitting on the edge of the bed. He had loosened his tie, and his shirt, a size too big in an attempt minimize his weight gain, bunched around his abdomen. He was pale and white.

They were in the Presidential Suite at the Four Season’s Hotel. Outside the windows, city lights twinkled and dimmed. Lydia was seated in a dove grey, faux suede sectional couch, long legs crossed. She was, as usual, fresh, fragrant, and immaculately groomed.

“Thank you, Kenny,” said Lydia. “Will we be in bed tonight, or simply talking as we did last time?”

“In bed, Lydia,” said Kenneth. He went to the bar and poured them both a vodka, brilliantly clear over brilliantly clear, crystal, half-melted ice cubes. “You know my story. I’m in danger.”

“I do,” she said. She stood and walked to where Kenneth sat on the crisp linen bedspread. She stroked his thinning hair. “How is Magda?”

“She’s good, the kids are good,” he said. “Everything is good.” He then spoke quietly and precisely, as if he’d prepared a speech. “If you leave quietly later on, so much the better.”

“I understand,” said Lydia. “But I’m not sure.”

“I can’t think of a better way.”

“For you.”

“Yes, for me, but I am also sparing Magda,” said Kenneth.

Lydia raised her eyebrows as if to say, Now?, and Kenneth had the perception to blush. It had been a difficult six months. The salacious scandal, the humiliating reveals, the financial losses, the intense stress, the devastating health problems, and the loss of face and reputation, all while clinging to the deadening belief that enough lies would temper the pain.

They made athletic love in the king size, pristine white-sheeted bed. If the dead have memories, then Lydia provided lots of those. He left in the perfect way that only those who choose can know. His heart quickened, and he died.

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Courage and Finesse

Prompt: Zing!

 

hummingbird-on-white-bg

“You are too perfect,” Annie said.

“Make me imperfect,” said Virginia.

Annie smiled. “That’s not what I do.”

They were on Annie’s balcony in East Manhattan, an extension of her new, small two bedroom apartment. It was set high enough that traffic and street noise were a pleasant, comforting hum. Twinkling lights were starting to appear.

“I am far from perfect anyway,” Virginia said, with some irritation. “Treat me like any commission.”

They both took a sip of wine. “I’m too expensive for you,” said Annie.

“I’ll give you a jar of my homemade cranberry peach jam,” said Virginia.

Annie hesitated. She pushed her glasses farther up the bridge of her nose. “Ok,” she said. “I have studio time next month. I want you to arrive as your imperfect self.”

“No makeup?” said Virginia.

“No nothing of any kind. Bring your pain and lost memories. We’ll find something.”

Virginia nodded. It was time she was revealed for the fraud she was. She looked forward to it. It would be cleansing, freeing, a path full of stones and dust that would lead to the person she really was, which was not perfectly beautiful, nor perfect in nature, nor perfect in any way at all.

“Your husband contacted me,” said Annie.

There was a slightly chill breeze. Virginia pulled the muslin wrap around her shoulders. “Cash? Seriously?”

“Yes. I didn’t remember him at first, but I think he was at that Vanity Fair couture shoot in Paris? Eating all the eclairs.”

Virginia laughed. “Yes, that’s Cash.” She set her wine glass down on a sleek stainless steel side table. “How did he even get your number? What did he want?”

“How, I don’t know. Am I in your phone?” said Annie. “He wanted advice. He submitted three pics to the PhotoLens international nature photography contest, and seemed surprised that he didn’t win it.”

“Oh no, sorry Annie.”

Annie waved her hand. “He contacted me in text, then sent me the photographs he submitted to the contest. Really nice shots of hummingbirds. He didn’t seem to realize he wasn’t the first to capture a hummingbird mid-flight.”

“Cash believes all his random thoughts are original and kind of genius,” said Virginia. “What did you tell him?”

“That his shots were good. But unoriginal. Even a great shot has to have an essence. His shots were technically ok, but spiritually void.”

“Wow,” said Virginia.

“Yes, sorry, I hope he wasn’t upset.”

“He said nothing.”

“Ask him about it, if you are still talking,” said Annie.

“Yeah we are, mostly,” said Virginia.

“Still not interested in changing teams?” said Annie. “I know I’m too old and too busy and too self-absorbed, but I know some good people.”

“No thanks, Annie,” said Virginia. “Tempted as I might be. And thank you for counselling Cash.”

“Does he even know who I am?” asked Annie.

“Oh god no,” said Virginia. “He knows you are a photographer friend of mine. Cash is like a figure skater, Annie. He skims across the ice, sometimes with great courage and finesse, and has amazing moves and tricks, but has no curiosity about what lies below the surface.”

“I thought he was a treasure to be discovered.” Virginia said. “Annie, he is a treasure, but a box of shiny gems, with no diamonds or gold coins hidden deeper in the treasure chest, but he is…” She paused and picked a fruit fly out of her glass of merlot. She flicked it into the night, over the city of New York.

“Hmm,” said Annie. “More wine?”

Virginia looked at the lights of the lower east side, now shimmering in the darkness. She was incapable of deciding what do do with her life until she understood who she was. “Yes please,” she said. “Thanks, Annie.”

Unstoppable

Prompt: Unstoppable

megality

Kimberly Bak was having second thoughts. It’s normal to have second thoughts, her mother told her when she tried to broach the subject on the weekend. The wedding megalith had started its unstoppable journey towards the union of Kimberly Nuance Bak and Harrison Albert Pepper.

The secret service had been to the house and searched the grounds, and even installed a few security cameras, because the wife of a President of the United States was attending, along with her daughter and son-in-law. You could hardly have the feds poking around your home and asking questions of your staff, and then call the whole thing off.

The marquees, and wooden dance floor, and bunting and garlands were all set up on the back lawn. Invitations had been send and responded to. Gifts were set up on display in the downstairs guest room. Kimberley’s wedding dress had been altered, received, gently pressed and hung in her closet. The caterers had left crates of plates, utensils and decorations in the kitchen foyer. The band and the photographers had sent confirmation messages. Harrison Pepper had sponsored Kimberly’s father’s membership application to the golf club.

She had hinted to her mother that she wanted to tell Harrison about the baby.

“There is no— was no— baby,” said Kelly Bak.

“I don’t regret it,” Kimberly said slowly. “But I feel bad about it.”

“You are a sweet child,” said her mother. “And were a child when you got pregnant.” She pushed Kimberley’s chestnut hair off her face. “There is no need to mention it to Harrison. I’m sure he has a few skeletons in his closet.”

“I don’t want to know,” said Kimberly.

“And I’m sure he feels the same way.”

But Kimberly wanted to tell him anyway. If he was offended or horrified, and called off the wedding, well, she would feel relieved. She was pretty sure she would feel relieved. What she liked most about Harrison was the sex, followed by his sense of humour and his ease with people, his skill at anything he put his hand to, and his respect for her parents.

She just wasn’t sure that she loved him.

Dirty Girl

Prompt: Dirty

girl in blue.gods pearl

Your dress is getting filthy, child –you are a dirty girl!
I looked up from the muddy lane and saw my mother frown.
How dare you talk to me like that, you’re a dirty little girl!
It was a pretty word I learned at school, but daddy put it down.
You have such a dirty mind, you are a dirty girl!
I thought the joke was funny but my boyfriend disagreed.
Be dirty with me baby, be a dirty little girl!
Say wicked, shameful things to me!  I heard my husband plead.

Be clean, be chaste, be perfect; be God’s loving little pearl.
Except at night, in shadows, never be a dirty girl.