Beyond Curtains of Lace

Well, here we go again. My last entry for this flashfiction was 494 words. Over the 400 word limit. So I reworked Beyond the Lace Curtains to this new piece.  379 words.

Beyond Curtains of Lace             Louise Sorensen October 10, 2012   image    website    shortlink

Only three people heard the faint strain of Flamenco guitar playing upon the wind that All Hallows Eve. Melinda the rider, Mateo the warrior, and Anna Maria the dancer. Of the three, only the dancer followed the music to the crumbling house brooding on the hill.

The old church bell tolled twelve. Peering through the glass French doors, the dancer startled as pale lace curtains lifted from the wall.

Green mist filled the room, the doors yawned wide.

The dancer entered.

With an unseen wind the curtains filled. A woman pale as bone appeared, glided ‘cross  the wooden floor with bruising kisses from her dancing shoes. The guitar awoke, eyes bright, played harder. The woman, rhythm faster, eyed the dancer.

The dancer dreamed the music on her lips, hands high stirred the burning air with finger tips, struck the bare wood floor with heels, soft leather. The floor trembled to her rough caress. Throughout the empty house her footsteps echoed, drumbeat of a hollow heart.

The woman  tattooed stars and circles on the floor, the dancer matched her step for step. A violin wept lost love, revenge, betrayal. A trumpet sang out molten notes, despair, and hope.

The woman sighed, ‘Dance with me,’ upon the rushing air.

They whirled around, bathed in moonlight steaming through the open doors. The woman held out her hand “Come with me, stay with me, be with me.’

Green lightnings crackled in the air, the walls gently parted. Soft lightnings stroked the dancer’s skin, then minnow quick, flashed away.
The lightnings  spun together, wove a man. The woman laced the dancer tight.

The dancer fought with all her might, the dreamy wrappings.

Tore away the lacy curtains made of ghosts. Escaped the woman pale as bone, the dark eyed man sketched all in lightnings. Flew through the open French doors. Disappeared into the lonely night.

The wail of the woman, the cry of the man pursued her, spurring on her flight.

For it was not her time to leave the town, all the life within.

Not her time to release the lovers, dance in the woman’s place.

Not her time to be lost forever in a silent world, beyond curtains of lace.

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Beyond the Lace Curtains

Beyond The Lace Curtains  Louise Sorensen October 3, 2012   image    Flashfiction website


Only three people heard the faint strain of Flamenco guitar playing upon the wind that All Hallows Eve. Melinda the rider, Mateo the warrior, and Anna Maria the dancer. Of the three, only the dancer followed the music to the lonely old house brooding on the hill.

Peering through the glass of the French doors, the dancer felt the toll of the wooden clock standing in the corner, as it struck twelve. She startled as the pale lace curtains on the wall lifted and swirled.

A mist of green rose in the room, the doors opened of their own accord, and Anna Maria the dancer, stepped through.

The lace curtains billowed in an unseen wind, a hazy shape took form. A woman pale as bone glided across the boards, bruising the wooden floor with kisses from the heels of her dancing shoes. The guitar woke up and played a little louder, the woman increased her rhythm, beckoning the dancer to join in.

As if in a dream, the dancer tasted the music on her lips, holding her hands high above her, stirred the burning air with finger tips and struck the bare wood floor with the heels of her soft leather shoes. The floor trembled to her rough treatment. Her steps echoed through the empty house like the drumbeat of a hollow heart.

The woman  tattooed hearts and circles on the floor, and the dancer matched her step for step. Other instruments wept their accompaniment. A violin sobbed a story of lost love, betrayal, revenge. A trumpet melted hot upon the air, singing its tale of despair, and hope.

The woman beckoned the dancer ever closer, ‘Dance with me.’

They whirled around the dance floor, bathed in moonlight streaming through the open doors. The woman held out her hand “Come with me, stay with me, be with me.’

Green lightnings crackled in the air and the walls fell away. The dancer felt soft tingles as the lightnings touched her skin, then darted away, quick as minnows in a stream.
The lightnings  wove together and formed a man. The woman held tight to the dancer’s hand on one side and the man on the other. She wrapped the dancer in her lacy shroud and opened her fingers. But the dancer, realizing the trap, tore off the dreamy wrappings and pulled free.

She pulled free from the woman in the lacy curtain made of ghosts, and the dark eyed man made of lightnings, and ran through the open French doors, disappearing into the night.

The wail of the woman and the cry of the man followed her, spurring on her flight.

For it was not her time to leave the town and all the life within.

Not her time to release the lovers and dance in the woman’s place.

Not her time to be the woman in the silent world beyond the curtains of lace.

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Platinum Jungle Cat

The title of this FridayFlashFic was randomly generated from a military site through The site gives five Military Operation names and we had to pick one for our title. The names I got were;  Steadfast Bandicoot, Perpetual Ogre, Humane Emu, Culturally Imperative Lover, and the last one actually was Platinum Jungle Cat. It was the only one I immediately saw any story in at all. Word limit 1000. Mine  1223. So no cigar for me, this week. But I felt the story needed every word I used.

      Platinum Jungle Cat                         Louise Sorensen April29, 2012

Ian steals into our cabin on silent feet, plops his skinny butt down beside me and gives me a hip bump.

“Hey Babe,” he says, with a hideous grin. He drops a small yellow apple on the bed. Up early before the start of our twelve hour shift, he’s been to hydroponics for this gift.

“Thanks.” I lean forward to kiss him. Half in and half out of my jumpsuit I almost fall over.

“Hold on,” he says. “I’ll wait ‘til you change.”

I pull on my clothes, grab his face with my hands and proceed to say good morning in the second best way I know. My heart rate goes up and he’s breathing hard, but there’s no time for more. Routine on this under-manned mining ship is strict.

I relieve Second Officer Baker at Control. His bones crack as he stretches. The ship’s on autopilot, and he’s been playing solitaire. Captain, if she were still alive, would be pissed.

Switching away from Baker’s card game, I see Navigation looks a little off. The Nav screen shows the ship’s path for the last twelve hours is a spiral. Have we been flying around in circles? I pinch my lip and go into the program–the only sound the tapping of my fingers on the keys. This would go much faster if the voice interface still worked, but it’s been offline for two years.

After half an hour getting nowhere with corrections, the screen shoots me error messages. I comply again and again. Suddenly, it goes black. External camera feed shows static. I call Ian. At least the intercom still works. We’re lucky life support is on a different system too.

Ian, Sheila “Mac” MacArthur and I tinker for four days and finally get Nav and cameras back on. Don’t recognize any stars. We’re way out past the end of the asteroid relay stations.


Two days trying to figure out where we are yields zip.

We’re sitting around Control drinking cuffee and choking down jelkie when the asteroid monitor, also calibrated for terrestrial planets, pings. We’ll find out where we are eventually, and a terrestrial planet is a tremendous find, so Ian, Mac and Baker are all jumping up and down to go and take a look.  I’m left behind to baby-sit the Malus.

I peer out the airlock at Ian, keeping him in sight as long as possible before he closes the lock on the scout ship.

They’re not down there half an hour before I get a transmission, “Oh my god… it’s incredible down here. You should see it…“ Followed by excited babble.

Then nothing.

They sounded happy-excited, not terrified-excited. Of course Ian as a geologist, gets excited over anything minable. So the news must be good. Right?

Six hours.

Twelve hours.

Twenty four hours. No response.

I can’t leave without them.

Taking the last scout ship, I find no sign of survivors or even their ship itself at the landing co-ordinates. A circle of melt confirms they were here.

I land nearby, on the side of a silver white jungle.

My ship, forty feet tall, shudders and settles a little. It shouldn’t be doing this, instruments say the landing area is solid.

The ship settles a little lower.

I fire the engines. Got to get out of here. Nothing happens.

The ship groans and collapses in upon itself. Ten feet of freefall, then an abrupt halt.

I pull a space suit on in a rush. Leave the helmet open a crack as the suit has only four hours of air.

Another shudder, more freefall. There’s not much ship left beneath me. I don’t know if we’re caught in a sink hole or being swallowed by something. Whatever it is, we’re going down. Pushing a sidearm into my suit pocket, I seal my helmet and blow the escape hatch.

Blinding brightness.

I jump.

Light gravity. Good landing.

Adjusting the filter on my faceplate I see a misty orange atmosphere, and through it, the platinum jungle. The tip of a vine covered pyramid towers over the treetops.

No one answers my calls on the suit radio. I put it on automatic.

Big holes are growing in my ship.

I slip across the landing area and sit down on a platinum rock to watch.

Round shadows are growing on my suit.

So close to earning my way out.

I wonder whatever happened to Ian.

One more hour of air. Should I crack my helmet and get it over with? A whir of motion catches my eye. Through the eroding faceplate, I make out a flying snake the size of a humming bird. It hovers in front of me, sticking out its tongue.

Checking out supper?

I reach out and it coils around my finger, folding up its wings. A ruff of feathers around its neck smoothes down. We stare at each other for a long moment before it coils up and darts away.

Will the shadows breach my suit before my air runs out?

Must have dozed off. A dozen platinum jaguars are slinking towards me. Their jaws are open in huge grins, their movement liquid. Forming a circle around me, they sit down. Yawn. What big teeth!

One of them saunters over and drops down at my feet. His hide is etched with iridescent rosettes. I swear he smiles, and then sinks his teeth through the fabric of my suit, into my leg.

“Jeezez damn! Bloody hell.” I paw for the gun and shoot without aiming, but the trigger breaks off. Covered in patches of white, the gun crumbles to dust. Shit! I throw the gun at the jaguar, but it shrugs out of the way and looks at me mournfully. I cannot interpret its expression by human standards. For all I know, it’s injected me with venom, and now the whole pack is going to sit back and wait ‘til it works.


After the initial pain, my leg doesn’t hurt. It bleeds a little, then the edges of the skin turn a dull platinum. The one that bit me gets up and wanders into the forest. The others leave too. I guess they’ll come back later to dine. I can almost hear them murmuring as they wander off, like people discussing the latest game results. No mention of me, dying here. This doesn’t disturb me as much as I think it should.

I try to appreciate the otherworldly forest and the animals flitting through the trees, but their beauty is lost to me.

Dozed off again! My suit’s gone. Naked on yellow grass, my whole body is platinum. No problem breathing. The orange mist is gone now, the air clear. The trees and vines are purple-green, with sparks of pink and orange blossoms everywhere.

A platinum jaguar saunters back. Sits down beside me. He drops a golden apple, gives me a hip bump and opens his mouth in a hideous grin. I can almost hear him say, “Hey Babe!”

My wrists end in bulbous paws. I waggle one, and flex an arsenal of shiny claws. My arm has become lean and muscular. My legs are still human. I turn over on my side and struggle to get up.

“Hold on,” I hear more clearly in my head. “I’ll wait ‘til you change.”

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Felicity challenge for this week is travel. Go from point A to point B. limit 1000 words.  mine 994.  

                     Felicity                                           Louise Sorensen April 23, 2012

The train is rolling along, eating up the hours, and I am loving it. Cornfields speed by, miles and miles of short yellow stalks. Planting hasn’t started yet. My boyfriend sits in the seat beside me playing a game on his phone. I wish this could go on forever.

But our drinks are coming. The porter is walking up the aisle, holding a tray. I see him in a vision– the train lurches, or he trips over a rough spot on the carpet, his arms go up, the tray flies through the air the drinks alcoholic missiles headed our way.

But no. Om…om…om. The moment freezes and plays backwards. The drinks sail back onto the tray, the tray flies back into the porter’s hand, his hands go down, all is as it was. I reach into my pocket for a pill. Crunch it down. It’s time, anyway. I’m not sure if these pills really work, or if it’s the placebo effect. But my mind is calming, the rough waters stilling. The squirrel in my head slows down to a walk, a crawl, curls up for a nap.

 I take my Bailey’s from the porter and sip. Shards of glass. My tongue is bleed… No. No glass in my drink. My tongue is not cut. I watch the miles go by through sleepy eyes.

Oh god no! How did I get on a plane? My medic alert bracelet clearly states… the engines sputter… the plane dives. I wake up, drenched in sweat. Cornfields have surrendered to forests. The train is whizzing by so fast I can’t make out individual trees, just a dappled blur of sun and dark. Queasy, I turn away.

 A thought intrudes. The train hits a log on the track, or we’re going too fast around a bend, or… time coils up as the accident gets ready to happen… I seize the future and force it back into… the rhythmic beat of the train wheels, solidly on the track. Everything is fine. There is no train wreck. There will be no disaster. I take a pill from my pocket and crunch it down, calming the storm in my mind. The episodes are coming stronger and more frequently. If it weren’t for the lives that would be lost if I went on a plane, I would fly now, just to get this life over with.

I’ve always known that I would die in an airplane crash. So I don’t fly. It’s been a darkling thought shaping my whole life. Because what I think, becomes reality. I can walk down the street and see a woman with a yellow daffodil on her lapel and a headscarf covering her bald head and think to myself, this woman will recover completely. And she does. I used to visit hospitals, especially the children’s wards, and think, these children will all survive. They will all recover. But I’d stagger the recoveries so as not to raise suspicions. At first I would check back and confirm that all the kids were well. After a while, I didn’t need to check anymore. I just knew.

When I was in my mid twenties, I began to have bad thoughts. Walking down the street, I would look at a woman in a yellow dress and think, that woman is going to fall down. And down she’d go. Those two cars are going to crash. Boom!

 I did a lot of damage before I discovered meditation, and how to stop accidents before they occur. I’ve never let an accident happen and then tried to make it unhappen. I don’t have the nerve. But I think it could be done. I’m sure that once I’m dead though, all of this will stop. Unless someone else is born to replace me. But they can have it. I’ve had enough.

I open my eyes. Someone I can talk to is going to walk down the aisle. Here she is. An elderly lady with white hair, a gray coat and a little hat with a pheasant feather.

 She is a fortune teller. Her gray coat changes to a red shawl. With a black paisley design. Her hair is darker. No hat. She will sit in the seat two down from me. And beckon me to join her. I get up. My boyfriend will have a nap. I look down at his sweet sleeping face.

The fortune teller says, “You have always believed you would die in a plane crash.”

“Yes. I feel it in my bones.”

“But the future is not fixed. You should know that, you set it up and change it all the time.”

“Oh! But I’ve always been afraid of flying. I’ve always known I’m going to die in a plane crash.”

“You could stop your heart anytime you want.”

“And finally be at peace. And the world would go on just fine without me,” I say.

“You just keep thinking those good thoughts, dear. Because there’s something really bad coming up. And you’re running out of time.” She gets up and leaves.

Geez. Wonderful. I go back and sit beside my boyfriend. Squeeze his warm hand gently, not enough to waken him. He has no developing aneurysm. There is nothing wrong with him. But there will be no Tyler Junior, no sweet Olivia. Not for me, anyway.

The train is approaching Montreal. This is as good a time as any. I won’t be dying in a plane crash after all. How silly to have feared flying all these years. I will be dying on a train. To make sure that no one can revive me, I will not only stop, but burst, my heart.



See myself below.

Someone speaks my favourite quote.

“All shall be well… and all shall be well… and all manner of thing… shall be… well.”

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Death Visits

Chuck Wendig of challenged us to write a 1000 word limit story that prominently features Death, the concept of death, or an exploration of death. But death must be front and center. I grew this story outward in layers from a skeletal frame.

        Death Visits                                          Louise Sorensen April 15, 2012

I think I’m alone in my office. Then someone clears his throat. A man dressed in a black robe and carrying a sickle stands in front of my desk. I shiver–security will never get here in time. He continues to stand there, swaying slightly, silent.

Nothing to lose, “Sit now,” I say, indicating a chair.

He takes the chair, and I move carefully to an identical one opposite him.

“I don’t have many friends,” he says, with a sniffle. His voice, not quite human, has deep echoes, like a huge empty space. There’s room under that robe to hide electronics. To give myself time to think, I pass him the box of tissues. He takes one. It disappears under his hood, reappearing soaked a minute later. I indicate the waste basket and he tosses the old tissue and takes a fresh one, holding it in one trembling hand. A human hand.

“You don’t have many friends…” I say, to move the conversation along.

“No I don’t you stupid bitch. I’m Death! Why would anybody like me? I kill people.” His voice explodes in the room.

My chest is tight. I struggle to remain calm, to show no fear. “You’re not happy in your job.“ Leaning back in my chair I force deep even breaths.

“I hate my job.”

“But you provide a very important service.” What am I saying?

“Yeah. But I don’t like killing people.”

Good! “You know it wouldn’t be good if you weren’t around.” Shut up! Quit talking! “Unless they… you know… they can find a replacement.”

“They wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.” He looks straight at me.

“Language, please.” There are limits. “You can’t take vacations?”

“I get every second weekend off and two months in the summer.”

“That sounds great!” I babble. “But who takes over for you? I don’t recall anything in the news about the death rate changing every second weekend.”

“Oh. There’s a guy who comes in to do it part time. I think he’s some kind of an angel. Needs the overtime.”

“Ahhh. So will you be doing this job for eternity… forever?” I ask.

“No.” Abrupt. He looks down and stirs a circle in the carpet with one booted foot.

“Well is there any chance of advancement?”

“I don’t know,” he says. I sigh. Why is he here?

“Is there anything you like about the job? Any perks?” I ask, straining to hear if anyone is nearby.

“Oh yeah. I never get tired, or drunk. I can stay out all night. And the girls are all over me.” He looks up. He may have mistaken my consternation for disbelief. He lowers his hood and I gasp. More beautiful than any living man. He raises his hood up again.

“I’m not happy,” he says.

“Why not?” I manage. My heart is a crushing pain. Even if I don’t die on the spot…

“I’m not happy with what I do.”

“Do you do a good job?” …I will never be the same.

“Yes of course!”

I pull myself together and wrack my brain for some intelligent counsel. “You know that people need your services?”
“Yes. But they don’t know it. And they don’t like me. They’re always fighting me. And they cry when I do my job.”

“Well, no. When someone slaughters a cow or a chicken, I’m right there making sure the job’s done well and usually nobody cries. Unless it’s somebody’s pet cow, or chicken, or pig. Or lamb. I had that happen once. They called him Charlie Brown. Funny name for a lamb. A ram, really. One little girl cried and refused to eat him, but the rest of the family, especially the girl old Charlie liked to butt in the knee, well, they laced into those lamb chops like there’d never be another meal. Warmed my heart.” Death babbles too. He pats his chest and it clanks. I’m not exactly sure what’s under there. But that face. I don’t like to think about it.

“I think that you have to understand about boundaries,” I say to him, trying to recover. My heart is beating so fast I think it will burst.


“Boundaries. Boundaries protect us from harm. They help us know what to let in from the world, and what to keep out. You are in a position of power over people. But you can also be affected by them. Psychological boundaries help to protect us from pain. You perform a service that is vital to the survival of life. And although it may not always seem like it, people are grateful.”

“Yeah? Well they’ve got an awful funny way of showing it. They’re always fighting me.” Again with the fighting.


“Well, most of the time. Sometimes they’re happy to see me.”

“Do you ever do anything to hurt them?”

“Outside of taking their life? No. I’m as gentle as I can be. Even for the worst of them.”

“The worst of them?” I swallow.

“I’m not here to judge. I just have a job to do.” I’m beyond fear.

“And you do the best you can?”

“Of course!”

“That’s all anybody can do.” I check my watch. An hour has passed. If he’s going to take me, there‘s nothing I can do about it. I pull a book from the shelf. “I can’t loan this out, because it’s my only copy, but you should buy this and read through it.” I consider the insanity of my action, and pass him a pen and a piece of paper. He writes down the name and author of the book and sticks the paper in his pocket.

He stands up to leave, and my heart breaks.

“Come back anytime,” I say, both relieved and sad. “My door is always open.”

“I know. Bye Mom,” he says, fading into nothingness.

“Bye, Hon. Love you.”

“Love you too, Mom,” echoes in my ears.

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Green Eyes

The challenge at Friday the 6th was to write a really gripping first sentence. I didn’t think I could write the right first sentence unless I wrote the whole piece, to make sure the first sentence worked. Word limit 1000, mine 979. Deadline one week.

Green Eyes Louise Sorensen April9, 2012

I once knew a man who treated a yellow Appaloosa like a piece of crap. But that‘s another story.

I think I’m in love.

It all started when I got my new laptop. I’d been making do for years, with leftover games computers the kids had outgrown. Then suddenly I got this brand new state of the art laptop. Man!

It wasn’t long after, though, that I began to have trouble with it. It would heat up, if I was on a certain favourite website too long. And the Ctrl button was too close to the Caps button, so quite often I’d hit Ctrl instead of Caps and lose a whole story I was typing. A rocky start, but we finally adjusted to each other.

Then, my new lappie started blacking out on me. I could find no pattern or cause to its fainting behaviour. It just curled up its toes and passed out. After about a minute, it would slowly revive and give me an error message that the display driver had ceased to respond. If I had a nickel for all the times my own personal display driver has ceased to respond, I could retire. Some computers, like some people, are in my opinion, attention hogs.

I became less and less excited about ‘M’, as I called my lappie. As time went on, M’s display driver ceased to respond more and more often. I have weekly articles to write and do most, well let’s admit it, all of my research on the internet, so I was getting frustrated.

I guess M was getting frustrated too. This relationship was probably failing his expectations. So he did the ultimate. He crashed his hard drive. One day I tried to turn him on and he was lifeless. Unresponsive. I immediately phoned tech support and tried going back to factory reset. We’d already been through this a few times and it had always worked before. But this time M was gone. All my pictures and articles he had lovingly stored in his heart for me were in jeopardy.

Although I hated to do it, I called Dweebs R Us and got a computer guy out to do what he could for M.

The computer guy showed up in a yellow van with a big picture of a brown bear on it. I though this was a strange logo for a computer dweebs company. Turns out they come to help you with your computer when you can’t ‘bear’ it any longer. Well, I was certainly at that stage.

There’s no way I would ever let M leave my sight, so I paid a hefty fee for the computer guy, whose name was Marcel, I took that as a good omen, all the men in my life have had names that started with M, to stay for two days and replace the hard drive and set M up again.

Only it wasn’t my M anymore when Marcel was done. As I name all my computers M, as well as my car and my house, it’s my favourite letter, I had to keep calling my lappie M. Though he was so unlike the original M, I almost considered calling him m. But we humans can adapt to anything so I called him M, and it was no time at all before it felt normal.

Marcel said he had had trouble finding the place, and not to call him again. But I don’t let go of a good computer tech, whose name starts with M, that easily.

M had a few hiccups and teething problems, and I had to get Marcel back a few times.

“I don’t know how you have any reception at all out here in this forest. Don’t the trees block the signal?” he said one time.

Another time, “You sure have big dogs out here. I got chased a few miles. Don’t people out here teach their dogs anything?”

I didn’t want to tell him that they weren’t dogs. And there are no people but me. But maybe he already knew that because the next thing he said was, “Please don’t call me back again.”

Anyway, the next time M needed a check-up I called Dweebs R Us and asked for Marcel. Marcel didn’t work there any more. But they sent out Markus. Another M man. I knew we’d get along just fine.

Markus brought a brown paper package of goodies to install in M., Courtesy of the late Marcel. It only took a day for Markus to overhaul M, but the difference was miraculous.

Wires were sticking out all over the transformed M. He was keyed to turn on to my voice only, and had a touch screen that magically responded to my lightest caress.

“Marcel told me all about you and your needs,” Markus said looking deep into my eyes. I noticed his were green. One of my favourite colours.

“You got your wired adapters, your full body touch screen, and your lifetime battery,” he said. “You’ll never, ever, ever, have to call anyone to fix your computer again. It will never break down.”

And he was right. Now I can wander in the forest all I want. And I don’t have to go home even when it gets dark. I call M Michael now and he’s with me always.

When I touch his screen, he leans his face into my hand. He has the most beautiful green eyes and dark hair. I can reach right through the screen– it melts away at a touch. So far, I’ve only been able to draw out Michael’s hand through the screen. But I think, with a little wiggling, I can pull the rest of him out all the way.

Yesterday, he told me he was coming to get me.

I think I’m definitely in love.

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Soul Mates

This is in response to the challenge to write a story that centers around a terrible lie.

Soul Mates Louise Sorensen April 2, 2012

From the cover of my cup of double-double, I watch as he saunters into the coffee shop. His butt is tight and lean on a nice hard body. So he works out. But not too much. The cashier flirts with him as he pays. Bitch! He makes a joke and she laughs. I grind my teeth.

I wait until he gets seated, then burn my eyes into the side of his head until he looks my way. It’s Friday, and almost time for my meds, but I’m feeling pretty good. I have half an hour to kill. He glances over at me. Not the first time; we’ve been playing this little game for months. But this is the first time I’ve felt like going further.

He gets up from his little single table, walks over to where I’m sitting and looms over me, forcing me to look up.

“Is this seat taken?” he asks, a glint in his eye.

I push the chair out. “It is now,” I say, cursing my lack of wit, but smiling anyway. I’m really much better with inanimate objects. They don’t require conversation.

“Do you come here often?” he says smiling. My god. As lousy a conversationalist as I am!

“Every Friday,” I manage to stammer, “I need to… I have an appointment over at the… ah… Yes. Every… I come here every Friday. How about you?” I grab my coffee with shaking hands and suck some down.

He takes a long draw of his coffee too. “Me too. Every Friday, that is. I have a… er… a thing I have to do. On Fridays.”

“So… Have you read any good books lately?” I ask. Then I cringe. Who reads books anymore?

“Oh yeah. Sure. I read… safe books. That is, I watch TV. That is… I watch movies on TV. Safe movies.” He has the most masculine voice. My face flushes, and I unzip my jacket a little to cool down.

“Me too!” Finally, something we can talk about. I watch safe movies too, because I am a good person.

“So did you see the one about the little robot who got separated from his family and was lost and finally found his family?” he says with a killer grin. He has very white teeth. Like pearls. They’d look very nice in a necklace against my skin.

I smile back. “Yeah. That’s such a good movie. I especially like the part where the killer robot is going to take the little child robot apart, but then the little robot talks to the killer robot and teaches him that kindness and goodness is the way. The one and true way and the only way. I really like that part. Because I am a good person. I would never try to take a little robot apart.”

“I agree completely,” he says. He has such beautiful lips. So soft. “I would never want to grab a little robot or a robot mother by the throat and squeeze them until their eyes popped out,” he says. “Because I am a good person too!”

I scratch my bicep. I have a special tattoo of a tick, there. When the level of my meds gets low, it starts to itch.

“I have to go soon,” I say, glancing at my watch. Time has passed so quickly! “It’s almost ten. I have an appointment in five minutes.”

“Oh,” he says, getting up. “Okay. I could walk you there.”
I look into his eyes, they’re green, and I am lost. “That would be nice.”

We leave the coffee shop. The clinic is less than a block away.

“I’m so happy you’re walking me to… where I have my appointment,” I say, glancing up at him. The sidewalk is crowded and he is frowning.

“You look like you don’t like crowds of people any more than I do.”

“No. I don’t like crowds,” he says. “But I don’t try to hurt them because I am a good person.” I smile up at him. He is such a good person.

A woman pushing a baby in a stroller passes us going in the opposite direction.

“That lady with the baby,” I say, “didn’t remind me of anyone at all I would want to cut to pieces.” I wince at the stab of pain in my arm. It fades to an itch.

“That’s because you’re a good person,” he says, turning to smile at me as we walk.

“That’s right,” I agree. “It isn’t good to hurt people. It’s important to show up for our jobs, watch safe movies, and come to our appointments every Friday. So we don’t itch,” I add.

“I used to be so smart,” he says, scratching his bicep. “I was a CEO. Now I can‘t even remember what I did.”

“Me too. Smart, I mean. I was an accountant. But only good people can fall in love.”

“And find happiness,” he adds.

We’re at the clinic. I claw at my bicep. It’s burning up. I have to get my IV soon or I’ll go crazy.

“Do you want to come in with me?”

He looks at his watch. “No, I have to go to my job.” He turns away.

“But we could meet for coffee next Friday,” he says, looking back.

“I would love that… but right now, I really have to go.” My arm is swelling burning all the way down to my wrist. I have to get my meds.

“Okay. See you next Friday,” he says.

I rush in to the reception area and the guard takes me in right away. Medication flooding my veins, the gentle voice of my counsellor is murmuring something I already know.

“It isn’t good to hurt people,” he says. “You will never hurt people. Today, and every day, you will not hurt people because you are a good person.”

“I met someone,” I whisper.

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