Susan dragged Sally up the hill, holding her arm tight. “Sue, come on. What’s so important? I thought we were going to the tennis club before dinner.”
Susan didn’t reply, she just kept pulling, muttering to herself. The path gravel path led to the top of the hill, where an oak tree stretching into the sky. Below was a patch of concrete, where a bench would have once stood. “They took it away…”
Sally just shook her head. “You dragged me up here to look at a concrete plinth? Ergh. I wanted to go and ogle Rudy.”
“Really? Is that all you can think of?” The sun was going down, casting a golden glow over the landscape. “Have you never had something better?”
“What’s better than this? I’m looked after, I can do what I like. I’ve got everything I could want.”
“But you haven’t got the moon…”
Susan slumped onto the bench, her handbag vomiting its contents over the gravel in front of her. Her entire arsenal for her daily war against the world, the detritus of her life casually abandoned on the path. She leaned her head back and groaned, kicking at the small tube of lipstick.
“Bad day at the office, love?” The guy at the end of the bench leaned over, holding out a handful of jelly beans. “Want one?”
Susan paused, staring at the dishevelled man. He was in shorts, even though winter was spreading its tendrils through the still autumn air. His teeth were constantly showing in a large grin that broke through his stubble, and he was still leaning over expectantly with the jelly beans in his large hands. “No.” She paused for a moment, then added “Thank you though.”
“No problem. Just thought you might like a bit of a lift. They’re really good, you know.” He lifted one to his grin and began to chew. “Mmm, strawberry. My favourite. What’s yours?”
Susan huffed and looked away to her discarded handbag, her phone ringing insistently within its grasp. Sam’s picture sat on the screen, staring into her eyes. She grabbed the phone roughly and and stared at it, thumb hovering over the accept call button.
“I wouldn’t do that.” Stubble said, still munching on jelly beans.
“What would you know?” Susan replied.
“Nobody should make phone calls while they’re angry. Especially if they’re angry enough to throw their make up all over the place in front of a stranger.” He lifted his now empty hand to his face and rubbed his stubbled chin. “Me, I’d do something to distract myself before I talked to him.”
“Yeah, well, what do you know?” Susan said, spluttering her words as she thought about this strange man.
“I’ve been there.” He told her, pulling the bag of jelly beans from the top pocket of those cargo shorts. “It’s far easier if you’re distracted.”
Susan stopped. Considered all of her options, the ringing phone, the siren song of eating the entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s, this strange newcomer who dared to talk to her from three feet away. “What do you suggest?”
He stood from the bench, brushing himself off. “Well, miss, I’d start by doing this.” He leaned in and pushed his lips against hers, wrapping his fingers into her hair as she pushed back against him. Waiting for him so long…
No part of her was unwilling, meeting him and accepting him as part of her. This lasted what seemed like forever, before he broke away. “Look, I’m really nothing special.” He walked away from her slightly, just a few paces but enough to change the entire dynamic of the situation. Now she felt like a fool for being swept up into his nonsense.
“Really? Nothing special?” She looked him up and down, taking in his appearance once more. Was the stubble deliberate? The shorts due to the fact that he didn’t have trousers? What even was this guy?
“Look, I’m not… Like your friend on the phone there.” He started shuffling nervously, his former confidence shot. “I can’t give you the high life.”
“Then what will you give? Huh?” She started gathering up her things from her handbag, furious that she’d been taken in by his act. “What if I want townhouses and yachts?”
“I’ll give you stars and the moon. I’ll give you my support, my soul. I’ll give you…”
She looked down at the phone in her hand, paused for a moment, then told him, “I’d rather have a yacht.” She pressed accept.
So, this story comes from the first verse of Stars and the Moon, a song from the review Songs for a New World. I was going to do the whole thing, then realised I was already at 700 words.
The Idiot in Tin Foil