The story had taken on a life of its own. She’d been awake far into the night, and woke with new ‘fodder’ early in the day. It continued without surcease. For two days she pounded her keyboard, stopping only for tea, pee breaks, and her ritual sunset swim in the nude. She would float there in liminal time, watching the sea and sky paint one another, never the same for two seconds in a row. She’d been bemused, entertained, and moved so intensely that she’d cried.
Or maybe that was just the last of this run of story working through her.
On this morning, Friday according to her cell phone, she woke late, stretched languidly. The whirling cyclone had wrung her dry. Her fingers ached from typing, her brain was empty–as was her belly.
“Fat girl gotta eat,” she mumbled as she rose reluctantly from the soft linen sheets.
A shower that could have been, would have been, should have been lazy and luxurious, was cut short by an angry rumble from her midsection. Donning a towel for her hair, and a loose sundress for her body, she headed to the kitchen. A flick of her finger turned on the electric teapot, as she searched for the cupboard that contained the cereal. Breakfast would be fast and furious. Then she would take the rental car out for a ramble. She hoped she’d find her way to the beach, bum around some of the curio shops there. Maybe she’d find something silly for Mandy, who was likely already having orgasms as she read what Cassandra had sent before falling into bed last night.
Deciding to play on the wild side, she let the roof of the convertible slide down. Tucking her hair into a ponytail wasn’t enough, she discovered, as she schusshed her way down the curving mountain roads to the small town below. Hair pulled from her scrunchie and whipped across her face, up her nose, and generally annoyed her.
A scarf was going on her “to purchase” list, right up there with some banana’s and ice cream.
There was some traffic in what she called the ‘lowlands’, having no idea how Californian’s demarcated the varying terrain. The small town was bustling, and while it didn’t boast the size of some of it’s more posh and “sought after” neighbors, Opal Cove was definitely a secret tourist haven.
She found a place to park in a small lot behind Rusty’s Crab Shack. Though she loved them, she wasn’t dressed for the messy task of de-shelling such a treat. Another time, she thought. Downtown was bustling, the bright morning drawing the early risers to walk and explore. There was a wee bit of fog breaking up along the beach; the sun shone through it casting everything in a pearlescent…no…with those multiple flecks of light and color from the waves…opalescent glow. She could see how the area got its name.
She poked through a beach wear shop, finding a pretty sea-stone bracelet to send to Amanda, and a muted pastel silk scarf for her ride back up the mountain. Though there were other fine things to see, she preferred to not burden herself with ‘stuff’. Instead, she filed away the colors and scents and sounds to be reborn in one of her stories someday.
Her stomach growled again. Well, she had neglected it over the last few days. There was a place that served chicken sandwiches at an open window. Taking her meal, she found a stone warmed by the strengthening sunlight and sat to eat, absorbed in people watching. Colors, shapes, scents all so unfamiliar to her. She should maybe pick up a book on local flora and fauna. Though the internet was faster and easier, a book was precious. A gull soared over her head, close enough that she could hear his wings bending the wind. He peered down at her, oogling the last bits of her sandwich. She tossed a bit up to him. He caught it mid-flight, and winged away as several other gulls flew in quick pursuit.
“The locals frown on feeding the gulls.”
He startled her, again.
“Are you following me? Are you one of those crazy nutnick fanboys?”
He laughed. Tried to speak then laughed some more.
“I am,” he said as the laughter wound down, “most definitly not following you. This is just a happy coincidence.”
“Hmmm,” she said, still frowning. “I’m not a huge believer in circumstance you know. You just happened to find me on this one little rock in all this place?” She waved her arm around, unseating her drink from its perch behind her. His quick grab-and-lift of her was the only thing that kept her butt from being drenched as the dark cola cascaded down the rock.
“Well.” She huffed, trying to not look as mortified as she felt. “And here you are, finding me and your hands all over me.”
His voice fell to a quiet, personal murmur.
“Believe me, Ms. Daniels, if and when my hands are all over you, you’ll be well aware of it.”
He’d used her nom de plume as a way of reassuring her, she supposed. Then again, she didn’t know if he’d even seen the rental agreement, most of which had her editor’s name on it. His fingers kneaded the tense muscles of her arms before falling away. She turned, scooping up the empty cup, took the steps away from him to throw it away, and hopefully, find her composure. He discomfited her, to be sure.
“I’m in town to get wine for our time tonight. Best store in town is there.” He gestured to a small package store tucked not far from where she’d bought her lunch. “I saw you sitting here. Actually, I saw the gull hovering, and hoped it wasn’t going to dive bomb you–they are bold creatures you know. And then I realized it was you, Ms. Lilith Daniels sitting here all alone. Which…I’m sure you’ll tell me is how you prefer it. Tell me, Ms. Daniels, how you can write so compellingly about people if you’re so set on keeping apart from them?”
She blinked, half-blinded by that opal glow in the air as she stared up at him.
“I like people. In small doses. Of course I interact with them. I’m talking to you aren’t I?”
His smile was brighter than the sun, though his eyes were dark as midnight, but he didn’t answer. He didn’t seem to be one of those that felt compelled to fill up every little void in a conversation with words and more words. Grudgingly she admitted that was a point in his favor.
“Fine. Thank you for saving my ass. And you can call me Cassie. That’s for Cassandra, my real name, one I don’t give out to every…” She stopped herself before she said her favorite wordplay, “every Tom’s dick was hairy”.
Leave it to him to pick up on her tiny hesitation.
“Uh huh. Not what you were going to say, I think. I need to go get our wine…and leave you to your own alone time. See you tonight.”
He turned and strode off. Truth was, the air was much quieter with him gone. He stirred something by his presence, to be sure. She was relieved to see the back of him. Kind of. His words clicked through her brain. Oh shit! It was Friday. Wine night. She hadn’t given that her full attention, and had actually forgotten about it. Double shit! She’d need to get some whore de durs as she always laughingly called them. Back home it sounded funny. Out here? They’d likely look down their snooty SoCal noses at her little witticism. And of course, not get it since people wouldn’t always admit to knowing who she was, even if they did recognize her. Muttering under her breath, she all but marched off in the direction of her car, hoping to find a grocery store close by. This social shit was a pain in the ass.