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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by Rumpleskag

But Is It Really Cheating?

     Frank sits in the bed that he has shared with his wife for forty-five years, leaning back comfortably against the cushioned headboard. He watches the young red-headed woman dancing seductively for him at the foot of the bed. He devours every inch of her with his hungry eyes, as his hands clutch the sheet beneath him in tortured anticipation.

     She has already removed the black satin dress that she had worn that evening. She is left in nothing but her lacy black underwear that draws attention to, but still conceals her most exciting parts. Her hips sway languidly to the rhythm of the slow jazz pouring from a stereo speaker, then slowly undulate forward to every third or fourth beat. He notices the soft tuft of red hair rubbing against the lace of her panties as her supple hips push the fabric back and forth.

     He feels an involuntary moan come on and then escape his lips. It makes her smile as she raises her hands to tussle her hair about and then lets go, sending a crimson flow cascading down the front of her shoulders to gently lay across the exposed skin of her bulging breasts. She leans herself forward, placing her hands on the bed while licking her lips and looking straight into his eyes. Her bra, which he wasn't even aware had been unclasped falls to the floor. Her breasts now swing freely side to side, with nipples taut as top hats pointing down and yet angling toward him at the same time. This vision causes some stirring in his shorts, but the banner has yet to be fully raised.

     She puts one hand ahead of the other, and then, from behind, her knee has come to join the party. He realizes that she is now slowly crawling toward him on all fours. She is a feline on the hunt for her prey, and the certainty that it is him she hunts for is enough inspiration for a bulge to quickly take shape below before sinking slowly back down. Dammit, he thinks, almost had it that time.

     She has seen what happened, and she gives him a sly pout, but continues her forward prowl nonetheless. Her red hair is now dangling from her shoulders partially obstructing his view of her swaying breasts. Somehow, not being able to see everything at once fills him with a fresh excitement, and the bulge appears again, but unfortunately, doesn't stay around much longer than before. He looks at her, embarrassed by his shortcoming. "I'm sorry," he whispers, "I'm not sure what's going on down there."

     "Don't worry," she whispers back, "I know how to fix it." Her pout has now turned back into a smile as she comes forward and slowly lowers her face into his lap. He can now smell the sweet scent of her hair. It is intoxicating. He looks up at the ceiling as he feels her rustling in his shorts. His member is suddenly exposed, and he feels the cool room temperature on it for a split second before it is plunged into a soft, warm wetness. Euphoric stars explode in his mind. He hears her giggle and he thinks, well that didn't take long.

     She comes back up, breathing heavily now. He knows that she is just as excited as he is. She pulls herself up straddling his lap, as he reaches down to grab her by the ass and pull her as close to him as he possibly can. She begins to wriggle back and forth, grinding his manhood into the sheets beneath them. This is almost more than he can stand. Something has to happen, and it has to happen now.

     Something does happen, but not what he had expected. Suddenly, from the speaker playing the slow jazz, comes the blaring cry of a trumpet. Except, it's not a trumpet. It's more like thunder. No, not thunder, it's someone snoring.

     Frank wakes up in the bed that he has shared with his wife for forty-five years. He looks around and, She's gone, is his first panicked thought. It takes him a few moments, but then he looks to his left, and he realizes that she is not gone. She is lying next to him in the same spot that she has slept for the last forty-five years. She has gained more weight than she would ever admit to, and there is now more grey in her hair than red, but it's her. His member, which had been highly inspired by the dream, creeps back into its hiding place. That's okay, he thinks with a smile, you know she'll dance for you again.            He turns to the left wrapping his arm around her, and then falls back to sleep with his face buried in her sweet smelling hair.

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by Rumpleskag
But Is It Really Cheating?
     Frank sits in the bed that he has shared with his wife for forty-five years, leaning back comfortably against the cushioned headboard. He watches the young red-headed woman dancing seductively for him at the foot of the bed. He devours every inch of her with his hungry eyes, as his hands clutch the sheet beneath him in tortured anticipation.
     She has already removed the black satin dress that she had worn that evening. She is left in nothing but her lacy black underwear that draws attention to, but still conceals her most exciting parts. Her hips sway languidly to the rhythm of the slow jazz pouring from a stereo speaker, then slowly undulate forward to every third or fourth beat. He notices the soft tuft of red hair rubbing against the lace of her panties as her supple hips push the fabric back and forth.
     He feels an involuntary moan come on and then escape his lips. It makes her smile as she raises her hands to tussle her hair about and then lets go, sending a crimson flow cascading down the front of her shoulders to gently lay across the exposed skin of her bulging breasts. She leans herself forward, placing her hands on the bed while licking her lips and looking straight into his eyes. Her bra, which he wasn't even aware had been unclasped falls to the floor. Her breasts now swing freely side to side, with nipples taut as top hats pointing down and yet angling toward him at the same time. This vision causes some stirring in his shorts, but the banner has yet to be fully raised.
     She puts one hand ahead of the other, and then, from behind, her knee has come to join the party. He realizes that she is now slowly crawling toward him on all fours. She is a feline on the hunt for her prey, and the certainty that it is him she hunts for is enough inspiration for a bulge to quickly take shape below before sinking slowly back down. Dammit, he thinks, almost had it that time.
     She has seen what happened, and she gives him a sly pout, but continues her forward prowl nonetheless. Her red hair is now dangling from her shoulders partially obstructing his view of her swaying breasts. Somehow, not being able to see everything at once fills him with a fresh excitement, and the bulge appears again, but unfortunately, doesn't stay around much longer than before. He looks at her, embarrassed by his shortcoming. "I'm sorry," he whispers, "I'm not sure what's going on down there."
     "Don't worry," she whispers back, "I know how to fix it." Her pout has now turned back into a smile as she comes forward and slowly lowers her face into his lap. He can now smell the sweet scent of her hair. It is intoxicating. He looks up at the ceiling as he feels her rustling in his shorts. His member is suddenly exposed, and he feels the cool room temperature on it for a split second before it is plunged into a soft, warm wetness. Euphoric stars explode in his mind. He hears her giggle and he thinks, well that didn't take long.
     She comes back up, breathing heavily now. He knows that she is just as excited as he is. She pulls herself up straddling his lap, as he reaches down to grab her by the ass and pull her as close to him as he possibly can. She begins to wriggle back and forth, grinding his manhood into the sheets beneath them. This is almost more than he can stand. Something has to happen, and it has to happen now.
     Something does happen, but not what he had expected. Suddenly, from the speaker playing the slow jazz, comes the blaring cry of a trumpet. Except, it's not a trumpet. It's more like thunder. No, not thunder, it's someone snoring.
     Frank wakes up in the bed that he has shared with his wife for forty-five years. He looks around and, She's gone, is his first panicked thought. It takes him a few moments, but then he looks to his left, and he realizes that she is not gone. She is lying next to him in the same spot that she has slept for the last forty-five years. She has gained more weight than she would ever admit to, and there is now more grey in her hair than red, but it's her. His member, which had been highly inspired by the dream, creeps back into its hiding place. That's okay, he thinks with a smile, you know she'll dance for you again.            He turns to the left wrapping his arm around her, and then falls back to sleep with his face buried in her sweet smelling hair.
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by NovelGirl

Technicolor Rainbow

"Why is she taking him back?" I cry, throwing my pillow at the television. "Once a cheater, always a cheater, everyone knows that." 

I see him flinch out of the corner of my eye, but I ignore it, my gaze locked on the screen. I feel his body stiffen, but I disregard that too. The tension between us grows thick, our silence punctuated by pre-recorded laughter, but still, I refuse to turn to him. I am stone; rigid, stoic, and oblivious. 

I will not see his pain. I can not. If it were acknowledged, if his regret and sorrow were allowed to boil to the surface, it would unleash a flood of emotion that would wash between us in great, muddy rapids of loathing rage. While his pain putters along in a trickle— a self-righteous stream of remorse— mine is boundless. An infinite, black ocean of repressed venom incessantly crashing against the only barrier that remains between it and the tongue so eager to set it free.    

Love. 

Love keeps the tide of resentment safely in harbor. It is more fierce than my hate could ever be. I need him, and he needs me. We are two children pretending to be adults, clinging to each other in a life no one cared enough to explain to us. Even now we sit, our fingers entwined, both statues refusing to give in to the temptation to open these poorly sutured wounds. 

The television dwindles on, casting a technicolor rainbow of distraction across our darkened room. A moment passes, then another.

"She must really love him," he says softly. 

"Yes," I say, squeezing his hand. "She really must." 

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by NovelGirl
Technicolor Rainbow
"Why is she taking him back?" I cry, throwing my pillow at the television. "Once a cheater, always a cheater, everyone knows that." 

I see him flinch out of the corner of my eye, but I ignore it, my gaze locked on the screen. I feel his body stiffen, but I disregard that too. The tension between us grows thick, our silence punctuated by pre-recorded laughter, but still, I refuse to turn to him. I am stone; rigid, stoic, and oblivious. 

I will not see his pain. I can not. If it were acknowledged, if his regret and sorrow were allowed to boil to the surface, it would unleash a flood of emotion that would wash between us in great, muddy rapids of loathing rage. While his pain putters along in a trickle— a self-righteous stream of remorse— mine is boundless. An infinite, black ocean of repressed venom incessantly crashing against the only barrier that remains between it and the tongue so eager to set it free.    

Love. 

Love keeps the tide of resentment safely in harbor. It is more fierce than my hate could ever be. I need him, and he needs me. We are two children pretending to be adults, clinging to each other in a life no one cared enough to explain to us. Even now we sit, our fingers entwined, both statues refusing to give in to the temptation to open these poorly sutured wounds. 

The television dwindles on, casting a technicolor rainbow of distraction across our darkened room. A moment passes, then another.

"She must really love him," he says softly. 

"Yes," I say, squeezing his hand. "She really must." 
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by MegWaters

Lies of a Certain Nature

     “The difference is, I lie for a reason.”

     Ali’s words were clear and concise, cutting through the lunch hour chatter of the restaurant like a stainless steel blade.

     Robert looked into her face, void of emotion. Her green eyes used to sparkle when she smiled at him. But now, he studied her as if she was some unknown exotic species discovered for the first time.

     She continued to stare him down, silent and unwavering.

     “What are you talking about? Lies? What lies?”

     Ali’s behavior over the past couple of weeks had been erratic at best. Pleasant conversations took sudden detours into dark places, ending in soliloquies of a brooding nature. Hours later, her jovial attitude made the earlier encounter seem like a fleeting nightmare one couldn’t quite remember upon waking. Robert was aware that hormonal shifts could be more pronounced as women aged, but this was bordering on bipolar.

     “Your entire life is built on lies,” she snapped. “I thought it was a harmless game at first, watching you manipulate others by telling them what they want to hear: your friends, your colleagues, your employees. You lie like you breathe: effortlessly.”

     “Why are you—“

     “Let me finish,” she interrupted. Another pause. “I have been with you for three years. I had so much hope for the future. I fed off your passion; it was a drug to me. But now I see you for who you really are: A con artist, preying on everyone who crosses his path to get what he wants. Including me."

     Every sentence, every word was cold and robotic. The lack of emotion was more disturbing to Robert than the words themselves. He had a thick skin--he had to, given the nature of his business. But dealing with this shell of a person whom he knew intimately was something otherworldly.

     Ali sat perfectly still, unblinking, waiting for Robert to respond. His confusion quickly turned to annoyance as he sat back in his chair and crossed his arms.

     “Look, Ali, I don’t know what’s got your panties in a wad. But I’m tired of your irrational accusations.” Robert pushed his chair back from the table and rose to his feet.     “This conversation is over.”

     Ali reached into her purse and produced a candy bar-sized item in a pink and white metallic wrapper.

     “Perhaps I wasn’t being clear.” She slid the item across the table, glaring at him the entire time.

     Robert reached down, picked it up and pulled back the already opened wrapper to see what was inside.

     “I wasn’t implying that I’m perfect and you’re not. What I’m saying is, you lie casually. It’s your way of life. I, on the other hand, lie...but for different reasons. Big reasons. Like the one you’re holding in your hand.”

     Ali smirked, showing the first sign of human emotion as the gravity of the situation was realized in Robert’s expression.

     “I lie to Tom all the time,” Ali said. “I tell my husband it’s okay that he’s unemployed, and that I understand he’s looking really hard for a job. I also lie and say it doesn’t bother me that he has a low sperm count, and that we can’t have children. I smile and pretend that it’s all okay, because, what choice do I have?”

     Robert stood like a statue now, white as alabaster.

     “I lie and tell Tom, ‘It’s a miracle! We are finally going to have a child together!’ Well, we are going to have a child together. It’s just not his.”

     Ali slowly stood up, both fists on the table supporting her weight as she leaned into Robert.

     “You have used people your whole life to get what you want. Now it’s my turn to get what I want: The child I could never have, the family I’ve always dreamed of...with a promotion comfortable enough to support the three of us. I’m sure that can be arranged. Right, Senator?”

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by MegWaters
Lies of a Certain Nature

     “The difference is, I lie for a reason.”
     Ali’s words were clear and concise, cutting through the lunch hour chatter of the restaurant like a stainless steel blade.
     Robert looked into her face, void of emotion. Her green eyes used to sparkle when she smiled at him. But now, he studied her as if she was some unknown exotic species discovered for the first time.
     She continued to stare him down, silent and unwavering.
     “What are you talking about? Lies? What lies?”
     Ali’s behavior over the past couple of weeks had been erratic at best. Pleasant conversations took sudden detours into dark places, ending in soliloquies of a brooding nature. Hours later, her jovial attitude made the earlier encounter seem like a fleeting nightmare one couldn’t quite remember upon waking. Robert was aware that hormonal shifts could be more pronounced as women aged, but this was bordering on bipolar.
     “Your entire life is built on lies,” she snapped. “I thought it was a harmless game at first, watching you manipulate others by telling them what they want to hear: your friends, your colleagues, your employees. You lie like you breathe: effortlessly.”
     “Why are you—“
     “Let me finish,” she interrupted. Another pause. “I have been with you for three years. I had so much hope for the future. I fed off your passion; it was a drug to me. But now I see you for who you really are: A con artist, preying on everyone who crosses his path to get what he wants. Including me."
     Every sentence, every word was cold and robotic. The lack of emotion was more disturbing to Robert than the words themselves. He had a thick skin--he had to, given the nature of his business. But dealing with this shell of a person whom he knew intimately was something otherworldly.
     Ali sat perfectly still, unblinking, waiting for Robert to respond. His confusion quickly turned to annoyance as he sat back in his chair and crossed his arms.
     “Look, Ali, I don’t know what’s got your panties in a wad. But I’m tired of your irrational accusations.” Robert pushed his chair back from the table and rose to his feet.     “This conversation is over.”
     Ali reached into her purse and produced a candy bar-sized item in a pink and white metallic wrapper.
     “Perhaps I wasn’t being clear.” She slid the item across the table, glaring at him the entire time.
     Robert reached down, picked it up and pulled back the already opened wrapper to see what was inside.
     “I wasn’t implying that I’m perfect and you’re not. What I’m saying is, you lie casually. It’s your way of life. I, on the other hand, lie...but for different reasons. Big reasons. Like the one you’re holding in your hand.”
     Ali smirked, showing the first sign of human emotion as the gravity of the situation was realized in Robert’s expression.
     “I lie to Tom all the time,” Ali said. “I tell my husband it’s okay that he’s unemployed, and that I understand he’s looking really hard for a job. I also lie and say it doesn’t bother me that he has a low sperm count, and that we can’t have children. I smile and pretend that it’s all okay, because, what choice do I have?”
     Robert stood like a statue now, white as alabaster.
     “I lie and tell Tom, ‘It’s a miracle! We are finally going to have a child together!’ Well, we are going to have a child together. It’s just not his.”
     Ali slowly stood up, both fists on the table supporting her weight as she leaned into Robert.
     “You have used people your whole life to get what you want. Now it’s my turn to get what I want: The child I could never have, the family I’ve always dreamed of...with a promotion comfortable enough to support the three of us. I’m sure that can be arranged. Right, Senator?”
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 58 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon

Diamond Dog

It seemed that dying was not such a dreadful thing anymore, because Bowie had died. She was not supposed to outlive Bowie. He was too important to her to go first. She claimed she had been to every live performance over five decades. She even claimed she had had sex with him in her groupie days. She had every one of his albums. Actually, she had two copies of each one, one to play, another shrink-wrapped virgin vinyl, unopened, she was keeping to pass on to her children and grandchildren. She didn't have any progeny, hoever. Being obsessed with Bowie meant that venturing into other social interactions was simply not on her list. She had recorded every TV performance, now collected on a shelf of VHS tapes she could only play on an obsolete machine she finally had found at Good Will.

Anna could see herself going out, fading away, with Bowie. It lent a romantic respite from the toxic melancholy that had tormented her since she had heard her diagnosis. A diagnosis like his. Coincidence? Their connection was strong. Among her phases of denial, anger, pleading, and acceptance, romance sneaked in right at the end, courtesy of her absentee man who had sold the world. Yes, I can go out with my David, she mused. When she ate, drank, slept, and breathed her disease and mortality every waking and sleeping moment since her bad news, it was easy, even comforting to imagine that the disappearance of Bowie had a fateful relationship with her own pending disappearance. Let the world do without the both of us, she thought. A small black Pug jumped onto her lap.

“I won’t leave you, though” she promised the small dog. “No, we’re a package deal, huh?” She continued her conversation with the Pug who barked his responses. “I should have named you Diamond, right, Elvis?” she said to Elvis, what she had really named him. “Or Major Tom, or even…Ziggy! Yes, Ziggy!” Elvis yipped in agreement to the happy chirpy sounds of her voice. “So, what do you think about all these ch-ch-changes to my health?" she asked, and laughed, and Elvis laughed with her. "Did you even know who David Bowie was? I guess not, sweetie.” She made exaggerated smooching noises all around his head as Elvis licked her face.

“I guess I should feel deserted,” she said to him. “My life is leaving me now but my David has left me first. He was unfaithful.” Elvis jammed his snout firmly into her belly and snorted and sniffed rapidly. He could smell her disease, her scary monster. He had smelled it long before any biopsies, scans, or even suspicions had hinted of it. “But you’re not leaving me. Not you. You would never do that, would you?”

She knew that to Elvis, she was his Bowie, his ultimate destination, his million points of light. She was his hopes and dreams, even when his time was to come, his own eternal rest, because dogs were not supposed to outlive their masters. He had never heard Bowie, even as often as it played throughout the house, because he never listened any further than Anna's voice. He had never even seen the stars because he had never looked any higher than her face. Just as Man had reached for the stars, Elvis had reached for her. His small canine brain saw himself as much a part of her as her own arms and legs and tumor. When she suffered, he suffered. When she would grab her lower abdomen and groan in pain, Elvis would slink toward her, his legs all double-jointed and his tail down. It did not matter to Elvis that Bowie was gone; it only mattered to him that Anna was still here. But as small as his mind was, it sensed her coming departure from his world. 

She thought of it often, but she never spoke of it with him. She knew some things dogs understand without knowing any words except for treat, vet, bath or his name. Anna was fond of saying that dogs were a gift from God, and truly their dedication—total, loving, even ridiculous—could only have come from God.

She also had a cat that she seldom saw. It was an outside cat, living a cat people life that was interrupted only for a visit to the milk bowl on her step. She knew that the cat knew there were no more Bowie, but that it simply didn’t care. Cats knew almost everything, but cared about almost none of it. They were survivors and would do just fine dealing with the loss of Bowie or anything else. But she also knew a cat would have no clue of the rot inside her that doomed her and threatened the milk supply.

Elvis knew that no dog should outlive his master. It just wasn't allowed. It was just the way it was. A law. His small canine mind couldn’t use a vocabulary to put it into words, but somewhere among his simple synapses he could sense the train wreck coming and that his stars, his ultimate destination, and his million points of light would soon be gone. He knew, then, that he would be gone soon, too, and first, according to the law

He cried at night, even if Anna didn’t know why. He cried for both of them, even if Anna didn't know how.

She labeled Elvis her comfort dog, insisting he accompany her to the grocery, to the mall, even to her doctor’s office. Old Dr. Burgess saw her in his office when she had kept her follow-up appointment. She sat in a chair and settled in, as he looked with disapproval of the dog on her lap. He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even start. He’s my comfort animal.”

“Comfort, hmmm…You shouldn’t have canceled your chemotherapy appointments or refused your radiation if you wanted comfort. In fact, you have refused to discuss further any remedy at all.”

“Remedy? Is that what those things are? They’re remedies? They will fix me?”

“Anna, you know what I mean. I agree that the survival rate—”

“My rate? I’m going to have a rate of survival?” Elvis picked up on the sarcasm and yipped a high-pitched bark that hurt Dr. Burgess’ ears. The doctor flinched.

“Enough to make you deaf!” he complained. 

"Deaf-er, you mean."

“No reconsideration, Anna?” She sighed.

“No, not for me.”

“Why do you keep refusing?” he asked.

“Again, you ask me? Again, Dr. B., I ask you back, did you know that Bowie was gone?”

“Oh, that. Yes, I have. And again I ask, how does that figure into a decision to not do what’s best for you?”

“Dr. B., I've had radiation all my life. Cosmic rays, X-rays, gamma rays—all from the stars. And the day Bowie left us is the day you gave me my diagnosis. Advanced this or advanced that.”

“Advanced mixed muellerian carcinosarcoma.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, then,” he said with a mischievous smile, “maybe all that radiation kept your cancer away. More reason to consider it now since you’re on your own.”

“Funny, Doc, real funny,” she said. “A 10% survival rate with your man-made radiation?”

“Yea, I know.” He understood. She knew he understood. “You have to try,” he urged her, having to try.

“No, I really don’t. Look, all I know is that I came from dust and to dust I will return. With or without radiation.”

“You came from the dust of stars,” Dr. Burgess added. "Just like all the radiation you were talking about. And the the iron that sits in your hemoglobin, even though you're anemic; the oxygen you breathe, even though you're short of breath; the stuff that makes your bacteria—both the good and the bad, although in you the bad seem to be overpowering the good. The hydrogen, the nitrogen, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium—all of these things came from the stars. You came from them."

“I stand corrected,” she said. "Not dust to dust. Stardust to stardust." She laughed to herself, but then suddenly became sad. "My dust—my dust is supposed to go back into the stars, but I guess that's impossible right now because it has to go into the Earth first, and it won't be back into the stars until the Earth falls into the stars. When will that happen, Dr. B.?"

"Not for another five billion years or so."

"Oh, I'll be long gone by then. But I guess I'll finally be home. But for now, my dust will be parked. It will be worthless. It will be wasted.”

"What about David Bowie's dust? Is that wasted?" he asked.

"Oh, Dr. B., that is good dust."

“Well, don’t throw away your dust just yet, Anna. It’s good dust.” He paused. "David would have thought so." He paused again. "Ziggy would have thought so."

“Shame,” she said with a sincere smile that in some way expressed some finality. As she began to rise from the chair, Elvis jumped down. She left with Elvis prancing behind her. To a dog, life was good.

There weren't many days left for her--for them--but during the few they shared, Anna and Elvis were happy. Even when Anna was more sarcoma than she was Anna. No dog should outlive his master, Elvis kept gestalting in his limited dog brain way, without words. So when Anna finally left Elvis' world, he felt very un-dogly about himself. She had deserted him. She had been unfaithful to the law. To him. She had Bowied him in infidelity. 

It was against the law.  

There was a celebration of life at her house the evening of the funeral. Dr. Burgess was there. The pastor who presided over the burial was there, too. It wasn't important to Elvis that there was no one else present, because dogs do not keep score. They only count to two, and now he had an equation with no sum. He left the kitchen through the doggy door and walked into the backyard. The feral cat hissed at him, but he didn't care. He saw her on the fence, and she was stunned that he didn't care. His eyes didn't stop there. He continued to look up, and he reached a point where he could see twinkling, sparkly dots of light strewn across the sky. He listened to the music coming out of the house. He knew the words by heart.

Oh no love! You're not alone

You're watching yourself but you're too unfair

You got your head all tangled up

But if I could only make you care

Oh no love! You're not alone

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 58 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon
Diamond Dog
It seemed that dying was not such a dreadful thing anymore, because Bowie had died. She was not supposed to outlive Bowie. He was too important to her to go first. She claimed she had been to every live performance over five decades. She even claimed she had had sex with him in her groupie days. She had every one of his albums. Actually, she had two copies of each one, one to play, another shrink-wrapped virgin vinyl, unopened, she was keeping to pass on to her children and grandchildren. She didn't have any progeny, hoever. Being obsessed with Bowie meant that venturing into other social interactions was simply not on her list. She had recorded every TV performance, now collected on a shelf of VHS tapes she could only play on an obsolete machine she finally had found at Good Will.

Anna could see herself going out, fading away, with Bowie. It lent a romantic respite from the toxic melancholy that had tormented her since she had heard her diagnosis. A diagnosis like his. Coincidence? Their connection was strong. Among her phases of denial, anger, pleading, and acceptance, romance sneaked in right at the end, courtesy of her absentee man who had sold the world. Yes, I can go out with my David, she mused. When she ate, drank, slept, and breathed her disease and mortality every waking and sleeping moment since her bad news, it was easy, even comforting to imagine that the disappearance of Bowie had a fateful relationship with her own pending disappearance. Let the world do without the both of us, she thought. A small black Pug jumped onto her lap.

“I won’t leave you, though” she promised the small dog. “No, we’re a package deal, huh?” She continued her conversation with the Pug who barked his responses. “I should have named you Diamond, right, Elvis?” she said to Elvis, what she had really named him. “Or Major Tom, or even…Ziggy! Yes, Ziggy!” Elvis yipped in agreement to the happy chirpy sounds of her voice. “So, what do you think about all these ch-ch-changes to my health?" she asked, and laughed, and Elvis laughed with her. "Did you even know who David Bowie was? I guess not, sweetie.” She made exaggerated smooching noises all around his head as Elvis licked her face.

“I guess I should feel deserted,” she said to him. “My life is leaving me now but my David has left me first. He was unfaithful.” Elvis jammed his snout firmly into her belly and snorted and sniffed rapidly. He could smell her disease, her scary monster. He had smelled it long before any biopsies, scans, or even suspicions had hinted of it. “But you’re not leaving me. Not you. You would never do that, would you?”

She knew that to Elvis, she was his Bowie, his ultimate destination, his million points of light. She was his hopes and dreams, even when his time was to come, his own eternal rest, because dogs were not supposed to outlive their masters. He had never heard Bowie, even as often as it played throughout the house, because he never listened any further than Anna's voice. He had never even seen the stars because he had never looked any higher than her face. Just as Man had reached for the stars, Elvis had reached for her. His small canine brain saw himself as much a part of her as her own arms and legs and tumor. When she suffered, he suffered. When she would grab her lower abdomen and groan in pain, Elvis would slink toward her, his legs all double-jointed and his tail down. It did not matter to Elvis that Bowie was gone; it only mattered to him that Anna was still here. But as small as his mind was, it sensed her coming departure from his world. 

She thought of it often, but she never spoke of it with him. She knew some things dogs understand without knowing any words except for treat, vet, bath or his name. Anna was fond of saying that dogs were a gift from God, and truly their dedication—total, loving, even ridiculous—could only have come from God.

She also had a cat that she seldom saw. It was an outside cat, living a cat people life that was interrupted only for a visit to the milk bowl on her step. She knew that the cat knew there were no more Bowie, but that it simply didn’t care. Cats knew almost everything, but cared about almost none of it. They were survivors and would do just fine dealing with the loss of Bowie or anything else. But she also knew a cat would have no clue of the rot inside her that doomed her and threatened the milk supply.

Elvis knew that no dog should outlive his master. It just wasn't allowed. It was just the way it was. A law. His small canine mind couldn’t use a vocabulary to put it into words, but somewhere among his simple synapses he could sense the train wreck coming and that his stars, his ultimate destination, and his million points of light would soon be gone. He knew, then, that he would be gone soon, too, and first, according to the law

He cried at night, even if Anna didn’t know why. He cried for both of them, even if Anna didn't know how.

She labeled Elvis her comfort dog, insisting he accompany her to the grocery, to the mall, even to her doctor’s office. Old Dr. Burgess saw her in his office when she had kept her follow-up appointment. She sat in a chair and settled in, as he looked with disapproval of the dog on her lap. He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even start. He’s my comfort animal.”

“Comfort, hmmm…You shouldn’t have canceled your chemotherapy appointments or refused your radiation if you wanted comfort. In fact, you have refused to discuss further any remedy at all.”

“Remedy? Is that what those things are? They’re remedies? They will fix me?”

“Anna, you know what I mean. I agree that the survival rate—”

“My rate? I’m going to have a rate of survival?” Elvis picked up on the sarcasm and yipped a high-pitched bark that hurt Dr. Burgess’ ears. The doctor flinched.

“Enough to make you deaf!” he complained. 

"Deaf-er, you mean."

“No reconsideration, Anna?” She sighed.

“No, not for me.”

“Why do you keep refusing?” he asked.

“Again, you ask me? Again, Dr. B., I ask you back, did you know that Bowie was gone?”

“Oh, that. Yes, I have. And again I ask, how does that figure into a decision to not do what’s best for you?”

“Dr. B., I've had radiation all my life. Cosmic rays, X-rays, gamma rays—all from the stars. And the day Bowie left us is the day you gave me my diagnosis. Advanced this or advanced that.”

“Advanced mixed muellerian carcinosarcoma.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, then,” he said with a mischievous smile, “maybe all that radiation kept your cancer away. More reason to consider it now since you’re on your own.”

“Funny, Doc, real funny,” she said. “A 10% survival rate with your man-made radiation?”

“Yea, I know.” He understood. She knew he understood. “You have to try,” he urged her, having to try.

“No, I really don’t. Look, all I know is that I came from dust and to dust I will return. With or without radiation.”

“You came from the dust of stars,” Dr. Burgess added. "Just like all the radiation you were talking about. And the the iron that sits in your hemoglobin, even though you're anemic; the oxygen you breathe, even though you're short of breath; the stuff that makes your bacteria—both the good and the bad, although in you the bad seem to be overpowering the good. The hydrogen, the nitrogen, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium—all of these things came from the stars. You came from them."

“I stand corrected,” she said. "Not dust to dust. Stardust to stardust." She laughed to herself, but then suddenly became sad. "My dust—my dust is supposed to go back into the stars, but I guess that's impossible right now because it has to go into the Earth first, and it won't be back into the stars until the Earth falls into the stars. When will that happen, Dr. B.?"

"Not for another five billion years or so."

"Oh, I'll be long gone by then. But I guess I'll finally be home. But for now, my dust will be parked. It will be worthless. It will be wasted.”

"What about David Bowie's dust? Is that wasted?" he asked.

"Oh, Dr. B., that is good dust."

“Well, don’t throw away your dust just yet, Anna. It’s good dust.” He paused. "David would have thought so." He paused again. "Ziggy would have thought so."

“Shame,” she said with a sincere smile that in some way expressed some finality. As she began to rise from the chair, Elvis jumped down. She left with Elvis prancing behind her. To a dog, life was good.

There weren't many days left for her--for them--but during the few they shared, Anna and Elvis were happy. Even when Anna was more sarcoma than she was Anna. No dog should outlive his master, Elvis kept gestalting in his limited dog brain way, without words. So when Anna finally left Elvis' world, he felt very un-dogly about himself. She had deserted him. She had been unfaithful to the law. To him. She had Bowied him in infidelity. 

It was against the law.  

There was a celebration of life at her house the evening of the funeral. Dr. Burgess was there. The pastor who presided over the burial was there, too. It wasn't important to Elvis that there was no one else present, because dogs do not keep score. They only count to two, and now he had an equation with no sum. He left the kitchen through the doggy door and walked into the backyard. The feral cat hissed at him, but he didn't care. He saw her on the fence, and she was stunned that he didn't care. His eyes didn't stop there. He continued to look up, and he reached a point where he could see twinkling, sparkly dots of light strewn across the sky. He listened to the music coming out of the house. He knew the words by heart.

Oh no love! You're not alone
You're watching yourself but you're too unfair
You got your head all tangled up
But if I could only make you care
Oh no love! You're not alone
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by Nathaniel

Behind the Wall

It was as all things are, imperfect. His love was part of the failings of an antiquated system long overgrown with the vines of corruption. There was only misery within the proverbial institution and damnation outside of it. Life was a trap built by his own hands, structured by the ill-fated decisions of his younger self. He was condemned to this until death, and even then it was rumored that it might continue. People looked up to him, how could he share his discontent with them if they looked to him for guidance? He was seen as successful, happy, the guy who had it all figured out, a pillar of the community. He cared for this community; it was one of the last few things he genuinely cared about.

Many nights he worried what people would think if he should show his weakness, the cracks in the pillar ran deep. He worried that the whole building might topple in on itself; all those that depended on him would be lost. His fears and insecurities built a wall, so high and so vast that none could go past, but only look at the outside. To others this wall had a wonderful façade to look upon, but behind the wall he festered in his contempt for himself. He longed to speak the truth, but he knew the truth was not freedom; the truth would lead him to lose everything.

He was not always like this and he is not a bad man, he simply is not happy. He tried, at first, to make things work; to do things to bring back his joy, but as every attempt failed one after another it became easier to simply carry the weight behind his wall. There was a time when he was so strong in his love that he would do amazing, ridiculous, wonderful, foolish things for that love. Now he endured with no end in sight, he longed to put away the world.

The world cannot be simply put away, at least not forever. He had to deal with it in suffering, silence so strong it was deafening in the dark of the night. Every day he sat and stared trying to focus on simple things, matters that had nothing to do with his current state. He thought of baseball, a local business, a new billboard, and the menial tasks of his work. Despite his efforts to keep his mind empty of any thought of true consequence he was always drawn back to his darkest burden that he kept behind the wall. He wondered, if there were a God would he be proud of him? Or would God want him to speak the truth, even if it meant damnation by the rules of the common faith? He did not want to be condemned, but he had to be true to himself sometimes.

To accomplish this he took trips out of town, these he labeled as vacations, but they were not relaxing. He always had an agenda, something he had to do, something he looked forward to and kept him going. When he was most buried behind his wall, to the point of breaking, he would go far from his home to seek an embrace. This embrace was the pinnacle of self-indulgence, worship of one’s own spirit above all else. He put away his normal subdued clothing and donned his new persona, a glimpse beyond the wall.

He would feel such a rush of exhilarating, mind altering, and welcome freedom on these trips. Every time he loosed himself the embrace was so overwhelming that his mundane life seemed bearable. He shed all concern for himself, for his obligations, but he could not shed the responsibility he felt to his community. This trip, like a rendezvous with a strange lover, was only temporary and he would have to return to the home he came from, even though he wished he could stay. The trip was always brief but in its brevity it was special, almost infinite in its meaning to him. After he had taken as much as he dared from the forbidden fruit he would prepare to return to his community.

Another morning brought the light shining in the windows of his all too familiar room. He glanced about waking from his first night back almost hoping his real life was just a dream, but reality set in as he began his morning rituals. He stepped up to the sink to wash his face and for a moment as his finger touched his lips he felt a shiver run down his spine, a memory of his trip returned to him and he stood frozen in that moment until he heard a knock.

“We are going to start in five minutes,” a familiar voice called through the door. “We wanted to let you sleep in but we are getting worried you are not up yet.”

“I am fine,” he said still with his two fingers touched to his lower lip. “I will be there in a moment,” he assured the voice on the other side of the door.

“Great I will let them know,” the voice responded.

He pulled his fingers away from his lips in a rush as if to hide it from himself. His clothes were hanging by the bathroom and he was quick to dress as he tucked away the memories of the trip he had been on so that no one could glean them from surface of his mind. He exited his chamber and proceeded down a small hallway dimly lit towards another set of doors. He could hear chatter on the other side of the door and took a deep breath. He hated what came next, but he had to do it for the community. He adjusted his collar and opened the door. The pews of his congregation were full and he was ready to deliver the sermon he had written before he left for his trip. The community needed him and they could never know the truth.

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by Nathaniel
Behind the Wall
It was as all things are, imperfect. His love was part of the failings of an antiquated system long overgrown with the vines of corruption. There was only misery within the proverbial institution and damnation outside of it. Life was a trap built by his own hands, structured by the ill-fated decisions of his younger self. He was condemned to this until death, and even then it was rumored that it might continue. People looked up to him, how could he share his discontent with them if they looked to him for guidance? He was seen as successful, happy, the guy who had it all figured out, a pillar of the community. He cared for this community; it was one of the last few things he genuinely cared about.


Many nights he worried what people would think if he should show his weakness, the cracks in the pillar ran deep. He worried that the whole building might topple in on itself; all those that depended on him would be lost. His fears and insecurities built a wall, so high and so vast that none could go past, but only look at the outside. To others this wall had a wonderful façade to look upon, but behind the wall he festered in his contempt for himself. He longed to speak the truth, but he knew the truth was not freedom; the truth would lead him to lose everything.
He was not always like this and he is not a bad man, he simply is not happy. He tried, at first, to make things work; to do things to bring back his joy, but as every attempt failed one after another it became easier to simply carry the weight behind his wall. There was a time when he was so strong in his love that he would do amazing, ridiculous, wonderful, foolish things for that love. Now he endured with no end in sight, he longed to put away the world.


The world cannot be simply put away, at least not forever. He had to deal with it in suffering, silence so strong it was deafening in the dark of the night. Every day he sat and stared trying to focus on simple things, matters that had nothing to do with his current state. He thought of baseball, a local business, a new billboard, and the menial tasks of his work. Despite his efforts to keep his mind empty of any thought of true consequence he was always drawn back to his darkest burden that he kept behind the wall. He wondered, if there were a God would he be proud of him? Or would God want him to speak the truth, even if it meant damnation by the rules of the common faith? He did not want to be condemned, but he had to be true to himself sometimes.


To accomplish this he took trips out of town, these he labeled as vacations, but they were not relaxing. He always had an agenda, something he had to do, something he looked forward to and kept him going. When he was most buried behind his wall, to the point of breaking, he would go far from his home to seek an embrace. This embrace was the pinnacle of self-indulgence, worship of one’s own spirit above all else. He put away his normal subdued clothing and donned his new persona, a glimpse beyond the wall.


He would feel such a rush of exhilarating, mind altering, and welcome freedom on these trips. Every time he loosed himself the embrace was so overwhelming that his mundane life seemed bearable. He shed all concern for himself, for his obligations, but he could not shed the responsibility he felt to his community. This trip, like a rendezvous with a strange lover, was only temporary and he would have to return to the home he came from, even though he wished he could stay. The trip was always brief but in its brevity it was special, almost infinite in its meaning to him. After he had taken as much as he dared from the forbidden fruit he would prepare to return to his community.


Another morning brought the light shining in the windows of his all too familiar room. He glanced about waking from his first night back almost hoping his real life was just a dream, but reality set in as he began his morning rituals. He stepped up to the sink to wash his face and for a moment as his finger touched his lips he felt a shiver run down his spine, a memory of his trip returned to him and he stood frozen in that moment until he heard a knock.


“We are going to start in five minutes,” a familiar voice called through the door. “We wanted to let you sleep in but we are getting worried you are not up yet.”


“I am fine,” he said still with his two fingers touched to his lower lip. “I will be there in a moment,” he assured the voice on the other side of the door.


“Great I will let them know,” the voice responded.


He pulled his fingers away from his lips in a rush as if to hide it from himself. His clothes were hanging by the bathroom and he was quick to dress as he tucked away the memories of the trip he had been on so that no one could glean them from surface of his mind. He exited his chamber and proceeded down a small hallway dimly lit towards another set of doors. He could hear chatter on the other side of the door and took a deep breath. He hated what came next, but he had to do it for the community. He adjusted his collar and opened the door. The pews of his congregation were full and he was ready to deliver the sermon he had written before he left for his trip. The community needed him and they could never know the truth.
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by ChelleA

Deception Detection (reworked)

The door

whispers

open,

creaking its protest

on hinges

in need of lubrication,

once loud screams hoarse

from begging

for slick liquid relief.

Silent silhouette

sneaks

in,

mouse-quiet,

making sure

to

close

with care.

(Darkness hides a frigid figure,

frozen on the couch

in a tableau

of waiting,

frown in place,

and tired circles

drowning

red rivers

which surround

watery brown iris islands.)

You tiptoe

softly,

only the rhythmic

"tit-a-tat, tit-a-tat"

betraying the quiet retreat.

You reach the steps,

lean down

to take off

power shoes,

brown and business-like,

soles made to fit the art

of trampling others.

In stockinged feet,

you start to ascend,

thinking your angel

will welcome you

as always

before,

lost in luxurious sleep,

oblivious

to the Devil

who sleeps

beside her.

One flick of a switch...

SURPRISE!

Even angels feel the need to investigate

why mortals and demons

like to linger on Earth,

forsaking

the pleasure of what

should be

perfect paradise.

Blessed light floods the stage,

the final act

revealing cherry stains

on collar and sleeves,

ruffled,

rumpled

countenance

guilty,

but satisfaction still showing

in the faint smile

of a fox

who's eaten his fill,

and knows there's more.

Or so he thinks.

(But he's never as sly as his vixen.)

Your mouth

opens,

silken fibs

tumble forth,

rush as cattle

from lips like poisoned pens.

As you make

your pretty speeches,

illumination shuns your eyes,

shadows soak bright,

sopping in fluorescent gravy.

Excuses,

excuses,

well, excuuuuuuse me!

You think your shiny obsidian lies

are dagger enough

to cut

holes

in the Afterlife,

gaining you entrance to eternal bliss,

allowing access

to higher portals of love,

regardless

of the ways you like

to toy

with vices of the flesh.

Good thinking.

The front is heavily guarded.

(But back doors are usually trapped.)

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by ChelleA
Deception Detection (reworked)
The door
whispers
open,
creaking its protest
on hinges
in need of lubrication,
once loud screams hoarse
from begging
for slick liquid relief.

Silent silhouette
sneaks
in,
mouse-quiet,
making sure
to
close
with care.

(Darkness hides a frigid figure,
frozen on the couch
in a tableau
of waiting,
frown in place,
and tired circles
drowning
red rivers
which surround
watery brown iris islands.)

You tiptoe
softly,
only the rhythmic
"tit-a-tat, tit-a-tat"
betraying the quiet retreat.
You reach the steps,
lean down
to take off
power shoes,
brown and business-like,
soles made to fit the art
of trampling others.

In stockinged feet,
you start to ascend,
thinking your angel
will welcome you
as always
before,
lost in luxurious sleep,
oblivious
to the Devil
who sleeps
beside her.

One flick of a switch...

SURPRISE!

Even angels feel the need to investigate
why mortals and demons
like to linger on Earth,
forsaking
the pleasure of what
should be
perfect paradise.

Blessed light floods the stage,
the final act
revealing cherry stains
on collar and sleeves,
ruffled,
rumpled
countenance
guilty,
but satisfaction still showing
in the faint smile
of a fox
who's eaten his fill,
and knows there's more.

Or so he thinks.

(But he's never as sly as his vixen.)

Your mouth
opens,
silken fibs
tumble forth,
rush as cattle
from lips like poisoned pens.
As you make
your pretty speeches,
illumination shuns your eyes,
shadows soak bright,
sopping in fluorescent gravy.

Excuses,
excuses,

well, excuuuuuuse me!

You think your shiny obsidian lies
are dagger enough
to cut
holes
in the Afterlife,
gaining you entrance to eternal bliss,
allowing access
to higher portals of love,
regardless
of the ways you like
to toy
with vices of the flesh.

Good thinking.
The front is heavily guarded.

(But back doors are usually trapped.)


#infidelity  #ohnoyoudidnt  #deceptiondetection 
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by Delilah49

Highs and Lows

The first time I got high was outside of a bar called Taproot. A collection of bearded musicians and a wooden dance floor that seemed to attract older men like my date, trying to impress impressionable young women, like I used to be. There were many pairs of us, but somehow I felt elite, sitting next to my brooding companion. We were by far the handsomest, of that I was smugly certain.

It was winter, but the hipster-local-who-cares-cocktails I had consumed kept me warm when we went outside - snowing though it was. A jacket would cover the appeal of my outfit - my trap for his eyes. His eyes never needed much ensnaring, they flittered around recklessly even then.

His Chevrolet truck - with the covered back where he kept the dogs he walked for a living - was open at the driver’s side. I was soon against the door - swooning under whiskey lips and feeling heady from the thrill of being desired. He pulled back - lids heavy, and produced a joint from his flannel breast pocket. I was delighted by every cliché. I fell for his jungle colors, his peacock spread.

I was a novice then, and so his taste for my lips and my lack of knowledge lead to an exchange. He blew the smoke within me - again and again - watched me expel it into the night air. The fiddle that played in the background of our embraces called my attention now - as did the gaze of the door guard. A full figured man - he peered at our exchange,  and I supposed he had watched many couples in this manner - too drunk to notice his leer. Fresh from the country, every detail of this shoddy part of town enthralled me - made me feel like a bold city girl.

My date noticed the fat man’s observation, and pulled me to him again. It was a performance - I couldn’t recognize then that this display was more for the guard’s benefit than mine. It was this night that I went home with him, the night of my surrender - exchange of flesh. A step more severe for me than for him, of that I was aware.

We were woken the next morning by a knock - followed without much pause by an open door - for which his roommate seemed embarrassed. I covered myself, blushing. My lips were swollen from kissing, I felt them with my fingertips as my date cursed his roommate. The roommate, a shy boy - was just short of writhing in his discomfort.

“I’m sorry man, she just came in.”

From behind him, a woman stepped forth, closer to my date’s age than mine. I stared back defiantly from his bed on the floor, though my date began to sputter and collect himself. I’m embarrassed for that stare now. She said nothing, but my boxer-clad companion followed her out the door.

In my naivety I allowed him to embrace me again when he returned, no questions asked or answered. Foolish men thrive on foolish girls.

Foolish girls let foolish men tell them to ignore their intuition, ignore their observations.

I did not stop being a foolish girl until I found myself at his door, peering in at him and a face that didn’t belong to me - who stared back at me with a familiar rosy defiance.

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by Delilah49
Highs and Lows
The first time I got high was outside of a bar called Taproot. A collection of bearded musicians and a wooden dance floor that seemed to attract older men like my date, trying to impress impressionable young women, like I used to be. There were many pairs of us, but somehow I felt elite, sitting next to my brooding companion. We were by far the handsomest, of that I was smugly certain.




It was winter, but the hipster-local-who-cares-cocktails I had consumed kept me warm when we went outside - snowing though it was. A jacket would cover the appeal of my outfit - my trap for his eyes. His eyes never needed much ensnaring, they flittered around recklessly even then.



His Chevrolet truck - with the covered back where he kept the dogs he walked for a living - was open at the driver’s side. I was soon against the door - swooning under whiskey lips and feeling heady from the thrill of being desired. He pulled back - lids heavy, and produced a joint from his flannel breast pocket. I was delighted by every cliché. I fell for his jungle colors, his peacock spread.



I was a novice then, and so his taste for my lips and my lack of knowledge lead to an exchange. He blew the smoke within me - again and again - watched me expel it into the night air. The fiddle that played in the background of our embraces called my attention now - as did the gaze of the door guard. A full figured man - he peered at our exchange,  and I supposed he had watched many couples in this manner - too drunk to notice his leer. Fresh from the country, every detail of this shoddy part of town enthralled me - made me feel like a bold city girl.



My date noticed the fat man’s observation, and pulled me to him again. It was a performance - I couldn’t recognize then that this display was more for the guard’s benefit than mine. It was this night that I went home with him, the night of my surrender - exchange of flesh. A step more severe for me than for him, of that I was aware.



We were woken the next morning by a knock - followed without much pause by an open door - for which his roommate seemed embarrassed. I covered myself, blushing. My lips were swollen from kissing, I felt them with my fingertips as my date cursed his roommate. The roommate, a shy boy - was just short of writhing in his discomfort.



“I’m sorry man, she just came in.”



From behind him, a woman stepped forth, closer to my date’s age than mine. I stared back defiantly from his bed on the floor, though my date began to sputter and collect himself. I’m embarrassed for that stare now. She said nothing, but my boxer-clad companion followed her out the door.



In my naivety I allowed him to embrace me again when he returned, no questions asked or answered. Foolish men thrive on foolish girls.






Foolish girls let foolish men tell them to ignore their intuition, ignore their observations.


I did not stop being a foolish girl until I found myself at his door, peering in at him and a face that didn’t belong to me - who stared back at me with a familiar rosy defiance.
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by butlersteph

Rendezvous

The lighting was just right, and the menu enticing. Sitting across the table from you, I gazed into your brown eyes. Oh your beautiful eyes - like those of a desert hawk, or an old western cowboy - inspired and fierce. Hypnotised by you, I could hardly concentrate on picking out something to eat. I sat breathless. In that moment, I’d have done anything for you. Time seemed to slow to a crawling pace, and I knew right then and there, you were worth it.

We ushered the waiter away several times, deliberately savoring the moments together. For both of us, home was waiting. We were aware we would eventually have to return to children, and chores, and the daily grind. We spoke not of it. Instead, we talked of dreams once lost, but now somehow seeming within reach. This was the kind of conversation I yearned for. I needed it so badly. I soaked it up - I soaked you up, with all of my being. The flame and desire between us was undeniable.

Our patient waiter returned, and we could delay no longer. Like a perfect gentleman, you deferred the first choice to me. Honestly, at this point I could have cared less what food was served. I was hungry, but for a different sort of nourishment. I think you knew it, as you glanced at me and winked.

“I’ll have the chicken and a diet please.”

“Excellent choice. Is Diet Pepsi okay?”

I looked at you, then at the waiter. Your eyes closed momentarily, and you knew. A fire lit in my belly. What kind of floozy did this guy take me for? I was capable of a lot of things, but not this. I grimaced, and tried to muster up as much politeness as possible.

“Water will be fine.”

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by butlersteph
Rendezvous
The lighting was just right, and the menu enticing. Sitting across the table from you, I gazed into your brown eyes. Oh your beautiful eyes - like those of a desert hawk, or an old western cowboy - inspired and fierce. Hypnotised by you, I could hardly concentrate on picking out something to eat. I sat breathless. In that moment, I’d have done anything for you. Time seemed to slow to a crawling pace, and I knew right then and there, you were worth it.

We ushered the waiter away several times, deliberately savoring the moments together. For both of us, home was waiting. We were aware we would eventually have to return to children, and chores, and the daily grind. We spoke not of it. Instead, we talked of dreams once lost, but now somehow seeming within reach. This was the kind of conversation I yearned for. I needed it so badly. I soaked it up - I soaked you up, with all of my being. The flame and desire between us was undeniable.

Our patient waiter returned, and we could delay no longer. Like a perfect gentleman, you deferred the first choice to me. Honestly, at this point I could have cared less what food was served. I was hungry, but for a different sort of nourishment. I think you knew it, as you glanced at me and winked.

“I’ll have the chicken and a diet please.”

“Excellent choice. Is Diet Pepsi okay?”

I looked at you, then at the waiter. Your eyes closed momentarily, and you knew. A fire lit in my belly. What kind of floozy did this guy take me for? I was capable of a lot of things, but not this. I grimaced, and tried to muster up as much politeness as possible.

“Water will be fine.”


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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by sandflea68

Cyber Sex

She was not being unfaithful, she told herself over and over. She loved her husband and he satisfied her every sexual need except….well, she needed more reassurance, more self-esteem and yes, more foreplay. She felt like he almost took her for granted. She wanted to be told she was the most beautiful woman in the world and that he couldn’t do without her. It was always the same, he rolled over twice a week, and pulled her to him and planted kisses as he reached between her legs and drew her to him. It was almost like he had a sex manual in front of him, following it by rote until she climaxed. Sometimes she faked it when the awkward pawing became too much.

She started experimenting by going online, writing sexy little stories guaranteed to titillate and provoke her audiences. She quickly lost her shyness as she noticed other women doing the same thing on the writing site. Soon, she felt she almost knew the others on the site but felt she needed to go elsewhere. Certainly, she realized that people could be anything they wanted to be on the internet and that their attributes were probably exaggerated.

It was amazingly easy to find another site where interested parties flirted with one another without any intent to carry it any further. Before she knew it, she was fully involved in a cyber affair. At first, they were innocents, just getting to know one another but soon, their conversation became more explicit. They had agreed to just show one another from the neck up but began to discuss all types of foreplay in the most descriptive terms. She could feel the wetness begin as soon as he said “hello” in his husky voice. By the look on his face, he was fully involved as well. Soon, they were moaning and groaning as they touched themselves, using facial expressions and passionate narratives of their activities. After a while, they removed their clothing and lowered the camera.

Without realizing the intensification of their affair, they began to describe the things they wanted to do to one another in graphic detail. When she had built up to a point where she was almost climaxing, she purred her good night, clicked off the computer and crawled into bed with her husband and began the very things that she and her cyber lover had been talking about. Her husband became putty in her hands as he murmured, “Where have you been all my life?”

Realizing that she had the best of both worlds, she stayed with her husband in wild sexual romps but also kept her cyber lover as a spare and as an instigator for her arousing and exciting new sensuality. She wondered to herself offhandedly whether she ought to take another lover but right now, her hands were full. But there would always be another day!

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by sandflea68
Cyber Sex
She was not being unfaithful, she told herself over and over. She loved her husband and he satisfied her every sexual need except….well, she needed more reassurance, more self-esteem and yes, more foreplay. She felt like he almost took her for granted. She wanted to be told she was the most beautiful woman in the world and that he couldn’t do without her. It was always the same, he rolled over twice a week, and pulled her to him and planted kisses as he reached between her legs and drew her to him. It was almost like he had a sex manual in front of him, following it by rote until she climaxed. Sometimes she faked it when the awkward pawing became too much.

She started experimenting by going online, writing sexy little stories guaranteed to titillate and provoke her audiences. She quickly lost her shyness as she noticed other women doing the same thing on the writing site. Soon, she felt she almost knew the others on the site but felt she needed to go elsewhere. Certainly, she realized that people could be anything they wanted to be on the internet and that their attributes were probably exaggerated.

It was amazingly easy to find another site where interested parties flirted with one another without any intent to carry it any further. Before she knew it, she was fully involved in a cyber affair. At first, they were innocents, just getting to know one another but soon, their conversation became more explicit. They had agreed to just show one another from the neck up but began to discuss all types of foreplay in the most descriptive terms. She could feel the wetness begin as soon as he said “hello” in his husky voice. By the look on his face, he was fully involved as well. Soon, they were moaning and groaning as they touched themselves, using facial expressions and passionate narratives of their activities. After a while, they removed their clothing and lowered the camera.

Without realizing the intensification of their affair, they began to describe the things they wanted to do to one another in graphic detail. When she had built up to a point where she was almost climaxing, she purred her good night, clicked off the computer and crawled into bed with her husband and began the very things that she and her cyber lover had been talking about. Her husband became putty in her hands as he murmured, “Where have you been all my life?”

Realizing that she had the best of both worlds, she stayed with her husband in wild sexual romps but also kept her cyber lover as a spare and as an instigator for her arousing and exciting new sensuality. She wondered to herself offhandedly whether she ought to take another lover but right now, her hands were full. But there would always be another day!

#fiction  #challenge  #infidelity 
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by Vi

Are soulmates forever?

"Your Gong-gong and I celebrated our golden anniversary last year," Paw-paw said one day while I was visiting her at the nursing home. "I think it's time we did something adventurous!"

I smiled. It had been a long while since my seventy year old grandmother lit up like a toddler at the park on Easter Sunday.

I arched an eyebrow, wondering if my grandmother and I were thinking the same thing. "What exactly were you planning on doing?" I asked, pouring the second cup of tea. "Bungee jumping? Skydiving? Or maybe just getting into the back of Dad's car?" She was absolutely terrified of speed.

"Oh," she said, nonchalantly, "I don't know..." her voice trailed off. "Maybe we'll get a divorce!"

I coughed, tea escaping through my nostrils.

"Oh," she exclaimed, hurriedly offering a rescue napkin. "Are you alright, dear?"

"Yes," I replied, "just tea in my..." I circled my face with an index finger. "Nose."

My place was all over the head. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to tell her about my grandfather. I didn't want to bring up everything that she'd spent all these years trying to get over. Maybe I should just pretend she didn't say anything, I thought.

"Fifty years," she finally said after refilling my cup. "I think it's long enough for two people to know they're ready to do something else. Don't you?"

I smiled and sipped my tea. "I don’t know Paw-paw, I haven’t been married as long as you have.” I watched her closely, seeing if there was any tells on her face—anything that would give away her real intentions—but there were none.

“Getting married to your grandfather was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But after the first thirty years…” she paused as though trying to remember something important.

Paw-paw?” I said after a few moments of silence between us.

“Oh, sorry.” She recomposed herself. “Where was I? Oh yes, I remember. After this many years, it gets a bit much you know?” She then lowered her voice, “Besides, your Gong-gong hasn't really been around these last few years, always off on his own, on some adventure. One time he was gone for months on end!”

I bit my lip. I could feel my stomach in knots.

“So,” she said with a firm voice. “I decided that I needed a change.”

“But Paw-paw,” I said, setting my cup down on the table and shifted in my chair.

“No,” she had had a palm up, facing me. “I’ve made up my mind. And I’ll tell you why.” She looked directly at me. “I’ve met someone.”

My lips were pursed, and my fists were clenched. I wanted to burst out, tell her everything about Gong-gong, but I saw the glimmer in her eyes as she continued talking with expressive hand gestures and I held my mouth firmly shut.

“...he brought me flowers the other day,” she said. “It was just the loveliest bunch of ruby red roses I had seen in awhile. Of course I told him I was taken.” She held up her ring finger.

“What’s his name again?” I said when I realized her lips had stopped moving.

“Kenneth,” she replied. “Ken for short. He’s actually quite the gentleman.”

She radiated warmth, her skin reflecting the morning sunshine, lips curling spontaneously like a young woman in love. I haven’t seen her like this since my daughter Karen was born. This was my grandmother, my Paw-paw, the one that had disappeared that fateful night, the night our worlds came crashing down on us. It took us what seemed like forever to get past the tragedy, but Paw-paw was sadly not the same woman. Imagine having your soul sucked right out, against your will, ripped from your flesh and bones. Then, whatever was left, the empty husk of a body, shucked, discarded, forced to endure an existence in between nowhere. Simply floating away, withering, diminishing. Everything would seem bland, all colour from the world drained, taste buds paralysed, and kittens would just be miniature cats.

In essence, I lost both grandparents that day. But watching her then… was this a better outcome?

“Your tea’s getting cold, dear.”

“Oh,” I jolted myself back. “Sorry,” I said.

“You know,” she said, “it would be really nice if you’d supported me.”

The smile hadn’t left her face. I lugged my chair closer, then filled my fingers into her hand. What about Gong-gong? I wanted to say, but the words evaporated at the tip of my tongue.

“I do,” I finally said. “I want you to be happy Paw-paw, and if this makes you happy, then I’m on your side.” But.

“Thank you, dear.” She squeezed my hand. “It means a lot.”

I reciprocated the smile. “So, when do I get to meet him?”

“Funny you should mention that,” she said. “Ken’s visiting me today.”

“He is?” I said. “When?”

“Oh…” her voice trailed off as she peered at her wrist. “Right about now.”

Part of me was excited. I wanted to know more about this man. Was he good-looking, has he aged well? Was he jovial? Would he smell thick with aftershave? Was he passionate about organ donation like Gong-gong? I turned around to look. My eyebrows furrowed when I saw him walking toward us. It couldn’t be right. That couldn’t be him. He was young enough to be my brother! No, the man that I saw had to be…

“Ken!” Paw-paw chirped. “How lovely to see you!” Still, I was in disbelief. My eyes were playing tricks, even when he leaned in for a kiss on the cheek, and stood behind her, hands on her shoulders. I knew I was staring, my mouth was wide open. She looked at me, then back at him, and said: “I’d like to introduce my granddaughter, Cora.”

“Hi…” my voice was weak. “Hello,” I tried again, this time extending my hand to shake his.

“Hello, Cora. I’ve heard so much about you,” he said. “I won’t say how I know where you got your good looks.”

“Surely you know that line doesn’t work anymore,” I blurted, then cringed inwardly. It was as though my filter had gone missing.

Paw-paw’s expression dampened a little, but she quickly recomposed. She was about to say something, but Kenneth piped up. “And I won’t say how I know who you got your fire from!”

“Perceptive,” I said. “For a twenty year old.”

“I’m actually closer to thirty.” He smiled cheekily, seemingly unfazed at the apparent hostility.

We spent the next half hour chatting. I threw all sorts of curly questions at him, it was a mix bag of obvious in-your-face and subtle ones. From politics, to global warming, to Donald Trump, and finally to same-sex marriage. There was a brief moment when I saw him shift uneasily. When Paw-paw excused herself to use the facilities, I decided to act.

“What’s your story, mate?” I asked, looking him directly in the eyes. “I’ll have you know that my grandmother isn’t a gold mine.”

He stared at me for a few seconds. Not a twitch in his body. Then, suddenly, he erupted into laughter.

“You…” he said after several moments. “You really think I’m after her money?”

“Explain yourself then,” I said and folded my arms.

He started unbuttoning his shirt. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Explaining,” he replied.

I started to feel uncomfortable, but held my tongue when I finally understood what he was trying to convey. On his chest, from just below his clavicle to the top of his diaphragm, was a deep scar. “I had a heart transplant,” he said. “Five years ago. The 23rd of November.” He emphasised the date, as if it was significant to me.

I observed him from afar. The cogs in my brain spinning furiously. Why was that date so familiar? I should know it. Oh my God!, The light bulb came on. That’s the date of the accident! I searched his face. There was only kindness and love. My eyes welled up as he nodded.

“How?” I said softly, my knuckles removing the excess moisture from my cheeks. “How did you and grandmother—”

“That’s a long story in itself,” he interjected. He gazed past me in the direction of the main building, then re-buttoned his shirt. “But suffice to say, I’m not a gold digger. Look, I’ve thought about telling her the truth, but I know that would break her heart all over again. It’s my decision."

He looked at me and said, "I will never hurt her. I promise.” His intense grey eyes spoke volumes.

I took the time to churn everything over several times. Weighing the pros along with the cons. The current situation was untenable. Someone would slip up eventually. I’ve been in similar situations before. It was impossible to maintain a lie without telling even more lies. Perhaps not for my grandmother in her current state of mind, but it would be living a lie, especially for Ken. How could we ask this of him? This was crazy!

Paw-paw came back not long after. She sat down next to him, and he poured her more tea. They started chatting, like best friends from lifetimes ago. It must be the air, the fresh scent of flowers, or the crispness, or even the singing of the Silvereyes; but I understood why she was drawn to him, why she fell for him. My Gong-gong had a heart of gold, and this same heart now resided within him, beating strongly for both of them.

“You’re a good man, Ken.” I said to him when it was time to depart.

He smiled back, nodding, one arm around her shoulder. Maybe she’ll find out, maybe she won’t. My grandfather had managed to find a way to be with my grandmother even through death. Who was I to tear them apart again?

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by Vi
Are soulmates forever?
"Your Gong-gong and I celebrated our golden anniversary last year," Paw-paw said one day while I was visiting her at the nursing home. "I think it's time we did something adventurous!"

I smiled. It had been a long while since my seventy year old grandmother lit up like a toddler at the park on Easter Sunday.

I arched an eyebrow, wondering if my grandmother and I were thinking the same thing. "What exactly were you planning on doing?" I asked, pouring the second cup of tea. "Bungee jumping? Skydiving? Or maybe just getting into the back of Dad's car?" She was absolutely terrified of speed.

"Oh," she said, nonchalantly, "I don't know..." her voice trailed off. "Maybe we'll get a divorce!"

I coughed, tea escaping through my nostrils.

"Oh," she exclaimed, hurriedly offering a rescue napkin. "Are you alright, dear?"

"Yes," I replied, "just tea in my..." I circled my face with an index finger. "Nose."
My place was all over the head. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to tell her about my grandfather. I didn't want to bring up everything that she'd spent all these years trying to get over. Maybe I should just pretend she didn't say anything, I thought.

"Fifty years," she finally said after refilling my cup. "I think it's long enough for two people to know they're ready to do something else. Don't you?"

I smiled and sipped my tea. "I don’t know Paw-paw, I haven’t been married as long as you have.” I watched her closely, seeing if there was any tells on her face—anything that would give away her real intentions—but there were none.

“Getting married to your grandfather was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But after the first thirty years…” she paused as though trying to remember something important.

Paw-paw?” I said after a few moments of silence between us.

“Oh, sorry.” She recomposed herself. “Where was I? Oh yes, I remember. After this many years, it gets a bit much you know?” She then lowered her voice, “Besides, your Gong-gong hasn't really been around these last few years, always off on his own, on some adventure. One time he was gone for months on end!”

I bit my lip. I could feel my stomach in knots.

“So,” she said with a firm voice. “I decided that I needed a change.”

“But Paw-paw,” I said, setting my cup down on the table and shifted in my chair.

“No,” she had had a palm up, facing me. “I’ve made up my mind. And I’ll tell you why.” She looked directly at me. “I’ve met someone.”

My lips were pursed, and my fists were clenched. I wanted to burst out, tell her everything about Gong-gong, but I saw the glimmer in her eyes as she continued talking with expressive hand gestures and I held my mouth firmly shut.

“...he brought me flowers the other day,” she said. “It was just the loveliest bunch of ruby red roses I had seen in awhile. Of course I told him I was taken.” She held up her ring finger.

“What’s his name again?” I said when I realized her lips had stopped moving.

“Kenneth,” she replied. “Ken for short. He’s actually quite the gentleman.”

She radiated warmth, her skin reflecting the morning sunshine, lips curling spontaneously like a young woman in love. I haven’t seen her like this since my daughter Karen was born. This was my grandmother, my Paw-paw, the one that had disappeared that fateful night, the night our worlds came crashing down on us. It took us what seemed like forever to get past the tragedy, but Paw-paw was sadly not the same woman. Imagine having your soul sucked right out, against your will, ripped from your flesh and bones. Then, whatever was left, the empty husk of a body, shucked, discarded, forced to endure an existence in between nowhere. Simply floating away, withering, diminishing. Everything would seem bland, all colour from the world drained, taste buds paralysed, and kittens would just be miniature cats.

In essence, I lost both grandparents that day. But watching her then… was this a better outcome?

“Your tea’s getting cold, dear.”

“Oh,” I jolted myself back. “Sorry,” I said.

“You know,” she said, “it would be really nice if you’d supported me.”

The smile hadn’t left her face. I lugged my chair closer, then filled my fingers into her hand. What about Gong-gong? I wanted to say, but the words evaporated at the tip of my tongue.

“I do,” I finally said. “I want you to be happy Paw-paw, and if this makes you happy, then I’m on your side.” But.

“Thank you, dear.” She squeezed my hand. “It means a lot.”

I reciprocated the smile. “So, when do I get to meet him?”

“Funny you should mention that,” she said. “Ken’s visiting me today.”

“He is?” I said. “When?”

“Oh…” her voice trailed off as she peered at her wrist. “Right about now.”

Part of me was excited. I wanted to know more about this man. Was he good-looking, has he aged well? Was he jovial? Would he smell thick with aftershave? Was he passionate about organ donation like Gong-gong? I turned around to look. My eyebrows furrowed when I saw him walking toward us. It couldn’t be right. That couldn’t be him. He was young enough to be my brother! No, the man that I saw had to be…

“Ken!” Paw-paw chirped. “How lovely to see you!” Still, I was in disbelief. My eyes were playing tricks, even when he leaned in for a kiss on the cheek, and stood behind her, hands on her shoulders. I knew I was staring, my mouth was wide open. She looked at me, then back at him, and said: “I’d like to introduce my granddaughter, Cora.”

“Hi…” my voice was weak. “Hello,” I tried again, this time extending my hand to shake his.

“Hello, Cora. I’ve heard so much about you,” he said. “I won’t say how I know where you got your good looks.”

“Surely you know that line doesn’t work anymore,” I blurted, then cringed inwardly. It was as though my filter had gone missing.

Paw-paw’s expression dampened a little, but she quickly recomposed. She was about to say something, but Kenneth piped up. “And I won’t say how I know who you got your fire from!”

“Perceptive,” I said. “For a twenty year old.”

“I’m actually closer to thirty.” He smiled cheekily, seemingly unfazed at the apparent hostility.

We spent the next half hour chatting. I threw all sorts of curly questions at him, it was a mix bag of obvious in-your-face and subtle ones. From politics, to global warming, to Donald Trump, and finally to same-sex marriage. There was a brief moment when I saw him shift uneasily. When Paw-paw excused herself to use the facilities, I decided to act.

“What’s your story, mate?” I asked, looking him directly in the eyes. “I’ll have you know that my grandmother isn’t a gold mine.”

He stared at me for a few seconds. Not a twitch in his body. Then, suddenly, he erupted into laughter.

“You…” he said after several moments. “You really think I’m after her money?”

“Explain yourself then,” I said and folded my arms.

He started unbuttoning his shirt. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Explaining,” he replied.

I started to feel uncomfortable, but held my tongue when I finally understood what he was trying to convey. On his chest, from just below his clavicle to the top of his diaphragm, was a deep scar. “I had a heart transplant,” he said. “Five years ago. The 23rd of November.” He emphasised the date, as if it was significant to me.

I observed him from afar. The cogs in my brain spinning furiously. Why was that date so familiar? I should know it. Oh my God!, The light bulb came on. That’s the date of the accident! I searched his face. There was only kindness and love. My eyes welled up as he nodded.

“How?” I said softly, my knuckles removing the excess moisture from my cheeks. “How did you and grandmother—”

“That’s a long story in itself,” he interjected. He gazed past me in the direction of the main building, then re-buttoned his shirt. “But suffice to say, I’m not a gold digger. Look, I’ve thought about telling her the truth, but I know that would break her heart all over again. It’s my decision."

He looked at me and said, "I will never hurt her. I promise.” His intense grey eyes spoke volumes.

I took the time to churn everything over several times. Weighing the pros along with the cons. The current situation was untenable. Someone would slip up eventually. I’ve been in similar situations before. It was impossible to maintain a lie without telling even more lies. Perhaps not for my grandmother in her current state of mind, but it would be living a lie, especially for Ken. How could we ask this of him? This was crazy!

Paw-paw came back not long after. She sat down next to him, and he poured her more tea. They started chatting, like best friends from lifetimes ago. It must be the air, the fresh scent of flowers, or the crispness, or even the singing of the Silvereyes; but I understood why she was drawn to him, why she fell for him. My Gong-gong had a heart of gold, and this same heart now resided within him, beating strongly for both of them.

“You’re a good man, Ken.” I said to him when it was time to depart.

He smiled back, nodding, one arm around her shoulder. Maybe she’ll find out, maybe she won’t. My grandfather had managed to find a way to be with my grandmother even through death. Who was I to tear them apart again?
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Juice
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