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The Looker



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Old November 25th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Hallelujah  Female.gif Hallelujah is offline
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The Looker

Woke up this morning with a story in mind and couldn't fall back asleep until I wrote it down. And then my brain was all "Hey, we joined a book forum. That means we can totally post the story there!" and because sharing my writing and getting good, constructive criticism from others makes me happy. That being said, I told my brain that posting was a great idea and so here I am.

The Looker

Almost heavier than she can manage, he dangles from the cliff face. His arms strain to support his body and the heavy shackles – the ball and chain – that are closed about his ankles. She is rooted to the spot by her own ankle cuffs and if he falls, she will surely go with him. Her hands are clasped, white-knuckled, about his arms and she is pulling against the weight over the cliff. Pulling against exhaustion and time and fear. Pulling him up, one heart breaking, immeasurably small distance at a time.

The crystal ball allows the Looker to close in on the couple. She can see the sweat sheen on their faces and the tightness of their jaws. The dark circles around their eyes. Their eyes… Tired, but motivated, they are not without hope.

But the Looker fears it will not be enough. In countless fairytales, hope and love are all that are required of two people who wish to have a happy ending. But in life, the magic of hope is lost in a world so willing to stamp it out. And love that is pure can fly you to paradise, but its wings are not strong enough to carry those souls shod with shackles.

The scene shifts rapidly as the weight of his chains pulls him down an inch or two, his fingers sliding sharply against the grainy ground. In his eyes, alongside hope, there is also terror, and at this moment it is deeper than the hope they planted together. And when his eyes meet hers, that same terror is reflected back.

They bare their souls to one another with those eyes. Confess their every thought and feeling with those eyes. The recognized synchronization of their fear is like a stone skipping across water. They each hold their breath, cross their fingers, and hope that the stone makes it one more skip. And then one more skip. And then one more skip.

Because the skipping of a stone is something like magic and magic seems to be just what they need to defeat the shackle-heavy odds that seek to drag them down. They just want to last one more moment. And then one more moment. And then one more moment. And, maybe after enough moments, they'll find their way back to safety.

Fear is something they have worked long and hard to purge from their love story, and now is no time to back down and let it settle in.

Despite the unhelpful weight that tugs him towards the angry foam below, he draws his knees up as high as he can and then drives his legs downward, at the same time lifting from his elbows. The moment his downward kick straightens at the point of imagined impact, his shackles fade to smoke scattered in the air. Legs free to assist in his climb, he throws one over the top to meet the momentum of his upward motion and he all at once flings himself up over the edge and rolls onto his back and into her clinging arms.

The Looker lets out an automatically held breath and releases stiff fingers from their curve around the crystal ball. The ball doesn’t cloud over to mark the end of their trial, and so they are not yet safe. So close to the orb that a large nose is pressed gently against the glass, the Looker watches the couple intently.

They spend what seems like hours laying there on the lip of the cliff before one of them has the sense to scoot back. And once they’ve moved, they might as well pick up and get far away from the place of fear. They rise, and he takes her hand, leading them away, but he is met with resistance. Looking back, he can see that she is now, after the adrenaline’s been spent, too weak to walk with shackled feet. The weight of her own chains is too much for her to drag. Without a moment’s pause, he scoops her legs up under one arm, supports her back with the other and carries her off in the direction of safety. The moment her feet leave the ground and her eyes lose their misery (the misery that gathered there when all seemed lost), the cuffs about her ankles vanish just as his had and the couple is finally free of their bondage.

The Looker smiles softly as the crystal ball closes cloud curtains on the couple. The girl across the table is watching wide eyed. She’d come in to see the Looker because it seemed like a fun, silly thing to do. Now, though, she realized that there may be more to fortune telling than turbans and wrinkles upon the palm.

“You will have trials that will test the very foundations of your relationship,” the Looker said. The girl nodded, not quite understanding.

“Like a great earth quake, these trials will break apart the land on which you stand and leave your love to dangle dangerously over the side of an unforgiving cliff. But, should you both remember what is important, and banish all doubts from your mind, you will live a happy life together, never again disturbed by the trembling earth.”

The girl smiled and looked up at the boy standing behind her. He smiled back, but it was forced. This wasn’t his scene but he knew she was enjoying herself and so he didn’t mind all too much that he’d spent ten dollars and twenty minutes on this “obviously ridiculous” fortune teller hocus pocus. The girl thanked the Looker and the couple left the shop, hand in hand.

“I so much prefer it when I actually see something in the crystal.” The Looker said to the assistant that entered the room from behind a drape in the back. The assistant handed the Looker a ten dollar bill that she had picked from the boy’s pocket.

“A real reading is always worth double the price. He gets a love story, he can spare ten more dollars.”

“I wish you wouldn’t do that. It cheapens the experience for me.” The Looker complained without enthusiasm.

“Funny, it never feels cheap to me.” The assistant replied.


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