So here you go.
As promised, every Monday, without fail (I hope!) is a new part of my short story, Loved. At least until I run out of story. Then your Mondays will once again be filled with uncertainty.
“Take us on a walk, please!” the children begged Charlie. They loved to explore the city and see all the grown up people who walked around, knowing where they were going. Lucas, Collin and Polly didn’t know where they were going. The big city streets were too much for them to navigate. All of the adults who could walk around with confidence were so impressive to their young minds.
“Now if you look to your left,” Charlie pointed out the view of the local chain store with a sweeping gesture, “you’ll notice the historical establishment known only to these parts.” He spoke in a deep announcer’s voice, causing the children to giggle.
They walked up and down the streets, carefully avoiding the coffee shop where Charlie had so magnanimously knocked over his drink. As the sun was sinking low in the sky, the four of them collapsed on a bench in the park, exhausted. A sea of rose bushes grew across from them, and they enjoyed the view as the sinking sun graced the tips of their petals. People liked to whisper that there was magic in their seeds, magic that could make one fall in love. Charlie wished it were true.
He was thinking very romantic thoughts as he watched the wind whisper among the flowers, their petals dancing with its touch.
While he was daydreaming, a young woman hurried past. As she was rushing to get home, the heel of her shoe cracked, and she tripped over her feet. Charlie immediately jumped up to help her, not seeing her face. He pulled her up from the ground, trying to brush off the dirt without thinking about what he was doing.
“Are you ok? Did you hurt yourself? Do you need anything?” he asked while he brushed her off.
“No, no, I’m fine.” She tried to pull away. Suddenly, Charlie recognized her. Her young innocent face was the most beautiful he had ever seen. But an overwhelming desire to know the person beneath it filled his being. He smiled.
“I’m Charlie,” he held out his hand. She looked at him uncertainly, then took it.
“Rebekah,” she replied.
“Oooh!” the three children on the bench chimed in. Charlie whipped his head around to glare at them.
“Thank you, Charlie,” Rebekah said, and then turned away.
“Rebekah wait!” Charlie called out. “I can’t have you walk back home with a broken shoe.”
“I’m not going home,” she responded, and kept going.
“No, please. Let me at least call you a taxi,” he said. She sighed and agreed.
“Thank you,” she said again.
Charlie hailed the taxi and paid the fare. “I hope to run into you again!” he called as the car pulled away. He turned toward the children with a sheepish smile on his face. The three kids smirked at him.
“Ooh!” Collin cooed.
“You like her!” Lucas added.
“Oh it’s so romantic!” Polly cried. “Why didn’t you give her one of the roses?”
Charlie’s face burned red. “Time to go home,” he said.
“I want you to make me look beautiful,” Rebekah pleaded with the painted man, her broken shoes discarded in the corner. He sniggered.
“Why?” he asked.
“You don’t ask why, remember?” she responded.
“But you, little naïve innocent thing, why is it that you think you should be allowed to look beautiful?”
“Don’t ask questions, just give me what I want!” Rebekah tried her hardest to sound demanding.
“Can you afford that?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well you have to pay for the things you want, little darling.”
Rebekah had forgotten that small detail. She let it go for the moment. As soon as she got home, she dug out her savings and counted how much she had. It wasn’t very much. Perhaps there was something else she could give him…
“Here you go,” she handed her savings to the painted man. He looked at it quizzically.
“Is that it?”
She closed her hand and swallowed. “I will give you anything you want,” she said. The painted man smiled.
“Are you sure, darling? How high of a price are you willing to pay?”
“I will pay what you want to make you want me,” she stated. Her eyes stared straight ahead, afraid to look him in the face. He smiled again.
“As you wish.”
He took out his tools.