Like many women — and humans, in general — I am in love with love.
To be clear: I’m speaking about romantic love. That initial flicker of attraction … that moment of laser-beam eye contact that sends a lightning bolt up your spine … rambling conversations that unfold, without time, direction or agenda, tucked away in the corner of your favorite coffee shop, while the rain nails onto the roof … peering into someone’s heart, and holding their desires … the first kiss (oh GOD, the first kiss!)
Ahem. I could go on. I reckon you could, too.
As a Promotional Wordsmith & Pro-Active Pimp (yep, that’s my actual job title — I made it myself. You like?) I make a living through my words, ideas and connective impulses.
I write webcopy for entrepreneurs. And sales copy for businesses. Taglines for marketing agencies. And program descriptions, for branding pros. I get to swoop and swing into ever-so-many industries and niches, and the rave inside my brain is continually raging.
But secretly…I write stories about love. Vivid crushes. Life-changing kisses. Heartbreak and yearning. The agony of un-reciprocated attraction. Tender glimpses. Graceful belonging. The incomparable feeling of being Witnessed.
I rarely share these stories. They’re sort of my private ode to love. Secretly, I suspect I’m trying to write my way into a lifelong love affair, with myself. Perhaps you understand. Perhaps you do the same.
In my time here at Roots of She, I’m going to offer three pieces: a story about an alluring encounter, gone stale … a poem about disconnection (it has a happy ending. sort of) … and a celebratory invocation (you’ll like it. I promise). Fiction is not my usual fare. But it’s not often that I’m gifted a captive audience of women who’re open to…anything.
Here’s to love. And here’s to us.
A Carcass – The Albatross, both by Abi Heyneke
The Wizard Show
We meet at the wizard show. She is all smiles, scarves, and red wine.
“Did you like the invocation?” she asks.
“It was the best bit.”
We nod. She leans forward in her chair, and her knees point at mine. I try to make introductions, but she already knows my friends.
“Small world.” I say.
“Theater world,” she counters.
She speaks of kundalini yoga, powerful auras, and MuffinLand at the hospital, where she serves scones & slices during visiting hours.
“Do you really work there?” I ask.
“I can hardly believe it myself,” she laughs.
“How trashy,” I giggle.
I promise to visit her at work.
I grin. Tomorrow I will arrive with a magician’s flourish, producing a bouquet of purple irises from my rucksack. I will wear a silk cravat and slick my hair. Accoutrements? Most definitely. I will be the highlight of her gray, hospital bakery day. Of that, I am certain.
“Guess who showed up at work today,” she will sigh to a flatmate, that evening. “That dashing creature from last night. I can’t stop thinking about her — do you think I’m being foolish? No, I don’t either.”
Leaning over the counter to receive my proffered bouquet, she will call out, “cover me, Nancy! I’m taking my lunch break!” and remove her apron in earnest. Sitting with me in a corner of the drab eatery, we will laugh and talk about how mysterious it all is…life, that is. How funny. How ironic. We’ll eat fluffy muffins with horrid icing, and the act of our consumption will border on performance art. Us! Muffins! In a hospital cafeteria! We will talk about our “real lives,” our “real selves,” how this is all a phase, a means to a glorious end.
“Only temporary,” she will say, and I’ll believe her, of course. “In fact, I’m quitting next week to focus on my sculptures.” We will stare at other customers through fishbowl lenses, safe in the bubble of our superior world of everyday magic. How wild! How hysterical! Us! Here! Now!
Tomorrow came quick. I enter the hospital cafeteria through sliding glass doors that part like soldiers. Clutching my flowers, I could be any other visitor, en route to a grisly sickbed. But of course, I am special. On a particular mission. Purposefully, I stride on, to MuffinLand.
“NEW! No gluten! Free from wheat and good to eat!” proclaims a triumphant sign. We’ll laugh about that, later. Mental note. Comedy fodder.
My turn at the counter arrives, but she is not there to take my order, to wink meaningfully, to strain against her desire to squeal with delight. Instead, a skinny girl with greasy black hair coldly inquires what it is that I want. I peer around her triangular head. I catch my maiden’s gray cotton form. She is crouching beneath a menacing oven, sweeping crumbs from the floor. Relieved, I smile and declare that I will have “a muffin.”
“What kind?” the witch demands with a glower, unamused by my elusiveness.
“Banana.” I reply. “Ah, banoffee,” I correct. My maiden in gray is still occupied in the scullery, so I take my seat and wait. She will come, when the time is right. These things can’t be rushed. I will pretend to be no one in particular, absorbed in a hospital leaflet about kidney stones. I nibble. I wait. Some spells increase in potency with the accumulating pressure of waiting.
The line between white magic and dark is a translucent thread. Heart charkas. Disambiguation. Fire signs. But even worse, and more dangerous than dark magic is the horrible terror of ordinary life.
The Jewels – Conversation, both by Abi Heyneke
So, she hasn’t seen me yet. Even better! Magicians love surprises. Misdirection. Sleight of hand. It’s all taking shape, invisibly, even as I wait and watch.
And yet…I begin to feel perverted and creepy, observing her — as if on stage. Sweeping crumbs, sealing lids, stacking cups. Have I accidentally rendered myself invisible? Perhaps it would be charming if I theatrically applauded a particularly excellent stacking job? I cease my ovation when an older woman using a walker shoots me a look of disgust. Maybe she thinks I am mocking the hardworking muffin maiden — she couldn’t possibly know that we’re friends. But even friends don’t applaud stackery — unless they’re jerks. And besides, we’re not friends. We’re not anything…yet.
I forget myself. Drop my power. The spell sours. I am little more than a stalker, albeit an invited one. My will is crumbling, escaping my body — coffee grounds down the drain. Ordinary and hideous. Potency, lost.
She sees me, at last, but nothing about her is right. Last night’s joyously abundant flesh is puffy, like raised dough under the medicinal glare. Last night’s tumbling curls are pathetically subdued beneath an ill-fitting cap. Last night’s unabashed, gap-toothed smile looks forced and awkwardly-assembled. And as for me? I feel like a harlequin in my striped tie and orange shirt.
She speaks, and it’s already finished.
“Oh, you came! I wish I could take a break, but it’s just so busy here!”
I nod. She leaves, then returns, apologetically:
“Would you just write your number, for me? I really can’t stop right now.”
I write the digits on her order pad, in the box labeled “Tip.”
I ask, lamely: “What about yours?”
My voice is muffled by the hospital din.
“My number? I don’t know it by heart.”
Such lies. What a tart.
I reply: “It doesn’t matter. You have mine.”
I finish my muffin, all unsalted butter and disappointment. I drink my milky coffee with two packets of raw sugar. (I don’t use white sugar because I still have my standards.) I leave my flowers on the MuffinLand counter, with a note “for Miriam.” (I am not above cheap courtship tactics.) I will rescue her yet from her shadowless prison of day-old crumbs and cleaning fluid. We will eat organic grapes at dawn, tangled in rosy sheets, and thank Goddess for fate. I will be her Romeo & her Juliet, and she will love my choice of words. I will write poetry for her using Biblical allusions, but with secular sentiments. She will think I’m brilliant. I will agree.
She’ll call. She has to. This is supposed to be magic.
After all, we met at the wizard show.
About the artist, Abi Heyneke:
Abi Heyneke is an Illustrator & Typographer with a lust for obscene hip-hop, story-tale folk songs & pulsing repetitive electro-house music. You can find her body of work at AbiHeyneke.com, and her inspirational musings at AbiHey.Blogspot.com.