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Almost There

"They both don't know how. . ."

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Dean worked his way through the thick crowds of the spring carnival, dodging a family of five, a group of excited kids kicking each other, and an old couple strolling leisurely along. He’d been at the park since it opened. The toboggan ride drenched him; the pirate ship made him seasick; the rollercoaster nearly put him to sleep; the funhouse was not fun. The air was filled with the electricity of excitement, but not for him. As he wandered around, the deeply rich aromas of kettle corn mixed with corndogs, pizza, roasted ears of corn, and hot pretzels pervaded the air, which made his stomach growl with hunger. As he passed a funnel cake vender he couldn’t resist the fried batter and powdered sugar and so he purchased one, his mouth watering. He made his way towards the Tilt-A-Whirl ride where he put his back up to the fence to watch the crowds.

As people passed, their conversations were mixed and blurred. Underneath the laughter and screaming-pleasure that pervaded the park there were the sounds of gears and motors whining and groaning. There was an underlying tang of oil and grease. Two contrails, running parallel to each other crossed the sky billowing out white clouds, which ballooned into great big puffy cotton balls.

A young couple stepped up to the line for the ride, as a young girl ran by, trailed by her mother and another woman. The woman caught his eyes for a split second, only a few feet away. She had the most sparkling deep blue eyes. The woman slowed then stopped, turning to face him. The mother and daughter continued on. The woman had long jet black hair that shined in the noonday sun. Her face was smooth and tanned, punctuated with a small defined nose and thin glossy lips. But it was her eyes that pierced him, lighting a fire deep within him. She looked familiar to him. Has he seen her somewhere, he thought. No, he’d remember seeing this woman. But, by her expression, he knew she was thinking the same. A child calling loudly broke the magic—“Vicky, come on, mom is waiting for you.” The girl grabbed the woman’s hand and began pulling. Vicky looked down at the girl, then back at Dean. She gave him an enchantingly small smile and followed the girl.

He was pulled behind them like a magnet. She looked back as the girl tugged her around a cotton candy vender. Rounding the corner himself, he saw them running up to the line for the teacup ride. She seemed to glide along even as she was being pulled, her hair bouncing lightly. She wore a turquoise blouse, jeans and sandals, which accented a beautifully proportioned body. As Vicky and the girl came up to the mother only a few feet from the gate, Vicky glanced back, focusing on him. A sense of joy washed over him.

He excitedly watched them ride teacups; each time as their cup spun around she would look out towards him. When they finished he followed them to the carousel. He went up to the barrier to watch. The wind generated by the ever circulating ride, whipped her hair up. A crowd of people going in the same direction made it difficult to keep them in site as they moved onward to another ride. He tried to keep sight of her, using the color of her shirt as a beacon to follow. A group of teenagers stepped in front of him and he had to force his way through, bumping several, causing two guys to cuss him out, but he didn’t care. Once he was in the clear, he scanned the way forward, but she was gone. He had lost them.

Angry with the two guys who put up a struggle, he pondered where they may have gone. The direction they had been headed towards was Ferris wheel, so he bumped his way towards it. At the ride he was pleased to see the young girl and her mother but Vicky was nowhere in sight. He decided to hang around the mother and daughter, thinking she’d eventually meet up with them. But when they boarded the ride alone he swiveled around trying to find her. She was standing thirty yards behind him, watching him from under the crowded fishing game tent. When she realized he had found her she ducked out and down the corridor of tents leading to the house of mirrors. He had to jump up to see over everyone’s heads to keep track of her. He glimpsed a flash of turquoise entering the House of Mirrors.

The mirrors reflected the people inside: a fat man was made tall, a short and skinny man large and chubby. In one mirror he saw his reflection, behind him stood a smiling Vicky. When he twisted around she was gone, in her place was a mirror, skewed to the left. As he turned in the direction of where she must have been standing he saw her duck behind another mirror. He followed but only found a kid holding a snow cone, laughing at his distorted image. Mirrors and more mirrors reflected everyone a dozen times in different locations. Turning around and around he caught glimpses of her bouncing hair, of her turquoise blouse, of a smile reflected through dozens of perfectly align mirrors that confused his sense of direction. He shouldered through a group of kids, sure he was hot on her tail; he saw her at the exit surrounded by golden light, looking back at him, smiling.

For the rest of the day they played cat and mouse. It seemed she’d forgotten about her friends because he never saw them again.


The next day Vicky drove to the carnival, butterflies of joy in her stomach, hoping to see the man again. The way he’d looked at her it made her feel special, like princess. She tried to remember what it was that made her pause when she first noticed him: he was good looking and had a nice smile with a cute chin dimple, but that couldn’t explain it. He didn’t look like any one she’d ever met, but looking in his hazel eyes was like coming home to a house filled with love. She desperately wanted to see those eyes again. Giddy with joy she pulled into the parking lot and hurried as fast as she could to the only place she could think that he might be waiting for her: the Tilt-A-Whirl.

He was waiting. A surge of elation, her heart soared as she caught his eyes. He had been sitting on the railing of the fence, exactly where she’d first seen him. Once he saw her he stood up, an expression of joy crossing his face. They stood there, groups of people pushing past her—several actually bumping her hard enough to make her take a step forward to catch herself. She wanted to follow him first but it looked like he was thinking the same thing.

He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, a collage of bright colors. Better to follow him, she thought, slightly giggling to herself. A moment later he looked around, then took off towards the pirate ship. Getting in line, in front of a group of kids, he nodded for her to join in. He made sure they were going to be on the same ride. He sat on one side of the ship; she on the other side, facing each other. The ride started slowly: first it pulled backwards and up, he stared down at her. The ride reversed and she was on top, looking down at him, his sweet chin dimple visible. He was grinning like a school boy and she couldn’t help feeling a rush of joy herself even as the ride picked up speed, centrifugal force causing her stomach to pleasantly drop.

He led her to the duck shooting game. Every time he shot, he’d confidently stoop low, aim down the barrel and gently squeeze the trigger: a loud puff of air and a ping and another dead duck. He won a small teddy bear, but he didn’t stop there. Soon there was a huge pile of animals on the counter that he kept trading up to larger ones. After trading in the last bundle of midsize animals he pointed to a humongous teddy bear, in a pink outfit and silver tiara. After handing the operator something, he walked over to a food vender and bought a drink. The game manager left his tent and approached her. As she accepted his trophy she noticed that he was watching her with sparkling eyes. She gave him a huge gleeful smile, her heart swooning. The bear was half her size, cuddly, soft and above all perfect.

The night was coming to an end, crowds were thinning, the noises of the rides more pronounced. At an information desk she asked for a slip of paper and a pen. She made sure he was watching before she composed her note and then she handed the pen back to the worker. Looking for the perfect place, she finally found it between two closed game tents. There was nobody in sight, except the man, so she dropped the paper certain he would know what she was doing. Weighed down by the immense bear she left the park, exhilarated by the day’s events.


Dean lived in a lonely studio apartment, sparsely furnished with a bed, a small loveseat, and bookshelves filled with books. He’d just come home from the carnival and sat holding the note which had her name and address on it. He wanted to drive right over to her house, just to see where she lived. I’ll go he thought, a quick drive, one pass, that’s all.

The neighborhood where she lived was nice, with well kept homes. He drove by three times; each time he went slower so he could memorize every detail—a lamp next to the driveway provided enough light. The yard was trimmed, with a young tree in the middle of the yard. Underneath the living room window was a bed of flowers.


The next weekend, Vicky was weeding her bed of baby blue eye under the living room, when she noticed a car drove by several times. A few minutes later, out of the corner of her eyes, she saw a man walking on the sidewalk across the street. She was pleased after glancing up to see who it was. It was the man from the carnival. A joyful tingling feeling streamed through her. Pleased to see him, she stood up. They watched each other as he walked by. Four times he walked by. Each time he seemed to slow as he passed. When he rounded the corner at the end of the street her heart dropped until he reappeared. The last round she could see a smile on his face, she was grinning too.


Two days later, as he made his daily evening pilgrimage to Vicky’s block, on a beautiful day, he felt excited to see her again. As he made his first pass she was standing outside in the driveway. When he came back around, instead of idly watching him, she walked along with him—the street was the only thing separating them. She looked even more stunning today, she was wearing a yellow sundress, her hair caught the afternoon breeze and fluttered behind her.


A month passed, it was summer and getting hotter each day. She was standing at the open side gate to her backyard. Dean, he’d left her a note with his name during one of his strolls, was standing on the sidewalk in front her house—not across the street—looking down the side of the house. She nodded that it was OK, and then went through the gate and around the back of the house to the sliding glass door. A moment later she saw him peeking around the corner. Smiling, she nodded in the direction of an ancient stump shaded by a willow tree. She’d left him an iced glass of tea and a plate of homemade chocolate cookies. Pleased with herself she stepped back into the house as he reached the stump.


In August Dean had his first meal at Vicky’s table that she prepared especially for him. He ate nervously. Being in her house for the first time thrilled and electrified him. She’d eaten first, but then she dished up a plate and set on the table for him; she opened the sliding glass door, and motioned for him to come in, before going upstairs. He was so close to her, in the same house. The food was excellent: homemade lasagna and toasted French bread, food never tasted as good.

He ate with his eyes trained on the ceiling, contemplating what she was doing. From somewhere above he heard the sound of a shower being turned on, a loud sputter and then a steady jet of water pounding against a shower wall. He cleaned his plate and then explored the living room, the shower still running. The room had a flat screen TV, which sat on a mahogany stand. A sofa, under the living room window, was a soft blue color and upholstered in microfiber cloth, which he found baby soft when he ran his finger along it. There was a foot of space between the sofa and the wall, so she could most likely pull the curtains aside without getting it snagged up. A thought formed as he looked at the space. On the other side of the living room there was a large bookcase filled with books. He was pleased to see that she read.


Late October found Vicky sitting on the sofa; he was lying behind the couch. As she tried to read—they were reading the same book—her thoughts strayed. She couldn’t understand how he could possibly want to lie behind the couch, even after she’d pulled it out another foot. But she was pleased and above all she felt safe and secure with him in the house, like being wrapped in a warm blanket with him holding her tight and close. When they finished reading they watched TV and then a movie he’d picked up before coming over. He’d scooted forward and watched from underneath the end table. The movie was a comedy, and several times she heard him snigger at a joke. This is the life I want, she thought.


On a cold day in December, when he came in to eat he found a note next to his plate of food, and a key sitting on top. He glanced up at the ceiling. The note told him that she was going to be having her friend and her daughter over for dinner the next evening. Later, after they leave, she wanted him to spend the night. She said she’d leave a pillow out for him on the sofa. His breath caught in his throat as he thought about sleeping in the same house. He picked up the key. Remembering his first thoughts months ago when he first drove by her house, he realized he’d never expected this. Deep down a hot coal ignited in his chest and burned bright. The feeling of love spread through every neuron, every fiber of his body.


On a dimming beautiful January evening Vicky was in the shower, he was standing in the doorway. She’d replaced the old shower curtain with a clear plastic one after he moved in.

She took her time washing, soaping up, and then rinsing. After washing her face she directed her attention to the shower nozzle, letting the spray pound against her like thousands of tiny pin pricks all over her face. She felt gorgeous with him watching her. She could stay in the shower forever, as long as he continued to watch, otherwise it would be a regular shower. But nothing was ordinary with him around, with him so close, she thought.


The snow was melting; the days lengthening. Vicky’s bedroom room was sparsely furnished, but cozy and peaceful, walls painted a light blue. The gargantuan bear he won for her was sitting at the head of the bed welcoming Dean into her room. The comforter had dolphins on a teal-blue ocean with mingling seahorses and angelfish and clownfish and even a small hammerhead shark stalking prey among the fabric seascape. Above the bed a large window opened to the south, above the street below. A painting on one wall depicted a scene of a beach with small blue-crystal waves breaking on the shore, the sky turning purple from blue as the sun set; three seagulls flew in formation out across the shoreline. A vanity stood up against the wall just inside the door. On the other side of the vanity, in the corner stood a large floor length stained-cherry mirror, which on previous occasions was pushed up into the corner, but now it was pulled out, with an air mattress lying behind it with a sheets and a pillow. He moved over to the makeshift bed. Bending down and touching the offered bed, he felt a powerful blush of excitement burning deep down.

The phosphorescent glow of moonlight sheathed her still form, which rested on her side in a fluorescent white negligee, her hair splayed out on the pillow. A soft gentle rise and fall of her chest. A peaceful angel, he thought as he sat next to the bed. From the night a siren pulsed by. The flashing red and white bouncing of the walls drew his attention for a moment then it disappeared. When he looked back her eyes were open with a soft reassuring smile. Then her eyes closed.


The beach was a scene of picturesque beauty, with waves cresting white foam before rolling onto the black-sand shore that stretched as far as the eyes could see, off in the distance a heron streaked across the sand in search of a meal. They were alone, walking hand in hand as the parrots serenaded them with a chirping opera. The breeze, mild and clean, drifted in from the sea. A gentle nudge or shifting of the bed woke her, the sun shining through the window, caught the fine particles floating in the air turning the room into a kaleidoscope of colors. At the foot of the bed rested a serving tray with breakfast. The redolent flavor of bacon, eggs, melted cheese, freshly squeezed orange juice, toast and coffee filled the room. Sitting up in bed she looked down the hallway—he was sitting at the head of the stairs, smiling. The eyes expressed the love and depth of his being and she took comfort in his presence.

Saturday was bright and fresh so they took a walk in the park along the tree lined river. She loved to walk and loved it even more with him following her. When they came upon a clearing along the river they enjoyed the tranquil beauty. The trees were still hibernating, stick figures standing watchful. The river, not yet running full, was trickling along, from pool to pool, gurgling as ducks plodded among the rocks. Brown and gray finches streaked across the river chasing each other as they sat on the bank of the river. She watched him play with a twig, exchanging glances—at first they were quick but then he held her gaze for long periods until he didn’t look away.

She could see the tenderness reflected in his face. She scooted a step nearer him, thrilled with herself. He smiled warmly and moved closer too, still twelve feet separated them. A duck and her drake wadded up and out of the river bed, crossing between them. The female gave a quack to her man, his neck and head had a dark teal-blue metallic-sheen with a black and white band midway down the neck. The dream still fresh in her memory made her blush.

Convinced that the time was right she stood up and walked over to him, sitting beside him. At first he seemed to shy away, but she told him with her eyes and a slight nod that it was alright. As the sun inched across the sky, as clouds muted the rays on occasion, she held his gaze as if holding his hand.


When she got up he was about to follow suite but then she walked over to him and sat down, inches from him. His heart nearly beat out of his chest. Her warmth radiated to him. The curve of her nose was like a perfect ski slope waiting to be traced. Her skin looked soft and silkily smooth. He longed to stroke his hand across her cheek. He could see himself doing it. Her hair fluttered in the wind, a few strands found his face, a few landing on his shoulder: he left them alone.

They returned home as the sky turned navy-blue, then purple, walking side-by-side. At home she prepared for bed while he sat on the living room sofa. She came down for a glass of water and as she walked passed she stopped for a moment and smiled at him. He loved that smile and returned it.

As the moon caressed her body, he sat down next to the bed. Reaching out he massaged a lock of hair which had spilled over the side of the bed. He could smell the peach shampoo and conditioner. He took a deep breath of the peach, taking it in. The rhythm of her sleep was mesmerizing: a small intake of air . . . an exhale . . . in . . . out . . . in . . . . Reaching his hand up to hers, he gave her a micro-brush of skin against skin, a fine soft tingle of the nearly invisible hairs passed a wave of electricity only he could feel, from her to him. Then he hooked her thumb and gently so as not to wake her held her hand. It was just like he imagined: soft. He could feel the ridges and valleys of her hand.

She squeezed back, and when he looked up into her eyes she looked more beautiful, more radiant than ever before. She slid off the bed next to him still holding his hand tight. He pulled her hand in and embraced her.
Written by chuck
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