Forget Me Not - A Short Story
Cal sat under the large oak tree, a picnic basket spread out on the ground beside him. Looking around him, he felt at peace in his surroundings, the tall enclosing forest spun off large cobwebbed shadows from the trees onto the ground, making him feel unknown and lost in his environment, which made him relax. He planted his head back against the oak and listened to 'The Battle of Evermore' jangle out from his earpieces, smoking a cigarette, feeling bohemian in his wool and denim.
A shadow skipped by his line of sight, shaking him out of his thoughts, he scanned the forest looking for the source, and caught a pale face with black curls of hair peeking from around a tree, smiling in his direction, Cal could swear he could see his reflection in her big hazel eyes. Her smile caused him to smile, and she emerged from her hiding place giggling, dressed like a gypsy, her curls wrapped in a bandana, her beads jangling as she skipped over to him.
She stood above him and playfully placed her hands on her hips.
“Are you here with anybody?” she asked,
Cal just shook his head.
“I’ve never seen a picnic for one before," she exclaimed as she hunched down beside him, her arms wrapped around her knees.
“Where d’you live?” Cal was taken aback from the suddenness of the question; he took his earpieces out and stubbed out his cigarette in the grass… “On the other side of town, just up on the hill, it's noisy up there, so I’m here for some peace and quiet."
“Oh!” her eyes widened and she nodded sympathetically, “What’s your name?”
“What’s it short for Caleb, like in the bible?” Cal could see she was very ‘to the point’, he liked that about her. No matter what short answer he could come up with he knew she wouldn’t go away easily, peace and quiet time was over for him.
“Well…if I told you, you’d never believe me.”
“Oh…can I have a sandwich?” Before Cal could reply she was rooting through his picnic basket, much to his amusement, she grabbed a salad sandwich and took a large bite out of it looking at him straight in the eyes. He could see his reflection in her eyes again while her cheeks were full of food, staring at him in wonderment and curiosity.
“Look it, you won’t believe me if I told you…”
“It’s short for Casanova…”
Food sprayed out from her mouth in a fit of giggles, she pointed a finger at him, “You’d think you’d be called Valentine, you know, Val for short, your mother must have high hopes for you” she said, before she rooted through the basket once more, grabbing a piece of cake and stuffing it in her mouth like a toddler.
“Well what’s your name smartarse?”
“Genie!” Cal smiled at the gorgeous funny creature named Genie hunching before him, “I’ve never met a girl with a name that suited her so well before.”
Genie finished the piece of cake and rubbed the crumbs off her hands before folding her arms and smiling at him with a glint in her eye.
“D’ya wanna see something cool?”
“D’ya like magic?”
“D’ya like voodoo?”
“D’ya believe in cosmic energy”
“It sounds a hell of a lot better than voodoo…”
She stretched out her right fist and slowly opened it, causing a silver chain to sliver free and dangle from her fingers. A large silver ring was hooked on the end of the chain, spinning and glinting in Cal's eyes, with an inscription on it in a language unknown to him.
“It’s an old legacy passed down to me by my great Slovakian grandmother. It’s something she learnt when she was a tiger tamer in the circus when she was fifteen years old. From this her knowledge of the black arts expanded and believed to be a witch by her fellow peers, she ran away from the circus and became a prostitute on the streets of Prague. But she was clever for her time, she knew the dangers of what she did, she didn’t want to settle for less, eventually she set up her own fortune stall and her name became renowned throughout the countryside.”
Cal was completely captivated, more by Genie than by the story. ..“Bullshit!” He cried.
“It’s not bullshit, give me your hand…”
Cal offered her his right hand; she grabbed his wrist and turned it over, opening his hand to read his palm. She gently dragged the ring from his wrist down to the centre of his palm; Cal could feel a crackling kind of electricity shooting up his spine, after a few seconds the ring began to spin. Genie closed her eyes and smiled.
“What are you grinning at?”
“Your aura’s purple!”
“Is that a good or a bad thing?”
Suddenly a large bellow of GENIE! came echoing through the forest, Genie opened her eyes and wink at Cal. “I have to go, it’s my dad,” she said hurriedly, before she stood up, wiping the loose dry dirt off her pale blue jeans. “When can I see you again?” He could hear the anxiety in his voice when he asked her the question, but he didn’t care. “I’m going to the fair tomorrow, meet me here at the tree on Thursday at six.” And with that she took off with the same grace and exuberance she appeared with, skipping through the forest like a fawn.
Later that day Cal sat in the ‘Foggy Dew’ pub, drinking a pint of ale at the counter while two old men played pool in the corner. The pub was cool and shadowed as he sat there, merry on the ale and the thought of her. All that day it felt like angels were working pulleys in his chest and there was sunlight in his head. He just couldn’t get that strange girl out of his head. It felt like cupid nailed him where he felt it the most. He wondered did he like her. Then he remembered the purple aura and figured that had to be a good thing.
He met her leaning under the tree, her hair draped down, her pale face scrubbed clean, wearing a long flowing white dress. What followed next was a fragment in time that was jumbled like a faded memory from the pure intensity of their relationship. What he did remember was her running along the hilltop, her black locks flowing behind her in the wind, the waves of the Atlantic ocean crashing against the large jagged rocks below her, their ferocious sound dinning out her voice crying “look at me” as she whooped and laughed in the wild elements of nature.
He also remembered them holding hands in a field of forget me nots, trembling as he plucked one of the flowers from the earth and gave it to her. She closed her eyes and smelled it deeply before looking up and asking him “What about the curse”, referring to the time a young woman lost her husband in a storm. Stricken with grief, the woman cut her wrists and wrote a letter in her own blood as she was dying, cursing all the women that they would meet their demise upon meeting their true love, wrapping the letter in a forget me not. Nobody had dared use the flower as a romantic gesture since then, their superstitious nature scaring them off, except for Cal, who felt like a rebel…he just said to her “Relax, forget me nots are purple, there’s nothing bad that could happen.”
But what he remembered most vividly, was making love to her by the river at the edge of the forest under a full moon, she whispered to him “do you love?”
“Do you? Do you love?”
“Yes and true love will never die.” And as their bodies spasmed and melted together, the thought raced through his head that he must be the luckiest man alive, that most men would give their soul to live a moment like this.
What happened after…destroyed all of these memories and made him lose his will to live, it made him a nomad, a man on the run, a wanderer who had no place in life.
It was dawn, and Cal had made a camp fire, the orange flames licked the turquoise morning as the dark purple stream of water rushed past them. He sat on the riverbank, watching Genie twirl a waltz on the grassy bank in front of him, humming a crazy fable she once heard about a witch and a priest giving flowers to the maidens. She looked more ravishing than ever, every so often she smelled the flower clutched in her hand, the purple colour bringing out her eyes.
Suddenly she slipped, her bare heel connected with the slippy mud and she careered backwards, arms flailing, eyes wide in shock, hitting the ground with a sickening thud. After a few moments Cal burst into hysterics, but the moment didn’t last long as he noticed she lay still on the ground. As he ran to her, the fear that grabs your stomach when you think something horrible has happened hit him, normally it washes away, but not for Cal. He lifted her blood soaked head, seeing she cracked the back of it against a sharp rock, blood streamed from her eyes and down her pale cheeks like a fallen Madonna, and Cal’s harrowing cries of grief echoed through the forest.