Happy Sunday all.
I just wanted to give a little update on The Spirit of Love: Charity Anthology and also a surprise!
The anthology is taking a bit longer to get together than I expected but I do have some great submissions that came in. I’d very much like at least 3 – 5 more though to give the book some bulk and make it worth the reader’s time. So, although I did not make the Valentine’s Day deadline that I set for myself, that doesn’t mean the project is scrapped.
Please share the original post (here) on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ … A hand drawn street sign … wherever 🙂 Let’s get some submissions rolling in.
And to give you a little burst of inspiration I’d like to introduce one of the stories that will be in the anthology. (The authors permission was given)
Why am I so damn stressed out? I’ve been at work all day and I feel like there’s something living inside my skin. I only have an hour left, but I can’t focus at all. I told Lily I would pick her up at 5, as if we don’t just live down the hall from each other.
She told me to “surprise her.” I don’t have a clue about these kinds of things. This is the first Valentine’s Day I’ve spent not working, drinking, or having mindless sex with Alana. I asked Alana what to do, but she just shrugged and said to go all out. She’s been quieter since we talked earlier in the month and I’m happy for her and Dave, and also about her commitment to therapy, but I feel a little lost. Usually she has advice. Sure, most of it’s terrible, but still.
I want to make this perfect for Lily. I want to make everything perfect for Lily. It’s weird that it’s only been a few months; I feel like my entire life has evolved into something different. Something resembling a life. For years, it was just darkness and hopelessness, but every night, I look up and meet Lily’s eyes. She smiles at me, usually over her homework, and there’s this whole new emotion that surges through me. I guess it’s hope, but it’s so foreign that I can’t even say for sure.
“Calm down,” Sandee says as she passes me to go get more rolls. It makes me laugh, even if it doesn’t help me calm down. I’m so obvious.
“I just… ugh,” I say, because, really, that’s about it.
I attempt to focus on the grilled cheese I’m making. It’s fine. Everything will be fine. My plans are what they are, and she’ll either love them or like them. She’s not going to hate them, and it’s not going to change anything, but it’s Lily, and I wish there was any way that I could show her exactly what she is for me. I end up burning the damn bread, because I’m so worried.
Somehow, I get through work and I only burn a few more sandwiches. I can’t get to the dorm fast enough, and I’m even more agitated when I find some dude in the showers. There’s another stall, but no one uses it, because something has been growing in it since the fall. It might actually have sentience at this point. The baritone – which I know because he graced me with a full performance of his own personal opera – finally leaves, without cleaning the small creature he shaved off his body, and I take a shower. After putting the back hair baby in the trash.
Lily looks beautiful when I get to her room and I kind of hate the fact that I’m not more dressed up. I don’t really have dressed-up clothes, and I feel guilty when she meets me in the hall wearing a pretty pink dress that brushes her knees. She has a white sweater over it, which is not going to be enough given how cold it is, so I take off my jacket and give it to her.
“What about you?” she asks.
“I’ll be fine, princess. And now, your carriage awaits.”
She smiles, and I feel like a tool, because the “carriage” is a taxi. Lily’s sweet, though, and she lets me open the taxi door for her like it’s a limo and like I’m worthy of her. I’d already told the driver where we were going and, of course, now I doubt myself. Someday, you’ll have faith in this, I think, and almost like she knows, Lily leans over and puts her hand on my thigh. It’s hot and the way she smiles at me tells me that she has plenty of surprises planned for me later tonight, but right now, I want to be here, to be her boyfriend, and to do something normal. To be a guy taking his girlfriend on a real date.
It’s a little over an hour to the city. The hotel is in the center, by the Common, and the traffic ends up bringing up the cost of the taxi. It’s fine, though. Let’s be honest. I’m poor, but also, I have nothing to spend money on. We’ll just call this my alcohol money. God knows I don’t need it anymore. Not with Lily. I want to be better with her, for her. When we get there, she looks confused, because it’s just a building. It’s not even that fancy on the outside. I don’t know what I expected, but it’s not like luxury hotels are in my repertoire. I help her out and then we stand on the sidewalk.
“What’s this?” she asks, and I feel dumb.
“It’s… well, there was a Saturday Club and all these people used to eat here. Like Emerson and Dickens. I think. Did Dickens come here? He’s British. I probably read it wrong. This is stupid,” I say.
She takes my hand and kisses me. “You’re amazing.”
“It’s dumb,” I repeat. “I just thought, because you’re an English major and…” I don’t know what to add. What did I think? She would be excited to eat supper somewhere someone ate supper 100 years ago?
“I love it,” she says, and she probably does. And I realize I could have brought her to the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street, and she would still love it. That doesn’t bother me, though. Instead, it makes me love her more. Because she doesn’t care. I’m spending almost $200 on dinner tonight, on food neither of us probably has a clue about, and she would have been just as happy to share a cruller.
“Are you sure?” I ask. “It’s just dinner. I mean, we’re not staying.” I wish we could, but there’s no way I could afford that, too, and I feel a little guilty.
She pushes closer to me. “Nope. This is great. It’s perfect.”
We go in and I feel even more underdressed. Lily fits in fine. Everyone’s wearing things I have never seen on a person in a real life. They don’t have a dress code – I checked – but I feel stupid in my black jeans and button down shirt. It’s not even a nice shirt. She squeezes my hand and smiles, though, and I remember this is about her. So we go in, to a restaurant that looks probably exactly like it did 100 years ago. I feel like I belong in a Disney movie or something.
The special Valentine’s Day menu is printed and placed in front of each of us. The waiter offers us wine, but I ask for water. Lily shyly looks up. “Can I have a Sprite?” she asks, and I kind of want to marry her.
As soon as the waiter is gone, she giggles. “What?” I ask her.
“Are you having the oysters or the duck?”
I look at the menu. I’ve never had either. I don’t want either. “Um… you think they have tacos?”
She laughs. “Duck tacos.”
It’s not even a good joke, but I love that Lily thinks this is both ridiculous and sweet. I love that I can do this for her, but that we are both awkward and feeling out of place. I love her because she doesn’t want this or need this and yet she’s grateful for it nonetheless.
“Aren’t oysters an aphrodisiac?” she asks, and she runs her foot up my leg.
“Stop it,” I tell her, but I don’t really mind. I mean, I mind because I can’t bring her upstairs to an insanely expensive room and rip her dress off, but I don’t mind. She’s a total mess of contradictions, but every one of them just fits in my life in a way nothing ever has.
We have chicken for dinner, and thankfully, it’s amazing. The oysters were weird, and aphrodisiac or not, I just never want to think about them again. Over the hotel’s famous Boston Cream Pie, Lily switches chairs and pulls her new seat up next to me.
“I love you,” she says. She has custard from the pie on her upper lip and I’d love to lick it off, but I don’t think the Omni Parker House would approve. I gesture to tell her, but she doesn’t notice and she goes on. “I know this is big for you, Jack. I know you don’t feel comfortable here, but you think this is what I am, or what my life is. But it’s not. I love it and I appreciate it, but I would have been happy ordering Domino’s and watching Seinfeld reruns in your room. You are what my life is. You’re home for me.”
I don’t care what the Omni Parker House says. I lean over and wipe the pie off her upper lip, and then I lean in and kiss her. It’s quick and sweet, because I’m not going to make out with her here in public, but of course, she tastes like strawberries, mixed with Boston Cream Pie. “I wish I could give you everything, princess.”
She nods. “You do.”
After dinner, we walk up to the Common, where the taxi is going to meet us. When I called, they tried to talk me into renting a limo, but everyone was booked. So we took a cab, and I see the car waiting by the curb. The driver looks bored.
“It’s snowing,” Lily says, and she looks up. It is snowing and the flakes land on her nose and her eyelashes. I grab her, pulling her to me, and I kiss her in the middle of the street. People walk by us, some telling us to get a room, but I don’t care. I don’t ever want to stop kissing her, or to be anywhere but here. I want Lily in my arms forever.
~ Keep Writing !