Short story ‘Senses,’ revision 5

The latest try. Check out how radically different it is from the original.

Senses

Sometimes when I’m not keeping a close eye on my mischievous mind, it wanders off to places I pretend don’t exist.

In a strike of lightning, it imagines that you and I have finally become what we secretly want to be – normal, happy people. I see myself standing in a 70s-style kitchen, washing dishes while I look out the window. The sun warms my face and floods the room. Our dog runs in the yard. The neighbors wave as they walk by. I buy fresh vegetables every day.

You come in and kiss me on the cheek. You say, “Good morning, Peanut,” in a sickeningly sweet tone that allows you to pretend you’re being more sarcastic than sincere. “Hell-o, Snugglemuffin,” I reply, in the exact same tone with the exact same intention.

We sit at the breakfast nook. Before us are pancakes and eggs and grapefruits and orange juice, just waiting to be devoured. We leave them disappointed. Instead, we just stare at each other, sort of like, “Wow, I can’t believe you’re really here.” As you fiddle with your knife, you look at me with that desperate intensity that alpha males in the movies get in their eyes. You know, when they’re choking their mortal enemy or realizing that the leading lady makes them feel a way they’ve never felt before. I absent-mindedly rest my elbow on the table and my chin in my hand. I look up at you and we lock eyes for a million years.

I remember you getting up at 3 a.m. to juice the oranges for me, just because. Waking me up with a big kiss. Looking good shirtless. Taking forever to decide what tie to wear.

I reach out and touch your face to see if you’re real. And you are. “You’re beautiful,” I say. “You’re leaning your elbow in your eggs,” you reply. We laugh and realize that we’re more content than we ever thought we would be.

In the pop of a champagne bottle, I see us making beautiful music together. Literally. It’s a big deal, of course, because I’m the chef they renamed the James Beard award after and a master of both the piano and didgeridoo. You, on the other hand, are a FIFA World Cup star who reinvented himself as a one-man five-piece through a series of acoustic covers on YouTube.

Also, it’s the Grammy’s. We’re receiving Lifetime Achievement awards for our work, most notably the epic score of the latest Oscar-winning drama we wrote, directed and acted in together. And of course, rumors are swirling that we could be, should be in love.

We perform the greatest song we’ve ever written together – which also happens to be the best song ever written, period – and the crowd goes wild. Then, you get down on your knees and propose to me in front of basically the entire world. I accept. The fans cheer, our fellow artists weep tears of joy and the bloggers race to break the story.

“This is perfect,” I say. “Especially since I am pregnant with your twins and we’re adopting that lovely girl from Africa.” That annoying rapper dude tries to interrupt but he’s cut off by the fans cheering, our fellow artists weeping tears of joy and the bloggers racing to break the story.

Before we even leave the stage, the Internet explodes with videos, pictures and articles about us and our magical moment. The William and Kates, the Posh and Beckhams, the Brangelinas – they are all distant memories now. The world has never seen anything like us and never will again. Our philanthropic efforts ended world hunger, they say. Our combined intellect allows us to divide by zero! Our sexual chemistry is responsible for global warming! Needless to say, we’re flattered.

We quietly leave the ceremony and ride our bikes down a back road to our mansion/palace because we care about the environment. It’s dark before we get home but the moon lights our way. “Hey, let’s go over there,” you say, pointing to a nearby mountain trail. We bike up together – really quickly because we’re so athletic and fit – and reach the top. The air is fresh and cool; it smells like pine and dew. The stars shine bright. It’s a little chilly, though, so you lend me your sweater.

“I just realized something,” you say. “What?” I ask. “I am insanely happy – and not just because we just won Lifetime Achievement awards at the Grammy’s.

“We’re going to have a family together,” you say. “Here, in this wondrous place.”

“We’re raising our family in the woods? What are we, bears?” I laugh. You point out that your last name means “Grizzly” in my native language so that wouldn’t be too far from the truth. I point out that it actually means “grisly,” which is something else entirely. You laugh and intertwine your fingers with mine to let me know what I think is happening is really happening. You smile and tell me I’m beautiful. I smile back because I have faith in the future.

In the beat of a heart, I imagine us standing out in a horse ranch in Colorado or the Himalayas or a back alley in downtown Manhattan – wherever it is, it is raining and we are soaked but we don’t care. It’s been a long night and we’ve been on edge. Actually, we just got kicked out of a diner after an awful fight which began when you wouldn’t believe that Jimi is saying, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” – not “While I kiss this guy.”

That, of course, turned into a “discussion” of my need to always be right and how you don’t listen to me enough. Then it was about how I’m too needy and how you only want me when it’s convenient. About my wandering eyes, your acid tongue. My lack of organization, your putrid feet. Name-calling, cheap-shots, the hard-to-swallow truth.

In the downpour, we take a few minutes to calm down and find something to laugh about. Unfortunately, that something was turkeys being so dumb that they look up with their mouths open when it rains and end up drowning. It was sort of terrible, but we needed the chuckle.

I get rainwater in my mouth and you call me a turkey. I stomp in a puddle and splash you by “accident.” At some point, as we chased each other through the wet streets, we remembered that having to work through the bad stuff makes the good stuff even better. We didn’t come right out and say it like that, of course, because that’s corny.

That song we always play in your car is, for some reason, playing in the background and its lyrics are entirely inappropriate for the moment but the instrumental is perfect for our mood and all of a sudden everything just comes together.

I reach out and touch your face to see if you’re real. And you are.

You intertwine your fingers with mine to let me know what I think is happening is really happening.

And then you put your lips to mine.

As we kiss, employees around the world clock in and out, people live and die, civilizations rise and fall. But all that matters is this – this right now – and it is more real than anything we’ve ever felt before. We are happier than we ever thought we would be. We suddenly have faith in our loved ones, in dying breeds like payphones and print journalism, in the search for that psycho on Long Island, in the fight against serial killers like cancer and AIDS, in mankind and in us – us, us, us.

Us.

I start crying when I realize how much time I wasted by denying what I felt. You don’t notice, though, because we’re both drenched. And then I stop sobbing because I know better now.

Now, I am kissing you with more passion than I ever thought possible. Now I know that I can erase all my mistakes, let go of all my regrets and undo everything I ever did wrong by being here with you. Everything is okay when I’m with you. Everything is great when I’m with you. Everything is right when I’m with you!

You run your fingers through my hair, you hold my face so you can kiss me harder, I begin unbuttoning your shirt – and who cares that we’re in public? Your lips move down my neck and down my shoulders, I finally finish with your button-down, I feel your hot breath between my breasts and it’s usually at this point that I catch myself. I stop imagining. I start thinking about something else entirely.

Like all the bills I still have to pay. Or how I don’t like Katy Perry as a blonde.

I find myself back in the real world, wherever I am – feeding birds in the park, waiting for the bus, pretending to read National Geographic when I’m really reading the latest edition of Soap Opera Digest (which I’ve cleverly hidden inside the former.)

Frankly, I’m afraid. Of the happiness, of the triumph, of the fights, of the passion.

And I will continue pretending like hearing your voice once a week is enough, like I’m not miserable without you and like I don’t mind being alone. It sounds foolish and stupid and illogical because, well, it is.

But no matter how much I try to deny it, ignore it or escape it, you will always be there.

You’ll be there taking my side no matter how stupid I’m being when I fight with my best friend. Helping me box and tape my life away when I move across town. Comforting me at the hospital if (God forbid) one of my parents gets sick. Burning me mix CDs.

And one day I will touch your face and you will intertwine your fingers with mine and we will probably kiss that epic kiss straight from my imagination. We will look like really indecent, uncivilized, incredibly happy people in some ridiculously public place. I will break my necklace; you will get my hair in your mouth. But we won’t care because, seriously, this will be the best make-out session of our life. (Or at least one of the best.)

All the jealous people nearby will complain and take pictures and call the cops us. We will laugh, compose ourselves and seek shelter from the rain and scrutiny. We’ll finally be alone, maybe under a gazebo in a nearby park, in an empty parking lot or out by the Hudson waterfront.

You will smile at me and say, “Well, that was fun,” as in, “Man, I wish we had some privacy right now.” And I’ll say, “It certainly was,” as in, “Oh man, you are really hot when you smile real sly like you’ve got a big secret.”

“Can I tell you a secret?” you’ll say. “Sure,” I’ll reply, totally blown away and sort of embarrassed that you can apparently read my mind.

You will kiss me on the forehead and tell me that you knew I was different the moment we met. That you secretly like Taylor Swift too. That you imagine yourself waking up with me every day. That I make you feel like you can accomplish all your dreams. In the twinkling of an eye, you will finally become real!

And finally – finally – I will come to my senses.

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About Summer Dawn Hortillosa

Summer Dawn Hortillosa is a journalist specializing in arts and entertainment. Among other things, she is also an award-winning playwright, director, singer-songwriter and actress. Her work has been seen in The Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal and other publications.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Prose, Short Stories and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Short story ‘Senses,’ revision 5

  1. thewho1971 says:

    This rewrite is certainly more refined and more focused and clearer than the first one you wrote back in July. The themes and symbols flow smoothly together without sounding cluttered and the settings you describe gives it a wonderful atmospheric feel to the story. It’s not confined it breathes life.

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