Day 45 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Help the reader sympathize with a cheater.
Shannon: “When did you stop loving her,” my psychologist asked.
“I didn’t stop loving her,” I corrected.
“So you cheated on someone you love?” She threw the truth back at me.
“You got me,” I shook my head, annoyed, and then started to bite at my thumbnail.
“Tell me why,” she pushed, both of knowing she would go there eventually. She was tasked with healing every part of my messed-up-brain after all.
“When I came home after the accident it felt like I had become a different person.”
“The type of accident you had could easily change someone’s life. It can make a person reevaluate what is truly important,” she tried to direct the conversation.
“No I actually felt the same, like nothing had changed but my body. Then I saw the way she looked at me, and I knew she wasn’t seeing me. She’d watch me out of the corner of her eye like I was a monster. She had a hard time making eye contact with me anymore, and she almost had me convinced I’d lost a piece of myself that I valued. It felt as if I’d done something wrong, and no matter what I did I couldn’t fix it. Not with her,” I got up to walk around and stare at the art on each wall.
“Do you believe she stopped loving you,” her question pierced my heart, but I was glad she asked it while my back was to her.
“I think the guy she loved died in the accident. I couldn’t tell you how she feels about me,” I breathed out, resting my arm next to one of the frames.
Erin: When I was eighteen I gave up my life for a pretty girl. Not to be confused with the pretty girl. The world is full of pretty girls, one of which I was dating.
We met at her show. She was on the stage singing her heart out. In losing hers in the music she stole mine. I wasn’t looking for trouble though, my friend was. He bought her a drink and he bought himself a drink and he bought me a drink. Repeat that formula a few times, until he has no choice, but to go to the bathroom.
When he left, Dona opened up for me. She was more than a pretty face, she had the most beautiful soul I had ever been invited into. By the time my friend came back from the bathroom I knew she was the pretty girl. And the second I kissed her I knew I had to leave my current pretty girl.
And that is what I did the next morning, when I chose your grandma as my one and only pretty girl.
Is everything black and white, or can the bad be a little good.
I’d chosen a bench with a perfect view of the enormous, shifting sculpture that stood at the center of the library. Staring as the flowing organic metal twisted from rough, edgy stone to burning flames, I became entranced in its splendour. As it shifted from Terra to Ignis the metallic material shivered from dusty browns to blazing reds the library’s atmosphere buzzed gently. There was something about the energy that truly powerful magick gave off; some kind of fluctuating tension we left in the space for others to use.
Carefully I unfolded the creased linen page and read through the spell again, reminding myself Julia was a kind person and had earned a pass from the universe, and slipped it back into the pocket of my purse. There was something wholly unnatural about these types of spells; that feeling was intensified when I actually felt the paper. Static was thrown off by the very script written on it.
After I’d walked around the library five times, stopped to pick up a book on transfer of magickal powers and had read the first three chapters my phone buzzed in my pocket. Sliding the smooth metal object from my pocket I watched the tiny green light flash, aggressively attempting to secure my attention. There was a new text from Julia, “Lil, sorry, just across the street.” I typed back that I was waiting but received no reply.
When she strutted through the first floor doors I gazed down from the second floor balcony, with the sculpture undulating between us, and beckoned her. Something in her glance, the deep creased about her eyes and set downward curl to her lips made me realize this was more serious than I’d originally thought. She took the glass steps two at a time with her long legs and three-inch heels, arriving before me just as I slid the book into my purse.
Smiling like the Julia I’d known for years she reached out to give me a bear hug, her honey-coloured eyes piercing my façade of joy. When we stepped back I could feel something was off with her, something about the need to fake a smile made me uneasy, and I searched her face for a tell. I came up empty so she just sighed, “Lil; it’s Josh. He’s just so-” pausing, she became entranced by the sculpture’s Tempus impression with flashes of lightning among writhing clouds.
Julia had married the first guy to woo her; terrified he was her one chance at happiness. After a few years the marriage had soured and, despite having two wonderful children, Julia and Josh had all but split. Every few years Jules would bring the kids to stay with us for a few days or even weeks but I never thought much of it when I was little. As soon as I realized it was because of Josh’s violent behaviour I gained a new respect for poor Julia.
Eyes shining, she continued in a whisper as I held her hand tightly, “-just so hateful and I need to get the kids away from that. He, uh, he found out that-” she took a calming breath, “-that I’ve been sleeping with Christian. He lives down the way and he’s so sweet.” Handing her a handkerchief I struggled to recall this guy from down the street; I hadn’t been home for too long and we got a lot of migrants from other cities here.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be talking to my mother’s oldest friend about her affair but here it was. Thinking back to the spell she had requested everything clicked; the spell was to have someone forget who you were and was extremely dangerous. But Jules could take the kids and escape their abusive relationship without any consequences. Before I could help her though, even with her kids’ lives hanging in the balance, I needed to know what pushed her to cheat on her husband.
I tentatively glanced at her shaking hands and waited patiently for the tears to cease before I cleared my throat. “Jules, I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through with that jerk but why go to this Christian guy? You’re still married to Josh,” As I spoke I pulled the page from my purse to help prove my point, “And this spell will not break that binding contract.” She looked, stunned, from my concerned eyes to the paper with hunger in her gaze.
For a moment I thought she might try to steal the enchantment from me, just run and never look back at the kindness we’d shown her, but there was defeat behind the hunger. Something in her reminded me of a wounded bird; a stunning creature that could soar high above us all but was cruelly grounded. Before this whole ordeal my mom swears Julia would have become a world-class medium had it not been for Josh and his incessant drinking. On the other hand, who knows what would have happened to Josh had she not taken pity on him?
Sniffling softly, she breathed, “I don’t know how it happened. One date and,” she picked fretfully at her coat sleeve, “I fell for him. He works for the city fixing the lights and stuff. And he makes me feel special.” For a moment we admired the impressive building around us before she spoke in a husky voice, “The kids haven’t met him yet. I still have that potion your mom whipped up for me last year; she said it’ll still work. They won’t remember what their own father-” When she broke down I held her like my own mother. Those kids had such an amazing woman looking out for them; and she didn’t want them to know it.
As I glanced around awkwardly I locked eyes with one of the librarians and subtly shoved the spell back into my bag; she couldn’t possibly see its contents from here but, with this kinda magick, I couldn’t take any risks. I tapped Julia on the shoulder gently and smiled gloomily, “Jules, you can’t perform this spell without help. I’ll do it with you but I want you to write a letter to your kids for them to know what happened in their youth; who their real father is.” As she nodded tentatively, I thought about how her cheating could interfere with the results of the volatile magick trapped in this dangerous page.
Created to Write:
Jacey had her head in the clouds, thinking about training that night. She knew August will want her to try elephant again, but she doesn’t want to make another dent in the ceiling. She mulls over each form she’ll need to practice, making sure she doesn’t think too hard on the animal itself.
She walks passed the bathroom, when she notices a sound coming from the door.
Jacey stops, back tracks, then pushes the door open. “Hello?” she asks, walking in. All of the stalls are open, but there is a shadow over the handicap stall floor.
Jacey walks over and peeks inside. One of her classmates, Anna, is sitting on the floor, fist full of damp toilet paper, crying a river.
“Oh Anna…” Jacey sits down next to her.
“I’m horrible,” Anna says.
Jacey places a hand on her friend’s back, trying to be supportive.
After a few moments of silence, Anna pipes up again. “Lewis found out I went on a few dates with Harry.”
Jacey looks at Anna, surprised. “I didn’t know you and Lewis were still together.”
“We were… but we just,” Anna sobs, “I don’t know. He stopped giving me nicknames and affection. We stopped going out. He never said we weren’t together, and he’d still give me rides home. But I didn’t know if it was officially over, or…”
Jacey starts to rub circles into Anna’s back, encouraging her to talk.
“And Harry came to me when I had that break down a few weeks ago, because I was so stressed. He’s nice, Jacey,” Anna defends, “he really is. And I guess he thought Lewis and I weren’t together anymore, because he asked me to the movies the next day. He never said it was a date, he never said it was just as friends.”
“How was it?” Jacey asks.
Anna sighs, smiling, “I missed it, hanging out with someone, a guy, that looked at me. He asked the next week, then later that week. It became apparent that he wasn’t asking as a friend, but I didn’t stop him. …I’m horrible.”
“No, no, Anna, you-”
“And now Lewis knows! I heard from one of his friends. He’s going to be so mad I cheated on him,” Anna says.
Jacey moves from the wall and squats in front of Anna. “Anna, listen to me. As far as everyone is concerned, Lewis is not your boyfriend. He wasn’t giving you any attention, and he wasn’t giving you any love or support. We can all see that.”
Anna looks up, eyes red and puffy.
“You may not have officially said it, but you did break up.”
Anna shakes her head, blowing her nose.
Jacey grabs some more paper for her, then asks, “Anna, do you like Harry?”
“Do you like Lewis?”
Anna shakes her head.
“Then you shouldn’t be afraid of him. You need to tell him how you feel, and you need to be the one to break that hold he has on you.”
Anna smiles wryly, “Not everyone is as brave as you, Jacey…”
Jacey puts a hand on her friend’s, “But you can be. I’ll be right next to you.”
Anna nods, then pauses, “Wait, now?”
“Better now than never.”