Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Hope Blooms
He’d asked me to wait for him at the top of the old clock tower that overlooked the river. On one side sat the town square, on the other, the expensive homes that housed only the wealthiest of citizens. I was, unfortunately, not one of those few.
I’d grown up on the dirt path that was a few miles outside the city. My bike was my only mode of transportation and I worked in the large laundry facility of one of the high rise hotels that faced the ocean It was laborious work and the pay wasn’t great, but I made enough money to feed my family which comprised of my mother and two sisters. My dad had passed on from a heart attack three years ago. I’d had to drop out of school and get a job in order to help make up the difference my father’s absence hit to our pocketbooks. His death also left my mother heartbroken and depressed. I’d stepped up to the maternal role my younger sisters needed and now found myself feeling twice as old as my actual twenty years.
But tonight. Tonight I was leaving the heavy burden of my life behind for a night of fantasy. Jorge was one of those few who lived on the other side of the river. He was handsome with blue black hair, deep-set, smouldering brown eyes and a dimple that was so deep when he smiled, I swore I could drown in it. He was built stocky, sturdy and strong. He managed the front of the house, ensuring all the guests were happy and freely spending money at the resort. We’d bumped into each other when I was carrying a load of towels up to a room and he’d been busy checking his phone for messages. He was sweet and picked up the stack of fluffy white linens that had fallen in a flourish to the ground. We’d been coy, sharing shy smiles and brief conversations in dark corners when we had a spare moment at work, but tonight he’d asked me to come to the tower with the promise of a few stolen hours.
Since taking over the care of my family, I hadn’t done much in the way of dating. I’d barely had time to sleep more than a few hours most nights, working as many double shifts as I could get my hands on to try and make ends meet. Even though my father was a simple mason, his salary had been twice what mine now was. But we were surviving, and at the moment, it was all I could really ask for. Tonight, I’d told my mother I’d had to work late, a lie for this evening, but usually that wasn’t the case.
I needed this more that even I realized. The stress and burden had been building up, especially for the last few months. The weight of the world fell mightily across my shoulders and the mere shirking of my responsibilities even for one night was beginning to guiltily creep into my consciousness.
My worry must have been easily identifiable as I felt Jorge’s warm arms encircle my waist at the same moment he teasingly scolded that I deserved one night to myself.
I spun in his arms, feeling the weight of his affectionate stare as it ignited a flame deep in my belly that roared to life. “I can’t help it. You know I don’t relax.” I admitted, leaving out the dirty thoughts that were slowly pushing any guilt I had to the recesses of my mind.
“I brought you something.” He grabbed a bag from the ground, setting it up on the ledge to unzip it “I figured you probably didn’t eat before leaving.” Jorge placed a few plates on the wide wooden beam, carefully setting out a spread of cheese, hard sausages and crusty bread. It was more decadent than anything I’d eaten in years. My eyes welled up with his thoughtfulness, bringing to light how neglected I’d been. Not just by others, but I’d been the worst offender of all, putting everyone in front of my own needs. Of course that had to happen the majority of time, but I was realizing as Jorge placed a small bite of cheese and meat on my tongue, there had to be a happy medium somewhere. I wasn’t naive enough to believe I was living in a fairy tale and Jorge was going to be my prince charming, but I had to wonder if perhaps I could still have something all my own.
“Why are you sad? I thought this would make you smile?”
My hand drifted up, running my fingers through his soft, thick hair. “You did. I haven’t eaten something so delicious in ages.” I coyly kissed his cheek, not really knowing if he would be receptive to such a forward gesture by a woman, especially one of my lowly stature.
He lifted my hand to his lips, kissing it softly with a whisper of a promise to change that. “You should be pampered by a thousand handmaids and fed only the ripest of fruit.” His fingertips grazed across my forearm, sending shivers through me. His deep tenor voice tried to soothe me by telling me that someday things would be different. “You’re mother will get better and your sisters will grow up. Life won’t always be this hard.”
I allowed my body to sink into his embrace, feeling safe, secure and most of all, relaxed. His touch was bordering on reverence and I tried to cling to this feeling of being cherished, not wanting to forget it as soon as we left the little cocoon of flirtation. We eventually sat down on a blanket I recognized as one from the resort we worked at. We talked and ate, learning more about each other while exploring the tentative dance around actually kissing.
When the clock finally rang out at the top of the hour, I actually felt a little bit like Cinderella. My sadness and disappointment over having to go home crushed my spirit. I could already feel the burden of my life pressing down on my shoulders. My demeanor flipped in an instant and I stood stoically, trying to help fold the blanket and pack Jorge’s treats away. His hand stilled my jerked movements, trying to quiet my angry hands.
“Hey,” he whispered, tilting my face up to look at his. “Have faith, we’ll figure out a way. I promise we’ll figure out a way.”
Staring up into his expressive eyes, I tried to give him a reassuring smile, but even I could tell it was forced and disingenuous. “Sure we will,” I lied.
Just as I was about to turn and go down the steps, he captured my arm and spun me into his embrace. “If you think I’m letting you go without a kiss, you are even more disillusioned than I thought."
His lips softly brushed against my own, pressing forward in a progressively urgent way. I opened my lips, tentatively brushing my tongue against his. And in this moment of quiet longing, our kiss resurrected a feeling I had completely forgotten existed.
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Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com