Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Empty Beds
The bed is empty. Outside snow falls relentlessly in thick fluffy clumps and frost creeps up the window's glass, silent reminders of winter's dominion. I sit in the window seat, surrounded by a mountain of cushions and buried beneath several layers of thick blankets. I'm warm and cosy, a cup of hot cocoa grasped in my hands, but the bed is empty. I'm having a hard time getting over that.
Keeley walks in. I leave my bedroom door open unless I'm in bed. Everyone I care about will walk right in regardless and everyone else knows better than to come anywhere near my room unless it's an emergency. Did that sound conceited? It's not as if I encourage that mindset; I don't punish those who dare to tread too close or have a dragon on guard or anything like that. I don't think of myself as particularly imposing. From what I gather, it's a cross between the company I keep (vampires, werewolves, and wraiths, oh my!) and what I am (Fae Queen, half-mortal, necromancer - I am a woman of many, apparently scary hats). It would be isolating, I suppose, if I didn't have so many friends and relatives both willing and able to barge in whenever they please.
Keeley, case and point.
"What's got you glum?" he asks, flopping onto the couch across the room. He's brought his own mug of something hot along with him - I learned a long time ago not to ask about his choices of drink and food - and he takes a sip, watching me over the rim as he does so.
"Did you take lessons in how to be so disconcerting?" I ask, cocking my head to one side.
He grins. "No, it's all natural. Now, you were saying about your glumness?"
"Is that a word?"
I sigh. "My bed is empty."
Glancing at the bed in question, Keeley nods. "So it is. I've been meaning to ask you, Fi; what's with all the white?"
I glance around at my room. It's like all the others I have and have had; white walls, white carpet, white pillows, white comforter, white furniture, piles of jungle animal plushies and lots of windows. When I was growing up, my room was a chaotic mess of jewel tones. I used to have a patchwork quilt my mother had made on my bed and my walls were mosaics depicting scenes from ancient Egyptian. After killing my father, stealing my throne, and placing me in captivity, my stepmother burned the quilt and took a hammer to mosaics, ruining them all. When I was freed, I'd woken in a room that was a close replica to that of my childhood. I couldn't take it; I'd destroyed it myself, shredding the quilt, smashing the walls, tearing up the carpet. It would have been impressive if it hadn't been so sad, not to mention psychologically telling.
"White is clean," I tell Keeley. "It's blank, it's sterile, and, most importantly of all, it reflects light like nobody's business. "
Keeley raises one eyebrow and casts a suspicious look my way. "Your mate is a vampire," he points out.
I shrug and counter, "I'm a sun elf," just barely keeping the irony out of my voice.
Keeley shrugs. "It's also very...white. A little on the asylum side, don't you think?"
"Hence the plushies," I point out defensively, plucking up a white elephant with red polka dots from the nearest pile. It's name is Misfit and, two centuries ago, it was a Christmas gift from Keeley. "They balance things out some, no?"
Keeley just shakes his head.
"Not that it's not nice to see you," I say, "but is there a reason for your visit or were you just missing me?"
"Yes and yes," he answers. "I've come to solve your empty bed dilemma."
It's my turn for raised eyebrows and skeptical looks. "Keeley, I love you but I'm mated."
Keeley rolls his eyes. "Fi, I love you too, but you're not my type. Or my species, for that matter. I was actually referring to the fact that Tru called."
"Called? On the phone you mean?"
He nods. "Anti-climatic, isn't it? Makes me almost miss the days of magic mirrors and crystal balls and such. Anyway, he's suffering from empty bed syndrome just the same as you are so he's told the mortals he misses mate and they'll just have to postpone their meeting indefinitely. He's on his way home. Should be here by tomorrow night, travel and portals permitting."
On the inside, I do a little happy dance and cheer. On the outside, I grin and fist pump like a total dweeb, but at least it's not the full happy dance of pure embarrassment. Lucky for me, Keeley just chuckles.
"Will you keep me company tonight?" I ask him.
With a shrug, he shifts himself from the couch to the bed, sprawling out dramatically despite the tangled mess I've left it in since morning. "Your wish is my command, your majesty. Besides," he adds, waggling his eyebrows for effect, "you know how I love to cuddle."
I roll my eyes and chuck Misfit at him. "No one likes to be alone, you cornball."
"No," he agrees, "we don't."
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