J.M. Blackman’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Dreams Do Come True
She took a pull of her cigarette as Jared clambered up the tree. He looked back at her with a huge smile before swinging out and dropping into the water with a shout. Cheyenne took another pull. He had thought a little fresh air would help her, but it hadn’t.
Now, instead of letting her misery drown in the drone of honking horns and screaming crowds, she was free to inspect it minutely in a quiet of nature. And it sucked.
Jared came out of the water like a GQ model, still smiling as sun hit his brown skin just right. That was the only thing that really took her mind off of herself. When his hands were on her, when she felt the warmth of his skin--she could ignore her head.
He plopped down by her on the blanket and tugged at the long cover over her bathing suit. “What is this? How you will you ever tan that vampire skin if you leave that on?”
She blew smoke into the air out of her nose. “I don’t tan, babe. I burn. We’re not all so lucky to have so much...”
“Melanin,” he finished.
“Melanin,” she repeated, like it was the name of an old friend.
“You promised you’d get in,” he said, his smile wilting.
“Lesson number one,” she blew. “People make promises and break them. Learn that now, young one.”
“I don’t,” he said stubbornly. “Especially not to my girlfriend.”
She looked at him for a long time and then put her cigarette out in the wet grass. “How about this? If you make me a promise and you swear you’ll keep it, I’ll get in.”
“What is it?” he asked eagerly, brushing the tattoo under her collarbone.
“It actually has to do with this,” she said, tapping the tattoo.
“What, do you want me to get one? I will.”
“No,” she laughed. “Though, you’d look hot in ink. No, that’s not what I meant.”
“You refuse to sink, huh? Like an anchor. You know anchors are useful, though. Necessary.”
“I don’t give a fuck,” she said, tossing her hair. “I don’t want to be necessary or useful. I want to be a boat.”
He laughed and she glared at him, so he stopped. “I’m sorry,” he repeated. “A boat. Why?”
“They have no masters.”
“They do,” he laughed. “They have captains and owners and...”
She held her hand up. “They sail the open sea. They see miles and miles of ocean and shore and sky. Just free.”
“But you don’t even like the water.”
“I do. But not as a person. We’re not equipped for water like boats.” She looked at him from under her hair. “You think that’s dumb?”
“Nothing you say is dumb,” he said very seriously.
“Then, here’s your promise. Promise me you’ll make me a boat.” She smiled, because she thought it was either a promise he couldn’t keep or one he’d try to keep by making her sail and strapping it to her, something silly that would make her laugh.
But he didn’t laugh. “Is that what you really want?”
She nodded. “You don’t think it’s weird?”
“I think everyone has different wishes and I think if that’s what will make you happy, I’ll do it.” And his eyes began to glow. Right there under the tree, right on Lake Lanier, his eyes glowed. They cast shadows all around them.
It didn’t scare Cheyenne. “What are you?”
“Jared,” he smiled.
“Not, who are you, what are you,” she repeated. “I mean, I’m Cheyenne, by the terrible luck of my mom who thought that was a good name. But what I am is a person. A human. Are you?”
He shrugged. “Still want to be a boat?”
She looked at Jared and his GQ body and sincere smile. And glowing eyes. And she still wanted to be a boat. “I do.”
“Then, you will be. I promise.” He leaned in and kissed her. One moment she was kissing him and the next, she was not there. Jared packed up their blanket and picnic basket. He rolled her empty cover and bathing suit up in a towel and dumped it into his car with everything else.
* * *
She took a pull of her clove cigarette as Jared clambered up the tree. He looked back at her with a huge smile before swinging out and dropping into the water with a shout. Anaise took another pull. He had thought a little fresh air would help her, but it hadn’t.
And he had promised, too.
J.M. Blackman is a Language Arts teacher, author rep'd by Gina Panettieri and a feminist. She endeavors to review nearly everything she reads and is a happy wife. She's a SFF enthusiast, loves dark humor, and has an unhealthy need to protect the image of Batman.