Is it egotistical to think that I've actually been able to do it on occasion? That I'm frustrated now because I've raised my standards too high? Maybe I'm just getting really ancy about having so many stories out to market and not hearing anything back. Or maybe I'm just a goofball.
"What is it Like?"
by Jon Stark
Riding back to the city gave her time to think about it. Not that it was a good thing – thinking about it -- just that it was what happened. She brushed away a few straggling tears, watching the world rush away outside of her window.
"I've discovered something." he had said, earlier that afternoon. "Love. The sort that makes you think about the future. The kind that makes you dream about forever. Do you know what I mean?"
She knew that kind of love very well.
"The kind of love," he continued, "that makes a chap want to ask a girl to marry him."
Isabel was still. Her heart quickened, vision faded, she felt faint.
"And can you believe it?" he said. "She actually said yes!"
Some dreams wither. Some burn until the last breath leaves the body. Some burst and cover everyone with their sorrow. But Isabel's dream did none of those things. It collapsed, a star dying and falling in on itself, the fiery nova settling into a cold, dark lump alone in the void.
"She did?" managed Isabel.
He was ecstatic, pacing around the garden bench where she sat. "We're to be married next spring. Think of it. In just one year I'll be married."
She had thought of it. Many times. "Does the lucky girl know about caramel and peaches and burnt marshmallows?"
"She's learning." he said.
"Does she know the secret hiding places in your house?"
"She's not been out yet." he said. “But her place is grand.”
"Does she like The Cure?"
"Not especially." he admitted. "But that's okay. She likes Zeppelin and -"
"But they're your favorite." said Isabel.
"Look, Izzy, your my best and dearest friend in the whole world." Not quite true anymore, was it. She glared at him.
"Does she know that?" she said. That put him back a step.
"I thought you'd be happy for me." He seemed genuinely puzzled.
She wanted to run away. "Does she know why you cry ever year on May the twenty-second?"
"I don't think she needs to." he said, much quieter now. "What is all of this?"
"I have to go." She stood, a bit unsteady, and walked toward the gate.
He chased after her. Took her hand. Turned her about to face him. She wriggled her hand from his grasp. "You don't get to do that anymore." she said. "You're engaged."
"It isn't like that.
"What exactly, then?" she opened up on him. "What is it like?"
He opened his mouth but nothing came out.