One Glass

First sip: ambrosia.

Second sip: hints of black cherry and he leaned close to whisper into my ear, “How does it taste?”

“Like -” I didn’t want to say cherries or chocolate or any of those things that would make me sound like a wannabe connoisseur. “Like -”

Third sip: “Like a waterfall, or like whirling in circles til your head spins and you can’t find your feet.”

He stroked my cheek with one long, pale finger. “And?”

Fourth sip: “And cherries.” I turned my face and found his lips waiting. His mouth was cool velvet. I sat back, blinking down at my hands. They curled around the stem of the glass and I could see my rings through the amber wine, distorted into arrows of silver. “You make this?”

“My family does.”

I saw flecks in his irises the same color as the wine and I wondered if he drew it from his veins. But I laughed at the notion, drowning the giggle in a quick drink.

Fifth sip: flying. My heart fluttered, buoyant in a sea of honey-wine. My thighs could not feel the soft leather of the sofa beneath me, and I pressed my knees together.

I’d met him at a party in Heatherfield. His smile erased the memory of the shape of his jaw or the cut of his hair. The lights sparkled and the music was just loud enough that I heard what I chose to. I thought I was inviting him to dinner and following him home because I wanted him.

He raised his own glass and held his eyes on me while he drank. Half the cup in one swallow.

Sixth sip: I wanted to dance. I stood, swaying as vertigo swept up from my stomach. He caught me, pulled me to his chest. He smelled like the wine. Sweet, clean, promising.

Hands together, we turned in a miniature waltz, confined by the ocher walls and polished furniture of his slick apartment. I shut my eyes and wind brushed my face, tugged at my curls. He put a hand flat on my hip and stepped closer. He pressed the glass to my lips.

Seventh sip: We spun and I heard music; whistle and pipe and tinny drums. The hum of bumblebees surrounded us, and feathers tickled my bare arms. I opened my eyes and saw only his face, white and shadowed like a half-moon, with that Cheshire smile and honey-wine flecks in his eyes. Behind him a blur of dark forest, of black, narrow trunks and summer-time maple leaves. All around us the flitting giggles of sparrows and toads and fireflies.

My shoes sank into wet earth but in his arms I flew, around and around and my head fell back and my hair trailed, catching in twigs and tiny goblin fingers. They jerked and tugged and I cried out, but he swallowed my fear with a kiss, the way I’d hidden my joy in the wine. Hot lilac and wisps of rose-scent slunk up my nose and clung to my throat like a sticky aftertaste.

Around and around, his fingers cold and hot, his breath sweet. I released him and flung out my hands and they were caught in the whirl of the dancing. Fire licked at my fingers and the music was louder than the ocean in my ear. He held me and spun me. I heard his laugh lace through the melody and my heart was the metronome – they kept time with me. Their drums, their pipes, their tiny footsteps and

My hand slammed into cold glass. I stumbled. The tinkle of glass accompanied me down and my knees hit hard wood.

Silence.

I blinked. Beneath my hands was the worn floor of the apartment. Shards of glass glittered between my fingers as dim street light melted in through open windows. I pushed to sit back on my heels. Paint peeled off the walls and a ceiling fan dangled from electrical wires. The sofa was slashed and the decrepit coffee table was the only other piece of furniture in the room. I was alone.

I lifted the broken stem of my wineglass. It was solid and refracted red and blue and pale green light back at me. I bent and skimmed a finger through the gritty liquid staining the hardwood floor. Lifting it to my nose, I smelled mud and dank leaves.

33 thoughts on “One Glass

  1. Haha. You know, I think if merry_fates had a theme, it just might be “Beautiful, enchanting, and then CREEPY.” It seems to be our favored motif.

  2. I am really liking this group, btw

    I’m glad to hear it! Thanks for checking us out.

  3. Excellent story; I like the way you paced it with the sips gradually pulling the narrator into it.

    I was talking to someone the other day about the fae, and I realized that there are so few stories (and kids are so rarely told the old stories, now) that talk about how to deal with them that someone in your narrator’s position might end the story thinking, “He must have doped my drink,” instead of, “I wonder how long I was in Faerie…”

  4. The ambiguity is my favorite part. Of course, these days, if you get drunk and end up pregnant it’s much more difficult to blame it on faeries. More’s the pity.

  5. Oooh, I *love* this. Lush and beautiful, with that hint of something dark beneath the velvet. πŸ™‚ The details are incredible. I could *taste* the wine, and I almost felt my room spin. Well done. πŸ™‚

    And I just have to add that this has become one of my favorite groups. I love it!

  6. This is beautiful — “he swallowed my fear with a kiss, the way I’d hidden my joy in the wine” — so chillingly predatory, even as the narrator seems to see it as comforting in the dizzy midst of the enchantment. I suppose the other question is just how many days have passed during that dance in Faerie…

    Really lovely; this is what short stories are all about.

  7. Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying the comm. It’s certainly been fun for us, and a bit of an adventure!

  8. the other question is just how many days have passed during that dance in Faerie…

    That *is* a good question! Was the apartment always a ruin, or did it decay around her? I didn’t even think about that. I love it when others see things in my stories that I wasn’t even aware of.

    And, thank you!

  9. Or was it a ruin that also decayed around her? WE MAY NEVER KNOW.

    Unless you decide you’re not done with the story after all, in which case we may find out someday, but ambiguity is fun!

  10. Is that a Northanger Abbey icon I spy? Bliss!

    I tend to like ambiguity better than almost anything.

  11. Mmm. Definitely the sexiest bit o’ prose that I’ve read of late. You rock this one. I’ll walk away happy.

    On that note, do you mind if I leak one tiny rant into this comment, brought on by the book I happened to fall asleep to last night? Is it just me, or does seem that whenever a writer decides that, mid-sex, a character is going to ask – or answer – the body’s “unspoken question,” does that not just KILL THE SEXY with its very inaneness?! (Not to mention utter clichedom). The sexy was dead.

    From cliches, bad sex scenes, dangerous liaisons with faeries, and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver us.

  12. I have no idea what you’re talking about! πŸ˜€

    But I’m sorry the sexy was killed. Dead sexy is not sexy.

    Uh, unless it’s vampire-dead. THAT is sexy.

  13. Fabulous, so full of sensuousness…loved the smells and descriptions.

    Thanks! I am enjoying these stories!

  14. “My thighs could not feel the soft leather of the sofa beneath me, and I pressed my knees together.”

    So many of the stories here leave me thoughtful, breathless, nervous, and I find the energy being created here seductive. I pressed my knees together, opened my mouth slightly, and wanted to kiss a warm throat. I have to say I was surprised because the ‘sips’ balked me, and I wondered how the tension had built in me.

    When I finished reading the image of a young woman injecting herself with heroin in a derelict apartment had formed in my mind. The “gritty liquid staining the hardwood floor” had become the heroin.

    I like this. Thank you, Simon.

  15. Nice pacing, Tess, and really beautiful imagery. The sips to pace us through the story, each one taking us to a new level, were a brilliant touch.

  16. Thanks. Mostly when I was writing it, the sips were to keep me focused. Because I had none on my own. πŸ˜‰

  17. Ooo, add heroine to the ambiguity! I like that the tension snuck up on you. As always, thanks for reading to carefully.

  18. I felt myself longing for her to search out the spilled drops in the hopes she could find enough to return…

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