Black Petals Issue #106 Winter, 2023

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The Thing in the Yard: Fiction by Vincent Vurchio
A Forest Green: Fiction by Logan Williams
Clown Safe: Fiction by Taylor Hagood
Home Delivery: Fiction by Jon Adcock
Judith and Bobby Save the World: Fiction by Stephen Tillman
Many Wee Undead: Fiction by Marco Etheridge
Meat Pie: Fiction by Anna Koltes
Mexican Coffee and Burgers: Fiction by Fred Zackel
Leaving: Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Ghost of the Perfect Hotdog: Fiction by Mark Miller
The Illustrated Woman: Fiction by Jen Myers
Thrice in One Sitting: Fiction by Justin Alcala
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning: Fiction by Gene Lass
AI Self-Mortification: Flash Fiction by Christopher Henckel
Correct Mistake: Flash Fiction by Eric Burbridge
A Moment of Inertia: Flash Fiction by Sean MacKendrick
Get Your Kicks on Route 666: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Let's Do Lunch: Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
"Three Wishes": Flash Fiction by Ronin Fox
Woodsman's Revenge: Flash Fiction by Jada Maze
To a Crow: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Estranged: Poem by Michael Keshigian
At the Terminal: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Angler's Nightmare: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Last Thirteen Steps: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Murderous Words: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
My Childhood Snapshot: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
With Vampires About: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
The Zombies are Loose: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
Lil' Toe Dipper: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
Scattered Pieces: Poem by Andrew Graber

Roy Dorman: Leaving

106_bp_leaving_cynthiafawcett.jpg
Art by Cynthia Fawcett 2024

LEAVING

 

Roy Dorman

 

     Jessica Edwards had gotten lost on the beach.

     Maybe not lost. Just turned around. One can’t really get lost walking on a beach, but if you’re finished with the beach for the day, you do have to start walking in the right direction to get home.

     Or you can get lost.

     She saw a small cottage set back fifty yards from the water. It looked inhabited and she decided to get directions to avoid possibly walking still further away from her hotel.

     The hotel was about a mile from the ocean and she’d easily walked to the beach the front desk person had told her about.

     That had been at eleven o’clock this morning and it was now close to three. She’d missed lunch and was hungry. And a little irritated at losing her way.

     Jessica knocked. A thirty-something woman dressed in jeans and a plaid work shirt answered the door with a smile. A very nice smile.

     “Lost, right?” she asked.

     “Well, at least turned around,” Jessica said. “And hungry and a little tired.”

     She didn’t know why she’d added that last part. It sounded like she was asking the woman if she could come in. And eat. And rest.

     “I’m Felicity,” the woman said, still smiling. “Come in and sit for a bit and I’ll tell you how to get home.”

***

     After some tasty egg salad sandwiches and then a few glasses of equally tasty Merlot, Jessica felt a lot better.

     “It’ll be getting dark in a few minutes,” said Felicity. “You’re about a half-hour from your hotel.”

     “Oh, I don’t mind walking in the dark,” Jessica said. “I do it all the time in San Francisco.”

     “It’s usually pretty safe around here, but sometimes some young guys who’ve had too much to drink can be annoying. And I’d hate to have you miss the start of the little path leading back to the hotel.”

     “Are you saying I should stay here tonight?” asked Jessica.

     Felicity leaned over and kissed Jessica softly on the mouth.

     “Yes, that’s what I’m saying, Jessica. Stay with me.”

***

     It was Sunday morning and Jessica was scheduled to start the drive back to home and work in San Francisco today. She would take the week to make the cross-country drive from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and be ready for work the following Monday.

     Jessica lay in bed listening to the sound of the ocean. Waves coming in and then going out. Noisy seagulls were awake and fighting for whatever the ocean had tossed up onto the beach the previous night.

     There was also quiet singing and the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen. The song was the Joni Mitchell tune about how you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. The singing was good.

     Jessica thought last night had been incredible. Unhurried lovemaking in a feather bed followed by quiet conversation was something she wasn’t used to. She blushed just thinking about the wildness of it.

     Walking into the kitchen, she smelled toast and eggs in addition to the coffee.

     “Oh, Felicity, you didn’t have to make me breakfast too.”

     “But I wanted to.”

     The two talked about work and interests while they lingered over coffee.

     Finally, Jessica said, “I should be going. I have to check out of my hotel by eleven and hit the road. Thank you so much for everything. Especially a wonderful night.”

     “Take me with you.”

     “What?”

     “Take me with you to San Francisco. I’ll pay for gas and hotels if you do the driving. I’m a terrible driver

     “You can just leave?” asked Jessica, amazed at what she was hearing.

     “I’m all packed. We can do the dishes and I’ll lock up. I can leave the keys with my neighbor. He’s a peach.”

     All packed? Jessica considered herself a good judge of character. She should be hearing alarm bells going off, but there were none. At least if there were she didn’t hear them. Maybe because she didn’t want to hear them?

     There had been many one-night stands over the last dozen years and there had been many an awkward morning.

     But Jessica didn’t feel awkward.

     “Sure,” she answered. “It’ll be fun. I’d love the company. Your company.”

***

     Jessica and Felicity had a short first day. They made it as far as Albany, New York, and had dinner at a family-run Italian restaurant before checking into a hotel.

     Jessica waited and listened in as Felicity paid cash for one night.

     “My sister and I will be leaving early in the morning,” she told the front desk clerk. “We’ll leave the key on the dresser.”

     The clerk wanted to argue against her paying in cash with no ID and leaving without checking out, but Felicity had already turned away and was headed for the elevators.

     That night was filled with just as much as the previous night.

***

     Jessica awoke to the sound of the ocean. And the seagulls.

     “There’s no ocean near Albany,” she thought to herself. “Just some lakes and the Hudson River.”

     The Joni Mitchell song was coming from the kitchen as well as the smell of fresh coffee.

     She threw on one of Felicity’s robes and went into the kitchen.

     Felicity turned from the stove where she was making eggs and said, “I’m so glad you decided to stay with me.”

     “But I didn’t…., I can’t…., I’ve got a job and a condo in San Francisco. I can’t stay here. I have to go back…., Wait. How did we get back here from Albany?  That’s impossible….”

     “All right,” said Felicity, smiling sweetly. “If you insist on going to San Francisco, we’ll go to San Francisco.  But first we’ll have a civilized breakfast.”

     The alarm bells were going off loudly in Jessica’s head. She felt she should run from the little cottage as fast as she could.

     But she didn’t.

***

     Getting an earlier start got the two all the way to Buffalo this time.

     Jessica watched as Felicity dealt with the front desk the same way she’d done the previous night.

     Felicity had acted as if nothing unusual had happened that morning. As if two people and a Kia Soul could be somehow transported from Albany back to Old Orchard Beach by magic.

     She made overtures to Jessica, but Jessica said she had a headache and just wanted to go to sleep.

     Felicity nodded an okay, but her smile was not the same smile as that first day.

***

     Jessica waited until she was pretty sure Felicity was asleep. It was 10:30 and she wanted to get out of Buffalo before the “magic” sent her back to Old Orchard Beach.

     She dressed as quietly as she could, grabbed her purse with her phone and keys and started for the door.

     “You’re just going to leave me here in fucking Buffalo?”

     Jessica froze.

     Felicity turned on the lamp on the nightstand and stared at Jessica.

     “Just leave without saying anything?”

     “I’m sorry,” Jessica said, meaning it. “But I don’t know what’s going on. Are we going to be in your kitchen tomorrow morning? I’m just winding up a three-week vacation. I have a life back home. I have to get back to San Francisco….”

     Felicity got out of bed and walked over to Jessica. Her stare was intense.

     I could have been your life,” she grated. “I’m all you would have ever needed. But you’ve lost that.  It’s gone.”

     Jessica could feel her heart hammering. It was beating incredibly fast.

     And then it started to slow. And slow more. She was looking at Felicity when she felt it stop.

***

     Felicity took Jessica’s purse from her dead hands. She made sure she had all of Jessica’s ID. She wiped the room down to erase any of her own prints and packed the few clothes she’d unpacked upon arrival.

     Leaving the keys on the dresser, she walked out of the room and to the Kia Soul. She got in and within minutes she was in the parking lot of Jessica’s hotel in Old Orchard Beach. She parked the car in a far corner of the lot.

     On the way to her cottage, she threw the keys as far as she could into the ocean.

     Though no longer completely human, Felicity was still capable of feeling sad.

     She was sad because of what she’d had and now it was gone.  Lost.

 

THE END

Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 65 years.  At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer.  He has had flash fiction and poetry published in Black Petals, Bewildering Stories, One Sentence Poems, Yellow Mama, Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Dark Dossier, The Rye Whiskey Review, Near To The Knuckle, Theme of Absence, Shotgun Honey, 50 Give or Take, Subject And Verb Agreement Press, and a number of other online and print journals.  Unweaving a Tangled Web, recently published by Hekate Publishing, is his first novel.