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Thursday, September 17, 2015

ALL IS FAIR IN LOVERS' WAR or How I Got Schooled In Love by Eric Price

Through the window of the taxi, I could see a tear in her eye. She still had feelings for me. When she rolled down the window, I knew I would take her back the second she said, “I love you.”

Thunder cracked, and the downpour of rain splattered her face. She looked ready to burst with emotion, and she said, “If I ever see you again, you will regret ever meeting me!”

She rolled up the window and the taxi sped away. I thought it was a tear in her eye–I guess I was mistaken.

****

From the moment I met Mariana, I knew she was “The One.” She had everything I was looking for in a woman: intelligence, a sense of humor, light-brown hair flowing halfway down her back, perky breasts, a Russian accent–I didn’t even know I was looking for a Russian accent until I met Mariana.

I got a job right out of college designing set pieces for plays. Skip ahead a few years to when I landed a job to create the set for MACBETH. I delivered it to the theater the day of the first dress rehearsal. Enter Mariana.

Mariana had gotten her first acting role as the Third Witch. I should have guessed I would fall in love with a witch.

I wasn’t supposed to be at the theater when the cast arrived, but I had gotten a late start that morning. Nelly, a girl I had been seeing for a few weeks, got suspicious that I was cheating on her. Her suspicion aroused when my phone rang. I had gone to take a shower. The caller’s name was Tiffany, and she introduced herself to Nelly as my girlfriend.

In my defense, Tiffany was not my girlfriend. Nelly was. Tiffany was just a girl I had met at a bar a few nights before. I had drunk too much to drive, and she lived within walking distance. I don’t even remember giving her my phone number.

Nelly didn’t give me a chance to explain. I’m finishing my shower when her hand reaches in and turns off the hot water. I scream and turn off the cold. I can hear her yelling about “some slut on the phone,” not wanting to be “the other girl,” and “we’re through!”

I grab my towel and follow her into my kitchen. As she slams the door and leaves, I finally figure out what has happened. I step onto my second story balcony and waited for her to appear outside.

“Nelly, come up here so I can explain,” I say. But she grabs a flowerpot from the patio below and throws it at my head. I duck and the pot shatters against the wall behind me–covering me with soil.

Nelly climbs into her car and peels away, and I have to take another shower. This in turn makes me late setting the stage, and gives me the chance to meet Mariana. To quote MACBETH, “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” If I had known how bad showering would soon become for me, methinks I may have quit bathing.

Exeunt Nelly and Tiffany–so to speak. I had never intended on talking to Tiffany after the night we had met anyway. Now I was free to see other people.

I took Mariana out for drinks. We had an amazing connection, and the next thing I know, I’m at the theater every day.

Enter Francesca. About a week after the play opened, Mariana’s sister, Francesca, came from Russia to see the play. The three of us went out to dinner, and Francesca made eyes, brushed against me, and tried to get my attention every way she could.

Mariana was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, until I met her sister. But I didn’t care; I loved Mariana.

The third day after Francesca arrived, I had worked myself to the point of exhaustion on a new set. Mariana had the night off, but I had forgotten she had a cast-only party. I went to her place to find Francesca home alone.

I hesitated when she invited me in, but she insisted, “A friend of my sister’s is a friend of mine.”

She opened a bottle of wine and we sat and talked. After two bottles of wine, I said, “Francesca, were you coming on to me the other night?”

She didn’t answer with words. She leaned across the table and kissed me. For the record she kissed me! When she pulled away, any thoughts I had of Mariana left with her. I leaned over for a second kiss.

When Mariana walked in, I can only imagine what it must have looked like. Francesca and I had made a bed out of cushions from the couch and chairs. We lay naked and wrapped in each other’s arms.

She shouted at us in Russian. I stumbled around trying to find my cloths–I hate getting yelled at while I’m naked. Mariana rushed out the door, and I followed only half dressed.

It had started storming sometime after I had fallen asleep. The streetlights shining off the wet pavement made it hard for me to see Mariana. Then I spotted her climbing into a parked taxi–probably the one she had just taken home from the party. Not knowing what else to do, I shouted, “At least we didn’t use your bed!”

The taxi didn’t leave right away. That’s why I thought she had had a change of heart. When she rolled down the window and said I would regret meeting her if she ever saw me again, I took the comment as an empty threat, nothing more than a rage of anger. I realize now she was making a prophesy—like her character in MACBETH.

****

My actions over the next few days eclipsed all the other foolish things I had done to that point. But I was in love. I had never been in love before. You’ve heard the cliché blinded by love. I disagree with it completely. Blind and stupid are not one-in-the-same.

I waited three days to call, and when I did, I got no answer. I left three messages every day for three days. I should have realized all these threes would come back to haunt me. She played the third of three witches, after all. She finally returned my call after the ninth message. I pleaded and begged until she agreed to give me a second chance.

Mariana came to my apartment. She said she wasn’t ready to see me at hers again. I had been working night and day on my sets. I had intended to cook a romantic meal for her, but I ran out of time. When she arrived, I hadn’t even showered. I stunk from sweat, sawdust, and paint.

I opened the door for Mariana and kissed her on the cheek. She smiled and came in. I explained that I had been working all day. I told her I would like to take a shower, and then take her out to dinner at the restaurant of her choice. She agreed and sat down in front of the television. I was hoping she would take a shower with me, but I thought it may be too much to ask presently. So I went to shower alone.

Do you remember when I mentioned I should have quit bathing? Here’s why.

I stood in the shower for about five minutes, letting the hot water sooth my sore muscles before I started shampooing my hair. With my eyes closed, I heard the shower curtain pull aside. Mariana had decided to join me without me having to ask.

I said, “Did you come to get in? The water’s hot, so watch yourself.”

She didn’t reply.

I said, “Mariana?” and opened my eyes a sliver, expecting to see her standing naked.

What I saw, made my eyelids snap open like window blinds in a cartoon. Mariana stood fully clothed holding a huge dagger. She stabbed at me and I instinctively reached for her arm. My hands must have been slippery from the shampoo. Her arm slid through and the dagger dug into my shoulder.

She pulled it out and stabbed at me again. I shouted, “Mariana!” but she was in a trance. I noticed a gleam on her arm as it raced toward me. In what seemed like an eternity, my mind thought, Vaseline? She’s covered her arms in Vaseline? And then the dagger bored into my other shoulder.

The shampoo dripped, stinging my eyes, blinding me. I felt the dagger dig into my stomach before my world went black.

I awoke in the hospital the next day. I’m told that she dialed 911 before leaving my apartment. She never wanted to kill me. She wanted me to suffer.

My lawyer told me I should get my story on paper while it’s still fresh in my memory. So that’s what I’ve done.

****

Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. It is scheduled for a September 2015 release. Find him online at authorericprice.comTwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.