Vision

He had never understood why people cried at weddings, not until he saw her.

All his life he would remember that moment when his vision blurred. He would try to understand what pieces of himself fell into or out of alignment allowing the emotion to come forth so freely. He would wonder what he really saw in that moment when he suddenly had to blink away tears.

Did he see years of tender smiles and loving glances? Did he see angry comments, painful silences, apologies, reconciliations. Did he see crying babies and sleepless nights, hugs from children, children grown and leaving. Did he see hands interlocked, heads on shoulders, the endless kisses, tears wiped away, a lifetime of companionship.

Could he have seen? Could he have known?

It lasted just an instant, a hazy, warm, love-lit vision.

He knew.

He saw her, dressed in white, walking toward him while the melody of La Vie en Rose surged around them. Then she was there with him at the altar. He knew exactly why he was there, and exactly what he was promising. Their hands met, gripped each other tightly. Her eyes shone, wet with tears as well.

“I do.”

“I do.”

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Mandy Whitaker

Better

“What are you doing here, Paul?”

From within the glare of the headlights, a thick voice answered, “I’m gonna kick Matt’s ass.”

Stacy stood in the doorway of the bar, arms crossed. “And you really think that’ll make Annie want you back?”

Seated on the hood of his car, Paul answered, “No, I think it’ll make Matt regret being such a piece of shit.”

“Well you’re wasting your time. He’s not even here.”

Before Paul could retort, another voice said, “It’s fine.” Matt stepped outside into the headlights. “I’ll fight my own battles.”

Paul leapt from the hood and charged. “Damn right you will.” His punch knocked Matt flat on his ass. “Get up,” Paul growled, and Matt obliged. Another furious swing Stacy screamed, others poured out of the bar. Paul kept swinging, meeting no resistance from his opponent. “Come on, fight me,” he roared as Matt once more hauled himself to his feet. “What’s the matter with you, asshole?”

Matt’s lip was already swollen and split. He answered, “Annie.”

“Don’t talk about her,” Paul raged, once more knocking Matt to the ground.

“She would want me to be better,” Matt coughed. “She would want us both to be better.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Eugene Triguba on Unsplash

Destiny

This is it, Magda thought as she nervously approached the visitor standing before the altar, it’s meant to be. “Have you come to the goddess seeking love?” she asked.

“Wha—” the young man jumped. Recovering, he noted her acolyte’s robes and answered, “Oh, uh . . . yeah. I’ve heard that on her feast day—”

“She guides an earnest heart to its ideal partner,” Magda said excitedly, “Yes!” Steady, she thought. Don’t rush.

The man smiled—a beautiful smile. “So, how does it work. Does she just . . . appear in front of me?”

Destiny, Magda thought, a hopeful smile plastered on her face. “Perhaps,” she said, “your heart’s perfect match has already appeared before you.”

His eyes went wide. “You think so?” And like an untrained horse, he swung his neck from side to side, looking every direction except for straight ahead. “Where is she? Is she hot?”

Magda blinked. She blinked again. She looked up at the statue of the goddess which dominated the space beyond the altar. It loomed shadowy and silent. The young man, apparently disappointed by his prospects, turned back to Magda. “How do I know if I’ve found the one?”

Magda sighed. “I guess, sometimes you don’t.”

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Natalie Breeze on Unsplash

Promised

Lucy used the spare key hidden on the porch light to get into his house. What she found was a disaster. Smashed furniture, the smell of rot, a shape curled up in the darkness. A long, low moan. “Nooooo.” As she swung the door open, that shape began trying to drag itself away. Away from the light.

Away from her.

“William?” Lucy said, afraid of the answer.

“Go,” the voice hissed. Then, in a pitiable whisper, “Just . . . just go.”

She looked at the debris scattered around her, saw the broken chair leg with its jagged point next to where she had first seen him. He had stopped trying to crawl away. Instead, from that misshapen mass, two eyes stared back at her. Dark and beady, Lucy could only catch the smallest glint of light reflected in them. Gradually, as her eyes adjusted, she began to make out more details: bony hands, clawed fingers, back twisted into a hunch, papery skin, sparse white hair in lank clumps. Fangs. They caught the light too, vicious, dangerous things.

“What . . . happened to you?” she asked, already knowing the answer.

The vampire answered anyway. “No blood,” he said. “I promised . . . for you. No more blood.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Fart

They were together at the table, just finishing their meal when it happened. “What the—” Andrew started. “Did you just . . . fart?”

“What . . . ?” Sara replied still looking at her food. “I—maybe. Yeah, I guess so.” She stabbed fiercely at the last baby corn in her stir fry. “Everyone farts. Why are you making such a big deal about it?”

“Because until today,” Andrew said, “you had never farted in front of me.”

Cheeks flushed, still avoiding eye contact, Sara said. “You’re being gross, and super awkward. It was just a fart. Can’t you let it go?”

Andrew shook his head slowly, deliberately. “I will never let it go.”

“Fine,” Sara shouted, slamming her fork down on the table. “Sorry for ruining our relationship with my flatulence. I guess you’ll just have to dump me and keep looking for that fairy tale woman with no bodily functions to date.” She pushed away from the table, but Andrew grabbed her hand.

“Wait,” he said. “You don’t understand.”

“Don’t understand what?” Looking at him for the first time, she saw his eyes wide, brow furrowed, jaws tense. “What is that face?”

Pthhhppuuuurbbbbt, he farted. “I love you too.”

“You’re disgusting,” Sara said smiling.

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

Story by Gregory M. Fox