Type of Short Story: Short Story
Summary: Soulmates since they were children, Mandy and Joel are grown up now and destined to be together. Until life hurls a curved ball in their direction. Can they find each other and live happily ever after? Or will life conspire to keep them apart?
She’d dressed up. Did she think it would soften the blow? She looked like the bluebell fairy, all floaty skirts and wild purple hair. On anyone else, it could’ve been a thrift store costume. But Mandy was ethereal, sexy as hell yet somehow untouchable. Was she already withdrawing because she was leaving? He picked up a stick and poked around in the bonfire, trying to sound normal when all he wanted to do was beg.
“I haven’t been home all summer. I should go back for a duty visit before uni.”
“We could go together?”
“God, no!” she laughed, tucking the silky skirt beneath her as she kicked off her shoes and sat cross-legged on the grass. “Can you imagine? My dad would have a fit if I turned up with you in tow.”
Odd they’d been so close all summer, yet they’d never once discussed the long connection of their families.
“He never approved of me, did he?” he remembered.
“I can’t imagine your folks would be any more approving.”
“They might. They’ve always wanted me to be happy.”
“You don’t think they’ve been indulging their only son? There’ll come a point when they’ll expect you to grow up and toe the party line. Don’t you want to do something useful with your life?”
“Plenty of time for that,” he insisted. “My priorities are different.”
“You mean all this arty nonsense?” she scoffed, which shocked him.
He’d meant his priority was her. She’d possessed his every waking hour as well as his dreams. He’d believed she felt the same. But something about her closed expression stopped him from saying so.
“It’s not nonsense,” he said, floundering around in the dark. “I know I’m good. I can do something with it.”
“Like what? Painting’s not real life, Joel. It’s a game. You’re chasing rainbows, putting off the moment when you have to face the future.”
“I thought my future would be with you.” He took her hand, desperate to feel the heat of her as his heart was clamped by icy dread, his beautiful dream slipping like sand through his fingers. “Real life seems less of a cage with you there beside me.”
“Nice line. How long have you been practising that one?”