Cupid’s Journal, by Leonard White
Molly sighed, staring at the Christmas lights while twisting a strand of hair around her finger. She had done this so much that she had one tight curl floating beside her ear.
“Girl, you got it bad.” Tasha sat a stack of books down on the counter. “You’re so out of it I should send you home.”
Molly stuck her tongue out at Tasha, then blushed. “I met an awesome guy last night.”
“Figured. He got a name?”
Tasha put one of the books into a plastic sleeve and labeled the bag. “You going to help me while you tell me about this dream boat or you just going to play with your hair?”
Molly put a book into a sleeve. “We met at the Irish Lion. He was amazing? We talked all night long.”
“Sure you talked.”
“We did,” Molly was blushing so red that she looked like she had just come in from a run. “He was working so it didn’t’ go further but we’re going out tomorrow.”
Tasha put her hand on top of Molly’s. “Marcus, the bartender at the Lion?”
Tasha shook her head. “Don’t mess with him. Boy’s a player. He dated three of my sisters at once before they caught on.”
Molly shook her head. “He was nice.”
Tasha lifted her hand up. “You’re a big girl, but you be careful.”
“You look different,” Mr. Michaelson said, looking Molly up and down. “What’s changed.”
Molly smiled, bouncing a little as she taped shamrocks to the shelves. “I met this guy a few months ago. His name is Marcus and I can’t stop thinking about him.”
Michaelson chuckled. “The poets are right. Nothing is sweeter than young love.”
“I don’t know if it’s love.”
The man shrugged. “If you aren’t sure, be careful not to write it down.”
“Huh?” Molly crinkled her face in confusion.
“Haven’t I shown you the Book of Love?”
When Molly shook her head, the old man walked to the back, returning with an ancient book. He opened it and Molly could hear the binding creak and crack as he turned the pages.
“This book is supposed to have been created by the goddess Venus for her son Cupid. He recorded the names of people who were truly in love. The story says that if your names in here you were bound until death.”
“Wow,” Molly said as she flipped a single, delicate page. “The pages are thinner than old newspapers.”
“Yes,” Michaelson said. “Each page has a pair of names, a picture and a poem about their love.” He flipped a page that was incomplete. “Supposedly, the image and the poem only finished after the couple had passed.”
“It’s so beautiful.” Molly was looking at an picture of flames and feathers that spiraled together when she noticed thick, blocky Latin at the bottom of the page. “What does that say?”
She laughed. “Where did you get this from?”
“Part of an old estate,” he said. “I liked it so I kept it.” Michaelson picked up the book and started towards his office.
School was almost out and Molly was at the counter, frowning at her phone. She had been trying to get ahold of Marcus all day but he wasn’t responding. She wanted to see him before heading home for the summer. She wanted to make sure he would be thinking of her for the next three months, rather than hooking up with random townies.
She was remembering Tasha’s warning.
“He’s been acting strange,” she said while dusting.
“It’s nothing,” She said, pulling books to the front of shelves.
“He wasn’t home after class and he didn’t’ tell me he was going to be gone,” she said, walking into the back with some new acquisitions.
She stomped in frustration before seeing the old book on Mr. Michaelson’s shelf.
The rain was keeping customers away so Molly stood at the counter reading love poems. Some were fiery, others tame. Some talked about decades, other days. Everyone seemed to love each other completely.
“I want that,” she whispered, turning the page.
It was blank.
The sharpie was moving over the page before she considered it. “Marcus and Molly,” she said once she was done.
She gasped when words began to form. The first line of the poem appeared in delicate black letters as gray lines began to fade in, forming a picture behind them.
As is the way when young hearts tie. These two would love until both die.
Molly tightened her hands into fists. More words made her smile and the poem described their love. Then, today was explained.
Fibs he told to hide intent. To gather gifts away he went.
He was going to surprise her. Tasha had been wrong.
Until love’s need led eyes astray. Smashing steel took life away.
Molly covered her mouth. “No,” she said. “No. No. No.”
Now tears fall to end the day. A broken heart bleeds life away.
She began to cry. The picture was finished. A wilted flower with falling petals.
“No,” the word caught in her throat. Molly struggled, coughing and choking, resting her hands on the counter. Her weight shifted, and a web of cracks spread out from under the book as cracking echoed around the store.
Molly re-read the first line of the poem, new meaning filling her with cold fear. Tears blurred the words out of focus before the glass shattered. Bright red lines and burning pain covered her arms.
Molly felt cold.
Michaelson frowned at the book as he read the poem. “Why couldn’t you have just trusted him.”
He put the book away before calling the police.
Later that night, he sat in his office, the book laying open in front of him. Michaelson could hear the wind rustling the police tape at the door. He picked up an antique quill and carefully wrote the last word on the page. Writing the Latin with firm, practiced strokes.
L. E. White is a happily married father of four who lives on a family farm in southern Indiana. His work has been included in collections from Hazardous Press, Sirens Call Publications and Under the Bed Magazine. He also regularly publishes new fiction on his blog.
Posted on September 3, 2017, in Issue 21: PhotoFlash 1--11 Visions and tagged e-zine, fiction, flash, flash fiction, photoflash, photoprompt, picprompt, spec fic, speculative fiction, The Were-Traveler. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.