My First Romance – Sort Of: Sam Part 4

Finally, Sam thought as he leaned forward and laid one hand over hers as he said, “I have searched far and long for you, my lady. I have taken many guises, poor, beggared, lame, sick, and now scarred, and you are one of the few who have looked past that which lives on the surface. Tell me your name.”

The woman sat back into her chair, confusion clearly written across her face, but she did not remove her hand from under his. “My name is Tilde. May I have yours?”

“I have been calling myself Sam, but that is not my name.” As he spoke Sam’s scars began to fade. “In fact I have no name. At least, none that is true and whole. I was never named, for it was I that did the naming.”

Tilde’s confusion was even more obvious now, and she squirmed slightly, but she spoke all the same. “Of what?” She asked, although Sam could see that she already knew the answer.

He played along with the question anyway. Sometimes, the question is important. His scars were now completely gone, and there was a soft echo of light, barely noticeable, shining form his eyes and mouth. “Of everything, Tilde.” Tilde jerked her hand back and shook her head. “No!” She whispered, “No, no, no! You can’t be. I can’t meet you.” Her hands went to her scant dress, and there were tears in her eyes. “Not like this.”

Sam held his open hands on the table, inviting. “Give me your hands, Tilde.” His voice had an air of command to it, something soft, but firm that could not be denied. Tilde reached her hands onto the table, and placed them into his. Sam smiled. “In all of my searching, you are one of the only people to see me.” His gaze flicked to her dress and back. “Do you imagine that I cannot see all that you have done? Do you imagine that, looking at you now, all your life is not laid out before me?”

Tilde tried to pull her hands back, but his grip was firm. Not painful, not the arrogant grasping of her customers, but firm and inescapable. She tried to scream, to yell for the men by the fire to come and help her, but she had no voice. And Sam continued to speak, “Do you think that I have not seen your every thought? But Tilde, I tell you this: You are forgiven.” A soft, warm glow flowed down from Sam’s arms into Tilde’s hands, and she could feel her entire body falling into that glow. “You are made pure, and new, and whole. Tell me Tilde, what is your greatest desire?”

Tilde opened her mouth to scream again, but instead she whispered, “George. I want George back.”

Sam smiled at her, and then shook his head. “Better to ask that you had never lost him, because you never did.”

Tilde frowned at him for a moment, but then memories of her life with her husband filled her mind. Like two sides of a coin, she could remember walking the streets, trying to scrape together enough money to feed herself, and she could remember her home with George, a mere two blocks away, and their three lovely children. Tears rolled across her cheeks as she looked down at her no longer scant clothing. She looked back up at Sam and asked, “Why?”

Sam smiled his half smile, one hand rubbing at the scars that covered half of his face. “Because you believed. You should be getting home now, Tilde. George gets worried when I keep you out too late.”

Tilde smiled shyly, “George doesn’t worry. He knows you too. But it is almost time to put the children to bed.” She leaned across the table to give Sam a delicate peck on the cheek. “Thank you.”

Leaving the coffee house Tilde looked back to see Sam resume his slow trudge down the street, and she wondered how long it would be before he found another who would see him.

The End

My First Romance – Sort Of: Sam Part 3

Sam fled, running even though the needles of feeling were still returning to his legs. He stumbled once, and then fell, scraping his hands against cold, hard cobbles, but then he rose and ran on. He found his way to a small coffeehouse, still open despite the late hour and near empty main room, and slipped in out of the cold. There was a large fire in one corner of the main room, and a few people sat around it, drinking from steaming mugs. Sam slipped into a table away from the fire and did his best not to be noticed. He coveted the heat of the fire, especially on his now painfully chilled legs, but he couldn’t bring himself to move again. He had been rejected many times, but tonight’s series of escalating travesties was worse than most, and he needed time to recover. There was no one good in the world, and so few who would even make the attempt to be so. It was profoundly sad.

Someone slipped into the chair on the other side of his table. He glanced up to see a shivering woman in scandalous dress. She smiled at him and said, “Mind if I share yer table? I ain’t exactly welcome with that crowd.” She tilted her head towards the men by the fire.

Sam glanced around at the many empty tables. “Why would you want to sit with me?”

The woman gazed at him with big, brown eyes. “Just thought ya might be needing some company.”

Sam shrugged, motioning at his pockets. “I’ve got no money, ma’am. Afraid you’re wasting your time.”

The woman laughed, it was a high, clear sound. “I’m off for the night. Ain’t nobody on the streets to work anyways. I ain’t tryin ta sell you nothing. Just thought ya might want someone ta sit with.”

“What about the scars?” Sam asked, a confused frown dominating the mobile half of his face.

The woman smiled. “What scars?”

Hope bloomed in Sam’s heart, but he hesitantly motioned at his face, and the woman looked at his scars, bringing her hand to her mouth, as if seeing them for the first time. “Oh,” she said softly, “I didn’t even notice them. What happened?”

Sam smiled and waved the question away. “A long story from a long time ago. Though they certainly seem to stand in the way of love. I’m not sure I believe that you didn’t notice them.”

The woman laughed again. “Darlin, I deal in lust.” She waved at her scant clothing and attractive face before continuing, “and lust is all about looks. But love.” She leaned in close. “From what little experience I’ve had, love doesn’t see scars.”

Sam stared at her and, though he knew the answer, asked, “If you don’t mind my asking…what experience have you had?”

The woman twirled a bit of her auburn hair around a finger as she shrugged. “You think that a whore can’t know love?” Her eyes stared at Sam, but he could see that she was not looking at him. “I was loved once, and loved well. He was a wonderful man, we were going to have a home, and a family…” she paused, distant reverie ending as her attention snapped back to Sam. “But he died a long time ago, and I am here, and you remind me of him.”

Sam’s hand went back to his scars but she waved it down. “No, no, not your looks. You look nothing like him, but your heart is the same. The kindness, and the sadness that I see in your eyes. A little bit of the resignation too, but you have more of that than he did.” The woman placed her hands on the table. “I don’t know your name, sir, but I know your type, and I would be proud to meet you.”

My First Romance – Sort Of: Sam Part 2

You will remember that last Sunday I posted the first part of my first ever romance story.  Well, here is part two:

Sam was quite a distance down the street when he noticed a young woman, struggling to pull a large suitcase up to her apartment door. Smiling at the chance to help, Sam hurried over and gave the woman a short bow. “Excuse me, miss. Might I help you with that?”

The woman looked up with a smile on her face, but when she saw his face the words of thanks died on her lips and the smile quickly disappeared. The woman screamed, and fell backwards against the cold stone of the steps. She scrambled up the steps, letting the suitcase fall to the bottom, and screamed again, “Get away from me!”

Sam’s hand went unconsciously to the thick, ugly scars that covered one side of his face, the lips on the mobile side of his face drawing back into a sad smile. Then, as lights came on in the surrounding houses, he lifted the suitcase with one strong hand, and walked up a few steps. The woman kept yelling for him to get away. Reaching from far down the steps, Sam set the suitcase at the top, and then turned his sad smile on the woman. “Forgive me my appearance,” was all he said before he turned away.

Sam walked far enough that he couldn’t see the woman’s door any longer before allowing himself to sag down on the low wall that contained the raised flower beds decorating a building. His hands went to his face, tracing the lines of the ancient scars that made half of his face look like so much melted wax. So few could look past the scars, or the rags, or the poverty of the begging bowl he sometimes carried. Sometimes he felt like no one could. At least it seemed that way often enough. Sam sat there until the cold crept from the stone into his legs and hands. Eventually his extremities went numb. Eventually he tried to stand, the rational part of his mind telling him that the numbness was a bad thing, but stumbled on legs that he couldn’t feel.

As Sam started to fall a small hand grasped his shoulder, steadying him. He turned, stomping to try to bring life back into his legs, and saw a beautiful woman in a long woolen coat, an elaborate bag hanging from one shoulder. She smiled at him, perfect red lips parting around white teeth. “Well, you’re an ugly one aren’t you?” Her voice was sweet and soft, but she seemed excited. “Did you come directly off the ship? Who do you belong to? I’ll see you back to your troupe.”

Sam’s face, or at least the half that wasn’t frozen by scars, crinkled. “What do you mean? What troupe? I don’t belong to anyone.”

The woman’s sweet smile faltered for just a moment, but then returned. “Of course you do. Every freak has an owner.” Then a glint appeared in her eye, and she leaned in uncomfortably close. In a breathy whisper she asked, “Unless you’re a runaway? That would be exciting. Are you a runaway freak, here to steal my virtue?” She shivered, and then stepped closer to him, one hand suddenly resting on his chest. “Oh, oh I’m getting excited at the thought of it. Please, tell me that you’ve run away from your master. That you’ve a price on your head! Tell me that you an evil monster come to ravish me!”

Sam backed away from the woman, shaking his head. “No, ma’am. I wouldn’t ever. I’m just a laborer, work down at the yards. Not any man’s… whatever you think I am.”

The woman jumped back from him, as if he carried some plague. Her smile now entirely gone, replaced by a drawn, angry frown. “A laborer?! You’d dare call yourself a man?!” The woman spat on him, and then she struck him with the bag. “Beast! Get away from me before I call for the authorities!” Everyone reacted to the scars differently, but so few could look past them.

My First Romance – Sort Of: Sam Part 1

The period of this story is left intentionally undefined. It is intended to be placed anywhere between the 1920s and today. However, there are some elements that will fit better in one era or another. This was done as a stylistic choice. Though I would generally not recommend it for the majority of writing.

Sam walked quickly down the street, whistling a hopeful tune. Tall apartment buildings, many with stores or restaurants on their ground-level floors, surrounded him as he hurried along in the dying light. It was brisk in late October, and already he wore a heavier coat than many – Sam had always been particularly susceptible to the cold. His free hand was tucked into the warm sleeve of his black coat as he walked, but the fingers in which he gripped a bouquet of flowers were already growing numb.

As he turned a corner Sam saw the four story ladies house in which Rose lived. He smiled at the thought of her: long blond hair, deep blue eyes, and rosy cheeks. She show so much potential, not only in her beauty, but in her sweet charm and quick wit as well. He was excited that she had agreed to see him tonight, though it would be their first time truly alone together. He hurried over to the lobby entrance, and pushed the door open with his sleeve covered hand, his brown shoes clicking against the tile floor of the lobby at he stepped in.

Adeline sat behind the long counter on the opposite side of the room, along with a tall security guard whose thick arms were crossed over his chest. Sam smiled at Adeline, and took off his bowler to shake out his brown hair as he approached the desk. “Hello, Miss Adeline,” he began. “It’s so nice to see you again. Would you mind buzzing Rose to let her know that I’ve arrived?”

Adeline gave him a pitying look. “I’m afraid Miss Rose isn’t in right now.”

Sam worked hard to keep his smile in place. They had planned this outing over the phone, and he had already purchased the theater tickets. “Oh,” he said, his voice slightly stilted. “Well then, um. I suppose I’ll wait. Do you know when she’ll be back?”

The look in Adeline’s eyes was joined by a small frown. “I thought you might decide to wait. She said that she won’t be in when you come calling. Ever. I’m sorry.”
Sam nodded slightly, the smile finally slipping off of his face. Thoughts reeled through his mind, none of them pleasant, and finally he asked, “Did she, um, did she give a reason, perchance? Was it the…” He gestured meaningfully at his face.

The look Adeline gave him was stern, her dark eyes quickly changing from pitying to menacing. “Only a Brute needs to ask why he has been turned away, Mr. O’Connel.”

I never said they were roses.

Sam nodded again. “Yes, yes, I see.” He stared blankly at the flowers in his hand, and reached into his pocket to feel the tickets within. “Well then.” Finally he tore his eyes away from the flowers, and pasted the smile back on his face. Then he held the flowers out to Adeline. “I suppose these are for you then.” He bowed slightly, put his hat back on his head, and tipped it to her. “Miss Adeline, you have a wonderful night, and make sure you tell Rose that I said the same for her.” Then he turned and sauntered out of the building.

As the door fell shut behind him Sam allowed his saunter to fall into a slow trudge, his feet barely lifting off the ground. “Well Sam,” he sighed and kicked at an empty bottle, missing. “I suppose that’s one more to add to the list that don’t want you.” He shook his head and sighed again, “But buck up, on to the next, always hope around the corner, or something like that.” The he pulled at his jacket, though it was already straight, and walked on. He tucked his hands into his thick pockets, and almost didn’t notice the cold, his heavy heart taking up all his thoughts.

His trudge slowly became a sad stroll, as he allowed his thoughts to drift away from Rose and back to older, less painful wounds. There was a long list of people that had rejected Sam’s company, not only women – although he was not prone to romancing men, but even the steady camaraderie of friendship seemed to be outside of his grasp. There were few and far between that would look past the obvious to see the man beneath, but Sam never gave up trying. It just wasn’t in his nature to give up on people.

Poems to Share: Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Why do we always chase the things that hurt us?

Don’t tell anyone, but I must admit that I am a romantic at heart.  Well – I can be.  That heart has taken quite a beating over the years, and so all of my romance tends to be buried pretty deep these days, lest another girl – and my use of the miniscule is pejorative – come and trample it once more.  That being said, I am fond of love poems.  Whether they compare a woman’s hair to the sun, or her eyes to the moon and the depths of the sea; whether they compare a blush to sweet smelling roses, or wax philosophical in poetic verse about the nature of romance; poems of romance manage to tug at my heart strings.  So, in a rare moment of vulnerability – that I have no doubt I will regret when this actually appears on the blog – I want to share with you three of my favorite sonnets from Shakespeare.  One of love true, one of loving satire, and one more cognitively disposed.

Sonnet 118 – Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 130 – My Mistresses Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Sonnet 116 – Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.