Archive for the ‘Romantic Fiction’ Category

The ObjectOpus

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The ObjectOpus

“I do hope you know how beautiful you are,” he told her sincerely at a recollection of how much he treasured their conversations.

She blushed at the compliment but her modesty quickly changed to dismay when she noticed the look on his face.

“Don’t!” he said simply but sternly.

She stood on, looking perplexed and confused.  Ashamed at something she had done which had disappointed him.  ‘What did I do?‘ she wanted to ask but couldn’t find the words.  He understood anyway.

“Don’t blush.  That type of modesty is very unbecoming upon you.”

She didn’t know how to respond.  She didn’t quite understand.

“Do you understand the meaning of those words?” he asked.  “Unbecoming?  To become means to ‘come into existence’ – to ‘be’.  Unbecoming is the process of going out of existence.”  He paused a brief moment to let the words sink in.  “Listen, I understand to an extent that your blushing is an homage to me – your respect and admiration for me.  But that’s not the whole of it.  What do you have to be ashamed of?”

“Ashamed?” she uttered not realizing fully she had said the words, failing to comprehend the meaning entirely.

“Yes, ashamed.  And do you think so poorly of me that you would do it?”  She looked at him again with a look of one that had disappointed their superior.  “Oh stop,” he said bluntly but affectionately, “yes, I see by that look in your eyes that some of it is from respect.  But have I ever treated you as any less than my equal?”

“No, of course not!” she replied plaintively.

“And have you ever known me to be dishonest with you?  Or given you cause to think I tell you things I do not know are entirely true?”


“Do you think so poorly of my ability to think or to reason that I should utter something ridiculous or unfounded or that I arrived at without considering it’s accuracy fully?”

“Of course not,” she said flustered.

“Well?” he said with a slight smile.

She paused a moment and was struck with a thought.  “But… one is not supposed to think such things about one’s self.  It’s unflattering.”

“According to whom?” he asked pausing to look at her inquisitively.  “By what sense of reasoning?  By who’s creed?  By what ‘moral right’?”  He waited again to let the questions sink in.

“Have you ever known me to ask anything of you without offering you something of equal value in exchange?” he continued.

“No,” she replied.  “In fact sometimes you go overboard to make sure you don’t.”

He smiled and nodded.  “And would you ever know me to offer something to you that was worthless and that would provide you no value whatsoever?”  She shook her head in response.  “And do you think that by that reasoning, the things I give you I do so without having gotten something in return?”

She stopped to ponder this and her face lit up a little as she realized, although she had never considered it, that it must be so.  Anything else from him would be simply out of character.

“And do you suppose I would ever give you anything as a bribe in expectation of something you hadn’t offered me first?  As means of buying your attention or affection?  Or in placing a burden of guilt upon you?”  He looked directly in her eyes again and she could sense some of that same emotion of disappointment that her blush had caused a few moments before.  “That is why I was disappointed.  That you do not consider I would tell you that because ‘I’ wanted you to hear it.”

He waited a brief moment for her to consider what he had said.

She stared at the ground a moment considering the words, eventually raising her’s to his again and said as sincerely as she could muster.  “Yes, it was selfish of  you and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Thank you for the compliment.”  She didn’t blush this time but still showed some slight hints of shame, not for the praise but for her reaction to it.

“But there is more to it than that.  It also disappoints me to see how you think of yourself.  And you shouldn’t say thank you.”

“What?” she asked, somewhat astonished at the notion.

“No, you shouldn’t say it.  Not to me anyway.”  He shifted his weight a moment.  “When you go to your job, and you put in a hard week’s worth of labor for someone else, then at the week’s end you go to get your pay check – do you have a duty to thank them for paying you in exchange for the work you did?  Something they are required by your agreement to work for them to do?”

The thought had truly never occurred to her but he was right.  Her face lit up again as he spoke further.  “When dealing with someone that offers such a compliment without fully understanding the words or what they are offered to acknowledge, saying thank you may well be appropriate as they will understand that to be the typical response.  But from what you know of me, do you think that I would compliment you by saying you are beautiful simply based on your outward appearances?”

She let in a quick breath because she intrinsically knew it to be so.  She didn’t realize it but she was starting to blush again.  It quickly became apparent to her when she saw what now was an almost angry look on his face.  Her face suddenly dropped to a look of horror.  In a brief moment she saw in his eyes a look as though he wanted to slap her and at first she was frightened by the look until she realized something else she had missed.  She was ashamed for hearing him repeat the compliment.  She had felt guilt.

“You looked as though you might slap me.  I was blushing again wasn’t I?”  He nodded again, but didn’t say anything.  “I’m beginning to understand, and had you struck me I would have deserved it.”

“I wouldn’t have struck you,” he said solemnly “and you know I wouldn’t.”

But that look, from ‘him’ was worse than any blow she thought.  She understood more than she did but she still didn’t grasp fully the totality of her crime in his eyes.   Again, he could sense this and sought to enlighten her further.

“You said earlier that you are supposed to be modest.  That it is what is expected of you.  That you don’t think to yourself about whether or not you are beautiful.  Why do you suppose others do not encourage such thoughts?  Why do you think ‘modesty’ is important to their virtues?”

“And do you suppose that such a person who has no understanding of what it even is to be beautiful can ever begin to know it in themselves?  They can’t! Because it does not exist within them.  They must make it their moral virtue to deny beauty of one’s self, because to acknowledge it is to understand that it is a vacant quantity.  They must convince you that it is ‘your’ moral virtue to deny it within your self, because for you to understand that you have an abundance of it is to over shadow their lack of it and their lack of understanding of why it is even important to begin with!  They must lower you to re-affirm themselves.”

“And do you suppose when such a person gives you a compliment that it has any ‘value’ to you at all?  You should spit in the face of anyone that dares speak to you of beauty when they neither possess it or contain within them the capacity to understand it.  They don’t compliment you based on a sense of what it means, but as one would throw a coin to a beggar to receive the satisfaction of having done a favor for someone they desire to see as their ‘inferior‘.”

He said the last words with added emphasis and they rang through her ears.  ‘It is so true,‘ she thought.  She could picture the types of people he referred to in flashes of faces in her mind.  Shallow sorts with no self-esteem, who’s only means to validation was to deprive others of their worth.  Seeing the comprehension in the flash of her eyes, he spoke further.

“When you deal with one who is your lesser in ability, but should you detect that the compliment they grant you is sincere, they make it to you as an homage.  Such praise is an acknowledgment of your ability, an ability they do not currently possess.  Something you have shared with them through no requirement of your own.  Even if they were to compliment a singer after paying to see them perform or the painting of an artist after purchasing it for themselves, and especially when their lack of ability won’t even fully let them appreciate the nature of the art and skill they witness.  To those are the sort to which a ‘thank you’ is an appropriate response.  Their compliment is an admission of having met one’s superior in a given context.”

“But when you deal with one that is your equal or greater in ability, they are no less indebted to you for the sharing of your skills and talents.  Yet, they have a full understanding of what those talents mean and what the nature of your abilities truly are.  They can fully appreciate the mastery of your abilities, the power of your mind, the grace of your efforts and the integrity of their execution.  As something you ‘earned’ by your achievement.  To thank such a person as that is to negate the repayment they are offering you for what they have shared.  To render it to the same status as that beggars offering.”  He gave her a look that inspired her confidence rather than re-inspire her shame.  It was a look that she was fully capable of grasping what he was saying and that he knew she had.

“When you think of yourself, of your abilities, your accomplishments, of the things you do, you feel pride in those things do you not?” he asked her.

“I do!” she replied confidently.

“Yet you feel no pride in the beauty of all that?  You exalt the nature of your conquering the tasks you place before you, but never stop to praise yourself for the beauty required within you to even consider doing, no less actualizing them?”

She thought of the guilt she sensed and hung her head slightly.  He lifted her head again till her eyes met his.

“I tell you that I do not give you things freely.  When I say that, what I am telling you is that have earned them.  That I expect you to earn them.  And when you grant me something of value, I make it my personal duty to repay that debt.  When I give you a compliment such as that, I do so because I know it has value – because I know it to be so.  I can see the proof for myself, not just in your appearance but in your actions and character.  I do it because you have ‘earned’ hearing it.  And I do it because it pleases me for you to hear it.”

He grabbed both her hands and drew her directly in front of him and smiled a pleasant, approving smile.  “Let’s try this again.  Now… that you understand.  My dear, my friend, my equal.  I do hope you know how beautiful you are.”

With this he smiled the most wonderful of smiles that communicated so many things to her; that it was true, that she knew it, that she could not deny it, that she had earned hearing it, that he selfishly wanted her to hear it – and to know it.

She seemed to lift her entire frame up even higher to match her spirit, in proud defiance of the burden of the modesty inflicted by the envy of those that could not understand such things.  Those that had no concept of beauty.  Those that knew not the selfish pleasure of hearing those words and knowing they were true before they were spoken.  Her smile now lit across her face in that understanding as she thought a moment before responding so as to select the right words.

“To hear those words from you, it is a compliment that is the most appreciated,” she said proudly, understanding now his suggestion and avoiding the knee jerk response to say ‘thank you’ in response to something she had earned.  ‘This will take some practice,’ she thought, ‘old habits die hard.

Again he seemed to see into her thoughts and smiled yet again approvingly, not failing to notice the careful wording that fit the compliment without discounting it’s true nature.

He bowed his head slightly in a sign of admiration and respect and said quite simply, “It was my pleasure.”

She chuckled to herself at the thought that popped into her head upon hearing those words.  ‘Yes, I have no doubt that it was.’

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The ObjectOpus

Be sure to check out this and my other works of fiction on the new multi-contributor objectivist fiction showcase:
The ObjectOpus

“Do you feel like going out for a bit?” I asked her as I was shutting down my web browser and email before closing up the laptop itself.

“I don’t know, I have a couple of things to go over for work tomorrow,” said said looking up from some papers she had pulled out of her attache.

“Awww, come on,” I implored, trying to look earnest.

“What do you have in mind?” she asked.

“I wanted to go up and just check to see if the woodies are at the pond up at the chain lakes.  It shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.  What do you say?  Take a little romantic walk around the lake with me?”  I raised my one eyebrow a couple of times suggestively.  I knew she wouldn’t resist that.

“Oh… alright.  I guess I can play a little hooky from the homework tonight,” she said, trying to act like it was a hard decision.  But my asking came out more like a kid asking ‘want to come out and play?’ and her accepting was far more enthusiastic than she was letting on.

The ride to the state park wasn’t too far and I told her I needed to stop to pick up a day pass for the truck at the park office.

“It won’t take but a second,” I said pulling into the ranger station.  I ran inside quick and came back out with the pass, shoving the envelope containing the receipt into my pocket.  She looked up with a slight smile from the front seat, but I could see she was trying to covertly put away her papers from work.  She thought I hadn’t seen her smuggle the attache in behind the seat.  I pretended not to notice, hopped in and put the sticker in the corner of the window before heading up the dirt road toward the small lake.

Along the way, one of the rangers passed by in a small carry-all and waved with a small nod.  I slowed the truck a bit while I watched him turn off a small service road in the car side mirror, following him with my glance as he went down the hill a bit before eventually fading into the trees.  I slowed the car a bit more and began to look around at the canopy of leaves.

“It looks like they trees are just starting to change color!” I said and she nodded in agreement, but in fact she wasn’t quite noticing.  No doubt still running through numbers and figures from the work papers she had snuck on board.  She eventually leaned forward to peer up through the wind shield and let out a small “oooo” under her breath.  She stayed leaned forward the rest of the way to the boat launch scanning up and down through the trees.  It was obvious now that she was finally leaving the work thoughts behind.

“What’s that smell?” she asked as we got out of the car.  I had noticed it but not really thought about it so I took a few short sniffs.

“It smells like citronella,” I said and looked back down the road a second wondering to myself.  Turning back to the lake I added, “It must be coming from one of the campsites at the day use area over the hill.”   But as I scanned the ground I could see one or two of the fresh holes in the mud.

A small trail headed off to the right of the dock. I knew it to go all the way around the lake and re-intersect the road about 30 yards behind the truck.  She had already gone out onto the dock and was looking down into the water.  While she was distracted thus, I pulled out the small envelope with the receipt to check something I had seen written on the back.  It seemed cryptic but I tried to make heads or tails of it as quickly as I could.  It read as follows:

Scribbles on Envelope
Bandits seen past 3 nights … 7-ish, 50-100 yds W. of Dock
GBH – E. end – leave abt 7:45
Song still OK @ same
Extra!!  ‘Ole Whitey’ is back under log
Good Luck!!

I shoved the envelope back in my pocket and looked at my watch.  It was just past 6:30.  ‘Bandits 7-sh eh?  hmmm‘ I thought to myself seeking to make the best sense of the words.

“When do they usually come in?” she asked referring to the ducks while walking back down the dock.

I slipped my hand back out of my pocket. “Usually about 20 minutes before dusk or so,” I answered.

She looked up toward the setting sun shielding her eyes.  “How did you do that again?” she said holding her other hand out flat, making a shadow just across the bridge of her nose.

“If you hold your hand out like that at arms length, each finger is approximately 15 minutes of daylight when the sun is approaching the horizon,” I said holding out my hand as she was.  “It looks like about 5 fingers,” I added.

“So that’s an hour and fifteen minutes?” she said, half question and half her answering herself with some quick math.

“Or about an hour till we know if the woodies are coming or not.” I answered.

She turned back around to the dock, “So what should we do till then?”

“Enjoy!” I said simply, walking up behind her and wrapping my arms around her.   The air was starting to cool a little and a slight mist was just starting to show at the surface of the water.  ‘Before too long it would begin to get quite thick,’ I thought to myself before adding out loud, “Just look around, it’s beautiful!”

She nodded in agreement as we scanned the trees around the small pond.  Just a hint of colors were starting to show.  The sun, now low above the trees, was lighting the colors ablaze above the line caused by the shadow of the forest on the west side of the lake.  The elms and maples always started to show the colors first, the latter being the most dynamic in the forest.  Small poofs of brilliant reds, blazing oranges and bright yellows dotted the remaining, still green oaks and other hardwoods.

“And just smell!  I love the smell of that fall air.”  She breathed in deep and just began to notice some of it herself.  The citronella smell still lingered a bit, but well over it you could smell the damp mosses and fresh fallen leaves, the turned earth from foraging animals and the mists of the swamps.  She hugged my arm where I had it wrapped around her and twisted side to side causing us both to pivot playfully about.  She leaned her head briefly to kiss my arm.

We just stood there for a good five minutes taking in the sights and sounds.  The frogs, crickets and other creatures had started to take up song and the air was full of the noises of the marshland.  Small birds fluttered about and we tried to identify as many as we could, each taking turns pointing out a new one that came into view.  An occasional fish rose at an emerging insect on the lake and eventually I asked her if she wanted to make a few casts?

She wasn’t as avidly interested in fishing as I, but she enjoyed it considerably when she got the chance so she nodded enthusiastically.  I went around to the back of the truck to get out the small ultralight I always kept back there.  Tying on a small Rapala, I made my way back to the dock.  She motioned for me to take a few short casts but I told her I’d gotten the pole so she could fish, so I only made a cast or two into an open spot of water where only a few nibbles from some small pan fish came, barely enough to jiggle the lure in the water.

I handed her the pole and pointed to the end of a submerged falldown sticking out of the water a few yards down from the dock.  “See if you can get it to land up near that fallen tree,” I suggested.

She made a few awkward casts but wasn’t quite satisfied with them and reeled the line in almost as soon as it hit the water.  Finally she turned to me with a frustrated look holding the pole out in my direction.  Rather than grab it outright, I again wrapped my arm around her, taking the pole with my right hand after doing so and made a single cast putting the rod right back into her hands.  It landed right on the part of the log that was sticking up, out of the water.

“Smooth move ex-lax!” she said but I told her it wasn’t a problem.

“Just give it a short tug, and  it should land in the water right next to the log.”  She reeled in a little line and lightly tugged, it almost hung up for a second but then rolled off into the water.  “Now just give it…” I began to say, but I could already see the water moving around the log as I said so and before I could get out the word ‘twitch‘ the water exploded around the lure.  I quickly changed mid sentence to an exclamation of “SET IT!” instead, uncurling my arms around her and stepping back a few feet.

She gave the pole a jerk upward and it immediately bent over into a half-crescent.  Her eyes lit up and she almost lost her footing but reset herself and began the task of hauling the monster in.  The fish put on quite a show too, coming up to rise and dancing out of the water 3-4 times.  She continued working the big-mouthed leviathan in toward shore just like a champ, side stepping a time or two as he turned back toward the deadfall, allowing the drag to feed out line when he dashed away.  But after a good 4-5 minute effort, she had him almost to shore.

I had my shoes off by then and waded into the shallow water to help her get the fish up onto shore.  I grabbed it by the bottom lip and pulled it out of the water removing the hook as I did so.  She set the rod down on some short grass.

She was a little spent from the fight but was still wound up with adrenaline.  She ran right back down to the water to mock pet it in awe of her accomplishment.  Still it was obvious she didn’t want to touch it tonight. (she didn’t have a problem with touching fish, but why bother when you don’t have to? was probably her thoughts on the matter)

“Ooooo, he’s a nice one!  Aren’t you proud of me?”  and I was.  I nodded in acknowledgment!  “And look at that big white spot around his eye.  That’s unique!”  I just held in a smile to myself as I winked at the fish where she could not see.

I held him up a bit longer for her to admire her catch before laying his belly back down in the water.  “I’d put him probably about three pounds.  At least a good 22 inches.  A real nice bass indeed!”  She gleamed at the thought.

“Bye bye fishy!” she said as I motioned it into deeper water.  ‘Bye ole’ white eye’ I said half under my breath, ‘until next time…’

I looked at my watch and it now read 6:50 while I slipped back into my shoes.   She walked with me to put the fishing rod away. I washed my hands in the water back down by the dock, dried them on a towel I kept behind the seat of the truck and we clasped hands to begin the walk around the lake trail.

Not too far down the trail I knew there would be a small bench were we could sit for a few more minutes and watch the sun set.  As we approached the bench she noticed something and let go of my hand.  She eyed me suspiciously as she ran forward to pick up a single purple wildflower that had been cut cleanly at the base.  “How did you get…?”

“It wasn’t me,” I shrugged, “I’ve been with you the whole time.”   She lifted the flower to her nose to smell it.  “Someone must have forgotten it and left it here,” I stated as she did so.

We sat down on the bench and marveled like a pair of school aged kids when the fireflies started to show up all about us in the fading sunlight.  The mist was growing thicker above the water now and the shadows from the trees stretched out to all but the very tops of those above the opposite shore on the far end of the lake.  The sky was a deeper blue than before and not a single cloud was in sight.

I heard some rustling in the brush not far down the shore and pointed.  A raccoon with half a dozen little ones was coming down to the water’s edge to forage for crayfish.  She clenched onto my arm with one hand, the flower still clasped in the other.  You could just make out their purring chatters over the growing sounds of the frogs and crickets.  ‘Bandits!‘ I thought to myself.

It was about then I caught sight of the fowl, wings curled down,  coming in over the trees to land.  I again pointed and she turned to watch as a small flock of wood ducks came to land in the open water surrounded by  thick aspens and tamaracks down at the swampy back corner of the lake.

“Is that them?” she inquired.

“Yup!” I said, standing up again.  It would have been nice to sit longer, but I knew the walk around the small pond would still take a good 30 minutes if all went well.  “If we can remain stealthy maybe we can get up close enough to see them.”

“Do you think they might sing for us?” she asked excitedly, rising up herself and being careful not to bend her wildflower.

“We can hope so,” I said holding out my hand again.  She moved the blossom’s stem to her other hand and took hold of the outstretched hand in hers as we again resumed the walk down the lakeshore path.  Not too far ahead, I knew the trail would turn away from the lake for a short distance and I craned my neck a bit to see.  Sure enough, the mist was almost pouring over the edge of the lake down into the shallow alley and a small beam of sun was breaking through an opening in the trees to the left, lighting up a small area in the middle.

As we came down the turn, the both of us ended up emitting a slight ‘ooooo’ this time.  The mist was beginning to collect in small droplets throughout the small ravine on every wild plant, low hung limb and small alder bush.  The beams of sun were almost solid lines pouring down through the narrow opening in the trees and the glow from where they struck the ground lit up every little droplet with bright reds and yellows.  They looked like little crystalline jewels everywhere they precariously hung.

We both marveled again like little children at the wonder of it all, walking along slowly to be sure as to take it all in.  The mist parted way about our feet as we occasionally snuggled close to one another along the way.  The trail turned back up the slight grade toward the alders and tamaracks at the back end of the pond.  I pulled my finger to my lips in a gesture to say ‘be as quiet as you can.’

As I did so, a sound of crunching leaves erupted in the small alders to the left and we looked up to see a mother deer and her yearling fawn running across the trail in front of us.  They hadn’t detected us but I could see the mother’s tail twitching as though she had caught wind of something out of sorts.  I felt the pressure again squeezing on my arm tighter, almost crushing the flower as a hand upon my cheek pulled my face down to receive another a gentle kiss.

We again continued slowly uphill  out of the mist filled swale as we watched the two deer disappear further down the ravine into the forest. I guessed the time to probably be somewhere around 7:30 now or shortly after.

Before we breached the small rise, a new sound began to ring out over that of the crickets and chirping frogs.  It was the melancholy song of the wood duck.  I felt her squeeze at me tightly now almost like a kid at Christmas time and could sense her all but bouncing up and down with her pent up excitement.

“It’s so pretty!” she said under her breath.  “Even prettier than you described it!  And so sad too!”  I turned to see her making a wounded puppy face as I put my finger to my lips again to keep her voice low.

As we tip-toed up the trail, suddenly another whistle cried out it’s sad song just over the edge of the water.  In the darkening light of the sunbeams now fading to but a sliver in the trees behind us, we could just make out a pair of wood ducks weaving in and out of the small wetland brush covering shallow water.  I could feel her trembling with excitement now, her gentle embrace on my arm ever increasing just the slightest any time they one of the fowl let out their sad song.

I spied out across the lake, and right on queue I could see a large bird stretching out it’s wings on the far end.  I crouched down a bit and gestured for her to do so also, then pointed so she could see it too.  The great blue heron (GBH) began to flap and slowly lifted it’s massive wingspan up off the water.  As luck turned out, it was coming right toward us and eventually passed right over head as it flew off above the trees.  I could hear the muted sound of an elongated exhale and wondered if it was because she had forgotten to breath as the magnificent bird flew by.

The moon was just starting to appear above the lower line of trees back near where the truck was parked and it’s long reflection stretched out through the misty fog on the water.  It’s blue-white light slowly replacing the fading red glow from the setting sun to the west.  We continued to walk around the trail, quickening our pace as the mosquitoes began to make their presence known.

Before too long we had made our way back to the dock and the truck and we stood one last moment looking out at the now darkened sky full of millions of sparkling white stars. An owl somewhere out in the darkened trees let out it’s “who-cooks-for-you!” hooting.

She looked to me inquisitively to which I replied simply.  “Barred owl!”  She nodded in a modest thank you, smiled and again kissed my lips.  “Let’s get before the bugs get us!” I said finally, but not before briefly savoring the taste of her lips on mine.

She squeezed my arm one last time, still clinging to her purple wildflower and nodded.  Her intense and ever deep-dark eyes reflected the light of the moon now higher above the trees behind the truck.

I mentioned that I wanted to stop into the ranger station again real quick  and in response she openly dug out her attache again, turning on the small map light on her side.  ‘Duty calls,’ I thought.

The small green carry-all had just pulled up to the station as I turned the truck into the driveway and I waved to Steve as he got out of it.   He opened the door for me to the ranger station as I walked up.

“How did it go?” he asked.

“Good!” I said nodding and smiling.

Closing the door behind us, he put a hand on my shoulder with a half chuckle.  “Those damn woodies made it hard on me.  You owe me,” he patted my shoulder.  “They went right down to the third wet spot just like you said they would, but I had no choice except to come in from that side.  They had me working up at the camp grounds just before you got here.”

I smiled and re-assured him it was quite alright.  “I had to circle around the other trail and get out on foot to get them to head back up to where you two were at without spooking them away entirely.  So they sang on queue I take it?”  I nodded an affirmative, turning now to Marie.

“Was it your idea to bring the tiki lanterns up there Marie?”  She blushed and nodded.  “The whole damn area smelled like citronella!”

“Oh my!” she said holding a hand to her lips.  “I hope it wasn’t too bad!  I didn’t want you two to get eaten alive by the mosquitoes up there.”

“Nah,” I said, “I just said it was probably coming from the day-campers over the hill.”

“Good thinking!” she responded.

“Oh, and Steve… thanks for the tip.  She really got a kick out of hauling in ole white eye!  And the raccoons even showed up too!  I owe you an extra donut on opening day.”

“With sprinkles?” Steve asked slyly.

“Done!” I said.

“But walnuts if you can get them, no peanuts.”  I just rolled my eyes.  “Oh, and by the way… did that momma dear and her fawn make it up to you?”

“That was your doing too?” I asked amazed.

“Well I saw them when I was walking up to the third pond.  I was already on the back trail so I just followed it around a bit in hopes I could kick them up your way as well.”

“Definitely walnuts then!” I said returning his pat on the shoulder before I turned back to Marie.

“And I suppose it was it  your idea to put the flower on the bench Marie?” I asked.

“Flower?  What flower?” she said trying to hide a self-satisfied smile.

“Fine, if that’s how you want to play it.  But try not to over do it if there’s ever a ‘next time‘, ok?”  Marie had turned away but I could sense she was again blushing a bit.  “But if it’s any consolation, she absolutely adores it.”  Her blush faded and I could see her raise her shoulders a bit proudly, no doubt in a gesture of ‘I told you so!’

“And let Mark know that the extra emails on the dew point were quite helpful.  His tip on the swale was just like he said.  Jewels on everything.”

“Will do!” said Marie, waving a hand behind her head and pretending to be working on something.  Likely hiding her smugness still.

“We were afraid you were going to miss the window on the sun shining down through that opening in the treetops out there!” added Steve.

“Well I had to wait for the wind to be coming out of the north west for the mist to pour down just right didn’t I?  That’s what Mark said at least. Anyway, I have to get.  Be sure to let him know I’ll have his special coffee ready opening day too.   I owe all you guys, big time!  Thanks a bunch!”

We waved our goodbyes as I closed the door to the ranger station behind me.  I glanced briefly around the side of the building and thought I could make out among the wildflowers planted there, a single cut-off stem in the faint glow from the patio light around the back.

Walking back to the car, I made a mental note to myself to delete the extra emails from Mark off my laptop just in case and to clear my recent browser history and the handful of new bookmarks on moon phases, sunrise/sunset schedules and migratory bird observations.  As I climbed back into the car, despite having her work out on her lap I could tell in the dim glow from the downcast map light that she was just sitting there quietly sniffing her flower.

“Thank you for talking me into coming.  It was absolutely magical!”  She put her flower down for a second to lean over to give me another kiss.  “And I thought you said that magic doesn’t ‘just happen’?”  She eyed me a moment suspiciously but affectionately.

“What?” I said, “You say that as though I had something to do with all those things happening tonight?”  I thought briefly to myself,  ‘magic doesn’t just happen, but if you know of seemingly magical things that happen on their own, you can predict them, react to them, and even subtly influence them a bit in your favor.’  On the outside my poker face held.

I rejoindered with, “What was it you said to me once?  ‘I don’t have powers over the vocabulary of singing birds’?”

She continued to look at me both affectionately and half-suspicious before saying quietly, “True, but if there was some way to get them to sing in their own words, you no doubt would be the one to figure out how to get them to do it.”

I struggled to maintain my poker face saying simply, “Yeah, I guess — for you I probably would.”

I smiled sweetly and genuinely and gave her one last kiss before pulling back out onto the road.  She resigned to setting her work aside, turned off the maplight and continued to smell her flower all the way home.

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The ObjectOpus

Be sure to check out this and my other works of fiction on the new multi-contributor objectivist fiction showcase:
The ObjectOpus

Wouldn’t you know it?  I was minding my own business reading a book when she came in and sat down.  I got a feeling that something was up but continued reading and pretended not to notice.  She didn’t go out of her way to get my attention, but something was obviously on her mind.

Eventually, I casually put the book down and looked at her and smiled, but her expression didn’t change.  I held my smile through a pregnant pause but after a few more moments I ventured into dangerous territory by asking nonchalantly, “What’s up?”

She let out a muted sigh and said simply, “Oh nothing.” She sighed again and said not so much to me but to the room in general, “I just have a lot on my mind.”

I had a feeling I hadn’t yet dodged the bullet, but I reached over and gave her a re-assuring squeeze on the wrist, smiling again and pretended to resume reading my book.

A few more seconds went by and she dropped her stare off into the room and I could perceive that she was again looking at me.  Then she hit me with it.

“Why do you love me?”

I knew she was not the type to be insecure, and all of us can probably use some reminders from time to time, but wow!  What a trap question!  She wasn’t the sort to set traps for me either, so she must have been amidst some heady thoughts to lay that one at my feet.

I set the book down and thought for a second.  She also wasn’t the type to be satisfied with a bunch of trite, small examples such as comments on her looks or specifics about her personality.  She would be looking for something more profound.  I decided to quote from Ayn Rand, knowing she’d be familiar with both the quote and the sentiment.

“[Love is a] response to [one’s] highest values in the person of another”

She recognized the citation immediately but wasn’t satisfied. “Yes, I understand that much.  And I agree, but I don’t mean in someone else’s words.  Why do ‘you‘ love ‘me‘?”

Ugh, again bullet not dodged.  I scrambled through thoughts and possible words but decided to stick with that sentiment.  “Because you represent the kind of person I would like to spend my time with.  And frankly, because I seem to be the type of person you like to spend time with.”

“So,” she pondered a moment, “you’re saying that a big part of why you love me is because I love you?”

“Well, that’s part of it, yes.  I wouldn’t much want to spend a lot of time around someone that didn’t feel about me as I did them.”

She nodded to herself and again stared off into space.  I knew she wasn’t quite yet satisfied so I too stared off across the room in thought.  Then I saw the picture and a thought hit me.

“There!!!!” I exclaimed, standing up and pointing at the same time.  I did it so suddenly, it startled her in my doing so.

“What?” she said snapping out of her thoughts looking around frantically.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you, but there is a great example.”  I pointed to the picture.  She looked at the picture then again at me with a puzzled look.  “Do you remember what I said when I took that picture?”

“Of course, you said it reminded you of me,” she answered.

“But what did I say just before that?  Do you remember?”  She thought a moment but couldn’t seem to recall.  “First I pondered about the guys in the boat.  I said ‘they have no idea how they are framed right now – the clouds, the birds, the setting moon.  Sure they might see and revel in their own thoughts as to each, but they have no perception as to how we see them – all of them together – here from the beach.  Picture perfect.‘”  She nodded remembering.  “Then I mused that ‘had we been here but five minutes later we would have never seen it or gotten the picture.‘  Remember?”

“Yes, I remember.  You always are a philosophical sap.”  Considering the current situation I thought to myself ‘And you aren’t?’ but decided it would be best not to say it.

“Don’t you see?” I asked imploringly.  “It was our perspective on the beach that let us see them that way.  Well that’s how I see you all the time.  It reminds me of you because of where I stand in relation to you. Because of the things we share in common and because of the ways I understand (and appreciate) how you are different. I see you the same way I see that boat and those clouds and that moon – all together, picture perfect!”

She lit up for a moment delighted at that though and she even showed the hint of a blush.  But I could still see the gears churning in her head.  She sat back again in the chair rolling something over before resuming.

“But…. if I had come along five minutes later – or you – you might not have seen me that way and we might not be together?”

“I’m not saying that, but who knows?  We could speculate all day long.” I said, knowing that I’d just lost a lot of the ground I had just gained.

“So it’s a Minchin thing isn’t it?” she said looking right at me, but I could detect a slight twinkle in her eye now.  This all wasn’t necessarily a test, she was just interested in hearing my responses.  I wasn’t fully off the hook, but at least some of her motivation for the questions was mischievous – outside of simply looking for reassurances.

I decided to play dumb.  “Minchin?” I asked.

“You know, that song you like by Tim Minchin.  ‘If I didn’t have you, I really think that I would have somebody else’?”

I knew what she meant but was playing along now.  We’d discussed that song before, and although she didn’t appreciate it as much as I did, I was satisfied she at least understood it.

“It’s more complicated than that.  Remember, he also says in that song that ‘the connection is strengthened, the affection grows over time’.

She seemed to be mulling those things over.  I thought I caught a faint hint of a smile, almost as a sign of ‘you’re doing better than a I thought you might‘ with that faint glimmer in her eye, but I wasn’t quite sure.  So I walked over to the picture.

“OK, imagine – for example – that I happened upon this sailboat with my camera.  And I liked taking pictures of sailboats with my camera and of seascapes with birds and moonlight or sunsets.  Then along comes this boat.  And it just so happens that this boat likes to have it’s  picture taken.  As luck would have it the boat crosses under the moon catching my attention.  Serendipity!  And I just happen to have my camera. Blind luck!   And the boat sees me taking it’s picture and comes to shore to see what I took.  Correlation!  And the boat likes the picture, and I like the picture.  Mutual satisfaction!  So rather than my going back home and the boat sailing off to sea, we decide to stay together a while, the boat sailing along the shore, me walking along taking it’s picture, both of us enjoying the pictures I take (of the boat sailing on the sea).  We’re both doing what we want to do and enjoy doing, but for our mutual benefits and changing our plans to that end.”  I was rambling now and got a bit sidetracked, but she wasn’t giving me any indicators that she was getting the point I was making.

She just stared a moment at the picture then pondered out loud, “Then, you think at some point I’ll just sail off and leave you on the shore when I get bored of having my picture taken?  Is that it?”

Now she was being outright mischievous.  She was satisfied a while ago and probably only wanted to see me squirm a little, but now she was just looking to see what other tidbits of ‘great wisdom’ on the subject of ‘us‘ and ‘love‘ she could squeeze out through sheer brutal teasing.

“Now!  I did not say that!  Sticking with the analogy – you like the ‘pictures‘ I take of you.  Besides, I could always go home with my camera too you know!”

“You wouldn’t dare!” she said, grinning and standing up to come along side me to look at the picture.

I looked at her, my eyes now full of the passion I feel for her.  “It’s not just that you are here with me, but that you have been here with me and I’m reasonably secure that if I continue to treat you with respect and affection (and vice versa) you will be here (and I with you) for the unforeseeable future.”

“You damn well better treat me with respect… and affection!” she said still half-teasing and kissed me on the cheek.  Then she added, “You really see me like that all the time?” first looking at the picture then looking up into my eyes.

“Yes.” I said.

“Well, sticking with your metaphor then… thank you for taking my picture.” she said, her eyes now full of love.

“Thank you for staying near shore,” I responded.

be sure to check out some of my other ‘romantic fiction‘ shorts:

A Beautiful Kind of Plain

Coffee and a Kiss

Here I am, This is All You Get!

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The ObjectOpus

Be sure to check out this and my other works of fiction on the new multi-contributor objectivist fiction showcase:
The ObjectOpus

They had dated a few times, although she was beginning to wonder if he was really ‘interested’ in her.  After all, they hadn’t even yet had their first kiss.

Sure, he had hinted as much.  The subject of their admiration for one another had been raised a couple of times and the feeling seemed mutual.  Was he simply an ‘old style gentlemen’?  Maybe he was just a prude.  Perhaps he was just ‘not that into her’.

These thoughts ran through her mind although they walked through town discussing other things.  Philosophy, science, even mundane topics of day to day.  They were discussing psychology as they passed a restaurant.

The smells of the cooking food wafted out into the street and she stopped a moment to take them in.  Sensing his wonderment as to her sudden stop she said simply, “Smells good!”

“See, there’s a great example,” he said keeping on his original train of thought.  “They have linked the sense of smell to associative memory.  Have you ever noticed how certain smells can trigger a far off memory?”

As he spoke she again remembered why she liked him, his mind ever inquisitive and pondering.  Again she recalled how she yearned for something more.

Suddenly his composure changed a little and he broke off what he was saying.  ‘Oh dear,’ she thought, ‘I hope my discontent didn’t show on my face.’

Then something seemed to pull his attention away just as quickly and he said simply, “Ooo a Starbucks!  Let’s grab a coffee.”

He grabbed her hand, and in his occasionally boyish fashion led her into the coffee shop.

“What kind of coffee do you normally drink?” he asked, “My treat!”

“A mocha latte,” she said rather plainly still wondering to herself if she might be able to broach the subject that had begun to trouble her mind.  He paid the teller and was about to pick up the two coffees when he stopped and motioned her to the side of the counter.

“Let’s try a little experiment,” he said with almost a mischievous  smile.  “Close your eyes!”

She obeyed, assuming he was up to his typical yet witty hijinx.  She could hear him opening the lid to one of the cups.

“This is what you normally order right?  This wouldn’t work as well if it wasn’t.  Keep your eyes closed now!”  She nodded affirmation, and he carefully raised her coffee to below her nose.  “OK, take a good long sniff.”

She breathed in the smell, the rich coffee odor mingled with chocolate and cream.  She hadn’t really been craving coffee but the smell now made her yearn for a sip.

“OK,” he said lowering the cup, quickly following with “but keep your eyes closed!”   His voice almost seemed to contain a small hint of urgency.  Before she could ponder it further she felt his body move closer to hers.  Cupping her cheek with his hand, she felt his warm lips slowly press against hers.  The feeling it provoked was far better than any fulfillment of the sudden urge for coffee.  Her concerns about his interest in her all washed away in that touch of their lips.

The kiss seemed to go on and on although it probably only lasted a few seconds.  Rushes of emotions and satisfaction ran through her as her mind swam taking it in.  She stood dazed as the moment concluded, his hand caressing the side of her chin as he slowly moved his lips away, but not his body.  She could sense he was still close and could feel his warm breath on her cheeks.

“OK, now open your eyes,” he said finally.

She now found him to be very close, his eyes looking quite affectionately into her own.  Fumbling for something to say, all she could come up with was “What was that for?” and regretted having said it as soon as the words came out.  He did not seem discouraged and simply resumed his mischievous smile.

“Well, based on what we were talking about, I see it like this.  I’ve wanted for some time to kiss you but I kept waiting for just the right moment.  Then we got to talking about psychology and smells and memory.  This way, any time you want to remember our first kiss, you can order a cup of your favorite coffee to help you remember!”  He still didn’t loose his impish smile as he settled back to the counter replaced the lid to her cup, handing it to her before taking a sip from his own.

“And,” he continued, “there is another part that didn’t fail to occur to me either.  A tad selfish really.  It brings me pleasure to think that now, if you are at work tomorrow or next week or whenever, and happen to order a mocha – you might suddenly smile and no one else will know why.”

be sure to check out some of my other ‘romantic fiction‘ shorts:

Here I am, this is all you get!

A Beautiful Kind of Plain

Love, Photography and Sailboats *** NEW!!! ***

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The ObjectOpus

Be sure to check out this and my other works of fiction on the new multi-contributor objectivist fiction showcase:
The ObjectOpus

When she’s around the stars become brighter,
A bird somewhere sings her name in song.
She makes me see the world as magic,
And my heart wants to sing along…

I paused briefly from writing to look at her across the room.  She was busy with something, I smiled and went back to writing.  My glance must have caught her eye for I could see her looking up at me now.  My heart was all warm with the thoughts going through my head.  To write the words.  ‘what a romantic fool am I?’ I thought to myself, sure that she would be pleased.


I turned to look and she had most certainly stopped whatever she was doing and was looking right at me now.  ‘She must see the love in my eyes, yet somehow she does not look pleased,’ I thought.

“You’re doing it again aren’t  you?”

She slid her chair closer but didn’t try to look at the paper.  She saw the confused look in my face.  And her disappointed look faded just a little as she smiled.  But a smile of sweet pity like one might expect from someone finding a lost puppy.

“Is it a song?  Or perhaps a poem?” she asked.

My beaming lovestruck look must have faded a touch at my being ‘discovered’.  “A poem.” I stammered.

“mmm hmm,” she said silently almost as if to herself.  “And by the look on your face I’d guess it’s a poem about rainbows and dancing fairies, braiding my hair and following me down streets of gold?”

I must have blushed, but she had seen through me before I could even speak a word.  She leaned forward to look at the paper now and I felt like a wounded child.

“Oh dear one,” she said looking up and cupped my cheek.  “Don’t be sad and please don’t be hurt.  It’s just not what I desire from you.”

She pushed her chair back a bit and crossed her arms and looked up briefly as she searched for what to say next.  Then just as suddenly as the whole affair began she stood up and threw her arms out to her sides.

“Take a good long look at me!  Look me up and down.”  I obeyed and she must have caught at least the slightest glint in my eye even through my scolded stance. “See, that’s what I’m talking about.  Now… how can I make you understand this…”  She looked up again crossing her one arm across her chest and tapped at her chin with the hand of the other, “… without wounding you further,” then she continued as though to herself but as much for my benefit, “than you already think you are that is.”

She resumed her arms out again, “This will have to work I guess.  Look me over again.  Look me all over.”  Pausing again, she asked “Do you not like what you see?”

“I very much like what I see.” I answered without hesitation.

“Very well, then tell me – is there anything about me  you don’t like?  Be honest now, there must be something.  You need not tell me what it is, a simple yes or no will suffice.”

I held my tongue and she repeated.  “Oh come now, I’m not trying to trick you with this question.  I want you to be honest.  Think not just of how you see me in this moment, as you venture to write that poem.  Think of me in totality.  There is no doubt some thing, perhaps many things, that bother you in some way?  Yes? No?”

“Well, of course, I guess?” I answered hesitantly.

“You guess?”

I sighed.  “Of course there is, but…”

“Hold that thought,” she cut me off before I could qualify that statement. “I will be curious to know where you are going with it but first to my point.  But – no doubt you were about to say that there are many many things you like about me.”

“Exactly!” I said proudly.

“Do any of them involve stars actually glowing brighter?” she asked in earnest.

The question caught me completely off guard.  I didn’t know quite what to say but she continued.  “And have you ever really heard a bird singing my name?”

She put a hand aside my head now and started to stroke my hair.  Without even realizing I was saying it I whispered softly, “It’s things like that I like.”

“What’s that?” she inquired putting a hand under my chin to raised my down turned eyes up to her.  “Oh poor love, you think I am angry with you.  No no no, please hear me out.  Yes, it’s things like this that you like.  Stay with me here, I have a point to this.”

She pulled her hand away from my hair stroking my cheek as she stepped back to her arms out position as before, again saying,  “Take a good long look at me up and down.  Here I am, this is all you get! No magic fairies, no power over the stars, no mystical influence over the vocabulary of singing birds.”

Now I was just staring at her completely perplexed not quite knowing where she was going with this.

“Don’t you see?  You look at me with the eyes of a mystified romanticist like this, and you imagine me holding all these powers over heaven and earth and bestowed with all sorts of abilities that no woman can possibly have.  And…”

She drew in a long deep breath.  “And if you imagine me enough times that way, how will you ever expect me to live up to the image your ‘heart’ has created for you?  All I will be able to do is to disappoint you when I don’t live up to the dreams you weave about me!”

“I love you for how it makes me feel when ‘your’ voice speaks my name,” she continued.  “Because there is no one at present I would rather hear saying it.  I love you for the way you look at me when I smile.  I dearly hope that look is not due to you holding some notion that my smile can cure cancer.  I hope that is simply because you love to see me smile.”

“I do!” I answered.

“I’m glad for it!” she replied, “So then why don’t you write of that?  Or of how my hand feels when I stroke your hair?  I don’t want you to love me for what you wish me to be or what you imagine me to be.  I want you to love me for who and what I am.”

With that she stroked my hair again and picked up the pencil that I had unknowingly dropped the first time she touched my head.  I must have lit up at her touch because she smiled even more.  I understood.

She kissed my forehead and walked back across to her seat to resume her work. I scratched across my previous words on the page and began writing again:

The touch of her hand makes my worries seem lighter,
She makes me want to sing the words of a good song.
She shares the world with me through her eyes,
And she stands by me even when I do wrong…

I glanced up at her again.   She didn’t turn her head this time, but even so, she somehow read right through me.  I could just make out the glint of a smile from around her flowing hair.

“I love you! Now keep writing you fool.  I do so want to read it when you are done.” she said almost laughing.  So I resumed my work in earnest – and with realistic honesty this time.

(I was inspired to write this fictional romantic moment after a daydreaming session.  I was pondering the notion of what kind of a person I might be wanting to spend my time with and getting in a sappy romantic mood imagining me writing a love poem for the kind of a girl I would care about.  When my own daydream surprised me when the girl I imagined interrupted my foolish fantasy-making on the paper to bring me back down to reality to make me realize that what I want to love is someone ‘real’ for ‘real’ reasons.)

be sure to check out some of my other ‘romantic fiction‘ shorts:

A Beautiful Kind of Plain

Coffee and a Kiss

Love, Photography and Sailboats *** NEW!!! ***

Read Full Post »

The ObjectOpus

Be sure to check out this and my other works of fiction on the new multi-contributor objectivist fiction showcase:
The ObjectOpus


(inspired by a dream I had two nights ago – written for no one in particular, that is unless you happened to have the same dream….)


“How do I look dear?” she asks sincere.

A poem simultaneously pops in my head:

Not too flashy, not to bold,
not quite vulgar, but not too old.
Not all that proper, but not carefree.
If you want my opinion it’s “just right” to me.

No – not a fashion model, you’re not a movie star.
For you to be gorgeous,  you don’t have to go that far.
Others do as they will, no matter how high they set the bar,
In my eyes you are perfect, just the way you are!

Just look at me, I’m no adonis.
Not Carey Grant or John Wayne.
The fact you chose ‘me’, to be honest,
I find difficult to explain.

It’s what’s inside you that I find stunning,
finding words to convey it would be in vane.
The pure simple truth of it, to me –
You are the most beautiful kind of plain!

I say simply, “You look quite plain my love,” and she smiles and gives me a kiss. Where some may find such a compliment droll, she knows from me it is highest praise.

(yes, I think there is such a thing as ‘too much’ when it comes to physical attractiveness and the process of augmenting it or trying to achieve it.  And yes, I see ‘too attractive’ as a ‘bad’ thing.  Truth be told, ‘my’ dreamgirl is kind of plain)

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