Sasha wanted to be granted with only one wish. (3rdTwisted Tales)
THIRD PLACE in the Twisted Tales Contest by Arakun the Twisted Raccoon , March 2011
Bruce. Bruce Calloway. Sasha Summers hadn’t quite forgotten him even after all those six long years. He was always there, present, in secret spaces inside her heart – his face, his silly smile, a gesture, a sigh, right there in front of her eyes and causing both deep pain and resentment. Yet she knew that her love was still unconditional, endless. She wanted him back. He was the love of her life. He was her life her world, forever.
Bruce had gone unexpectedly. He had just… left, taking his books, his suitcase and his menthol scented shaving cream – only leaving behind a used, plastic, blue razor on top of her small white sink. And that was exactly how she had felt when she arrived home that Friday evening – used, thrown away, trashed in a garbage can. Ah the hurt --- cutting like sharp blades, ripping her poor heart in her small and empty bathroom. How could pain hurt so deep in ones chest, that way? She was sure that people noticed it when she walked in the sidewalks, when she was at work or even when she was inside the club’s swimming pool. She could feel the chlorine and the water flowing right through her bleeding, hollow chest; she could see her blood staining the clean, blue pool with her loveless red blood. She still suffered, she still ached for Bruce, no matter what, wherever he was and worse --- whomever he was with. What was it about love that you couldn’t get rid of it when you didn’t want it any longer? It just lingered there – unwanted. Was love the only uncontrollable feeling in this whole universe? What about hate? Was it stronger? But she didn’t, couldn’t hate Bruce, even after what he had done to her. He had abandoned her and vanished in thin air… leaving a note, scribbled on a piece of paper, left on the kitchen’s counter: “Dear Sasha, I have to go. I don’t love you the way you love me… besides, your love is suffocating. I can’t do this. Sorry. Please, don’t hate me. Goodbye forever. Bruce.”
Nonetheless, her love for him was still… unconditional. Why? Maybe she just forgot what she was worth… but Sasha could deal with stress and she could carry heavy burdens. She could smile when she felt like screaming and she could sing when she felt like crying; she cried when she was happy and laughed when she was lonely and afraid of her solitude. She was afraid she’d never ever forget him and move on. What was wrong with her? She was still… young but she had noticed some wrinkles around her mouth and some others near the corner of her eyes – a shining alarm of years and time.
She was not one of those large breasted, small-minded cheerleaders back from school. She was fast-tracking and wanted her life to make sense. Simple enough, right? Could it still happen? Could she move on? Well, maybe… but there was still somebody… somebody she still cared about enough to make some dire changes in her life. Dreamless dreams now – but she had to be selective and forget those memories of the sentimental stuff and make her restless life happen again – without him. Six years – too much, right? When was enough – enough? She needed to… move on. Oh Bruce, where are you?
Sasha went to her bathroom. She combed her long, black hair and looked at her eyes, which were deep brown, beautiful, and intelligent. She was tall, slender and strong. She hand long fingers and long legs – everything in her was… long – sometimes irritating but she often handled that well. She always liked to dress in the same manner – formally, in a dark skirt and white blouse that looked old but well made. A blue-and-lavender silk scarf carefully knot under her long chin. Bruce had given her that blue-and-lavender silk scarf on her birthday. Yes, he, her Bruce, the one that left her. Oh she had loved him, adored him dearly. She had loved his deep, blue needy eyes. She had loved the way he put his big hands on her shoulders until her breathing went back to the same, soft rhythm as before they had made love or the way he pressed his head with his soft, blond hair into the crook of her arm, pretending to be asleep and then, pressing her lips in long, passionate kisses. His firm body over hers, needy. He was so handsome and had a cute way of twisting his nose, when he was nervous or when something bothered him. She was so proud when he held her hand as they walked in the park, on Sundays. She noticed the women’s eyes, gazing at him, from the distance, envious – and the way he never looked back at them, only at her. Sometimes, only sometimes, she would become really mad at him when he didn’t call her during the day or when he mysteriously disappeared for hours. He would become upset, telling her he needed his “space” and time for himself. She had to understand him better. She didn't. She had never listened. She should have. Oh Bruce, why didn’t you shake my shoulders until my mind came to senses and maybe you would have stayed with me. Oh Bruce, where are you? He always looked as if he was in deep thought, under the covers, early in the mornings. It was as if he was wishing to be somewhere else. Why hadn’t she noticed the signs? When did his love end? Does love… end? Or, does it become something heartfelt; a memory of one’s past? She wanted to be back with Bruce, no matter what. Why hadn’t he given her a second chance – a chance to change?
On a dark, rainy Sunday morning, Sasha was reading the local newspaper in her small apartment. While drinking her hot chocolate and eating croissants, she suddenly came across a small message posted in the classifieds, which read:
St. Jude’s Novena
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus, be adored,
Glorified, Loved and Preserved throughout
The world, now and forever. Sacred Heart
Of Jesus, Please pray for me. Saint Jude the
Worker of Miracles, Please pray for me. My
Saint Jude, Helper of the Hopeless, Please
Pray for me, and grant this favor I now ask:
(State your request once).
Thank you Saint Jude for favors granted. Amen.
(Say the prayer 9 times a day for 9 days. It has never, ever been known to fail.
It is powerful. Anything you want. It happens.
Publication must be promised.
A St. Jude’s thankful grantee – My boyfriend finally proposed - CD)
Oh my God! That’s it! That’s the answer she needed. A sign from heaven. She’d do just this, exactly this. A Novena. She ran to her room. She looked at her parent’s picture on their wedding day that she kept on her dresser, next to her jewelry box. Her mother had told her how she had finally married her father – even if they had divorced years later. She had done a Novena! The Saints had granted her wish, giving her a wonderful husband that she had hand-picked in college. Her favor had been granted. They looked so happy in that picture, that lovely wedding picture taken years and years ago. She saw her mother’s proud figure and her father’s… somewhat distant, eerie look. She often wondered why her father had always been so… distant, quiet, as if he didn’t belong there. Well… A Novena. Yes. She’d do a Novena to get Bruce back. He’d come back, yes he would. He’d come back and stay forever. They... would listen to her prayers. Her mother always told her that Novenas had more of a sense of urgency and neediness – a special prayer to obtain special graces, to implore special favors, to make special petitions, and hers was special because it was all about… love and need; love and happiness.
She sat on her chaise longue and looked at Bruce's photograph and stared at his distant blue eyes, searched for his smile but only found a cold, expressionless stare back. That picture was taken a few days before he had decided, on his very own, to leave her in the middle of her life. She licked her thin lips, held the message in front of her with one hand and with the other, held Bruce’s photograph firmly to her broad chest. She read the Novena out loud --- for the whole world to acknowledge, to see that she was fighting for a lost cause, a lost love. He would come back to her, no matter what. She could already feel the power of the words echoing in the silence of her living room and she got goose bumps with emotion, her upper lips wet with tension and her heart was beating faster than it had ever beaten before. Her eyes were wet with tears and she could already feel her prayers summoning him wherever he was – he would hear her; the Angels and the Saints would hear her and feel sorry for her – grant her wish, it was only one and so simple, so easy to grant, in the name of love!
Sasha prayed the Novena every day, 9 times, at 9 am for 9 days in a row, faithfully, with all her heart and soul. She never missed a day. She truly believed in the Novena’s power and faithfully became a believer of the mysterious energies of prayers and its spiritual secret formulas. Her mother had once told her in church: “Seven days without prayer, makes one weak… of the soul, then of the mind, then of life itself. We have to believe in what we pray, not just 'mouth' words.” Why had she forgotten these things? Why do we forget to feed our souls? Why do we forget the spiritual side in us while living blindly without direction, multitudes and miles away in our “busy” life? And so, Sasha prayed. She prayed for her lost, gone love even knowing that prayer really should be our first rather than our last resort.
Sasha’s energy and spirit lifted. Her smile was back to her face and she even dared wear a red pair of shoes she had once bought out of the blue, kept in her closet and that she hoped to wear on her engagement day – which unfortunately never happened. She remembered tossing the red pair of shoes inside her closet, frustrated. She felt an insistently feeling of hope now, of something new, of peace and… of joy. Was this the result of prayer? It was as if she had eaten a bar of chocolate, she felt plentiful and soothed, mind and body. She thought that nothing seemed to block or stop the effects of a well done prayer.
Did peoples’ prayers and their good vibrations really go up to the spiritual planes in waves of energy and love and consequently, come right back to you in the shape of restoration and blessings? Again, she remembered her mother’s wise words: “When we pray we must remember that we are not sticking a coin in the vending machine of prayer, pop the button and hope we get the request granted the very next day. It may not even happen, but we must have faith that it may happen nonetheless.” So Sasha decided that she would hope for the better. What else did she have to do but wait?
Two weeks later, the doorbell rang. She opened it, irritated, as she was watching her favorite program on TV, Desperate Housewives. She was wearing her old, pink robe, her favorite pink slippers and had just spread over her face an anti-wrinkle avocado and honey skin regeneration and rejuvenation mask. Her hair was tied up behind her long neck and she knew that she really looked… horrible, scaring "the living daylights" out of anybody knocking on her door. Itinerant vendors for sure. It happened every Saturday morning. Why were they so insisting? She opened the front door a tiny bit, impatient. She saw a strange looking man holding some books on his left hand.
“I’m sorry. No soliciting.” She slammed the door shut.
The doorbell rang again, insistently. This time, without opening the door she said loudly:
"No soliciting. Please do not disturb."
After a few seconds, a nervous voice asked:
She stopped halfway down the hall, returned and opened the door abruptly.
"Sasha Marlowe? Is it you?”
“Who are you?”
“I must ask you to leave right now. I don't know you. How do you know my name?”
“Sasha, it’s me, Bruce.”
“What? Who? What on earth are you talking about?”
“It’s me Sasha! Bruce. Bruce Calloway.”
“No, it can’t be! You’re not Bruce!”
"Yes, it is. It's me - your Bruce, baby! I'm back! I... I had to come back!"
She just stood there, speechless, in her long pink robe and with her green mask on her face. She looked and searched and stared but she only saw a strange man with some books in one hand and holding a suitcase in the other. He was plump, with a pronounced belly and nearly bald. He wore thick, dark-rimmed glasses and repeatedly frowned his forehead when he twisted his red, hairy nose. Despite the chill in the morning air, he was perspiring heavily under his denim jacket; a patch of sweat had soaked through his jacket and his white dirty Bud T-shirt. He was unshaven, older looking and he was wearing an old pair of jeans and dirty, black combat boots. That wasn’t... Bruce. This man was a book vendor, an itinerant vendor, that’s it. This is a mistake. A big, fat, horrible mistake. This man was playing tricks on her, this person had asked around and found out her name, maybe even looked her name up in the Directory or in her mail box. They were dangerous, these itinerant vendors, you never knew what they could do to you the moment you allowed them inside your home. He had to go away. Now. He was not Bruce, not her Bruce. He was not the Bruce Calloway she once knew. Not this... man... person thing. Why wouldn't he simply go? The man moved, uneasily, standing on one foot, then on the other and tried to smile. He coughed, uneasy. He looked at her and slightly lifted his shoulders, shyly, hopelessly, he hadn't been recognized. He looked at her, deeply. It was then that she noticed. It was then that she recognized his deep, needy blue eyes, staring at her from behind those thick glasses – making his eyes look bigger than they really were. It took a while for her to understand, for her to grasp a distant sense of recognition. It was him. It was Bruce after all. It was almost funny --- she wanted to laugh hysterically but her throat was dry, her lips were tight. She bit her lower lip till it hurt. Maybe, if she closed her eyes long enough, he might not see her and he’d go away. She squeezed her eyes shut but when she reopened them, he was still there, smiling a yellowish goatee smile. She was paralyzed. Her legs were numb. Time froze and both of them just stared at each other in the entrance hall. Was he thinking the same thing she was? Bruce. Bruce Calloway. He was standing right there, in front of her, just as she had wished for; just as she had prayed for!
“I have come back, Sasha, to stay forever!”
Two months later, a strange looking woman entered the local mall. She walked to the local newspaper's service station and said that she wanted to post a message in the classifieds. The attendant saw a tired looking woman; was breathing heavily. She had deep, dark circles under her eyes. Her hair was uncombed and glued to her face. Her clothes, dirty and her eyes - dark, but expressionless. She was wearing flip-flops and they didn't match. She was nervous, impatient. She grabbed a piece of paper and slowly scribbled a long message. She paid and immediately left, nodding her head vigorously. After she closed the door behind her, the attendant read the message and was surprised with the last 3 sentences, which read:
... "It is powerful. Anything you want. It happens.
Publication must be promised.
A St. Jude’s grantee – My boyfriend finally came back but... be careful with what you wish for, I really mean it! - SS."