A farm boy meets the daughter of the devil and the experience changes his life for a price
As he followed his ear, across the countryside's dirt road. He ran his calloused hands through his short blonde hair. Tapped the ashes out of his pipe and stuffed it into the pocket of his jeans that sagged from his waist due to lost weight. Not even his belt helped him, his work boots were tattered so thoroughly that the metal toes were exposed. His white sleeveless shirt gave him a farmer's tan that was more sun burn than tan. As he made it to the other side of the road he approached a row of sunflowers that seemed to be asleep. Zed pushed through the flowers towards the singer of the song, and as he did it stopped. He hastened his pace until he burst through the other side of the sunflowers to a clearing near the woods. Scanning the open field he caught glimpse of the silhouette of a beautiful red haired girl dancing in the moonlight. Her dress was black and plain, but there were grace and allure to the way it flowed. Her skin was pale, she wore bright red lipstick and had raccoon eye makeup.
Zed slowly approached the maiden silently awe struck. He had not seen a beautiful woman in a very long time, he found himself both lustful and enamored.
Once he got close enough for her to realize she stopped dancing, turned and smiled with her luscious red lips then said, "Would you care to dance with me?"
Zed nodded shyly but then replied, "I am a simple farmer, I have never danced before, I am not sure I know how."
The lovely lady giggled, smiled and answered, "Sure you do, it will be fun I promise. I will take it nice and slow with you,"
Timidly as if he were a baby deer, Zed walked up to the woman and as he did she grabbed his hands. Her hands felt somewhat cold to his warm touch, but her skin was as soft and silken as it looked. She took the lead and daintily guided him through a slow waltz. Although he concentrated hard on his feet, he could not look away from her smile. It was bewitching, to say the least. Her red hair glowed in the moonlight and she stared directly into Zed's hazel eyes with her green ones then winked.
She twirled away from Zed to end their dance and curtsied while thanking him, "See I knew you could dance, and wasn't it fun? I appreciate a man who tries new things. May I ask what brought you here tonight, I dance here all the time and never does anyone come to join me."
He gave a swift reply, "My name is Zed and I live on a farm on the other side of the country road. I was walking under the stars, thinking about life when I heard you sing. I followed my ears to the lovely sound to find a gorgeous woman dancing in this field. To say I was surprised, would be an understatement. What is your name? Do you live nearby?"
She smiled and winked at him then said, "Thinking too much about life can be dangerous, make sure to live it as much as you can. I live in the woods here with my father, and if you want to know my name you will have to come back tomorrow night and dance with me again! I'm happy you enjoyed my singing, perhaps I will sing for you tomorrow Zed, goodbye until next I see you sweetheart."
Suddenly she ran off into the forest, giggling to herself as she did. Zed, lost in the moment watched her beautiful red hair flow out of sight. He was left wondering why such a strange and gorgeous girl was living with her father in the woods. His life problems seemed secondary to the thought of this girl as he turned tail and headed home.
He pulled his corn cob pipe out of his jeans and packed it with some fresh hashish. He took a deep drag, then exhaled it through his nostrils. As he crossed back through the sunflowers and to his side of the country road. His mind was no longer plagued with worry about the toil he would need to complete the next day due to his father's absence. Nor about how he would take care of his mother and sister, but all his thought fell on this girl he just met. He replayed the way the danced together in his mind over and over until he was back in front of his old run down home.
Quietly as a mouse he snuck upstairs to his bedroom. He lay in his bed wondering about tomorrow night. Eventually, these thoughts ran through his head as if he were counting sheep, and he dozed off to a peaceful rest. The next morning he awoke, with dream-like fragments of his experience last night. He questioned whether he had dreamt the whole thing, or if he would actually meet the quirky red headed lass again tonight.
Throughout his working day, he thought of her, hope in his heart that it had not been a dream or illusion. He had been smoking a lot after all. Zed wiped his brow while toiling in the heat of the sun. His little sister Melody ran up beside him offering him a drink. She smiled so brightly on the hot summer day, her blonde hair in pigtails.
Zed took the drink and pat her on the head while saying, "Thanks, sis, you know your green eyes remind me so much of Pa's. You look so much like him, I look more like mom. Speaking of her, will you go check on her? She has been really quiet and stuck to her bed since dad passed away. You always put a smile on her face Melody."
Melody shook her head to say yes and said, "Anything for you Zed. Don't work too hard now okay? If you stay out in the sun you will be red and roasted like a beet!"
Zed drank the water she brought him and handed her the cup.Then she ran to the house to check on their mother. Zed couldn't help but think how lucky he was to have family still, he wasn't sure how he would make it on his own. He finished up his work chores around the farm, then went inside to bathe. While he stripped down to his birthday suit before his bath, he wondered if he should borrow one of his father's suits to meet the lady tonight. As he got in the tub of water he thought of how he could impress her. Perhaps he would bring her flowers and dress up. Would that work? Zed's mind was adrift with endless scenarios, his face became red with embarrassment when he thought about receiving a kiss from her. He shook his head and the thought from his mind. Then he dunked his head beneath the water to wash his hair.
After drying off and clothing himself Zed decided at the very least he would see if any of his dad's suits would fit him. Something felt special about his date with the girl tonight, a part of him felt it might be destiny. He went to the other side of the house on the bottom floor where his parent's room was and knocked on the door. Zed asked, "Mom is it alright if I come in? I know you are tired, but I need something from in there."
Zed's mom replied weakly, "Okay."
He entered the room to see his mother lying in bed, as usual, his heart sunk a little but he proceeded in and smiled at her.
Zed whispered softly, "I hope I didn't wake you mom, I just need to get a suit of dad's out of the closet. Is there anything I can do for you? I hope it made you happy earlier when Melody checked in on you. I will only be a moment, I am going to take a suit out of the closet to try on."
His mom rolled over in bed and covered herself with her blanket then sighed in reply, "Okay Zed, and yes Melody always makes me happy. So do you, I am just very tired lately is all."
Zed stared for a moment at his mother, wishing he could take her pain away from her. It hurt his soul to see her feel this way. He turned away and opened the closet to find three suits to choose from. One blue, one brown and one gray, the blue one seemed too big and the gray one was a bit tattered and worn. The brown one was definitely the best choice, it was crisp and seemed unworn. It would match his belt he had, and it looked to be the correct size for him. Besides he thought to himself, it would hide any dirt he got on it better than the others. Zed quietly left the room with his fathers brown Sunday suit and slowly shut the door, taking a few final moments to wish he could make his mother happy again.
He then quickly ran up to his room and shut the door. As he changed into the suit it felt to be a perfect fit, the pant legs were not too short, and they did not extend too long. It seemed a little tight on the chest and shoulders, but perhaps this was because he was unaccustomed to wearing clothes of the sort. Zed left his room and went to his sisters to ask to use her mirror to see himself. As he approached her door, he heard Melody crying.
He gently knocked on the door and softly asked, "May I come in Melody? I want to use your mirror for a moment."
Melody through her sniffles replied, "Ye, yes. Come in Zed."
Zed entered and saw Melody on her bed wiping her tears from eyes. He walked over to her and gave her a hug while asking what was wrong.
Melody said, "Momma is so sad, and seeing her this way makes me so sad too. I was just thinking about how Pa will never come back and it made me worry that mom will never be happy again."
Zed held his little sister tightly and said, "She will be happy again, it will all be okay. We are going to make it through life together. I will do whatever I have to to make us a happy family Melody. It is okay to cry, sometimes when I get overwhelmed or miss dad and I cry too."
For a moment the siblings sat in silence until Melody said, "You look nice in that suit, is that why you wanted to use the mirror? I think you look a lot like our dad in it. A big, strong, tall man!"
Zed laughed and said "Oh you think so? Thank you, I don't think I could quite fill his shoes yet though. Some day I will though, just you wait."
He stood up and examined himself in the mirror. Zed smiled a bit, he looked quite handsome or at least he thought so. He was happy he did his father's suit justice. He definitely would wear this tonight while meeting his new lady friend. Zed thanked his little sister and gave her another embrace, while he let her know everything would be alright. He left her room and went back to his own and sat down on his bed. His mind wandered off to memories of his Father and Mother, of times when they were happy in bliss. He remembered how he grew up and was raised, Zed even thought about the day Melody was born. He could picture the proud look on his parent's face as the doctor handed her to them to hold. Eventually the happy times became laced with heart ache and sorrow, in remembrance of what had been lost.
Zed shook his head and looked at the clock that hung across from his bed. It was a bit past ten at night, he only had an hour and a half before he should leave for his date. He decided that he needed to relax and to do so he retrieved his pipe from the dresser drawer which housed it. He stared at it for a moment, taking the time to cherish the heirloom left behind by his dad. He filled it full and lit the edges careful to savor the taste of the smoke. His nerves became calm, his eyes dulled and he began to forget his worry that should be left in the past. Before he knew it, it was time to leave. He stood up and replaced the pipe where it belonged in the dresser after he tapped out the ash. Zed brushed his father's suit off, stood tall for a moment and ran his hands through his hair. He became a little nervous as he left his room, went down the staircase and out the front door.
Although his nerves fluttered around his stomach, it was equal parts fear and excitement. He worried he would be stood up, or turned down. But he also yearned for the chance to get to know this lady, tonight he would get to know her name. Perhaps he could invite her to his home, or maybe he could be so bold as to invite himself to her home to meet her father. Zed's thoughts wandered as he walked, almost in a dreamlike state. He admired the work he did every day in the fields of the land as he made his way to the country road. It gave him hope that one day he would be able to fill the void his father left behind. The crisp frigid air felt good on his skin, tonight was a bit clouded, unlike last night. The stars could not be seen, and the moon's light did not shine through. As Zed approached the edge of the country road, he stared at the rows of sunflowers before him, listening intently for the voice that guided him last night.
When he heard no sound, not a single cricket's chirp, nor rustle of the wind, he became worrisome. He crossed the dirt road and pushed carefully through the wall of sunflowers to the open clearing on the other side. His eyes scanned to and fro, unable to catch sight of anyone or anything. Zed waited, and waited for what felt like ages to him. He wished he had his watch to be able to tell how much time had passed. As his anxiety became disappointment, his thoughts became heavy in his mind. He stopped looking for the girl to come and hung his head due to the weight of potential rejection. With a deep sigh, he started to walk back toward the lines of sunflowers, upset with himself, worried that perhaps last night was no more than a mere dream.
As he approached the flowers and reached out to brush them aside, he heard a familiar voice call out, "Oh Zed, where are you going?"
His ears perked up and he quickly spun around to see the red haired girl standing at the forest edge. She was standing directly in a patch of Moonbeam that poked through the clouds cover. She wore a gray dress with white stripes and a black bonnet which was titled sideways. Her smile was infectious, devilish even. Her red lipstick shone beautifully against her pale luscious skin. She winked and motioned for Zed to come to her.
As Zed made his way across the field toward her, she shouted: "Zed you look so nice dressed up, like a real man!"
His face became flush with embarrassment, and his heart raced in excitement. As he approached the edge of the wood and stood in the moonlight with the girl, he smiled and said, "Thank you for saying I look nice, this used to be my father's suit. I borrowed it for tonight, you look absolutely breathtaking. I uhh, your name I don't know your name yet."
The girl flashed her wicked smile at Zed and said, "Right, I did promise to tell you that. My name is Lucille, and I am so happy you showed up tonight."
Zed nervously laughed then said, "It is nice to know your name Lucille, do you mind if I call you Luci for short? I was worried you weren't going to show up and that you were just messing with me."
Lucille responded, "Luci, my father calls me that I wouldn't mind if you did too. Thank you for saying I look breathtaking and sorry for being a little late. Don't you know that pretty girls like to be fashionably late to their dates?"
Zed in turn shyly said, "I wouldn't know about dates, I haven't ever been on one. Until tonight I guess, although I'm not certain meeting in a field counts as much of a date. Would you like to dance again? Will I get to hear you sing another song tonight?"
Luci quickly countered, "Of course this counts silly boy! I am here, and you are here and absolutely, I would love to dance. I don't know about singing tonight, but maybe if you do well when we dance together I will sing just for you."
She grabbed Zed's hands and began to lead him through another waltz. Together they danced beneath the break of cloud in the sky where the moon shone through. Slowly at first, but gaining pace as they went. Zed stared deeply into Luci's eyes and followed her movements as best he could. He was stunned, entranced by her loveliness. The way the light illuminated her pale skin, and how her deep red lipstick complimented her lips, making them look full and kissable. She was so slender and dainty, being there with her made Zed forget all his worry at home. His heart felt as if it could leap out of his chest, and at the end of their dance, he pulled her close for a moment.
Softly Zed asked, "So, will I get a song tonight?"
Luci bit her lower lip and responded, "Oh the dance was nice but I think it was missing something, I am not certain it will be enough to make me feel like singing."
Zed pulled her a bit closer, he could smell the faint scent of flowers emanating from her. Inside he felt the moment was right and he moved in for a kiss, something told him that this was what was missing from the dance. As he got near to her mouth she leaned in to meet him part way and they locked lips for a few brief moments of bliss.
Afterward, Zed winked at Luci and smiled then said, "Wil that help, do you feel like singing now?"
Luci giggled and lay her head on Zed's chest. Her hat barely grazed the edge of his chin, and she began to hum then sing. "Lonely world, I am fighting against. Seems as if it never ends. Give us hope through the love of moon shining on me. Through the rain that won’t stop falling. This world where I pass by suffering, I've forgotten reasons to smile. In the midst of conflict and pretense. My heart will be drained like river run dry. Like a flower floating just above raging waves. Lead the way, overcome the storm"
Her voice was full of melody and ran out sweetly through Zed's ears. He couldn't imagine why a beautiful girl like this would sing such a sad song during such a nice moment. He held her tightly and then began to play with her hair. As he did, she looked up with bright eyes into Zed's and asked him for another kiss. Surprised but happy to oblige Zed kissed her deeply, full of vigor and passion even though they were newly acquainted.
Luci then said, "Zed, you smell so nice. Like a man of the earth, like hard work and of innocence. I am so happy to have met you."
Zed confused pondered for a moment and said, "I am lucky to have met you, Luci, you smell so nice like flowers. You are so warm to hold and you sing so beautifully. Plus you are teaching me to dance. We may have just met, but this feels fateful and being with you makes me so happy."
Luci suddenly pulled away and turned toward the forest, "I have to go Zed, my dad won't be happy I am out again. If he finds out I am seeing a boy, I will be in trouble."
After she said this, she took off into the woods with tears in her eyes. Zed shouted as she disappeared into the darkness, "Luci I will wait for you here tomorrow night!"
He was left alone with his thoughts and red lipstick stains on his mouth. He tried to process what had happened. It was all so quick, and everything was so lovely but now he was uncertain. What kind of man was her father? Would he be able to convince Luci to continue to meet him here, or ever have a relationship with her? Endless questions passed through Zed's mind, he wondered what he would say if he ever met her dad. Confused, full of bittersweet feeling he eventually decided to return home.
Upon arriving home Zed quietly went to his room and lay on his bed. He felt restless, unable to keep his eyes shut he got up and went to his dresser to fetch his pipe. He loaded it then smoked the contents thoroughly, pondering the events of the evening all the while. As he began to relax, he placed the pipe back in it's resting place. He fell back into his bed and replayed the kisses, the song he was rewarded with and the embrace he shared with Lucille until he fell asleep. The next day he awoke in the morning to a roosters call. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and removed his fathers suit he had forgotten to take off last night. Zed placed it carefully in his own closet, in case he needed it for later. He then proceeded to bathe and change into proper work clothes. Before starting the day's chores, Zed ate breakfast and tidied up the kitchen. He cooked extra eggs, buttered a slice of toast and grabbed a glass of juice to bring to his mother.
He went to her room, knocked a few times and then declared, "Mom I am coming in with food for you, and something to drink."
As usual, she was curled up on her bed, swaddled in her blankets.
Zed whispered softly, "Ma, please I brought you some things to eat. I will leave them on your night stand, try to eat. I know you aren't feeling well, but I love you and want you to take care of yourself or at least let us take care of you."
Without rolling over his mother replied with heavy sadness in her voice, "Thanks, Zed, I will try."
Zed placed the food and drink on the stand next to his mother's bed, then left with hopes that she would eat. As he left the house to start work around the farm, he saw his sister playing in the dirt.
He called out, "Melody, come here for a moment would you?"
She ran over immediately, her hands, face and everything else covered in filth. Proudly she smiled at him and said, "Whats up Zed?"
He laughed and then said, "Well first off you should get cleaned up after you get done playing, and then the second I would appreciate it if you checked on momma and make sure she eats. I left her some food, maybe you could get her to eat some cause I don't think she will otherwise."
Melody nodded in understanding and Zed pat her on the head, then sang her praise, "Melody you are a good kid, we will make sure momma is going to be alright."
Then Zed head off to work in the fields, as he toiled his mind wandered and he paid no attention to the time. He thought about his mother, and he wondered if she would ever be back to her normal self. He hoped, ached with longing to see Luci again tonight. He was unsure if she heard him say he would wait tonight in the field beyond the sunflowers for her to show again. He worried what kind of man her father was, and why she had to sneak out behind his back. These thoughts led him to thoughts about his father again, and how badly he missed having him around. Before he knew it the day's light had turned to dusk in the sky, and his work was done.
Upon returning home, Zed saw Melody sitting on the front porch. She ran up to him and he gave her a hug then asked, "So did mom eat anything today?"
Melody frowned a bit and said, "She ate a bite of the toast and no egg, but she did drink the juice. She still won't get out of bed though."
Zed replied, "Thanks for trying, you did well. More than I could've done. Are you doing alright? I hope you aren't too bored or lonely, I know you miss dad as much as I do. You two were best friends."
Melody looked at the ground a moment then muttered, "I miss him a lot Zed, but it's okay. I am not lonely, I have plenty of fun. I just wish he was still around."
Zed gave her a big hug this time, then laughed and said, "You didn't do everything I said, you still need to clean yourself up, little missy. I know you don't want to yet, so get all your play time in and I will go first. But promise me you will bathe after I do. It is a good habit to have alright?"
Melody agreed and ran off around the side of the house to play a bit more. Zed went inside and upstairs, took off his work clothes and took a bath. He wondered if he would see Luci tonight, he began to worry he may never see her again. He finished cleaning himself up, and changed into comfortable clothing. It was nearly time to go wait for Luci, Zed stopped by his room and grabbed a fresh book of matches, some smoke and his pipe. He took a deep breath and cleared his thoughts, then proceeded down the stairs and out the front door.
Melody was still outside playing in the dirt, he gave her a glare and she giggled then ran inside while saying, "Okay Zed I will go clean up now."
The night sky was really dark, not a single star shone through the clouds. Zed made his way across the farm to the country road and crossed it, then made his way through the sunflowers. He stood in the field waiting, for what felt like ages. He filled, lit and smoked the contents of his pipe several times over. Eventually, he became weary from the wait.
He emptied his pipe and replaced the ash with new smoke, as he lit the contents and turned his back to go home he heard the smooth voice of a man say, "Hello Zed, happen to have a light?"
Confused Zed spun around to find a shadowy figure standing a few feet away. At this moment, the moon began to shine through the clouds and revealed the figure to be a middle aged man dressed in an all black suit. He brandished an ornate cane in his right hand with a skull on its top. Although he had a hat on, and it was lowered enough to make his face and eyes unseen. Zed could feel himself being pierced by them, he froze were he stood and after a moment of silence gathered the courage to speak.
He said, " H, ho, how do you know my name?"
The figure took a step towards him, swinging the cane in showy fashion and exclaimed, "Why my daughter Luci has told me all about you. My name is Stan, and it is nice to meet you Zed. Do you have that light? I seem to have forgotten mine and I would love to smoke this cigar I have."
Stan produced a large cigar from the front pocket of his suit. He began walking closer and as he did Zed became nervous, even gripped with terror. Zed shakily produced his matches from his jeans and approached Stan. He lit one and used it to ignite the tip of the cigar. Stan took a deep inhale and before Zed knew what happened, the large puff was blown into his eyes. The world around him began to change, he felt hot in fact, everything around was on fire.
Stan started speaking, "Son do you know who I am, I don't know why my daughter has been dancing with a mortal boy in the middle of the night but you are lucky. You know why because I am going to make you a deal you can't refuse."
As Zed regained his vision, he could see Stan's eyes glowing deep red like embers about to fall from their sockets. His smile gleamed pearly whites that were too jagged to be human. Smoke seemed to be emanating from all around his suit, yet he continued to puff on the large cigar.
Zed exclaimed in agony from the sweltering heat, "Who, what are you? You mean to say Luci is your daughter?!"
Stan laughed fiendishly then spoke, "Why yes my boy she is, and I have quite a deal for you. You are lucky, the devil doesn't usually offer deals to farmers. Usually you would have to best me in a contest for this sort of contract but instead I will give you a once and a life time chance. If you stay away from my daughter, I will bring your father back from the dead. Imagine, how happy your mother will be, how happy you and your sister will be."
Zed was soaked in sweat, he felt as if his entire body would become one giant blistering sore. He stammered, "H,h, how do you know about them? Stay away from Luci, but we just met and I care about her so much. Can you really bring my father back?"
Stan with an evil smile on his face replied, "I know everything boy, and if you agree to never see Luci again I can easily bring your father back and make your family whole again. My daughter is much too good for the likes of you whelp, this is a good deal."
Zed pondered for a moment, and with regret in his heart he agreed, in fear he might die from the heat of the field on fire. Zed keeled over from the overwhelming agony and passed out where he lay. Eventually he awoke, in the middle of the field to the morning call of the rooster. There was not a single sign of fire in the field, nor smell of smoke lingered in the air. Zed, bewildered and confused got up, brushed himself off and headed home.
Upon arrival, Melody rushed to greet him exclaiming, "Zed, Zed, where have you been? Daddy came back, daddy is home. He is back, he isn't actually dead Zed, he came back last night!"
Zed smiled weakly and said, "I am so glad to hear that sweetheart. Is mom finally out of bed? Where are they now?"
Melody excitedly took Zed's hand and led him to his parents who were sitting together in one another's arms on the sofa.
His mother proudly shouted, "Zed your father is home!"
His father turned to him and said, "Hello son, it is nice to see you. Thank you for taking care of the farm, your mother and sister while I was gone."
Zed began to weep from mixed feelings, he was elated to have his father back. But knew deep in his heart he lost a chance with a one of a kind woman he cared for deeply. It was a deal too good to refuse, and he was lucky to have it. However bittersweet the feelings may have been, his home would be a happy place again. Although his heart would forever be burdened with the thought of what could've been. Zed was thrilled to have his whole family together, to have another chance to be happy with them. From that day on, every evening after his day of work. He would sit on his side of the old country road staring at the sunflowers, in hopes of hearing Luci sing her sad songs. He never had the courage to cross the road again. He knew in his heart, a deal this good with the devil should not be broken.