This the opening of a flash fiction for terribleminds flash fiction challenge. Sometimes one just has to through something on the blog. So, here is my first attempt at a mash-up between Comic Fantasy and Magical Realism genre.
Lily Woodrift looked from the picture on her phone to the cottage before her. She zoomed in on the rose bush and counted the blossoms. Seven perfect red blossoms in the picture and seven matching blossoms on the bush to the right the front door of the one-story stone cottage. She had signed the year lease on the realtor's emphatic assurance that it would be the perfect place for her. The electronic signature sealed her life for a year a mere three days after she accepted a job as a graphic designer for the newly formed archeology firm of Burl, Piper, and Dent in Stone, South Carolina.
A trickle of sweat starting to form along the spine of her back. The heat and suffocating humidity of South Carolina were definitely real. She took a breath and walked to the cottage. In the fake stone on the entry porch, she found the key. Everything seemed to be as the realtor described. Since she agreed to the position, everything fell into place and she kept wondering if it was too easy. With excitement and trepidation, she unlocked the door and stepped into her new life.
After marveling at the cottages lovely furnished interior and reading the realtor's handwritten note about the best place for groceries and other necessities, Lily paused and thought if the neighbor is a gorgeous polite guy who doesn’t talk about the latest archaeological discovery and prefers to talk about the winner of the transcontinental bicycle race then Stone, South Carolina must be her Brigadoon. The last sentence of the note said that the fridge was stocked with some first-night necessities. She opened it and marveled at its contents. Champagne, three different types of grapes, French cheeses, a steak, red potatoes, brussel sprouts, and an entire peach pie. The steak and potatoes had notes on how to cook them for her welcome to Stone meal. He’d practically apologized for not being there to cook it himself. She wondered if he was cute.
Lily bounded out of her cottage to retrieve her few belongings. As the heat enveloped, her movements went from quick joy to a drag of someone swimming in mashed potatoes. This motion took all of her pep as she lifted the first piece of luggage out of her trunk. She rested it on the lip of the trunk as a blur of red disturbed the stagnant air next to her. The idea of pedaling a bike through the swampy air was unreal to her.
The bicyclist stopped and returned to Lily’s car.
“Hi, I’m Harry.” He held out his fingerless-gloved hand. She smiled and nodded. He pulled back his hand. “That looks heavy let me help.” While setting his bike on her lawn, he continued to talk. “I live two houses down and I was informed that I would have a new neighbor moving in today. Mark asked me to drop by around four. Guess, I’m early but glad I can help with your stuff.” He took the luggage she had been balancing and placed it on the sidewalk.
Lily just stared not believing that her eyes were seeing a hunky neighbor in a full bike kit. She pulled her eyes from his biker thighs and looked into his warm brown eyes. “Hi, you know the realtor?” She extended her hand and he gave it a firm shake as she tried to remember what he’d said his name was.
“Everyone in Stone knows Mark. Don’t ask him what he’s dug up lately cause that’s a never-ending conversation.” He pulled the other two pieces of luggage out and gathered them in a way that she couldn’t imagine possible and started to walk towards the door. Lily, at a pace she thought was quick for the thick air, grabbed a box from her back seat and followed him. She wasn’t sure how it happened but there was no awkwardness getting through the door.
“Did Mark do his full meal in the fridge thing?” Harry set down her bags and took the box from her arms and set it on the kitchen counter. She nodded. “With instructions?” She nodded again. Within the next few moments, all that she had was in the cottage and she was standing there going through her few sentences of contribution to the conversation and tried to remember if she’d actually introduced herself.
Harry looked at her few boxes and smiled, “Not much for me to get a lead into my new neighbor’s likes and dislikes except for maybe she is neat and efficient.” Before them sat three pieces of black luggage that were obviously a recently purchased set and four new identical square boxes taped up without a mark on the outside.
She looked at him in his full riding gear including professional biking shoes that clinked when he stepped. “I’ve kept you from your bike ride. I can’t thank you enough for helping me.” She pulled her t-shirt sleeve to her forehead and caught the drips of sweat before they fell into her eyes.
“Am I being excused?” He winked.
All the awkwardness that is associated with a first meeting flooded over her. The spell of ease was broken. “I don’t even think I’ve introduced myself and you’ve interrupted your biking to help me. I’m starting my job tomorrow. Everything has been such a whirlwind. I...”
He held up his hand stopping her next words, “Happy to help and I look forward to getting to know my neighbor when she has settled in a bit.” He opened the door and as he stepped to the outside world he said, “Have a great first day tomorrow.”
A click echoed in her ears and she was alone. “Shit,” Lily whispered to her boxes and luggage. Opening the fridge, she pulled out the bowl of grapes and laid on the couch. The cottage’s warm interior enveloped her. Holding a grape in between her teeth she slowly bit until the skin snapped and its juices cooled her mouth. She repeated this until she was......