This story is by Judy Blackburn and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Macy stood in a smokey bar and wondered how she got there.
She made her way to a table looking down at her clothes. It was not the jeans and T-shirt she remembered putting on that morning. The cotton dress tangled around her ankles and she was glad for the chair to plop on to keep from falling. Macy fingered the material, blue and pleated around the bottom, but long and cumbersome. The long puff sleeves bound her arms. Where are my jeans?
Staring around the nearly empty room, one man stood behind the bar, another played a tinny piano. Two men stood at the bar, each with a glass of beer. The room was like an old west saloon with spittoons and a gilded mirror.
Macy’s attention was drawn to a dapper looking gentleman sitting at a table against the back wall. He was dressed to the hilt with dark pants and jacket and the whitest shirt Macy had ever seen. There was something familiar about him. Yes, she’d seen him in her dreams.
He stepped to her table and bowed politely. “May I sit with you, ma’am?”
Ma’am? No one had ever called her ma’am. Macy motioned to the chair.
“I’m Fenton Miller. Call me Fen. I was an accountant, but now seem to be a gambler. You remember those old Maverick shows on TV?”
Macy nodded. “My names Macy.”
“Glad to know you. Seems I’ve always known you.”
Macy stared at him but didn’t say she was thinking the same.
Fenton continued, “I thought it would be fun to be a cowboy in those days.” He searched Macy’s face. “Did you dream about living in a western? Do you suppose…?”
“Do I suppose what?” Then it came to her. “You think we wished this and somehow now it’s come true?” Macy gasped and fingered the lace on the collar of her dress.
Fen shrugged, “Could be. I didn’t see you walk in, you just appeared.”
Macy shook her head. “Now, what do we do? I shouldn’t be here, respectable women didn’t enter these places.”
Fen lifted his shoulders, “Not sure. I’m not a very good gambler.” He threw his hands apart. “I lose a lot.”
Macy almost laughed but caught herself. This was not funny. But no one seemed to care if she were here or not.
His hazel eyes were drawing her in, just like in her dreams. Her dream man was honest, not like the last man in her life when he’d casually walked out after she’d discovered he was married.
Her dream man loved her. He’d given her a broach in the dream. The tiny turquoise shaped like a horse head. Now, here he sat next to her in this smokey saloon of days gone by.
Macy recalled the television was showing one of her favorite movies, full of cowboys and horses galloping across the screen. She thought the man with no name had just galloped on his horse over the rise out of sight to parts unknown. And she had the same thought, to ride out and find true love.
She looked at Fen and her heart suddenly fluttered. Oh, Lord, she thought I don’t have time for these feelings. Hadn’t she’d learned yet that romance didn’t work for her?
Macy watched a cowboy with gun and holster, jingling spurs, and a big hat walk in the batwing doors. The bartender poured the whiskey. The man took the swig in one swallow. He glanced around the room, nodded at the two at the table and sauntered out.
Macy followed the cowboy. She wanted to get some fresh air. A cool breeze filtered through the doors. It smelled of dust and horse droppings, but she thought it better than the cigar smoke choking her.
The clear sky showed above buildings. Macy put her hand on one side of the swinging door and pushed but it stayed stiff and unyielding. She pushed on the other side. Nothing. She glanced down and decided to crawl through the bottom even though her skirts were a menace. The door didn’t reach the floor but something else did, a kind of invisible solid area. She could see the other side, tried to reach through, but the opaque mass remained firm.
Macy stared back at Fen.
“There’s no way out. I’ve tried.”
“But that man just went out, Why can’t we?”
Fen looked lost. “Haven’t been able to figure it out. Seems maybe because they are really here and we’re visitors.”
Macy tripped back to her chair. “I’m going to have to learn how to walk in this dress?”
Fen reached for her hand and held it gently. “You’re very pretty. Stay with me. This may seem a little fast, but it’s like I know you. Like we’ve met before. Do you feel it too?”
The flutters in Macy’s chest beat in a frenzy. Her first thoughts were to get out, but her heart had other ideas. Her mother had always told her to follow her heart. Should she for once listen to her mother? And this is her dream man. The one who came to her in her waking and sleeping.
Fen’s hand felt nice, big and warm, human. But he was a man. He’d betray her like all the others she’d known. Why did he seem different, even honorable? Where did that word come from? Honor and a man had never run in the same sentence for her. But here they were in a different world with apparently some of the same ideals. She warmed to the thought as his hand continued to warm hers all the way to her heart.
Fen pulled something out of his pocket. “Would you wear this?”
He held the tiny object between his fingers. Macy gasped and put her hands to her mouth. There it was the broach he gave her in her dream. “Fen?”
He smiled and placed it in her hand and closed her fingers over it.
The piano man came over to their table. “I know the way out if you’re interested.”
Macy and Fen looked at each other. Neither was sure if they wanted to leave now that they had found each other, but they both nodded. It wouldn’t hurt to know.
The piano man turned a chair around backward and sat, leaning both arms on the back of the chair. “At midnight be at the swinging doors and repeat your wish to go home.”
“That’s all? Sounds like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,” said Macy.
The piano man gave her a vacant stare and Macy realized he had no idea what she spoke of. “If you don’t you’ll be here for the rest of your lives.”
“Here in this room?” asked Macy.
The piano man motioned with his hands, “Don’t know.”
He slipped out of the chair and went back to his piano.
The young couple faced each other. “Well, what do you want to do? There’s no guarantee we’ll be together when and if we make it back to our time. Don’t know about you, but I don’t have anything to go back to,” said Fen.
Macy hung her head. What did she have to go home to? She had no family since her mother died. But it was her time, her era. Macy suddenly knew she’d go back, face the swinging doors, and make her wish. She would just hope Fen would do the same and they could be together in their own time.
Fen said he loved her. It was all too fantastic. This was a weird phenomenon and maybe wasn’t even real.
She reminded herself she may be able to ride horses and be a cowgirl if she stayed. But it wasn’t enough, she would be going back. Somehow she would have a horse and ride in her own time. And she hoped Fen would be there as well. The stifling, smokey atmosphere clung to her skin and she coughed. The door beckoned.
The clock over the bar said eleven thirty. Macy decided not to tell Fen. She would step to the door. quickly make the wish, and be home.
Fen pulled her into his arms. The piano man smiled and played a soft love tune. Midnight chimed. Macy abruptly stood and rushed to the door. She closed her eyes so as not to see the hurt in Fen’s eyes.
He rose with her, but she stepped out of his grasp. “Please don’t go, Macy. Please stay with me.”
Macy fingered the broach and made the mistake of opening her eyes and looked at Fen.
The door slowly opened, but the look of genuine love on Fen’s face halted Macy. The wish didn’t make it past her lips. The door closed.