This story is by Susan Finlay and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
“See you later, sweetheart.” Tomas kissed her cheek.
“Mmmm. Come back to bed.” Marla stretched. “Come on. I’ll help you start your day right.”
“Sorry. I’ve gotta finish that big piece today.”
“I’m a big piece.”
Tomas groaned, but laughed too. “You’re an itty-bitty piece, and I love you.” He kissed her again, before heading out.
“See you later.” Marla promptly fell asleep again, as Tomas walked to his studio out back. He was a sculptor in mixed metals. Marla loved to hear the whine of saws and the clanging of metals, as she went about her day. This was their dream home in the country, all its wild and wonderful twenty acres.
A while later, in that hazy land between waking and sleeping, she felt him snuggle in behind her. He’d changed his mind. “Tomas?” she yawned. “You’re back. Mmmm.” She wriggled her bottom against him.
He didn’t reply. He groped at her, and pecked her neck like a bird. That’s not Tomas!
Looking over her shoulder, Marla screamed. It was a guy, maybe in his early twenties. She leapt from the bed, pulling on her robe. She grabbed a concrete candle holder and held it up like a truncheon. “GET OUT! GET OUT! TOMAS! HELP!” The guy was still lying on the bed. She ran from the room, heading for the back door. It was propped open, as usual on beautiful days.
Marla couldn’t hear him behind her. She glanced over her shoulder. Not even following. Weird. But just as she got there, shaking so violently she felt her kidneys hit her spine, he appeared, blocking the doorway.
“NOOO! TOMAS! HELP! TOMAAAS!” She threw the candle holder. It seemed to go right through him, where it hit the stone walkway and broke. He just lounged there, a smirk on his face. He was now dressed.
“I’m not going to hurt you. Really.” He put his hands up in the sign of surrender. “And anyway, he can’t hear you.”
“When the saw stops he’ll hear.” Marla backed away, thinking of the front door now. “Besides, he’ll be back in for coffee.”
“No he won’t. Look. I said – I won’t hurt you. Why don’t you just…do whatever it is you do…and I’ll hang out.” He moved, from leaning on the doorway, into the kitchen. “Nice place. Cozy.”
“Ya, we built it…”
What the hell am I doing, talking to him like he’s a friendly neighbour or something. Yet there was something in his posture, his demeanour, that wasn’t so threatening. Maybe…that’d be a good tactic. No, I’ll get Tomas.
“No, you won’t get Tomas. I’ll stop you.”
Marla stared at him, then started the dishes. He tilted back on a chair. Ohhh, I hate that. He’ll fall and break the chair.
“I won’t fall. I never fall.”
Marla stopped, cloth in hand. I didn’t say that out loud. Did I?
“No. You didn’t. Other than your banshee screaming fit, you haven’t spoken this whole time. And no one else can see me or hear me. Or hear you. Your lips aren’t even moving.”
“Ya right. What do you want anyway? Money? I’ll find you…”
“No no. I have no need for that. I’m just here until I get you.”
“Get me? You’re not ‘getting’ me. Why the…you’re not even real…I must be going crazy.” Marla went back to her dishes, trying not to cry. He’s not really here. It’s like that time I smoked that really strong weed. I’ll just…play along for now.
He was smirking. Why’s he smirking? I hate smirkers.
“I’m not. I’m not smirking.”
“You are so. You can’t see your own face. “I’m doing it again. Why am I talking to this… hallucination?
“Whatever.” He pulled the hood of his sweater up, and slouched in the chair. “Anyway, just so you know, I can’t leave. Not until I’ve accomplished my mission.”
“Your…? Never mind, I don’t want to know. And so, you can hear everything I think? Pfft.”
“No. Thank gods. I only hear your thoughts about me, or to me. If you want to speak to me, just hit ‘send’.” He laughed.
He really does think himself extremely clever for such a…weirdo….And I hate that moustache.
“What’s wrong with it?” He pulled at his moustache.
“It’s silly looking.”
To her surprise, it disappeared.
“You missed some, you…freak.” She wiped down the table in front of him, stealing a few glances his way. She’d need a description later, if…she shivered. He was a regular looking guy. Brown shoulder-length hair, brown eyes, a bit skinny, five foot eight…kind of scruffy…jeans and a hoody.
He felt along his upper lip, then looked embarrassed. “Ya, well. No being’s perfect.” Then the rest was gone.
“Better. I’m going outside. You get out. Now. ”
That’s when she felt it. There was something on her shoulder. It wasn’t exactly a weight. It felt more like your head after you take off a hat you’ve worn all day. What is that?
“Hi! It’s me!”
Marla jumped. “What on earth…stop it! Things are bad enough. What are you, anyway? Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that I admit you’re…here. You’re something. What…?”
“”I’m an incubus, of course!” It felt like he was fairly dancing with delight on her shoulder.
“Ummm…I don’t think so. And I wouldn’t sound so proud, were I you.” Marla picked up the fallen apples around the trees.
“I am so.”
“Oh stop whining. And stop looking down my top.” He had the perfect vantage point.
“I can’t help it. They’re pretty nice tits for an old lady.”
“They’re breasts. And I’m not old. I’m only…forty-nine.”
“You’re fifty-five. No use lying about that, to me. That’s why I picked you.”
“Why…you picked me?” She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This couldn’t be real.
“Oh it’s real, alright.” He pinched her ear.
“Ouch! Why’d you do that?” She tried to swat him, but swatted only air.
“Just showing you how real I am. And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…”
“You haven’t seen anything yet.” She taught English Literacy at the library.
“Oh, but I have. I’ve seen you naked. I’ve seen you all over and felt you too.”
“Shut up, you little pervert. Speaking of which, how is it you’re riding on my shoulder, if you’re so real?”
He sighed. “You wouldn’t understand. It’s just another human construct. What’s important is I acquire as many Life Years as possible, while getting my first…my first…”
“Your what? What?”
He sighed. “I have to do more than look and touch. I have to have my first…intercourse! That’s the word! Intercourse.”
“Your…ohhhh, I get it. I’m your first – your maiden voyage. You’re a virgin incubus!” She began to laugh hysterically.
“It’s not funny, you…you librarian!”
At this she almost fell over, she was laughing so hard. I have a virgin incubus on my shoulder. It has to be real. Nobody could make this up.
“Oh, ha ha. Laugh it up, lady. Just you wait…”
“No. No. Sorry. I’m sorry.” She struggled to stop laughing. She could feel the true edge of hysteria dropping like a scrim over her mind.
“What’s all this about ‘life years’?” Marla asked.
“We get five hundred years Extra Life, for every five years over thirty, and you were the oldest I could stand. And…well, you’re better looking than most your age.”
“Gee thanks. So you get…twenty-five hundred extra years for me. For…’getting’ me. Right?”
“That’s right.” He was breathing in her ear.
“Ugh! Stop breathing in my ear! It’s wet and you smell weird.” She dead-headed some flowers.
“You smell pretty strange yourself. Very…pungent. What is that?”
They’d had garlic shrimp for dinner last night. “It’s probably garlic.”
But she had her wheels turning. She wanted nothing more than to get this…thing…off her shoulder and gone for good.
“Geez lady. You don’t have to be such a mean old bitch about it. And I’m not a ‘thing’. I told you – I’m an incubus.”
“Well, you’re not getting me. But I have an idea.”
“Well at least put me in it…I can’t quite see it.”
“No, not yet. I need to think a bit more. This thinking about something for you, without thinking about you, is hard.” Marla had found that if she could put him kind of…further back in her mind, and think of other things up front – that was the only way she could describe it – then he wouldn’t catch all her thoughts of him.
She went about her business – finishing the apples, turning on the water for the garden and checking the sprinkler system – an easy morning, outdoors in the early fall sunshine. It was normally her favourite time, but this thing never left her shoulder, and had several times stuck a cold, claw-like hand down her top and felt her breasts. And that breathing in her ear. If she didn’t soon get rid of him, she’d lose it.
Finally she had it. It just had to work. He’d blabbed in her ear all morning, answering when she let a thought of him through, and asking endless questions the rest of the time.
“Okay. I’ve got it.” She was going to say “hop in,” as she pulled the truck from the garage, but he was where she was. On her. She gritted her teeth. “We’re going to see a dear friend of mine,” she said, while carefully thinking of flowers and children and Tomas in her front brain.
“Uh uh. No way. I saw that. She’s ancient. Even older than you. No way. I won’t go. I’m staying right here, on you.”
“Ya, but think of all the extra years you’ll get. And she’s very…well-schooled in the art of love. Lovemaking.”
“How old did you say? Eighty-five? Geez gods.”
“Yes. That’s my twenty-five, plus another three thousand. Fifty-five hundred New Years…”
“Extra Lives.” He dug his claws into her. “This is kinda fast…this…truck thing.”
“Yes, and they call her Insatiable Sadie. She’ll…she won’t fight you. And you’ll learn a lot. She’s not so bad for eighty-five, either. Come on. At least try. She’s lonely. Stop digging into my skin! It hurts!”
“It scares me. Ohhh, I’ve heard about ice cream. Stop!” They were going by ‘Belle’s Ice Cream Parlour’.
“No. I’ll buy you some later, if you cooperate.” They stopped outside of Last Horizons Nursing Home.
“Well okay. But I’ll be back if she’s…if I can’t do it. And I’ll stay around forever next time.”
“Come on. I’ll introduce you.”
“No need. You’ve already shown me. I can find her tonight. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy watching the young nurses for the day.”
“Well, whatever. It’s been…unreal. Off you go.” Oh no. I can’t be doing this. I’m such a horrible person!
“I won’t die anyway. So you may as well stop feeling guilty. Besides, believe it or not, some women actually like us to visit.”
“It’s not you I’m worried about. It’s poor Sadie.” Then again…she might die happy.
A week later, Marla jumped awake. He was back, in the same chair. “Ohhhh noooo! What’re you doing here? And what’re you wearing?”
“Top o’ the mornin’ t’ you too, missus. ‘Ow ya like it? She’s t’ orig’nal Flash Boy suit.” He stroked the glittering get-up. “I’m a cockney now, aren’t I.”
Every inch of his suit was covered in mother-of-pearl buttons. He was right. It was like the original, made for charity by one Henry Croft in the 1800s. Marla couldn’t help herself. She laughed.
“Why’re you here?”
“Ice cream, m’lady…”
Marla groaned. “Well, I did promise. But behave. And wait out there.” As she dressed she found herself smiling.