This story is by Eve Garnier and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Everyone would agree that, despite being peculiar, Randall Apogee, himself, was a very good-looking fellow. He was a small thin man, slightly formed, with dark hair, dark but shinning eyes and a pale complexion. His face is not an ordinary one. He was living in a one-bedroom apartment on a quiet street, a quiet village in Tyne and was a writer of the sorts.
That evening, the man had a special event he wanted; he needed to attend. Rushing to the mirror in the corridor leading to the entrance, he put down a bouquet of wild flowers on the small table under it, stopping in front of the mirror to fix the olive green cravat around his neck, tying it up into a loose knot.
Once he was ready, both hands dusting off his black Spanish cloak, while giving a faint smile to his reflection in the mirror. The distinguish gentleman headed towards the entrance, greeting his landlord, Mrs. Keats, upon opening the door. He held it for her and her youngest son. Both had their hands full of groceries from the market.
“Mrs. Keats, Mr. Keats, I wish you a pleasant evening.” He said in a polite voice. Though neither of them replied as they headed at the end of the corridor to the service door leading to the kitchen. Randall didn’t hold it against them, closing the door behind him.
Outside, the night had already wrapped around the town of Whitley Bay. The wind came out of the cloud, chilling, prompting Mr. Apogee to tighten the string of his cape. He was walking down the street in strides with determination. A man on a serious mission, greeting the different neighbours he came across with a simple but polite nod of his head. Around the corner of the street, he ran into a young woman coming at the crossroads.
“My apologies, miss.” He excused himself, fixing the bouquet in his arms. Eyes meeting with two large brown eyes, dark blond hair braided, arranged into a bun, as it was the fashion, wearing a coral evening dress, accentuating the whiteness of her skin. Randall recognising her. “Lethe!”
“Randall, well, what a surprise!” She greeted him with a charming smile, wrapping an arm around his shoulder for a quick, affectionate hug. He chuckles softly, returning the gesture. “Oh, what a delight to run into you. I hope I didn’t ruin this lovely bouquet.” She said, her gloved fingers caressing the flowers.
“No harm done. You haven’t changed! How have you been?”
“Oh, my where to start,” Lethe said with a soft chuckle, cupping her face. “This might be a conversation to have around tea, unless we… Where are you heading?”
“Hum, I have a personal visit I have to make that I cannot miss. I’m heading down this way.” He said, pointing at the street.
“Well this is perfect, I am also heading this way, can escort me safely home, we both can catch up on our lives.” She said, wrapping her arm around his. Randall knew he could not refuse an old friend, nodding in agreement. “I got married to a diplomat a few years ago. I got to travel to France, Germany and even India. We just came back from a trip. It was an enlightening experience. Hopefully, I’ll be able to travel more in the next years. I realised I am incapable of settling down. I need to be on the move.”
“But you always come back to your roots.” Said Randall with an amused smile, giving a gentle tap on her hand. “I travelled a lot for work as well.”
“Oh really? Did you ever become a writer?”
“I did, yes.”
“Anything I would have read?”
“I doubt it. Most of my works, when not censored, are published in independent magazines. I doubt they reached India.” Randall said, shaking his head.
“Aha, try me Randall, I can be very resourceful.” She gave a gentle squeeze on his arm. “I have a better idea, I shall read every single newspaper and magazine, to see if I can recognise your voice.”
“You remember?” He asked, surprised.
“Few men read to me poems that were not addressed to me. I also, still have the copy of that French Poet you offered me.”
“Ah, les Fleurs Du Mal.” Recalled Randall with a nostalgic tone.
“Alban’s favourite.” Added Lethe with a sad smile as her companion nodded, the woman giving another gentle squeeze to his arm, a gesture of comfort as they reached a part of the street that wasn’t lit. As a regular, Randall found it odd, but didn’t comment, oblivious to the threat hiding in the shadow until Lethe pushed away her companion as she tried to block the stranger’s attack. A man, whom Randall had not seen before, who was holding a wooden stake as a weapon.
“What in the name of—?!” Exclaimed Randall. Lethe was holding on to the bouquet like her life depended on it, while brawling the man at the same time. The writer was stunned. Aware that he was witnessing a fight like no other, one his readers would find in one of his stories, unsure what to do, as he watched helplessly the two souls going at each other by the throat. Until he saw the bouquet falling from Lethe’s arms as she tripped. He rushed to help her, something her assailant didn’t plan as he pierced Desmond through his side when he came between the stranger and his target.
“No!” Screamed Lethe, catching her friend as he fell in her arms, the culprit taking a run for it. “Randall, oh, Randall, no.” She looked at his wound, noticing he was loosing blood. The woman ripped a part of her skirts, trying to stop the bleeding.
“It’s okay Lethe…” Whispered Randall, who was losing the little colour he had on his face. “It’s alright, don’t you think it is a perfect night to join him?”
“No. Randall, I can’t let you die, you… I’m going to need you to trust me.” She said, holding him against her, pulling him towards her. “Do you trust me?”
“Of course I do…”
A few days later, Randall was rushing into the corridor leading to the entrance. He put down the bouquet of wild flowers on the small table under the mirror, fixing the olive green cravat around his neck before leaving into the darkness of another chilly night. This time he didn’t care, nor felt the wind. He had a candle in his hand to light his way, holding the bouquet in his arms, reaching his destination.
“I apologise for the delay. I know I said I wouldn’t be late for our anniversary.” Randall said softly. “I ran into an old friend and there was a small development.” He said laying down the flowers on the tombstone with the following epitaph,
HERE LIES ALBAN LENEE
DEAR FRIEND & LOVER
“Lethe.” He said in a sigh. “She invited me for tea tonight. The flowers are from her.” He said. A soft chuckle escaped his lips, crossing his legs. “She offered me to join her and her husband in their travels. An opportunity for me to witness and write about the changes in the world through time. Something, I heard, you did before me. Then, when I’m done, I’ll come back for our next anniversary to read them to you.” Randall’s gaze fell tenderly on the portrait of his former companion. “I think I never felt so close to you than today, now that I know your secret, my darling.”