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Kuklos

by Patrick Parr

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Patrick says: Currently I live with my wife in Bellevue, Washington, where I teach English as a Second Language for the University of Washington. I’ve lived in Japan, Switzerland, and Ohio. Previous work has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Best of Every Day Fiction, and The Storyteller, among others. Website: www.patrickparr.com

 



            Their first date was inside a revolving restaurant six thousand feet above sea level. As their view slowly turned, he asked her, “What are you going to order?”

            She smiled as they looked out at the Swiss Alps, the small towns below them canopied by clouds, mountaintops covered with snow. “Something easy to handle.”

            They’d taken the ski lift up to the restaurant. He’d heard from one teacher that the view was spectacular, and from a different teacher to order the Filet Mignon ‘if you can afford it’. He could, and did, hoping not only to satisfy himself, but also to show the lady the size of his wallet. In truth, his wallet was very small, but he’d been waiting over a year to ask her on a date, watching her from his faculty desk as she cried on and off about being heartbroken by a Frenchman named Lavar, someone the man believed to be an idiot for not realizing what he had, and, simultaneously, the luckiest son of a bitch on the planet.

            But here they were, high above. Their own planet, he’d hoped they’d refer to it. Still, he had his worries. Had he shot the moon too soon? Had the romantic intensity he’d harbored all these months gotten in the way of planning what could have been a more modest start to their relationship? Possibly some tea at a local café?

            He shook off his doubts, and as the food came (she had a chef’s salad, and they shared a bottle of white wine; a Riesling) they both calmed from the dizzying heights around them. They talked about work, gossiped about other teachers, and told each other where they came from and what it still meant to them. Random clouds moved past them like floating cotton swabs, and she reached over and placed her hand on top of his. “I’m having a great time,” she said, green eyes sparkling.

            He beamed! Instantly, he regretted nothing. And the longer her hand remained in contact with his, he began telling himself what a genius he’d been. After all, they lived in a small mountain town of about four thousand. If he’d gone the modest direction, they most surely would have been spotted or interrupted by people who knew them, or, even worse, co-workers. The news would quickly spread around the school, perhaps wounding what he felt to be a sweet, pure, and innocent attraction.

            They ordered dessert. Cheesecake, with strawberries on top. “Best ever,” she said, her mouth full. “Actually, it tastes…”

            Out from the kitchen came an older, fit man with curls that flopped around. He placed his hands on his hips and took a deeply dramatic breath. “You are here,” he said to her, his eyes wet. “But you hate heights.”

            Her fork dangled from her hand. “Lavar? I thought you’d left,” she said, her face in shock.

            “Someone from the kitchen quit. So I, I…ah, this English, so putrid! Mon amour, tu es belle. Come back to me!”

            And the man watched her hand leave his and attach itself to Lavar’s hairy, well-developed forearm. She stood, her fork finishing its dive to the floor, a bite of cheesecake left on her plate. In one moment she threw herself at Lavar, as he twirled her in the air. “Oh my angel. My sweet sweet angel.” Their embrace lasted long enough that the man, after rubbing the back of his neck and checking his watch, reached over and ate her final bite of cheesecake.

            He took the ski lift down alone, still enough time to have tea at the local café.


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