Challenge Accepted

Shari found herself standing on the veranda, the sun having set without her realizing, and the cold cigarette butt between her fingers burnt down to the filter. The party in the ballroom behind her wound down some time ago and only the stragglers who dreaded returning to the dullness of their home lives remained, desperate to make any sort of connection with another human being. She, of course, was not one of those people. She had simply gotten lost in her thoughts, but couldn’t recall, for the life of her, what she had been thinking about for all those hours.

“Certainly is a nice night,” a man said, stepping onto the veranda. His voice was kind and jovial on the surface but the undertow of his desire was evident.

“You’re wasting your time, my friend,” Shari said without turning around, because she had no interest in his appearance. “I don’t keep up with current jargon or buzzwords, so forgive me if this phrase is outdated, but you should consider me to be self-partnered.”

“I see,” the man said, halting in his approach. “My name’s Drew, by the way. And you are…?”

“Single as a dollar and not looking for change,” Shari flicked the cigarette butt onto the street below, fished a fresh one from the open pack in her handbag, struck a match on the stone railing and steadied her hand to light it. The man was too close for her comfort and his own good.

“Well, I didn’t mean to bother you,” Drew said. “You just seemed like a perfectly nice person, in need of a little company, to me.”

“That’s because you’re too young to know what warning signs to look out for,” Shari smiled wanly and let the smoke stream out in lazy snakes.

“Now you’re just being dramatic.”

“Am I? What do you see when you look at me? I mean, really see.”

“That’s easy, and this may sound cheesy, but you’re a beautiful woman, I mean, beauty beyond compare, who’s probably been alone so long that she’s become lost in her loneliness, someone, I think, who is in desperate need of the right person to pull her from the depths of her despair.”

“And you think you’re that person?”

“I could be.”

“But what if you’re wrong? What if what I actually am is a thing you should not ever invite into your life?”

“I’ll take my chances.”

“I would so destroy you.”

“Challenge accepted.”

Shari took a long last pull on her cigarette, flicked it off the veranda to join its partner, and turned to face the brazen young man. She let out a long, slow breath, and when the smoke cleared, she let this Drew see her for what she was.

Rooted to the spot, confidence beading on his flesh and evaporating like sweat, Drew stared into the pools of obsidian that were Shari’s eyes which were set beneath the veil of willows that was her hair, and those eyes announced very clearly that there were no sweets left to taste in her garden. But it wasn’t only her abyss-eyed stare that rocked him to his core, it was this woman’s entire demeanor which cast such a somber moral hue filled with vice and disease over the patch of paradise that was his soul.

Among her sisters, Shari was considered the black sheep, because she actually felt remorse when feeding, especially when she wasn’t hungry, but this fellow had been well and truly warned, and she had never been the type to back down from a challenge.

19 responses to “Challenge Accepted

  1. Beautifully written! I really enjoyed reading it and to me it seemed so naturally written from heart with the flow of thoughts that occur in you! I loved and enjoyed it! Looking forward to reading more! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I knew Shari was trouble. Her dialogues though so wonderful, inspire wrongdoing. Truly something to admire. You flipped it over just in time. And he really did deserve it. Who doesn’t heed a warning? Dark and gorgeous. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Every. Single. Time. With. The. Twist!

    Been enjoying the recent posts, but I must admit, I miss the Transmissions! I’m sure you have a plan, but I wanted to let you know. Keep up the good work!


    • Hmmm, interesting, because I thought this one was pretty straightforward.

      I like the Europa transmissions, as well, but my daily stats were dropping, indicating to me that people just weren’t interested in it. This site’s readership has always been on the low side, and that’s fine, people are interested in what they’re interested in and my style might not be to everyone’s taste. Different bikes for different likes, as they say.

      Maybe I’ll try the transmissions on a weekly basis instead of daily and see how that goes.

      Thanks for the input, Tom, always appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel you on the stats and I don’t have near the readership! It’s hard to sometimes understand them because I’ve got x amount of followers but that doesn’t correlate to the actual reads on my stats when I publish.

        Ok, so yeah you’ve had more “intense” twists than this. So maybe a turn is what I should call this one as, yes, you could sort of feel this one going a direction but I wasn’t sure.

        I do enjoy how you’ve worked on your craft to the point of being able to put in the twists and turns in such a short space.


      • Some people click a follow button because it’s an easy thing to do. Online reading is much more difficult because it requires more time than the average person’s internet attention span.

        Make your piece with it and don’t let it drive you away from writing if that’s really what you want to do.

        If you write long enough, your audience will find you, even if you only reach a handful of people initially. I know writers who are 15-20 year overnight sensations. It takes as long as it takes. Hell, I’m still plugging away at it.

        Didn’t mean to get preachy, I just notice that you haven’t written in a while and made an assumption (which is never a wise thing to do, I know).

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d say I’m fairly at peace with it, just irritating sometimes. And yeah, if I let that mess with me, I just wouldn’t write. Between this and my former site, I think I’ve been at it for about 8-ish years. Definitely agree on the “overnight sensations” being a long game many of us don’t see.

        Currently working on a few pieces, but I don’t prioritize writing like I want to during this current season in life.

        No worries on the sermon. 😉 I appreciate it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, Drew had his chance to make like a squirrel and leave (to mix a couple of metaphors), but he persisted in his hubris. I love this description:

    “But it wasn’t only her abyss-eyed stare that rocked him to his core, it was this woman’s entire demeanor which cast such a somber moral hue filled with vice and disease over the patch of paradise that was his soul.”

    Such a lush and verdant way of putting it. And for a reason I’m unable to articulate, I was really disturbed by “the veil of willows that was her hair.” There’s something so surreal and insidious in this description. It’s perfect. This was a satisfying read, good sir. Well done on all counts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I lack your poet’s soul and turn of phrase, Mike, so I often picture things that I can’t put into words. The things you’re complimenting me for are just me clutching at straws to make the indescribable visible. Cheers for the read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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