Romantic short story:
On the very first dawn of the year, the sun was rising in glistening pink embers over a sapphire sky. As I sat on the rooftop of my apartment complex, leaning back against the brick wall, I closed my eyes and breathed in the crisp, fresh morning air. Birds were ringing in the new year with chirping and singing, and the trees in the park in the distance glistened with the morning dew.
“Mind if I join you?” I heard a sweet feminine voice say. When I opened my eyes, I turned to see my neighbor Dahlia, a vision even at six in the morning. Her blonde hair fell in feathered curls over her bare shoulders, and the dress she wore glowed in the light of the sunrise.
“Not at all,” I grinned up at her. My heart was thudding like a jackhammer, a habit that always seemed to happen in her presence. We rarely talked, but I loved watching her come and go, like an angel in the night. It was usually at night when I’d see her return from work, fumble with her keys at her door, and sometimes greet me with a smile that would simultaneously light up my world and melt my heart. There were rare days on weekends when I would catch her coming home with her arms loaded with groceries and I would rush over to help her, put the bags on her kitchen counter, and wait just a second to hear her say thank you. Just one word from her was enough to set my heart soaring with wings. I was hopelessly in love – with a desperate infatuation for the woman down the hall.
So when she joined me on the rooftop on New Year’s morning and sat beside me, I was surprised at how calm I was on the outside, in spite of the intense passion for her burning within me, like a candle that only lights when set to a flame. Her subtle perfume, her closeness, her hair, all spurred delightful passions ablaze.
“It’s beautiful,” she commented with a smile, gazing at the sunrise that reflected on the softness of her cheeks in rosy pink.
“Yeah,” I agreed, trying my best to revert my eyes away from her and back to the sunrise. “Did you have a good night last night?” I asked.
A smile brightened her face and softened her eyes. “Oh, it was divine,” she sighed, dipping her head back in recollection. “Danny took me down to the Phileo Theater on Fifth. They had an all-night swing dance party going on there and we tore the place up. Danny was swinging me around like a rag doll and my dress kept flipping up when he twirled me or swung me in the air.”
As she recounted everything that she did with her boyfriend Danny, I felt a tinge of jealousy welling up. I hadn’t even met the guy, but I could swear that I never hated anyone more in my life than him. I laughed at myself on the inside. How obsessed was I?
“Sounds like a perfect night to me,” I said, biting my tongue.
She shrugged. “To tell you the truth, it didn’t end so well. He danced with someone else and … well, she was the one he kissed at midnight. Granted, it was probably her fault. She was all over him and had him drunk and playing right into her hands. I should have seen it coming. I wanted to tear her eyes out, but best thing just to do was leave. I walked out the back and all the way home.”
I looked at her incredulously. “After midnight from Fifth Street?”
“In dance heels, no less,” she added.
“I didn’t know you came home alone.”
She glanced down, the sun shining over her melancholy face. “I’d rather not talk about it.” Then she glanced over at me. “How about you? You were probably enjoying your night, kissing your girlfriend at midnight in some dance club.”
I snickered. “Far from it. I was working. Well, covering for someone.”
“Seriously?” she exclaimed. “What kind of heartless brute would make you cover for them on New Year’s Eve?”
“It wasn’t so bad,” I replied.
“What do you do again?” she asked. She had never asked me. On the two occasions we had ever talked about work, I was the one asking questions and she was the one who was trying to leave the conversation.
“I work down at the Center,” I explained. “The Center for the Institute of the Blind. I took some of the older folks down to the river at midnight. They wanted to see the fireworks, so we took them.”
“That’s so sweet that you were helping… wait,” she said, “how could they ‘see’ the fireworks?”
I smiled at her. “They see them in their minds eye. They hear them, of course, too. But they get a clearer picture when I describe it to them.”
She shrugged. “But it’s not the same.”
I chuckled. “You’d be surprised. Here, I’ll show you. Close your eyes.”
She glanced at me askance.
“Trust me,” I grinned.
She returned the grin and closed her eyes. To make sure she wasn’t peeking, I moved over to her and gently put my hands over her eyes. I could feel her stiffen up, but then she relaxed and trusted me.
“The play of shine and shade on the trees,” I began, speaking softly close to her ear, “as the supple boughs wag. The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hillsides. The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.”
She quickly grasped my hands and pulled them away, looking at me as if for the very first time. “You’re a poet!” she exclaimed, the light sparkling in her dazzling eyes. “No wonder you help them see so clearly!” She still hadn’t let go of my hands.
I almost didn’t have the heart to tell her. I wanted to take credit and claim what I saw her thinking. “Well, not exactly. I was quoting Walt Whitman. But it seemed to suit the occasion.”
“It did indeed,” she said catching her breath. Then she realized she still had my hands and finally let go, turning back to the sunrise and tucking a few strands of blonde hair behind her ear. “It’s funny,” she said. “You’ve lived right down the hall this whole time and I’m only noticing you now.”
I replied, “I’ve noticed you for a long time, Dahlia.” After a silent moment when the sun was growing brighter over the horizon, I finally said, “So what are your plans for the new year?”
She replied with complete confidence, turning to me. “I’m going to see more sunrises.”
“So am I,” I grinned.