(December 2021 short story of the month)
I told Eddie it didn’t hurt too badly. “Give it a couple of minutes,” he said, smiling that smile of his. Like he knows it’s going to hurt, and like he’s secretly going to enjoy it. Eddie has this habit of being by my side when times are tough. He was there when we had the great idea to get tattoos.
Five Years Ago…
“We should get the water mage emblem tattooed on us,” said Eddie as he took another drink.
“I love that idea,” I said. I punched him in the arm. “Let’s go tomorrow. It’s raining right now.”
“Good point,” said Eddie settling back on the couch.
The next day we made our appointments and met with a tattoo artist.
As I sat there getting my ink etched into my chest, Eddie was in the chair next to me getting the same stamp.
“This hurts,” he said.
“No kidding,” I answered.
“I kind of thought it wouldn’t really hurt,” said Eddie.
“It’s permanent, and they do it with needles. What part of that did you think wouldn’t hurt?” I asked.
“Seriously though, when you’re ready to call it, let me know.” He slapped me on the shoulder and made his way to the dance floor.
I just shook my head. Eddie was right about a lot of things, but not this. He did have a way of knowing when enough was enough though. Like the time we’d went to jail.
Six Years Ago…
“Can I have another?” I asked the bartender. The place was packed. Mages were perched on every stool and chair. More were lined up around the pool tables. The dance floor was covered with graduates celebrating.
It was a tradition for all graduates of The University of Mages to spend the evening getting wasted in The Four Elements, the oldest pub in London. Following the day’s ceremony, they’d all teleported discreetly to London.
The party was going strong. The drinks were being drained almost as quickly as they were being served.
Eddie and I were having a great time.
“Look what we have here, boys. The water mage sisters,” said a voice from right behind me.
I barely turned my head and looked at Eddie. We didn’t have to look to know who was calling us “sisters.” The only person who thought something like that was funny was Ben. Ben lived across the hall from us in the dorms. He was an earth mage. He was big and dumb like an ox. His favorite past time, other than being big and dumb, was picking fights with anyone who wasn’t an earth mage.
There was always a bit of rivalry between the different elements while at university, but Ben and his classmates took the rivalry to a whole other level. For them, it was all out war. They fought with any one and everyone who wasn’t an earth mage. It made the years at university very long. Eddie and I were glad they were over.
“Don’t,” I said to Eddie. “It’s not worth it.”
“You’re right,” he said.
“Look at the two twin sisters finishing each other sentences. Aren’t they so cute?” Ben said in a taunting sing songy voice.
“However,” said Eddie as he sat his cup on the counter and turned around swinging.
The fight didn’t last long. The police had been told to stand by. Not only was a graduation party at The Four Elements a tradition. About half the party-goers ending up in jail was also a tradition.
I watched Eddie dancing with all of my sisters at the same time. They thought of him as another brother. I laughed as they all joined in the chicken dance.
There was no way I was going to be dragged into that ridiculousness.
I saw Annie coming toward me through the dancers with a smile spread across her face. Okay, so maybe there was one way.
She grabbed my hand and I joined her on the dance floor. We did the chicken dance, followed by the YMCA, and ended up doing the macarena before I finally got an opportunity to steal away again.
Eddie found me standing further away from the dance floor.
“Never thought I’d see the day when you’d willingly do the chicken dance,” he said shaking his head.
“You’d be surprised what you would do for the right woman,” I said. I was watching Annie chat with relatives. She worked the room, making every one feel like they were our special guests. She really was special.
Four Years Ago…
“Move the couch to the left and tilt,” I said.
“I’m trying,” said Eddie. “There isn’t anymore left for it to go. Unless you want me to move it through the wall.”
“Please, don’t,” said a voice from behind Eddie and the couch that I couldn’t see around.
“Hey, doll,” said Eddie. “We’ll be out your way in a few moments.”
“Great. Don’t call me doll,” the voice said.
I couldn’t see her, but I could see her converse shoe tapping on the other side of the railing. She was not so patiently waiting for us to unblock the stairs.
Standing there like a couple of idiots trying to fit an oversized couch up the stairwell in front of a potential mate was enough to motivate Eddie to try harder. He pulled and hefted and the couch moved.
As I made my way onto the landing, I saw her for the first time. I gave her a half-hearted smile from over the side of the couch.
“Hi, my name’s Charles. Looks like we’re going to be neighbors,” I said as I smiled and walked with the couch.
“Annie,” she answered. “Welcome to the building.”
I didn’t see anymore of her that day.
I would get to see every day for the rest of my life after today. Eddie was wrong. This was one adventure he wouldn’t understand. I would never be done with her.