'Kiss and Tell'
I definitely didn’t feel quite like myself that night, that’s the one thing of which I was certain. Annissa had guaranteed that I would be out of my comfort zone with the complete package of makeup, hairspray, and the works. 'I feel… stupid. Painted on,' I complained, looking at myself in the mirror. Annissa smiled, and continued her reign of terror on my barely feminine features.
When she was finished, she stepped back to admire her masterpiece, and grinned, her smile lighting up her soft face. 'Voila,' she stated, and then motioned to the mirror. I gaped at the reflection, not sure at what point I had disappeared and this girl had infiltrated my body. What had happened to my choppy, boyish brunette hair that hung in loose layers by my ears? I was not used to pastel barrettes and hair gel. My comfortable farming clothes, required for climbing up those pesky rainbows and removing the crusty mud that comes about with the mid-spring’s rain from my millk cow Cerylia's foot, had been replaced with a glamorous dress, the color matching the crimson tint of my lips. Even my comfy sneakers had been swapped for a pair of elegant pumps. I calculated my appearance for about three seconds, and then whirled around in a panic to face my good friend. 'I can’t do this. I look ridiculous! Chase will see right through me.'
'Relax, Angela. You look gorgeous, thanks to me, and Chase will love it. Remember, confidence is the biggest aphrodisiac.'
Annissa always seemed so poised and composed. She should be the one going on this stupid date, laughing and making small talk with Chase, the culinary protégée. I needed to stay home with my livestock and crops, where I belonged.
'Relax,' Annissa continued, repeating herself. 'You’ ll be fine. He liked you well enough when he asked you to lunch, and then he asked you out again? That’s not pity, hon, that’s affection. Now, go knock ‘im dead.'
On my way to the Brownie Ranch, I had to lock my hands in front of me to prevent myself from scrubbing the makeup off of my face, because after that, I would probably take off running in the other direction. I didn’t know why I was so nervous. I really liked Chase, and he seemed to be interested in any exchange we ever held. (Not that those conversations contained much substance: I was more concerned with forming words than what I was actually saying). I bit back my fear and just kept putting one foot in front of the other until my feet grazed the lush grass of the ranch. I hurried along to Alan’s Tree, hoping desperately that the family who lived in the house nearby wasn’t glancing out of their window by chance.
As I walked up to the tree, I spotted a dark silhouette, sticking out sharply in the fading sunlight. Shyly, I hesitated, but only for a moment. Chase turned around, and spotting me, waved boyishly, which made me smile. He met me about five feet away from the tree.
'Hey,' he said, grinning at me. I smiled weakly back at him, mentally cursing myself. Why, why, why can’t I form words??? In the vanishing sunlight, I could see him frown, and my heart skipped a beat. He leaned over, and then gently rubbed the color off of my cheeks and lips.
'Ah, there’s my Angela,' he said softly.
I groaned. 'Sorry. I made the mistake of telling Annissa about our little convene.'
He laughed, then, to my surprise, he grasped my hand, and led me up to the tree.
'Please, please, please, Harvest Goddess, do not let my hands be sweaty!' I prayed silently. As we reached the tree, Chase did not release my hand as I expected (actually, I expected him to grimace at me, shake off my grime, and then bolt). Instead, he reached for my hand and smiled at me, this time his expression mirroring how I felt- bashful and awkward.
'Goddess, you’re beautif-,' he interrupted himself and ducked his head.
I cocked my head. 'Wha-?'
'Just… never mind.' He blushed, and I could feel myself smiling at his sweet uncertainty.
'Listen, Angela… I can’t think of any way to tell you this, so I’m just going to say it, okay?' I nodded, my brow creasing, but motioned for him to continue.
'Um. I’ve never done this before, so bear with me, all right? OK, so, I’ve been back at this town for…what, a year? All the time that I spent away, the only thing I ever fell in love with was food. I thought that nothing else in the world could be so intricately complex, and as…perfect as a recipe. And then I met you, and all that changed.' He sighed, and then started again. 'Angela, what I’m trying to say- very poorly, but trying all the same- is that—I think I’m in love with you.'
My breath caught in my throat. I fumbled urgently for words, horrified to be rendered completely speechless. He cleared his throat, obviously crushed by my lack of reciprocation.
'I- I mean, that’s just me, so… I totally understand if…you know, you don’t feel the same…' he muttered, looking at his feet.
'No!' My voice was back! Now, to patch this situation up… 'Chase, I- I love you, too.'
My face heated up, and he grinned ear to ear. 'I- that’s great! We love each other!'
I laughed, and he pulled me into a tight hug that lasted much longer than a normal one. Then, he brought his perfectly featured face to mine, and kissed me, a sweet and lingering kiss that would have brought me to my knees had he not been holding me still.
To this day, with my two children and wonderful husband (you can probably guess the lucky guy, ha ha), I still smile at the memory of innocent love, and the incredible, flourishing relationship that blossomed out of our encounter at Alan’s Tree that Summer night.
Based on the event:
Tree of Tranquility
Note from Freyashawk: This charming tale was sent to me by Alyssa for publication on my fan fiction page on Christmas Day, 25 December 2008