International Lit Bulb Festival – flash fiction prompt ‘together’

lit bulb

features new flash fiction, flash non-fiction, and poetry from across the globe. Submissions had to be 1500 words or less and include the theme or prompt ‘together’. Thanks to Matt Potter for accepting my romantic flash fiction below:

Window to the Soul

Juliet glanced up—blonde-haired legs dangled from a rope outside her window on the tenth floor. Limbs with tight thigh muscles, flexing to keep balance. She’d never admired male knees before. Oh my. It was window cleaning day.

Juliet had been concentrating on her report, but a question froze her fingers at the keyboard. With legs like that, what’s the rest of him like?

‘Rosie!’ she hissed to her friend at the opposite workstation. ‘Look out the window!’

But Rosie had already noticed. ‘Oh, look! What’s blocking the light from yonder window?’

Once again Juliet cursed her parents for her name. She was distracted by muffled voices and the soft thunk of a boot against glass, close by.

Two men hung suspended from ropes outside said window, arcing sudsy washers in smooth strokes like a red-blooded aerial ballet. Relaxed, they swung six foot apart in the breeze with absolute trust in their safety equipment.

Suddenly Juliet locked eyes with The Legs, the younger of the two. His eyebrows shot up, his washer stopping in mid-arc. Although they were strangers, her stomach somersaulted.

‘That dude looks like he’s on drugs,’ remarked Rosie, glancing up from her screen. ‘And he’s not long for this world if he doesn’t get his shit together and concentrate.’

Juliet gave a soft laugh, her eyes riveted to the other side of the glass. The young man gave a slow smile, an irresistible combination of playful and perceptive. The intensity of his expression held her captive—she wasn’t aware of taking in his lean-against-me chest. Nor was she consciously considering the enticing possibilities of his square shoulders and taut lines of his forearms.

Juliet blushed, the first to look away.

‘Is he coming on to you? Shall I give him the evil eye?’

‘Ah, no, Rosie.’

The phone on her desk shrilled. Outside, the young man swung over and cleaned Rosie’s window, now out of Juliet’s sight. He pointed to Juliet, but Rosie gave him the finger.

Juliet’s call took forever. After hanging up, she fought the itch to stand up and investigate where he’d gone.

A few minutes later dark boots manoeuvred their way back along the sill.

The young man’s grin was infectious, yet his eyes pleaded. Phone number?

Name? she mouthed back, shrugging her shoulders.

He craned his neck, narrowing his eyes to read the nameplate at her desk.

Even as his lips formed the word she knew it wasn’t true.

Romeo.

Loser.

‘Juliet.’ She turned, startled to see her boss.

‘Whoa,’ said her manager, looking out the window. ‘Free porn at work today. How’s the Paris report going?’

‘Done,’ Juliet mumbled, pushing back her chair. ‘Just printing it off for you.’

When she returned from the utility room, the windows were sparkling—and empty.

That afternoon Juliet noticed a message scrawled in thick chalk on the ground, right outside the entrance to her building. She paused to read it again.

LOST

One heart, shot by Cupid’s arrow.

Please call Romeo.

There was a phone number underneath.

Juliet rang Rosie that night. ‘Of course it’s him,’ said her friend. ‘You almost made the guy fall off his perch. But I bet you don’t ring, unlike the office nymphos. You’re always too careful.’

‘No one will ring.’ Juliet frowned.

‘Oh yes they will,’ said Rosie. ‘Our building has ten floors. Everyone’s coming out of their own special closets since we embraced workplace diversity.’

Next morning the message had disappeared. There was a buzz of intrigue in the office, but by lunchtime it was history.

Juliet told herself The Legs incident was just one of life’s forks in the road, and fate was probably doing her a favour. What sort of desperado scribbles messages like that in a public place? He was probably a creep.

But he was far from a creep in her dream that night.

The morning after he was sitting on a bench in the tiny sculptured garden outside Juliet’s building, in jeans and a windcheater. It was freezing.

She recognised him immediately, even without a safety helmet. His expression brightened as he spotted her.

Well, this is awkward. She wandered over, determined to keep her expression neutral. The stale jokes had been with her, all her life. She was over it. Despite being wholeheartedly tired of all this Romeo and Juliet crap, his wide grin broke her resolve.

‘What’s your real name?’ she demanded as he rose to greet her.

‘Matthew.’ His voice was like honey straight from a bee-hive.

He probably floats like a butterfly and stings…Stop it!.

‘That message, was that you?’ She frowned, waving a hand towards the entrance to her building.

He raised his hands in defence. ‘You work on a secure floor, it’s like Alcatraz! Anyway, I had to remove it. Too many strange calls.’ He looked sheepish. ‘Would you like to sit down?’

Juliet balanced on the edge of the bench, letting her feelings escape in a sigh.

Matthew’s eyes searched her face, and now he sighed too. ‘You and I—it reminded me of the fish-tank scene, looking at each other through the glass,’ he explained with a half-smile. ‘I couldn’t get you out of my mind.’

Juliet crossed her arms. “Perhaps I’m not a real Juliet,’ she said, finally.

‘Perhaps I’m not a real window-washer.’ Matthew raised an eyebrow.

She gave him a long look, noticing his sensitive hands were trembling slightly. Surprising both of them, Juliet leant toward him, first brushing her lips against his, then kissing him properly. Matthew’s slow, considered response drew her hands to his chest, unconscious of her actions, curious.

A work colleague passed by and called out, ‘Get a room!’

‘Or a balcony!’ said another. But she was deaf to the taunts.

Matthew and Juliet sat on the bench, together in the winter sunshine.

‘You don’t kiss by the book, Romeo,’ she said, unable to resist.

Mathew took her hands. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘that’s probably a good thing.’

The End

Susan Lattwein

Lit Bulb.1

Read the other writers here :http://litbulbfestival.com/2015-festival-programme/

Pure Slush

SA Writers Centre

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