Skimming Stones

Photo by Paul Jarvis on Unsplash

This post is part of the Across a Misty Bridge series of stories, and this instalment was first published in May 2014. You can find the whole series on my other blog, here, and I will be posting other snippets throughout this October.

The imp belched in Steve’s ear.  “Someone’s coming, boss.”

Steve didn’t look around.  He skimmed another stone across the lake.

“I see that the imp has its uses.” Lord Marius said coolly.

“His name is Armani.” Steve said, still gazing across the lake.  He picked up another stone.

“On account of my style, yer highness.” Armani leered at Lord Marius.

Lord Marius took in the scruffy and torn miniature t-shirt, the filthy jeans and stained boots.  “I can see that only a normal could call you that.”  The imp chuckled coarsely and spat onto the rocky shore.

Lord Marius walked closer to Steve.  “There is no door to a magical kingdom here.” He said.

“I know.” Steve selected another stone.

“You are not meeting anyone?” Lord Marius was sure he knew the answer but asked anyway.

“No.” The stone skimmed for four bounces across the still water.  Steve bent to carefully select the next stone.

“But you are here.” Lord Marius persisted.

“I wanted a bit of peace and quiet.” Steve glanced a little bitterly first at Armani and then at Lord Marius.  “And Armani is quiet enough.”

Lord Marius watched Armani roll one of his foul cigarettes.  “Elaine is in Iberia.”

“Spain.” Steve skimmed another stone.  It was only three bounces this time, but he seemed satisfied enough.  “She’s gone to Spain with a friend.”

Lord Marius shrugged.  “Spain used to be part of Iberia.  No matter.  Is she coming back?”

“To England, yes.  She’s got a flat in Manchester and a good job offer.”

“Is she coming back to you?” Lord Marius asked.

Armani took a long drag of his roll up and gave Lord Marius a disbelieving look.   As the imp oozed smoke Steve took his time selecting his next stone.  Eventually he glanced up at Lord Marius.  “No, she’s not coming back to me.” He said finally and skimmed the stone.  It shot five bounces across the water sending ripples across the stillness.

“I am in contact with an elfen marriage guidance expert who…”

“Don’t you dare!” Steve whirled around and glared at Lord Marius.  “Don’t you even dare.  You think you know people, but you don’t.  You don’t understand emotions or love or caring, and you don’t understand me.  Elaine’s gone!  That’s it.  I can’t force her back.  She couldn’t cope with the magic, the elfen, the weirdness.  And even if I wanted to I can’t walk away from that because of Armani.  And I don’t.  This is who I am.  This is what I am.  And Elaine doesn’t want it.”  Steve sagged.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”

“I understand.” Lord Marius said quietly.  “And I also am sorry, sorry that your love affair failed.”  He picked up a stone.  “We don’t understand, really.  We try, but the elfen never quite understand the marvel that you are.  We do love, in our own way, but not in yours.” And he skimmed his own stone across the cool water.

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