Fete Accomplice? Added£0.99
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(A short story of 6518 words)

Fete Accomplice?


by Suzanne Conboy-Hill

2012: Alarming intrusions

‘Stop it right now, you dizzy tart!’ Marissa Nalletamby is giving herself a telling-off in front of the mirror. ‘He’s married, you’re married, and you barely know him.’ She pokes at her hair with the end of a comb, ‘And did I mention, you barely know him?’ Last night’s dream had been a doozer. Samuel had leaned so close to her ear, she could feel his breath. She had leaned back into his chest, his arms had been around her, they had gazed out at an idyllic seascape, like a pair of young lovers. Then he had unbuttoned her blouse, lingering over each pink pearl fastener and punctuating its freedom with a butterfly kiss to her neck. His long fingers had crafted a macramé of silk touches that ran down her body, over her waist, and down towards the gossamer skirt that was beginning to drift away on the honeyed breeze. Surely now … But the inevitable interruption cut in; this time a fire alarm, clanging its Freudian disapproval and transforming mercilessly into her ridiculous mouse-eared alarm clock. She allows herself a private chuckle. Her stab at moral rectitude is struggling, and her body overrides it with a wistful sigh that steams up the cold glass on the wall. She scrapes at the fog with her sleeve, and growls at her reflection, ‘Grow up,’ she tells it, ‘You’ve parent stuff to do.’

1999: The legal alien

They met, the two couples, at a New Year celebration, partying like it was 1999 because the world’s mileage was about to click over into a new millennium when the sky would fall in, if you believed the doom-mongers. They had chatted briefly – …nice area ... convenient for the station … but drifted away as the commonalities dwindled. Still, Marissa found herself curiously drawn to Samuel, whose slight but distinct distance set him apart from their Chardonnay-swigging crowd. Not particularly reserved herself, Marissa cavorted and caroused, laughing more loudly than was entirely merited, and engaging in some juvenile hi-jinks left over from everyone’s undergrad days. Samuel watched quietly from the sidelines, glass of tonic water in hand, and with the faintest of smiles that seemed almost fatherly.

As she waggled her tush to ‘The Birdie Song’, and pogo’d enthusiastically to a raucous punk track, Marissa sneaked glances at Samuel. Sometimes he would be looking at her. Mostly he wasn’t. Mostly he seemed to be in another world, somewhere intellectual, sober, more transcendent. Marissa’s imagination, somewhat alcohol fuelled, assigned to him the role of alien visitor – distant, detached, observing their child’s play with benign humour, and placing it in a context of worlds seen and experiences lived that were beyond primitive comprehension.

‘The Man Who Fell To Earth!’ she giggled, recalling an old sci fi film.

‘Who?’ This was Marcus, her husband.

‘Samuel – not of this world really, is he?’ chuckled Marissa. ‘Don’t look!’ she hissed, as Marcus started to wheel around. Instead, they both pantomimed covert peeks and armed fantasy phasers as they prepared to repel an alien invasion of suburban Surrey. Then they subsided into a deep sofa, and yuk yukked their way to the bottom of another bottle of plonk.

2001: Art for arse sake

Marissa’s next encounter with Samuel was at the village fete. She in charge of a stall exhibiting the products of the local art and photography group, and hoping to offload a few items on passing punters. He a passing punter paying respectful attention to the wares as he followed his wife dutifully around the festive encampment. He wouldn’t buy any of this if you threatened to cut off his arm! Marissa watched as Samuel made dignified and polite perusals – a slight incline of the head here, the faintest curve of the mouth there – while Rita, his wife, waxed lyrical on the captivating atmosphere generated by the use of this or that lens or paint medium. Samuel responded with understated nods, and a range of nonverbal packing that served to keep his (plainly superior) views to himself. Marissa shuffled awkwardly to one side as his small procession arrived at her corner of the stall. She made a stab at a sales pitch...

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