The Strange Case of the Coup De Foudre
Part 1: By Becky Alice Coe
There was far too much buzz in the air for a Tuesday, and Meldene felt rather peculiar. The birds were chirruping in a great cacophony. As though they were discussing the coming of a storm. Or a calamity just over the horizon. The evening had arrived, and she was standing in a car park in the phallic shadow from a giant monolith behind her. The sun was going down and a humid heat had begun to settle over the land. It was weird. She felt a change coming. The delightful smell of frangipani hung on the air, mixed with something more pungent. Like garbage. She didn’t know where she was. It was just a whistle-stop on the way to her final destination and the sudden need to take a pause, and a piss; had ordered her to stop.
Business had slowed and there were few people about. She felt a great overreaction when she heard a loud THWACK that shocked her eardrums and she recoiled. Only just holding herself back from throwing her eyes into the forest. But it was just two seagulls smacking into each other. Even the seagulls were ratchet in this shantytown. Never to be deterred by ominous signs. Meldene felt an urge to feel the earth under her feet and headed over to a grassy knoll by the side of the road.
Then she sat down, untied her laces, and kicked off her boots in a carefree manner like a child home from school.
Meldene looked up in search of the disembodied voice to see a man standing in the middle of her shoe-throwing runway. Rubbing at the side of his face and holding one of her boots. The other had landed just behind him next to a dead rat. Realising what had occurred, she was about to apologise but he spoke first.
‘You make a habit of throwing shoes at people?’
‘Not often, only strange men.’
‘Oh, that’s everyone around here then.’
‘I gathered. Nice sort of place this. Do you live here?’
‘Yes actually. I live inside that building there. The one that looks like a penis.’
He was pointing at the concrete mass behind them. She laughed, he was funny. Though why someone would build such an ugly thing she had no idea. But this was probably why she wasn’t an architect.
He passed her back the shoe and sat down beside her. A little too close for the current times.
‘your social distancing is really not up to par.’
He moved in a little closer, shuffling on his butt a few inches more.
‘Eager much?’ She asked.
‘I weighed up the stakes and I assuaged that I had two options. Both of them led to my undoing.’
Meldene looked at the strange fellow opposite her with concern. Surprised that he seemed to be just as forward as she was, and marginally more niche. He had a wayward eyebrow. The type that sparked a nostalgic sense of intrigue to wash over her in an awesome wave. Her gaze tracked the trajectory of his face and stopped all at once as his eyes caught hers. She froze. They were incredible, like the kaleidoscope she had as a child. There was a whole universe in them, moving and twisting, iridescent in the golden light but seeming deeper than the Mariana Trench. She felt she could travel deep within their recesses and never find the bottom. When she snapped back to reality she acted casual and pretended she had narcolepsy for a moment on account of him being an extremely boring stranger. Though she was wondering if he had noticed that she had just stared at him for a good many years, died a few deaths, and created a time-space paradox in the process. All the while thinking that when one gazes long into an abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.
He had a curious look on his face like a man who has just been presented with a handwritten letter from a woman on the street that he doesn’t know. It made him look more handsome if that was possible. Meldene bit her lip gently and then looked out at the surroundings.
‘What’s that thing over there? Behind the penis?’
‘It’s a fountain.’
‘It’s closed you know, we’re in lockdown.’
‘Oh, I know.’
She skipped across the car park like a bat out of hell. He wasn’t behind her, so she stopped and turned. Her red hair glowing in the golden light of magic hour as though she was some sort of mermaid.
‘Are you coming or what?’ She yelled. With a sparkle in her eye that suggested many words. None of which he could grasp. Then she turned back towards the park and pole-vaulted over the fence.
The stranger made his way over to the gate and noticed it wasn’t actually on the latch. But a sense of spontaneity sparked within him and he jumped over it just as she did. When he arrived at the fountain. Meldene was already wetter than she’d ever been. Laughing uncontrollably and casting about. The fabric of her dress clinging suggestively to her figure as the spray rained upon her, like Sylvia in the Trevi Fountain.
She called to him, her voice like velvet over the bubbling water.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Whatever you want it to be. But most people call me Eden.’
‘Who names a baby Eden?’
‘A woman who enjoys gardens way more than films about Star Wars.
‘Fair enough. Come in, the water is wet.’
She splashed a little of it his way just to make sure. He wasn’t about to let this woman play out an entire meet cute all by herself. So he took off his shoes and socks and stepped into the water up to his knees. The moss-covered stone basin was covered in pennies. A decade worth of wishes made by poor souls and whimsical dreamers. He took a coin out of his pocket without looking at it and tossed it up high. It landed back in the sparkling blue pool with a soft splash.
‘What did you wish for?’ She asked.
She was sitting on the lap of a mouldy renaissance filigree in the middle of the pool. The figure looked slightly abashed, but he likely always looked like that; as he was made out of stone and all.
‘If I tell you it won’t come true.’ He shrugged.
‘I can probably guess. You have a suspicious look in your eye.’
‘I do? Perhaps it’s an eyelash. You want to check for me?’
‘Is that your way of asking me to come closer?’
‘Maybe, maybe not.’
‘Isn’t that every guy's dream? Meet a hot girl in the street and fuck her in a fountain?’ She said. Standing up slowly and rearranging the now see-through fabric around her body.
‘I think you’ve embellished a few details there. But I suppose you’re right. Though I wouldn’t like to think of myself as most men.’
In a split second, she had moved across the water and kissed him with full force. Her hands brushing through his hair and her limbs wrapping around him so close he could no longer work out where he ended and she began. A lifetime of memory flashed through their minds at the speed of light. Their eyes were closed, and thoughts elsewhere across dimensions. Neither noticed as a small butterfly flapped its wings gently and landed on the rim of the pool, and a storm began to brew somewhere over the Arabian Gulf. Eventually, they broke apart and the sound of a heartbeat caused every dog in a 2-mile radius to start barking with intense furore.
The kiss still hanging on her lips, Meldene spoke quietly.
‘Let me ask you a question. If you had to choose between marrying me or never seeing me again, what would you chose?’