It's time for the Lost & Found Valentine's Edition Bloghop! This bloghop is brought to you by Arlee Bird and Guilie Castilol-Oriard, and it's co-hosted by Elizabeth Seckman, Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey, and Alex J. Cavanaugh.
Today I'd like to share a piece of fiction with you. I hope you enjoy it!
Once upon a time, a girl named Harriett learned a lesson, even though most days she didn’t even remember that she’d learned it.
The lesson was this: one should be careful of curses.
One should also be careful of people who know how to cast them. Unfortunately, those who can cast curses don’t typically advertise the fact that they can.
It all began when Harriett was fifteen, and she did what many of her age tend to do. She fell in love. Perhaps it wasn’t the mature kind of love that most adults take seriously, but it was certainly the most intense feeling she’d ever known.
The mysterious boy moved in next door in the middle of the night. That alone added a level of mystique to the situation. However, when she saw the black-haired boy with the gray eyes on his front porch the next morning, her heart practically did a great flip out of her body and landed at his feet.
Unfortunately, he didn’t go to school like most kids their age, so she couldn’t hope to run into him in the hallway. She wanted more than anything to talk to him. To get to know him. She just didn’t know how to take that first step.
It took three weeks of seeing him outside every morning before she approached the chain link fence and offered him a simple greeting. “Hello.”
The boy smiled tentatively and introduced himself as Jonah.
Several weeks passed with daily greetings at the fence. Smiles were exchanged. Fleeting glances paved the way to longer conversations, and within a few months, they started sneaking away from the fence to spend time hidden away in a grove of pines behind their houses.
Every time Harriett smelled a brand new pine-scented car freshener, she recalled their first kiss.
* * *
Jonah wasn’t supposed to fall in love with someone normal. A mundane life would have only drained him of his magic. Yet when he looked into Harriett’s cerulean eyes, he couldn’t help himself. The risk didn’t matter. After spending an entire childhood in solitude, it was good to have someone. Those stolen moments made his days brighter.
Every time Jonah’s mother added pine needles to her cauldron to make her signature anti-wrinkle potion, he thought of Harriett’s embrace and the sweet scent of her straw-colored hair.
* * *
During another intimate moment in the pine grove, Jonah buried his face against Harriett’s neck and breathed her in. “I wish we could run away together,” he whispered.
She laughed softly. “We’re only sixteen.”
“I know. Maybe one day we can take off and see the world together. I don’t want to be worried all the time.”
Harriett never understood why Jonah’s mother was so strict, but she didn’t want to risk losing these moments with him. She hugged him closer. “We will. We’ll go, and we’ll see everything we can. Nothing can stop us.”
* * *
Jonah’s mother had been on her way to collect pine needles when she caught sight of her son and the neighbor girl kissing among the trees. Her blood boiled. She slipped away soundlessly, all thoughts of her anti-wrinkle potion banished. She had something more important to do.
* * *
Neither Jonah nor Harriett noticed the difference right away. The curse made them forget what they had previously meant to each other. When they saw one another from their respective yards, it barely registered. Why would Harriett notice the strange boy who never spoke to anyone? And why would Jonah care about this girl he didn’t know when he had to work on honing his powers?
Only one day out of the year was any different. Each year on Valentine’s Day, they remembered everything. For twenty-four hours, they looked at each other and saw just how much they’d once meant to one another, and they were allowed to spend that time together before the veil dropped between them once more.
Jonah’s mother designed the curse that way for a reason. That single day wasn’t enough for Jonah to devise a way to break the curse, and it was just enough to keep him from moving on entirely. The vague sense of wrongness would keep him from looking at any other girls who might distract him from his life’s path. That outcome was worth letting them have that one day.
* * *
Each Valentine’s Day, the lovers met in the pine grove as soon as their memories returned, and they spent the entire day together hidden away from the world. Once they were both eighteen, they started renting hotel rooms so they could have the intimate moments they craved.
When they were twenty, they decided to run away. Jonah wasn’t sure what would happen, but he knew he had to try. They made it as far as the state line by midnight.
The next morning, they both woke in their separate beds, the memories of the previous day nothing more than a blur.
* * *
When Harriett was twenty-two, she discovered she was pregnant. This came as a shock, because she wasn’t in a relationship. She’d never been with anyone. She thought back to various college parties she’d been to, and though she couldn’t recall anything happening at any of them, what other explanation was there?
Her parents were disappointed, but they invited her to stay at home even after she finished school. They didn’t want their daughter to be alone.
* * *
Harriett walked carefully down the sidewalk. It was the week before Christmas, and she didn’t want to slip on the ice with her infant son in her arms. He’d been born with gray eyes and a headful of straw-colored hair adorning his head. The doctor had commented on how unusual that was, but the boy was also healthy, so she wasn’t concerned.
She reached her car on the side of the street, and she was about to place her son in his car seat when someone bumped into her.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” the young man said, his eyes wide. “I wasn’t paying attention.”
Harriett, barely recognizing him as the neighbor, clutched the baby to her chest. “You’re lucky I didn’t drop him,” she scolded.
The young man looked down at the child, while she focused on his face. Something stirred inside her as she looked from the neighbor’s gray eyes to her son’s gray eyes. They were identical.
“Jonah,” she said quietly as something snapped into place inside her.
He looked up, the recognition evident in his face as he studied her. “Harriett.” That single word was filled with wonder. He silently offered her his hand.
She took it, vowing never to let go again.