Here's my story for consideration in the Rebirth anthology run by J. A. Mes Press where all money from sale of book will be going to a Stroke charity in the UK.
Title: A Change of Seasons
Author: Lizzie Koch
Word count: 1033
A Change of Seasons
Eighteen months ago, Kathy’s world crashed, catching her fiancé with her oldest friend had left her life devoid of meaning except for self loathing and loneliness.
Aaron sat in the only empty chair. Kathy continued to stare out the cafe window as he chatted politely, her guarded nature preventing nothing more than a few pleasantries. Then he left, a feather drifting down behind him.
The second time they met was in the street market, buying lemongrass, laughing at their mutual interest but went their separate ways as a white feather fell. The third time wasn’t an accident. Kathy passed the cafe a week later, thinking of Aaron. She wasn’t sure where the thought came from but she found herself sitting in the same spot by the window, watching the door. Aaron walked in, giving her a smile. Kathy smiled back as butterflies danced in her tummy.
“This is becoming a habit,” he joked. “Aaron.” He held out his hand.
“Kathy,” she replied, taking his hand; strong, smooth, a little cold but the spring weather was unpredictable.
“How did the Thai curry go?”
“I never made it,” Kathy admitted. “It seemed too much fuss for one . . . I don’t know why I told you that.”
“I’m a good listener,” Aaron replied, staring into her empty eyes, resting his hand on hers. The first intimate touch in months. Kathy liked it. “Actually, I have some lemongrass here. How about I cook you the best Thai curry this side of Bangkok?” Kathy looked into his eyes, overcome with trust. They left the cafe together as a feather drifted down behind them.
The Thai curry was amazing, just like him. Until he walked her home. Disappointment filled Kathy as Aaron didn’t kiss her goodnight, desperately wanting more than a reassuring hand. A feather nestled, unnoticed, on the steps as she walked in.
Kathy spent the next few weeks with Aaron as her mind and body awoke to possibilities of sharing her life again. But Aaron hadn’t touched or kissed her. So, with new found courage, she asked him outright if he liked her.
He responded with lips, caressing her neck, travelling down the V of her dress, his hands teasing open the buttons as her dress slid to the floor. He lingered on her curves, scooping her up in his strong arms, carrying her to his bed, leaving a trail of feathers behind him.
Spring turned to summer. Kathy was a new person. She joined a zumba class, booked a weekend away with friends and enjoyed nights out with them. In fact, she was seeing less and less of Aaron. But Aaron didn’t mind. He only encouraged her as Kathy blossomed, living her life, rather than being a spectator.
Tumbling orange leaves told Aaron autumn was already upon him. He sat in a restaurant, seeing Kathy outside, amid a group, noticing one man unable to lift his gaze from Kathy. It might have been autumn but Kathy was in full bloom.
“Friends?” Aaron asked as Kathy joined him.
“People from work,”
“The tall, dark haired guy?”
“Ben? He’s new.”
“He likes you . . . you’re so different now Kathy. Back when we met, no one noticed you . . . you disappeared amongst the crowd . . . but now.”
“You’re going to have a happy life Kathy. You’re out there on your own. You don’t need me anymore,” he admitted, gently taking her hand.
“What?” Kathy’s smile dropped.
“When was the last time we saw each other?” he asked, softly stroking her hand.
“You said you didn’t mind.”
“I don’t. I want you to be happy. When I met you, what did you have? Eighteen months of a life going nowhere.”
“And I suppose you saved me,” Kathy said bitterly.
“Yes . . . I did . . . now you don’t need me . . . which is good . . . I don’t have long.”
“What!” Kathy stared at Aaron and for the first time noticed how tired and old he looked. “Who are you?”
“Do you really want to know?”
Leaving the restaurant, they walked through the park, hand in hand, the crunching of leaves under their feet and a trail of feathers behind.
“I was sent to save you . . . I’m your guardian angel.” Kathy didn’t laugh or argue. Aaron picked up a white feather. “One of mine,” he said with a smile.
Kathy noticed the trail, glistening in the moonlight. “I know . . . I think I’ve always known.”
“And you know I must leave . . . I’m dying. My feathers are like the leaves of autumn. I must go home before my last feather falls.”
“But . . .”
“You don’t need me anymore. There’s no room for me which is how its supposed to be.”
“But I don’t want you to die!”
“I won’t . . . if I go home.”
Kathy fell into his arms, holding him tight. “I love you,” she sobbed.
Aaron kissed the top of his head, her floral scent stronger than any flower in bloom. “It’s time.” He stepped back. A light shrouded him. Kathy saw his face, smiling at her, as his wings spread magnificently behind him. The light vanished and Aaron was gone.
Kathy picked up every feather on her walk back, passing a cocktail bar.
“Is that your girl?” Zara asked, sitting with Aaron, looking down through the clouds.
“Yes,” he sighed.
“Oh look! My boy is running out, calling her,” Zara said. They watched as Ben caught Kathy up.
“I thought you had a date?” Ben asked.
“He had to go,” Kathy replied, looking down at the feathers in her arms.
“Where did those come from?”
“A parting gift,” she said thoughtfully, watching Ben open up his briefcase.
“Me too,” he said, showing a handful of feathers. “She got me the job with you, said it would change my life, I’d meet someone, forget all the crap and self destruction.” His eyes locked on to hers.
“Kiss her already,” Zara moaned. “Why does he hesitate?”
“There’s no need to rush. Two lost, lonely souls have found each other. I say out mission was a success. Leave them to it,” Aaron replied.
If Aaron and Zara hung around, they would have seen Ben hold Kathy tight before his lips met hers as soft as the feathers they held between them.