I run my soapy hands under the cold water, watching as the bubbles swirl around the drain before disappearing from view. Once all the lavender scent has been rinsed from my palms I cup my hands, letting them fill with the icy water, and splash it on my face. The water spills onto the tiled floor and across the melamine vanity, and it soaks patches of my flannel long sleeve and white t-shirt underneath. It sends a shiver down my spine, but it feels nice after such an overwhelming day. I wipe my damp hands on my jeans and open the door of the nautical-themed bathroom.
I’ve never loved the look of it—seashells and lighthouses decorating the wallpaper while small lobster knickknacks cover the small shelves—but it used to make ‘ma happy and I can’t stand the thought of changing it now that she’s gone. Not that she would mind, she hated it too, but it’s so completely intertwined with the memory of her that I expect this washroom will stay looking like an ode to the ocean for decades to come.
I walk through the house to the entrance, tracking dirt and mud from outside across the hardwood floors, and open the front door. I stifle a scream as I see Rosaline standing outside the door, all 92 kilograms of her stuffed onto the small porch of the house with a smile on her lips and her face pressed against the glass. Her eyes widen in excitement when she spots me and begins to wave frantically to me.
“Ah, Pierre, hello!” she says excitedly.
“Hey, Rosaline. How—“
“Call me Rose,” she practically sighs, her breath fogging up the window slightly.
“Uh, okay. How’re you doing, Rose? And, more importantly, why are you here?”
I open the front door and step onto the porch, trying to fit onto the small platform with the centaur-not-centaur woman. She smiles at me as we stand close together, the space much too small to accommodate the two of us. I stare at her, waiting for her to move, and when she doesn’t I nod to the stairs behind her, hoping she’ll get the hint.
“I thought it was such a nice night, why not spend it ici? Non? Here with you and that, uh, older gentleman.”
“Oui! Ben,” she smiles, leaning in. “So I thought, why not come here and spend the night with you.”
“Yes, yes, Ben too. So I thought maybe we could spend some time alone—“
“But Ben—“ I interject.
“—looking up at the stars. What do you say?”
She leans her face close to mine, her body only a few inches from my own, and I press myself flat against the front door to try and create some space between us. I debate retreating inside and leaving Ben to fend for himself, but eventually decide against it.
“Do you think you could, uh, you know, maybe move back a bit? It’s kinda cramped up here, eh?”
“Oh, oui. Sorry!” she giggles, slowly backing down the steps to stand on the gravel outside my home.
I follow her off my porch and then head back towards where I came. I can see the soft glow from the fire from here, and Rosaline follows me excitedly. As we approach the pit, I notice another man with Ben—the wizard from Tim Hortons—sitting in my abandoned seat. I try to ignore Rosaline’s disappointed sigh when she spots the other men too.
“Hey Fred,” I say.
It suddenly hits me that a centaur-not-centaur is following me and I panic, trying to get in front of her to block Fred’s view of the mythical creature.
“Calm down, kid,” Ben says, a little exhausted. “He knows about the piaffhommes.”
“Oh, okay… And do they know that he’s a, you know…”
“They know he’s a wizard. A bad, stupid, idiotic, horrible wizard.”
Fred looks ashamed of himself and Ben looks beyond the point of frustrated. I look between the two of them expectantly, but when neither divulges any useful information, I cough dramatically and hope they get the meaning.
“I may have fucked up a little,” Fred admits.
“You may have fucked up a lot,” Ben corrects him. “Excuse my French,” he adds to Rosaline.
She laughs and dismisses his worries with a shake of her head.
“What did you do?” I ask, not especially wanting to know the answer.
“So, you know how I was trying to get rid of my acne?”
“By giving it to a frog?”
He nods, frowning. “Well, I may have tried a few times… I may have been trying for a few weeks actually.”
“You may have been, or you were?” Ben asks harshly.
“I was, okay?”
I crouch next to the fire, letting the heat warm my skin, and I feel Rosaline move closer behind me. I try not to linger on the thought that the fur on her legs is touching the back of my shirt, or that I can hear her small white tail swishing back and forth.
“So what’s the problem? Too many frogs exploding and your conscience can’t handle it?”
“No, more like the idiot’s been sending out a magical signal into the universe, and has drawn sirens to the town,” Ben clarifies.
“Technically, they were just drawn to the Ontario region, so…”
“Until you sent up your green flare and told them where we were.”
Fred runs a hand through his hair nervously, beads of sweat collecting along his already oily forehead. He focuses his attention on fixing his shirt and tries not to look anyone in the eye.
“So, what’s the big deal? What are sirens?”
“They’re these vraiment beautiful women,” Rosaline explains.
“That honestly sounds like it could be worse.”
“Well, then they find men-“
“Still not as bad as I thought it was going to-“
“-and drain their life force. If they get enough magic, they could undo the fabric of the universe.”
My mouth suddenly feels too dry and my body too warm. I stand up and take a step back from the flames, crossing my arms over my chest and stare at Fred.
“Are you, you know, sure you saw a siren?” I ask.
“I definitely didn’t see one, but I heard them. It was women singing, and they had these beautiful voices, and honestly if I didn’t have my magic I probably would have gone to them.”
“And you’re sure they weren’t just really hot folk singers in the woods, or something?”
“No, dude, you don’t understand. They were singing Nickelback… and I liked it.”
Ben, Rosaline, and I stare at him dumbstruck.
“They must be really strong already if they can make you like that shit.”
The teen/wizard shifts his weight from foot to foot, staring at the ground. He looks nervously into the forest around him, as if he expects a drove of beautiful, lyrically-inclined women to start crawling out of the foliage.
“I don’t know what to do,” Fred whines. “They know where I live, and I can’t draw them into the city now that I know they’re after my magic.”
“And to think, I thought you dreamt of women throwing themselves at you,” Ben drawls.
Fred looks at him desperately, then at me.
“You can’t stay with me. The wife doesn’t even want me home, the hell she’ll want you hanging around there too,” Ben says. “And you can’t stay with Pierre. The guy’s had a hell of a day, the last thing he needs is a wizard with a skin problem.”
No one says anything for a moment, and the silence starts to become unbearable. Fred looks like he wants to die, and Ben looks like he just might kill him.
“Well, monsieurs, if you’d like, I can watch him.”
The three of us stare at Rosaline as the fire crackles softly.
Photo Credit: Flickr