Cindy L. Katri
A Taste of Pomegranate:

Some from Chapter Two - Girls Night
All of Chapter Three - The Argentine Tango

A little sample never hurt anyone...
Some from Chapter Two - Girls Night

(As we join Suzanne, she's finishing up her Bunco night out with her girlfriends - more about sassy conversation than Bunco, with some good food and a couple of Mellon Balls thrown in.  Host and best friend Lori tries again to persuade Suzanne to accept a ride for the short trip home.)

     “Oh, Dee, can you give Suze a ride maybe? She walked here.”

     “And I told you I’ll walk home, too. Got to work off the drinks and dessert.”

     Fran puts in her two cents. “Don’t you pass that crazy Cybil’s house, walking home from here?” Like both Suzanne and Lori, Fran had grown up in town, and everyone who grew up here, then or now, knows crazy Cybil. Many generations of walkers have avoided both her and her house.

     “I think I can handle it.”

     “I seriously almost didn’t buy this house,” says Lori, “just because it’s so close to hers.”

     “What are you, seven?”

     “The real question, Suze, is how old she is. She seemed ancient when we were kids.”

     “When I was a kid, too. Ancient and creepy,” adds Fran.

     “Everyone seems old when you’re a kid.”

     “Well, she can’t be that old. She’s still walking.”

     A while later, sober Dee packs a tipsy duo into her car, making sure Suzanne doesn’t want the ride as well. Suzanne rolls her eyes, says thanks again to all for a fun evening, and sets off on her “long journey home.” She hears the last of the car doors slam and looks up to wave goodbye to the back of Dee’s silver Camry. The lights from the car soon fade, and Suzanne realizes the moonless night sky and a missing streetlight bulb have made for a startlingly dark street. She pulls her cell phone out and uses it as a flashlight, trying to resist the urge to regret the ride not taken.

     Three doors down from Lori’s house, the thought does enter her mind to cross to the other side of the street, avoiding Cybil’s house completely, but she decides not to give in to the silly paranoia and stays straight on the sidewalk, opening and closing the cell phone to keep it lit. Just as she has almost navigated the width of the driveway, she hears a noise. She hesitates for a fraction of a second but then continues, past the driveway and a few steps away from the end of the property. Realizing she has been holding her breath, she starts to let it out when, suddenly, a figure dressed in a white flowing gown appears directly in her path. Taken so completely by surprise, her heart pounding out of her chest and into the top of her head, she thinks, “Run,” but then a single word stops her, and she becomes the proverbial deer in headlights.

     “Zuzanka,” says a high pitched, ethereal voice. Zuzanka.  Her name. Not the one by which everyone knows her but her true name, the one her parents had given her.

     The wraithlike voice, the willowy, billowing dress with as many wrinkles as the face of the woman wearing it, the black night surrounding the white garb, the pale, iridescent skin seemingly shining out of the darkness, the name no one but her parents has ever used. A moment so beyond this world that Suzanne—Zuzanka—feels almost as if she’s crossed into a different realm.

     “I knew your mother, you know.”

     Suzanne somehow finds her own voice. “Hello, Miss Cybil.”

     “A very kind woman. An old soul, like yourself. You know, I told her so when you were born, that you had been here before... many times.” The old woman hesitates, as though expecting a response. Suzanne has none to give, speechless, a little in awe, and irrationally but utterly scared of this ancient woman. After a brief moment, Cybil reaches into the voluminous folds of her gown and pulls out a small box. “I want you to have this,” she says in a voice quiet yet filled with great pomp and circumstance. Then in an even softer, more sincere tone, she adds, “For your anniversary.” The old woman has crept close to Suzanne, so close Suzanne can see her face clearly despite the darkness. No, not so wrinkled, although the reflection of the material had made it seem so. A smooth face, hiding no fears but telling no secrets. “You have lost your path, dear child. I pray this helps guide your way back. Use it well.” The woman presses the box into Suzanne’s hands.

     Suzanne looks down and, although she knows she should not accept it, she cannot help but pull the top from the box. Inside rests a long silver chain, and attached to that chain she sees a small crescent shaped medallion. It appears filigree-like, but, shrouded in the darkness, she can’t tell for sure. What if the old woman, in confusion, has given away something really valuable? After all, her age must be quite advanced and confusion seems quite likely. She looks up to say a polite and genuine “thanks but no thanks” but finds she stands alone. Well, the woman had appeared without any sound or warning, why shouldn’t she depart the same way?

     Suzanne decides to bring the necklace to her house, take a closer look at the curious object and then return it to Cybil in the light of the morning. Coincidentally, just at this moment, the streetlamp buzzes and, a fraction of a moment later, shines once again. Since it’s still not enough light to get a good look at the gift presented to her, she sticks with the plan and heads for home.



Chapter Three - The Argentine Tango

     As soon as she steps into the house, Suzanne heads directly for the kitchen with its bright, almost harsh light.  She opens the box once more and takes a close, long look. In fact, she can’t stop staring at the strange gift bestowed upon her in such an unusual manner. The charm hangs on an unremarkable silver chain, but the medallion itself—an elaborate filigree, just as she had thought—looks like some abstract flower or plant.  Rather, half an abstract flower or plant. Did someone snap it in two, or was it designed this way?

     When she can finally pull herself away from the necklace, she pours and drinks a tall glass of water to ward off the inevitable Melon Ball headache. Shortly after, with the gift in hand, she makes her way upstairs to her bedroom.  She finds Joe asleep in bed, the soft night table light on but certainly not bothering her snoring husband. She readies herself for bed as quietly as she can, although the proverbial herd of elephants wouldn’t wake him now.

     A short while later, Suzanne takes a sip of water from the bottle she keeps on her night stand then turns off the light and leans her head back on her double pillow. Knowing she needs to fall asleep soon to be alert for her day ahead, she tries to fill her head with thoughts of the evening in order to lull herself into unconsciousness. She chuckles at the thought of her outspoken friends then looks over at her sleeping husband. What a shame, but she looks forward more to a date with those friends than she does to an evening with Joe, with whom she bickers and finds they don’t want to do the same things, eat the same foods, or even watch the same movies or television shows. Oh, television.  Yes, that’s a good thing to think about to try to fall asleep. Rafael Derosa—who wouldn’t want to think about him? Yardstick broad, exactly the right tall, an exquisite creature, oozing sexuality. Just the thought of him makes her...

     Joe snorts in his sleep, and Suzanne laughs at his timing. She thinks, “Well, maybe I can get lucky in my dreams.” She rolls to her side, her back to her husband, not even realizing she still holds the necklace. “To be a young woman in the strong arms of...”


*     *     *


     Well, what a weird dream. This place looks vaguely familiar, though. Maybe I’ve been here before—when I was awake, I guess. Definitely have seen this, but it looks like backstage someplace—the heavy long curtains, the wires. What are those—big theater lights? But when have I ever been backstage any place?

     Maybe I should take a little walk around. I kind of feel like an intruder, but, after all, this is my dream, so I guess I can intrude wherever I like. Oh, that looks like some kind of scenery. Looks pretty fake up close, with its painted broad strokes and bright colors, but I bet when you see it on the stage it looks much better. And, next, a bank of mirrors which look like make-up stations. I know I don’t belong, but I take a seat at one of the high chairs in front of the rectangular mirrors, anyway. Oh my god—who is that? That’s not my reflection in the mirror! I move my head to the right. Yes, the image follows. How bizarre! I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed about someone who’s not me. I move my head again, a slow nod. The image again follows. Well, maybe it is me, just a different me. A young me, except that’s not what I looked like, hmm, I’d say maybe twenty-five, thirty years ago. That girl in the mirror, she’s a pretty twenty-something, blond, only a single chin, petite nose. And those translucent green eyes. Nice. Maybe I should see what else I’ve fixed on my body in this dream of mine.

     I push back the chair and stand. Wow—the body I’ve never had. Is that a bra giving that incredible shape? I look down—oh, I’m wearing the cutest soft green dress, an A-line which falls low on top and short on the bottom—and gently tug at the V-neck collar so I can see my boobs. Okay, I have never worn that lacy a bra in my life, and certainly it wouldn’t be holding up anything that wasn’t holding itself up. I’m liking this body more and more, from the flowing blond tresses to the two inch strappy heels. I take a walk again, now that I know I’m wearing heels I’ve never been able to handle in real life. It feels so natural. Short dress, high heels. I feel so tall and leggy.

     My walk takes me to another area of the stage, and I stop quickly. I thought I was in my own little wonderland, but someone else has joined me. A tall, broad, male someone. He stands with his back to me, but I swear, like this whole backstage area, he looks familiar. He seems to count while moving his hips just the barest bit, side to side. Small movements, like he’s practicing a dance mostly in his head, and he turns, head down, concentrating. Even in his minute gestures, I can see he’s graceful. And even though I can’t see his face, that gnawing feeling of familiarity won’t go away. Wait a second, of course I know him! I gasp out loud because, dream or not, it startles me to see Rafael Derosa standing right before me.

     Rafael—can you believe it? Rafael!—seems to hear my small, surprised sound and looks directly at me. He is glorious. More glorious, more attractive than on the small screen. A deep chest, brilliantly wide shoulders, thighs almost bursting from his jeans—all in magnificent 3-D. Oh. He definitely looks so much better in person than on my fifty-inch high definition television. Okay, so a dream’s not really in person, but it sure feels that way.

     He’s still looking at me, with his deep brown, puppy dog eyes. Oh, crap, he’s walking over to me. He’s walking, anyway, and I think it’s towards me. There’s no one else here, right? I turn my head ever so slightly to the right, straining to see as far around me as possible without seeming to look. Then to the left. No one. Alone with Rafael Derosa. Well, really, I’m alone with my husband, who’s sleeping next to me. Wait. Why am I even thinking of that? Rafael Derosa is... about to talk to me.

     “Hello.”

     There, he did it. He spoke. To me.

     “Hello?” Why did that come out like a question?

     “I am sorry to bother you, but do you think you can help me, just for a moment?”

     He wants my help. That accent. So... oh. He wants my help.

     “Sure?” A question, again? I’m an idiot.

     “I must practice my tango. The Argentine tango. My partner, she had, she must... I’m sorry, my English is not so good.”

     “No, it’s fine,” I reassure. And anyway, who cares?

     “She is not here for now. So you can dance with me the tango?”

     “Okay.” Okay?! I don’t know how to do the Argentine tango! I don’t know how to do any tango!

     He steps closer to me. So close to me. Rafael is standing next to me. He’s reaching for me, my hand, and pulls me even closer. I think I’m going to faint. Okay, Suze, just remember you’re lying in bed. You can’t faint when you’re already lying down.

     “What is your name?” With his face right next to me, I can feel the tickle of his breath.   Before I can answer, he says, “Oh, I know. Shoshanna, no? The makeup girl. Sorry. Woman. Yes?”

     “Yes.” Well, how could I say no? Shoshanna? Makeup? Okay, why not?

     “Okay, then, Shoshanna. We dance.” He’s holding a small remote, which he clicks, and the beginning strains of a song—how do I know that’s the Assassin’s Tango?—begins to play.

     We hold still as the music starts, the violin roughly hitting the strings, the firm but gentle stroke of the piano, the guitar’s enticing, deliberate notes. The sound fills the entire backstage area. Then, as slowly as the wide vibrato from the violinist’s skilled fingers, he runs his leg up from my ankle to my thigh, keeping the rest of his body, and mine, absolutely still. The rough denim almost chafes my skin in a tantalizing sensation. And then he begins to move, intentionally slow but purposeful. My body follows. It feels natural, as though I’ve been dancing the Argentine Tango, the Assassin’s Tango, for years. Except the only experience with it, with dance at all, has been watching on television. Watching him on television.

     With fluid movements, we cross the area back and forth. I don’t know how, but I know the dance. Even so, I’m surprised as he flicks his massive leg between mine—so high it momentarily pulls up my short dress. I return the flick, careful not to hit the wrong spot. Even in a dream I don’t want to damage Rafael.

     Suddenly, his strong arms pick me up, my legs encircle his hips and he twirls the both of us around. I can feel him intimately rub against me. No, I shouldn’t think like that.  We’re just dancing. He sets me down, the piano pounding, and I vaguely register a drum added into the mix. I savor his strong leading movements while over and over he pulls me towards him, slams me into rock hard muscles for only a second and then pushes me away. Delicious, cruel, teasing torture. The music crescendos, the violin saws across the strings and Rafael and I alternate staccato and smooth movements. How am I doing this? And while I pray for the dance to continue—I wouldn’t mind for the rest of the night—I can tell the end nears.  On the last beat, he yanks me to his chest, and the music stops.

     We do not move, except for some winded breathing. Very softly, he says, “You are a wonderful dancer.”

     I manage to whisper, “Thank you.”

     “You must have been watching me practice, hmm? To know the dance?”

     I don’t answer. I don’t have an answer.

     Reluctantly for me—and, by the slow way he moves, I think for him as well—he gently pulls away. Who am I kidding? He probably just feels tired. On the other hand, this is obviously my fantasy, so if I feel he doesn’t want to stop touching me, he does not, right?

He looks directly into my eyes. “Thank you,” he says for the second time. “That helped so much.” Such a soft voice, and his smile lights up his face. It lights me up, and I smile in return. We stay like that for a few more seconds, and then he asks, “Do you only do women?”

     What?! I thought we were having an amazing moment, and then he so brusquely asks me if I’m gay?! But he touches his face, and the movement makes me realize he means the makeup. I’m the makeup girl—woman—after all.

     “I will ask for you.” His smile widens.

     Oh, my.

     “For my makeup.” He bends quite far to be on par with my face and delivers a chaste kiss. Although we barely touch, in that fraction of a second I feel his lips, so firm and smooth. He says, “Buenas noches,” holds the gaze of my eyes once more, gives me his charming, disarming smile once more, then turns and walks away.

     I stand in place for the few more seconds it takes for him to disappear behind the curtain.

     Well, that had to be just about the best damn dream of my life.