1. Ladies Night
I have never felt like I did last night.
Of course, normally I don’t go home with strangers… well, not very often at least.
But last night, when the bar was dark and loud, and the lights from the stage were combining with my vodka crans to make the whole place spin, I saw him across the room.
I realized too late that I was drunkenly staring way too hard at him, and tried to go back to my drink, just as his eyes locked onto mine.
And what eyes. I’ve never seen anything like them: pure shining gold, even in the darkness. They weren’t reflecting light like cat’s eyes, but burning like molten metal.
He was tall, taller than anyone else in the room, and had dark, close trimmed hair, brown, smooth skin, and a strong but graceful chin.
In fact, all of his features were perfect, almost too perfect, like an ancient statue or one of those renaissance paintings.
I shook my head and turned my barstool back to face the bar.
My drink was almost empty, just ice cubes and a dribble of pink liquor. I tried to flag down the bartender, but the place was packed, and the music was too loud. I reached down between my feet, rummaging around in my purse for that twenty I was sure I hadn’t spent yet. When I reemerged (credit card in hand) I felt a warm, tall body standing right behind me.
“Allow me.” He offered in a deep and resonating voice. The man from across the room.
Up close, he smelled like springtime and exotic wood. His eyes were mesmerizing, and I blamed the poor stage lighting and too many drinks for my unreliable vision. Clearly, I told myself, eyes don’t glow in the dark. But when I looked up at him, sure enough, they shone bright like glowing coals with a pure golden light.
The room spun and dipped. I felt a rush of blood course through my body, and told myself to close my legs like a lady. This was a time to be classy for once.
“Thank you.” I managed, barely croaking out the words. My mouth suddenly felt very dry. “I’m Caroline.”
“The pleasure is mine,” he crooned “what are you drinking?”
“Vodka cranberry please.”
He stood head and shoulders above the crowd pressing around the bar, and motioned to the bartender, cash in hand.
The rest of the night was even more of a blur. I drank until I felt numb and free. I laughed at everything he said, though I don’t remember much of it. His smile was heartbreaking, and we eventually moved to a corner booth, where I snuggled close to him, feeling his perfectly toned body through his black v-neck t-shirt, and drinking in his perfume.
When we kissed, my brain was on fire. My heart stopped, and I could feel myself loosening and burning hot.
The fresh winter air hit like a sobering splash of ice water. The city lights reflected on the overcast sky, and the L-train trundled past nearby. I lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, I didn’t smoke unless I was drinking, and the hot fumes warmed my lungs and throat and nose.
He took my arm and we walked to the next boarding platform. The harsh fluorescent lights only enhanced his features. I smiled too much, and together we rocked with the train back and forth back to my place.
2. A Day in the Life
Now, I’m back on the L headed toward work with a pounding headache.
He wasn’t in my apartment when I woke up, and I couldn’t find a note or anything. Probably for the best. I didn’t need to start a serious relationship, and he was too much for me anyway. I’m too pale and too skinny, with dyed blond hair and ears that are too big, and lips that are too small and tits that are practically non-existent. My ass isn’t even worth mentioning.
I dug around in my purse for another ibuprofen and swallowed it with some smart water.
My vag was still swollen and sticky, and my pelvis felt like I had been hit by a truck. But it was all worth it. I could still smell his perfume on my body, and still taste his tongue in my mouth. He was gentle and considerate and spent plenty of quality time with his perfect, stubbly face between my thighs.
It was the best drunken sex I’ve ever had, and I’m sure I’ll still remember it when I’m 60 years old with 4 grandkids.
More than anything, I couldn’t get those eyes out of my head. I told myself it was the booze and the late hour. But whenever I closed my eyes, I could see his fiery gaze looking down from above me.
Work was somehow highly stressful and incredibly boring. I work at a dying ladies magazine, copy editing their shitty sex advice and even worse gossip columns, day in, day out. I try not to complain though, because at least I’m sort of using my journalism degree.
Dinner was leftover pizza from lunch and a glass of wine. I fed and snuggled my cat, combing her long white hair with my fingers and listening to her rattling purr while we binged some Netflix until it asked if I was still watching. Then, I clicked off the TV, and padded into my bedroom to crash. I brushed my teeth and scrubbed my face and peed a dark yellow dehydrated piss.
I considered changing the sheets before I crawled into my bed, but thought, with some shame, that they might still smell of his perfume. They did, very faintly, or else I have a good imagination.
Just as I was fading out, I rolled over and felt something poke me in the thigh. Startled, I sat up groggy but waking fast, and flipped on my bedside lamp. Throwing back the duvet, I scooted to the edge of the bed and fished around in the sheets.
There, in the center of the bed, was a giant golden-brown feather.
3. Girl Talk
“Well?” My deskmate Lisa chewed her gum like and old timey reporter. “Was he like tickling you with it or something?”
“That’s just it,” I said, leaning back in my office chair and twirling the feather between my fingers. “I don’t remember very many details. Only that I came for like 5 minutes solid and then blacked out in his arms.”
Lisa and I were close. We met while I was finishing my degree, and she’s part of the reason I got this job right when I got out. Working at a sort of smutty magazine encouraged this sort of open sharing… which always annoyed the few men in the department.
“You should google it and see if it’s like, I dunno, a sex toy or a necklace or something.” She suggested.
“I hadn’t thought of that. I don’t think that would really clear this up though. I mean, it’s not that weird, is it?”
She smiled, still smacking away, “My ex was into all sorts of kinky shit, so I’m not really a good gauge of how normal something is or isn’t in bed.”
I snapped a photo of the feather on a white sheet of printer paper and reverse image searched it. “Hmm.” I thumbed through the photos. “Nothing really helpful. It looks like it might be from a hawk or maybe a golden eagle?”
“Couldn’t tell you.” Lisa turned back to her desk. “Are you going to try to contact him again?”
“Honestly, I’m not really sure if I could, even if I wanted to.”
Lisa laughed, “From the way you’ve been talking, you should at least give it a go. It’s not every day you meet a real life adonis.”
I considered going back to the bar that night, but it was a Friday, and if it was busy before, it would be unbearable now. Instead, I flicked through the photos, texts, and notes on my phone vaguely hoping that maybe I had gotten his number or taken a picture of him or something.
I put the feather on my nightstand and stared at it, my heart thumping sideways in my chest just thinking about him.
By May, most of the snow had melted, except for the giant hills in parking lots and in dark alleys where the sunlight never really reached. The streets were brown and wet, and the air was still a little nippy.
I had gone back to the bar two or three more times hoping to see him again, but eventually stopped looking. For all I knew, he wasn’t even from the city. Maybe he was on a business trip, or maybe he didn’t want to run into me again.
I jogged in yoga pants and a hoodie, dodging muddy puddles and potholes.
The cold air burned my lungs, and I remembered when I was a little girl pretending that I was a dragon whenever I could see my breath.
I ran out four blocks to my neighborhood park, where the pond was still thawing out and the first green leaves were glistening on the trees in the morning light. Saturdays were my days, and I usually went for a run, cleaned my laundry, and went grocery shopping.
On that Saturday though, I was feeling restless. I was sick of the cold, dark, wet, eternal winter and seeing new life blossoming around me was sparking my creativity and filling me with wanderlust.
I thought about buying a ticket to visit my home town for a few days, or maybe striking out on my own and spending a few days down south, somewhere with a beach and a good book. Maybe I could find a hot latin guy in Miami and he would take me out on his boat and ravish me for a whole weekend.
I shook my head and smiled. It had obviously been too long since that night with feather boy. I yearned for something more than just my bullet vibe and soft core porn. I needed to get out and get laid. Fuck work, fuck laundry and groceries. It was time to get slutty.
Back at home, I showered off, fed my cat, and checked the freezer to make sure I wouldn’t kick myself for not buying food. Luckily, there were plenty of lean cuisines and frozen chinese food to last me for a few days.
Plopping down on my sofa, I unlocked my phone and scrolled through my contacts.
My dad… gross.
I opened my favorite dating app and checked my inbox trepidatiously. Oh god, so many dick pics. Immediately regretting my decision, I was closing the app when a face caught my eye.
Oh my god.
Could it really be?
I cursed myself for closing the app and reopened it quickly, hoping it hadn’t refreshed yet. Sure enough, right there on my dash, was feather boy. He looked thinner than she remembered, and I was disappointed to see that his eyes were more light brown than fiery gold, but oh my lanta, it was him.
A solid minute later, my heart started beating again and I remembered how to breath. Should I do it? Would he remember me? What if he said no? Thoughts raced around my brain like a swarm of angry bees. I put my phone down, but not before clicking on his profile, and started pacing around my apartment. I opened a window. I walked into the kitchen, then into the bathroom, then back into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of water which I drank like a person dying of thirst.
But my throat still felt dry.
I had to do it. I would kill myself if I didn’t at least try.
5. Just Coffee
When I walked into the cafe down the street from my house, I spotted him immediately. He rose and flashed my one of his perfect smiles. For the most part, he looked very close to how I remembered him in my drunken, unreliable memories. His eyes were only light brown, and he wasn’t nearly as stacked as I recalled. In the daylight streaming through the coffee shop windows, his skin was smooth and olive, and his short curly hair jet black.
His name has Uriel. I didn’t know how to say it properly, so I avoided it altogether, but he gave me a big hug and intoned “Caroline” in that musical voice of his. There was that perfume, I would know it anywhere. “Can I get you something?”
“Oh, uh, skinny cappuccino please. Thanks.” I sat down at his table by the window and watched him ordering drinks. My pulse was racing but I was beyond pleased to find out that he hadn’t been a complete uggo that I had picked up after applying my vodka goggles.
He returned with a two steaming mugs, and passed me my drink which had one of those little leaves inscribed in the foam. To me, that day, it looked exactly like a feather.
“So, uh, Uriel.” (I said it like you’re real which seemed appropriate.) “Am I saying that right?”
“Very close.” He smiled, and I tried to place his accent. “It’s actually Uriel.” It sounded like he sung it.
“I’m never going to be able to say that.” I said, with an awkward giggle; wishing my coffee was cool enough to drink so I could hide part of my face with the mug. Instead, I unfolded and refolded a napkin absent mindedly. “I guess, thanks for meeting me. I know things got a little uh, hot and heavy last time. I promise I don’t normally move that fast.”
“I assure you,” he said,”you have nothing to be ashamed of. I was delighted to see your message. I’ve been thinking about you ever since that night.” Was that a slight blush?
“Before we take this any further, can I ask you something? It’s probably going to sound crazy.”
He nodded, “Not at all.”
I rummaged in my purse and produced the feather, which was sealed in a ziplock bag so it wouldn’t crumple. “Is this yours?”
He seemed shocked, and I was sure that time that he was blushing. He searched for the right words. It was the first time he seemed ruffled. “Yes… it is. I didn’t realize I had lost it.”
I waited for an explanation. The espresso machine at the bar whistled and whirred and spat.
“Well,” he continued, “before this goes any further, I guess I have something I should tell you.”
“Okay…” I was nervous now, but for entirely different reasons.
“Can we go outside for a minute? I know that sounds creepy, but it’s better if I show you outside.” He reached across the table and took both of my hands in one of his.
I still don’t know why I did it, but I rose and followed him out.
He led me to the alleyway behind the cafe looking around to make sure that we were alone. “Don’t be scared.” He intoned.
I was terrified and intrigued at the same time. At least if he was going to kill me, I got one amazing fuck out of it.
“Stand back a bit.” He said, and stood a facing me a couple of paces away, his feet planted firmly and his arms held out at his sides, palms open.
I took another step back, not sure what the hell he was going to do.
He rolled his shoulders and looked up like he was going to pray or something. Then, the alleyway was filled with a rushing wind and a brilliant flash of light. I had to turn away from him, blinking my eyes against the green spots floating in front of them.
When I looked back up, he had transformed.
His skin was glowing like he had bathed in light, and his eyes burned brilliant flashing gold. He was still wearing his street clothes, but now he floated a good meter off of the ground. And all around him, stretched out in every direction, were six giant golden wings.
The wind was from the powerful swoops of his flapping wings, which alternated in pairs. He made it look effortless, and a big dopey grin was splashed across his face.
I almost fell over backwards.
Seeing my shock, he called out over the rushing wind. “Oh, my god. I’m so sorry. The light, the wings. It’s too much. I’m so sorry, I should have warned you.”
I stammered, trying to speak but finding no words.
There was a sound like a thunderclap, and the wind was still. He dropped back to his feet, and his wings vanished. With an outstretched hand, he approached me carefully and spoke softly. “Oh my dear Caroline. I always jump into this too fast. I’m such an ass.”
I looked up, tears now streaming from my eyes quite unexpectedly. His were still glittering golden rings.
I fell into his arms, and he embraced me. For a long while, we just stood in the damp, smelly alley as I recovered from the shock and he hummed soothingly in his beautiful baritone.
We never finished the coffee.
7. Liquid Courage
I took a few days off of work to try and make sense of the world. He only sent me one message.
“I’m sorry. Let me know if you need to talk. Until you’re ready, I promise to wait for you.”
That week was a blur.
Finally, the sun was out in full force, and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom; which in turn terrorized my allergies.
Between the shock, and the weird non-schedule, and the cold medicine, I barely remember a thing from those days.
I know that I spent hours online reading up about angels, and demons, and even tried to read some Bible stories for the first time since I was a very little girl.
Finally, after a full five days of leaving him hanging. I replied.
“Let’s try this again, but with something to settle my nerves.” I included a time for later that night, and the address of the bar where we had first met, half hoping that we could get the same corner booth.
Thankfully, it was open, and again, he was already waiting when I got there. There were to drinks on the table, what looked like a manhattan or an old fashioned, and a vodka cranberry. I smiled by best disarming smile, and tried to calm my nerves.
We both finished our first drink before saying anything more than hello. It helped, and this time I let him start.
“I wanted to say that I’m sorry for giving you such a fright. I should have eased you into it. It’s been years since I’ve shown anyone. I forgot how intense I can be.”
I flagged down a waitress and ordered another drink. “First, you can stop apologizing. I forgive you.” I paused, and put my hand on his. His skin was always so warm to the touch. “I’ve had guys show me a lot weirder stuff than that before.” I choked out a laugh.
He smiled and my heart fluttered.
The vodka was already making me feel flushed, since I hadn’t eaten anything before hand.
I continued. “You’re pretty amazing, by the way.”
“Thanks, so are you.”
“I think we should take it slowly this time.” I suggested. “Why don’t you start at the beginning?”
He nodded, and took a sip from his drink. “That’s going to take a while.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” I answered, and brushed my foot up against his.