Hey guys :D I've been working on this story for a long time and haven't been doing much to finish it. For a little more motivation, I thought I'd start loading chapters onto FictionPress. It's always nice to have the pressure of readers breathing down your neck to get something done.
Or, at least that's what I hope will happen. Whether or not I get fans for this one, I'll keep updating. The goal is every two to three days! And now I'll shut up and let you get to reading.
Cupid is a lazy, stupid, son-of-a-bitch.
There. I think that adequately expresses my disdain for the man without too many expletives. I'm sure, though, that you've got a different opinion from me, right? Well, if you aren't the kind of person who burns Valentine's Day cards and boxes of chocolates. And I expect your opinion to differ-if you're thinking of the plump, flying, baby-in-a-diaper Cupid. But let's get one thing out of the way first: the real Cupid is no baby. He may be fat, but he sure as hell isn't cute, and he doesn't have sweet little white wings. He's got the look of a homely grown man, and you wouldn't dream of this guy ever being Cupid, the beloved mascot of Valentine's Day.
Now. In my little rant, you're probably wondering how I know what I'm talking about. Well, for starters, he's my boss. Generally, you get to know the personality of your employer. And, as I stated, mine sucks. I would much rather work under his twin brother Eros (fraternal), who is rumored to be much taller, skinnier, and handsomer than his sibling. But I've never met him, since the Southern Hemisphere is his jurisdiction and, it would seem, I fall smack dab in the middle of the Northern, making my home in the good old U.S. of A. California, USA, if you'd like me to be specific.
And the worst part is, I still have to go to school.
I'm in between classes when my ears catch the word "Cupid". I groan and shut my locker. With me, someone saying "Cupid" is never a coincidence. It's my boss' way of paging me. Somehow he's able to manipulate any conversation that's going on around me so that the word falls seamlessly into it. And if I don't report for duty, the word follows me around all day-and believe me, that's enough to piss anybody off.
I dig deep into the pocket of my cargo pants and pull out an average-looking wristband. It's brown leather that clips comfortably around my wrist. It's also a cloaking device. Well, if you want to get technical, it projects a frequency that distracts people from my presence, essentially making me invisible.
It's easier to fly when people aren't trying to put you on YouTube.
I walk through the school's exit doors and push myself off the sidewalk and just start to float upwards. There's really nothing complicated about it. You just bend with the breeze. My head brushes soft cirrus and I chuckle as I shake it off. It tickles. I breathe in thin air through my specially-conditioned lungs and it tastes cleaner than the stuff I have to breathe down there.
Eventually, the clouds turn from soft to hard, like concrete, and I know I've reached my destination. And just in case I wasn't sure, Cupid's house is a big, gaudy, marshmallow castle extending some ways into either end of the sky. It sparkles, it's pink, and there are hearts all over, in every color. An airplane soars over my head as I walk down the lane to the front door. The castle has a bit of a wristband, too. It's undetectable by any technology on earth. Airplanes and such are gently and imperceptibly nudged away from the structure and onto a new path by a force field.
I don't knock. If I did, I'd have to have something seriously wrong with my brain. I tear a me-sized hole into the soft, damp fabric of the sky with my foot and duck inside.
"What is it?" I shout from the foyer, hands shoved deep in my pockets.
"Lenny, Lenny, Lenny," Cupid's voice drifts down to me, followed by the man himself. I am struck again and again by how plain he is. Thinning brown hair, short stature, boring blue eyes. His cheeks are plump and red, making it seem like he did a lot of exercise to come down to greet me. His tiny feet in tiny shined shoes clap against the floor and he smiles an agreeable smile that I return with a scowl.
"Well?" I prompt. "What is it? I've got a test I don't want to be late for."
"You're a senior," he says. "Why do you have so much work to do?"
My eyebrows go up a bit. "Uh, because I'm a senior? College? They kind of like it when you show how much of a good worker you are."
"And what a good worker you are!" he beams, merging into the main topic. "Are you ready for your daily assignment?"
I had my arms crossed, and now I extend one. "Gimmie."
"You're no fun," Cupid pouts, summoning a list of latitudes and longitudes. My targets. I take the paper and turn to shuffle on out. "You aren't going to wait for your partner?"
"Tell her that I mean no offense, but I can do it faster on my own."
I round the castle and find myself at the garage. I move to my cubby, where I keep a jacket, my book bag, some snacks, and my GPS Navigational Footwear. Or, you know, my Navi's. They're pretty cool sneaks. I input my coordinates into the graphing mechanism (very similar to a graphing calculator), then hook it up with the relays on the side of each shoe, and I'm done. I have my entire route set up for me, and all I have to do is say "Completed" in order to fly to the next place.
I lace them up and abandon my school bag for the bag I keep up here. Slinging it over my shoulder, I step out to the edge of castle property.
"Activate," I say.
Then I walk over the edge and plummet down.
The wind whips my hair up and all over the place and creates a roar in my ears. I close my eyes, because if I try to watch, I'll get dizzy. I feel solid asphalt under my feet and straighten my back and open my eyes, looking around. I've landed in Missouri. These shoes will take me anywhere in the U.S. I turn around and look for any person that sticks out to me. My target is usually standing or sitting around, unconsciously waiting for me.
And there she is, resting politely on a bench, her hands folded in her lap. She's got her short brown bob held in place by a pink headband and looks to be about 20. She's cute. I approach her, invisible to the entire population. Her head tilts up to me and she smiles.
"Hello." Only the targets can see me.
"Hi there. How you feeling?" I ask, removing my bag and rummaging through it.
She shrugs her shoulder. "Fine. You?"
"About the same," I surmise, picking out a rainbow-colored rose. "This is for you," I hand it to her.
She stares at it, contemplating my gift as it takes effect. "Oh," she says softly, once it has. The flower dissolves into a glittering substance that clings to her and sinks into her. "Thank you."
I nod. "I hope you are very happy." I grab the strap of my bag. "Completed."
Then I'm off to the next.
I should probably explain the process you've just witnessed. Typically, Cupid is portrayed as one who shoots arrows into people's backs. Apparently, that got too violent. And apparently, some of those who've worked for Cupid in the past have really bad aim. One of Cupid's previous employees shot an arrow into a pole, and that pole fell in love with the passing cars, and let's just say that that is a very bad situation to have to clean up. So now, we hand off flowers. The flowers are full of some pixie dust crap that gets all over the target and, eventually, the person they're going to fall in love with five minutes after receiving their flower. The flowers are color-coded: rainbow for a long and nice relationship, black for a bad one, red for a short, but meaningful one, and gold for an everlasting one. In four months, I've never given out a golden flower. I wonder if anyone has or if it's just a myth.
I land steady on my feet at the next destination and am assaulted by a familiar voice.
I look to the side to find a willowy brunette puckering her lips at me in agitation. She has her arms across her chest and her jade green eyes are so sharp that I have to look away again. "Hello, Lainey."
"That's all you have to say?" she throws her arms down, slumping a little. Her expression has changed to puppy dog sadness. I sigh. "Don't you like having me on your team?"
"It isn't about liking or not liking," I explain myself for the… Actually, I can't even give an estimation for how many times I've told her this. "I just work faster alone. It's as simple as that. It has nothing to do with you as a person."
"Still feels like you don't like me," she mumbles, in full pout mode. You'd think a girl six years my senior would act a bit more adult.
"Yeah, well, you're here now," I say gently, grabbing her elbow and pulling her my way. "Help me with the rest. There's 50 more to go and I guess today's the day I can use all the help I can get."
"Oh." She picks up her step and joins me as we search the nearly-deserted area for our target. In this part of the day, the sun is in its fullest position, almost making me blind. "You have that test thingy, right?"
"Yeah," I answer shortly, picking out our target among fields of grain. Sometimes it's really creepy how they're just sitting there. Lainey takes over, her fingertips finding a red rose for the elderly gentleman in front of us. I judge by his location and his outfit that he's a farmer. Shaded by a straw hat, his shiny brown eyes, as sharp as a wise owl's, find Lainey's profile coming out of the shimmering sun. She hands him his flower with a wide smile, looking like the angel being Cupid isn't. A smile hits his features too, spawning roads of lines that represent a long life. It's supposed to be a sweet sight, a 70-something man finding love so close to the end of his time here.
Yet I'm filled with a wash of disappointment that the color of his rose is red.
Is that supposed to mean that when he dies, he won't love his partner anymore? Or that one of them will die before the other? Why isn't the color ever gold, especially in these cases?
I hate this question. I hate thinking of the gold flower that may or may not exist. It just makes me cranky. I snap back out of my brooding and look to see Lainey has already gone off again. The farmer is coming out of his gentle stupor, all covered in clouds of glimmer. For a second, his eyes swing on me.
Then all the magic is gone and I am invisible again, and he turns back to his fields. I kick the dusty earth and shoot up into the blue, content to go on my way as well.