New piece of flash fiction. 😉
The Perfect Boyfriend
“So what are you looking for exactly?” Abbie asked.
Her friend Michelle continued to stare into the shop window and sighed.
“The perfect boyfriend,” she said.
“There’s no such thing as the perfect boyfriend,” Abbie replied.
“I know,” Michelle said. “But could you just imagine how great that would be? You’d get a big shiny box with a bow, and the love of your life would just jump out.”
She continued to stare at the glitzy display in the window in front of her.
“I’m not sure that’s a healthy way to think,” Abbie said. “Seriously though—I thought you said you wanted to go Christmas shopping. Where’s your list? All we’ve done so far is stare into windows.”
“I know,” Michelle said. “It’s just so hard to go through the holidays without your sweetie.”
“You broke up with Lucas six months ago.”
“I know,” Michelle said again. “But it all comes flooding back to you when the decorations go up.”
“Come on,” Abbie said. “Let’s actually go into a shop for a change.”
Michelle let herself get dragged inside.
Abbie and Michelle did end up getting some Christmas shopping done, and afterward, Abbie dropped her friend off at her apartment.
“Have fun wrapping your presents up,” Abbie said as Michelle exited her car. “And no more mooning over Lucas.”
Michelle gave a little wave and disappeared into her building.
Two days later, Michelle hadn’t shown up for a planned brunch with Abbie, and Abbie found herself in front of Michelle’s building again.
She went inside.
Abbie took the elevator to Michelle’s floor and then went down the hall and knocked on her door.
There was no answer.
Abbie noticed then that Michelle’s door was open just a hair, and she pushed on it.
It swung open.
“Hello?” Abbie called. “Michelle? Are you home?”
Swift footsteps approached her, and Abbie stepped back in alarm.
A light in the apartment turned on, and the door opened wider.
Suddenly standing before her was a man who looked familiar. He had black-rimmed glasses, and Abbie was sure she’d seen him somewhere recently.
“I’m Michelle’s brother, Zach,” he said. “You’re one of Michelle’s friends, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I’m Abbie,” Abbie said. She remembered now—she’d seen Zach at a party Michelle had thrown last month.
“Do you know where she is?” Zach demanded. “No one in the family’s heard from her in two days.”
“No,” Abbie said. “I dropped her off here after we went shopping on Friday. I haven’t heard from her since.”
“Shopping?” Zach said. “Do you know anything about this big box?”
“Big box?” Abbie echoed.
“Maybe you’d better come in,” Zach replied.
He stood back so Abbie could enter, and then he led her to the living room.
In the middle of the room stood an enormous red-wrapped box with a gold bow. It was long and tall, and it was just the right size to hold a person.
“What is that?” Abbie asked.
“I was hoping you could tell me,” Zach said. “Michelle didn’t buy that when the two of you went shopping?”
Abbie went closer. There was a tag on the box that read, “From your sweetie.”
“I didn’t know she was dating anyone,” Zach said.
“As far as I know, she isn’t,” Abbie replied.
She reached out for the lid of the box, which was facing them, and she found that it swung open like a door.
Inside was gloom that stretched a long way—it appeared to be a hallway.
Zach stared at it in surprise. “Do you think she went in there?”
“I think we’d better find out,” Abbie said.
She stepped into the box, and Zach followed her.
Soon a figure came toward them out of the gloom. There was a glow around the figure like candlelight, and Abbie soon found herself standing face to face with a tall, handsome man with thick, dark hair and mesmerizing dark eyes. He was wearing tight jeans and an even tighter black T-shirt that emphasized his well-muscled torso.
“Hello,” the man said in a deep, smoky voice. “My name is Ryan. I don’t believe we’ve met, but I’ve been looking for you all my life.”
He lifted her hand to kiss it.
“I’m Abbie,” she said, temporarily spellbound.
After a moment, she shook off her daze.
“What are you doing here?” Abbie said sharply. “And where is Michelle?”
“I go where I am called,” Ryan replied in a sultry undertone. “It’s a special call from the heart. And I have no idea who Michelle is. I only have eyes for you.”
Zach rushed forward. “Listen, creep. You’re going to tell us where Michelle is right now.”
Ryan stared at Zach, startled. “Whoa. A boyfriend. That’s an unexpected twist.”
“Where is she?” Zach demanded.
He reached out to grab Ryan by his tight shirt collar, and Ryan abruptly disappeared.
He reappeared behind Zach.
“I’m beginning to get the picture,” Ryan said. “You two are here looking for that pretty gal I picked up earlier.”
Zach turned on Ryan once more, and once again Ryan disappeared—only to reappear a few feet away.
“Relax,” Ryan said. “I’ll take you to her.”
“And you’ll let us leave with her?” Abbie asked.
Ryan flashed Abbie a rakish grin. “Sure. If you can convince her to leave me. Gotta warn you, though—it won’t be easy.”
He winked and placed a guiding hand on both Zach and Abbie’s backs.
“Follow me to the garden.”
Ryan led them through the gloom.
Soon a pink glow appeared in the dim light, and Abbie could see a wide cluster of rose bushes—it did indeed look like a garden. And in the middle of the rose bushes sat Michelle.
“Michelle!” Abbie and Zach cried together.
They ran toward her.
Michelle was staring straight ahead with a dreamy look on her face, and she didn’t appear to notice Abbie or Zach when they reached the little garden.
Abbie swiftly waded through the roses and sat down on a stone bench next to Michelle.
Zach sat on the other side of her.
“Michelle,” Abbie said urgently. “We’ve got to get out of here.”
“Michelle, can you hear me?” Zach said.
She made no reply.
Ryan followed more slowly, and as Abbie was shaking Michelle’s shoulder, Ryan’s candlelit glow caught up with them.
For the first time, Michelle stirred.
“Is that you, my love?” she said.
Ryan smiled—a truly glorious sight. “I’m here, babe. I’m always right here for you.”
“My sweetie,” Michelle sighed.
“What have you done to her?” Zach demanded.
“Nothing,” Ryan replied. “She’s in love.”
“With you?” Zach said scornfully. “I don’t believe it.”
Ryan shrugged his magnificent shoulders, and the glow moved along with him. “You can call it infatuation if you like. Whatever it is it works.”
“We’re leaving here right now,” Abbie said. “And we’re taking Michelle with us.”
Ryan laughed. “Go ahead and try.”
He turned and began to walk away. As he disappeared, his glow grew smaller and smaller.
“Three for the price of one.” His voice floated back to them. “My lucky day.”
Soon his glow was gone, and Abbie and Zach were left with Michelle in the soft pink light of the rose garden.
“Come on, Michelle, we’ve got to move,” Zach said urgently.
Michelle didn’t answer.
Abbie snapped her fingers and then waved her hand in front of her friend’s face.
Abbie turned to Zach.
“She only seems to respond to that Ryan guy.”
Zach looked around.
“She doesn’t appear to be restrained in any way. Do you want to try to move her out of here?”
Abbie nodded. “Good idea.”
They each grabbed one of Michelle’s arms and pulled.
Michelle didn’t move.
And neither did they.
“I can’t stand up,” Abbie said, startled.
“I can’t either,” Zach replied, equally startled.
“We’re stuck to this bench,” Abbie said. “All three of us.”
“Three for the price of one,” Zach murmured. “He’s got all of us trapped now.”
Abbie looked around. “How do you think this is happening?”
“Maybe it’s some kind of spell,” Zach said grimly. “Nothing about this is normal.”
“But we could move until just a few minutes ago,” Abbie said. “Something changed.”
She drew in her breath sharply. “The flowers!”
She began to grab at the roses, breaking them off by their stems.
But the flowers grew back as quickly as they were picked.
“That’s not a good sign,” Zach said.
“We have to do something!” Abbie cried in frustration.
She continued to pull more flowers—which quickly grew back.
“Wait, Abbie,” Zach said. “There’s something on your back.”
Abbie twisted around, trying to see.
“I’ll get it,” Zach said.
He reached around Michelle and just managed to pull off a label that was stuck to Abbie’s coat.
He held it out, and Abbie could see a white label with red letters that read, “Property of Ryan.”
“The nerve of that guy,” Abbie said. “Turn a bit—let me see if there’s one on your back too.”
Zach turned as much as he could, and Abbie spied a white square on his back.
“Yep, you’ve got one,” she said. “I bet he stuck these on us when he led us over here. Just a moment—I’ll get it.”
Abbie reached around Michelle, as Zach had done, but she couldn’t quite touch the label on Zach’s back. She stood without thinking about it.
“Zach, I’m free!”
“It must be the labels,” he replied. “Help me, and we’ll free Michelle too.”
Abbie quickly pulled the label off Zach, and he stood.
The two of them looked Michelle over—they couldn’t find a label.
“Now that we can stand,” Zach said, “maybe we can just carry her.”
Once again, they pulled on Michelle’s arms. She remained stuck fast to the stone bench.
“There must be something,” Abbie said. “What are we missing?”
“Ryan wasn’t expecting us,” Zach said. “So he had to improvise. Maybe he did something a little more substantial for Michelle.”
“Makes sense,” Abbie said.
She looked her friend over again. Nothing really stood out. Michelle was still wearing the outfit she’d had on when Abbie had last seen her—in fact, she was even still wearing her coat. Ryan must have kidnapped her shortly after she’d walked into her apartment.
Abbie sighed to herself. Something must be different—but what?
And then she spotted a little bit of sparkle on her friend’s wrist—just a little piece of gold peeking out from under the cuff of her coat sleeve.
“Michelle wasn’t wearing a bracelet,” she said.
Abbie quickly pushed Michelle’s sleeve up and examined the bracelet. Sure enough, there was a little gold charm on it engraved with the words, “To my sweetie, love Ryan.”
Abbie fumbled with the clasp and soon had it undone. She pulled the bracelet off Michelle and threw it into the flowers.
Michelle began to stir. She looked up at Zach and Abbie blearily.
“Hey, guys,” she said. “What’s going on?”
“Come on,” Zach said. “We’ve got to get you out of here.”
A voice drifted over to them from somewhere far away.
“Is that you, babe?” It was Ryan. “Having trouble sleeping, sweetie?”
“We have to go now,” Zach said.
Zach and Abbie helped Michelle to stand. The three of them soon made their way out of the rose garden, but beyond it, all they could see was gloom.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Ryan’s voice came to them again. “Why aren’t you feeding my flowers?”
“Just keep moving,” Abbie said.
The three of them stumbled through the dim light, leaving the rosy glow of the garden far behind them.
“There!” Zach shouted after a moment. “That looks like normal lamp light over there.”
Abbie looked where Zach was pointing. Far in the distance she could see a yellow rectangle—it looked like light pouring out through a door.
“Come on, Michelle,” Abbie urged.
The three of them ran on, and Ryan soon called out again.
“Where are you going, babe?”
Abbie turned to look back. A candlelit glow had appeared behind them, and it was gaining on them.
“He’s following us,” Abbie cried. “Hurry!”
Zach and Abbie ran as fast as they could, carrying Michelle between them.
“Were almost there!” Zach shouted. “Come on, Michelle!”
They hurried up to the yellow rectangle of light, and the two of them quickly pushed Michelle through the open door into her apartment. As they did so, Ryan caught up with them.
He caught both Abbie and Zach by the collar and lifted them into the air.
“I may have lost my lady love,” Ryan said, “but you two are mine.”
He stared at them with his big brown eyes. “Are you sure that you don’t want to stay with me?”
Abbie found that she couldn’t look away from the mesmerizing dark eyes. She was aware dimly that Zach had also ceased to struggle.
“That’s it,” Ryan said softly. “Come with me. I need you. And no one else will love you like I do.”
Abbie felt herself being carried away.
“No one else will love you like I do,” Ryan said again.
Ryan loved her, Abbie thought. He needed her.
She was happy to be going with him.
But something tugged at the back of her mind. She had come here for a different reason.
Someone else needed her.
Abbie turned her head and looked at Ryan’s handsome profile.
“Ryan,” she said softly.
He looked at her and smiled.
“I think we need to see other people,” Abbie said.
Ryan looked startled, and Abbie quickly aimed a kick at his middle.
Both Abbie and Zach dropped to the ground.
“Run, Zach!” Abbie shouted.
The two of them ran for the yellow rectangle of light as Ryan reappeared behind them and chased after them.
Just as Ryan was reaching out a hand for Abbie’s collar again, she and Zach reached the door and jumped through it.
The two of them sprawled on the floor of Michelle’s apartment and looked back to see the tall wrapped present with the lid hanging open. The lid abruptly snapped shut, and the wrapped box with the gold bow promptly disappeared.
Michelle was sitting on the floor not too far from Abbie and Zach.
“Seriously, guys,” she said. “What’s going on?”
An hour later, Michelle, Abbie, and Zach were all seated in Michelle’s living room drinking coffee.
“So that’s what happened,” Abbie said. “And in conclusion, allow me to say that there’s no such thing as the perfect boyfriend.”
Michelle was staring at her steadily. She seemed skeptical.
“Well, thanks very much for saving me,” Michelle said. “But you’re wrong.”
“I know it’s hard to believe,” Abbie said.
“That’s not what I meant,” Michelle replied. “I totally believe the story.”
“You’re wrong that there’s no such thing as the perfect boyfriend,” Michelle said.
“Michelle,” Abbie said, “that kind of talk is how you got into this in the first place.”
“Not for me,” Michelle said. “For you.”
She raised her eyebrows and nodded pointedly in her brother’s direction.
“You and Zach,” she whispered.
Abbie glanced at Zach, and he looked back at her.
Zach’s eyes were also big and brown behind his black-rimmed glasses, but other than that, he was a world away from Ryan.
Zach looked a little sheepish. “I think I’m worth a shot,” he said.
Abbie smiled. “Why not?”
Thanks very much for reading! 🙂
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