Archive for August 11th, 2008


Summer Love Chapter Nine

Hey, friends, a quick note before this chapter begins. Back at the beginning of the story, I promised a big secret. I’ve been peppering the story with clues since the prologue, hoping someone would piece together just what was really going on. Well, gang o’ mine, if you’ve still got a guess, send it in now, because by the end of this chapter… well, you’ll see.


A Change in My Life

“Steven?” Amber called, holding out a steaming cup of coffee. “I’ve got a late for Steven! Is Steven here?”

After she called Steven’s name four more times with no response, Perry snatched the cup from her and read the scribbles on the side. “Who had the large caramel latte with low-fat milk?”

A lanky man with long hair and round glasses raised his hand. “Sven?”

“Here you go, Sven.” He handed the coffee over and frowned at Amber. “You’ve been here how long? And you’re still screwing up people’s names?”

“Eh. I don’t care about the job that much.”

He rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to me. An hour ago, I could have sworn I saw Stephanie standing outside the coffee shop. Now, with the mob dispersed and people bandaging their wounds, I again found myself wondering if I should just be wrapped up and carted off to the loony bin. Perry looked at me with such sincere concern I was afraid he was about to raise a fist and gently chuck my chin. “How are you holding up?” he asked, probably just barely resisting the urge to call me “chief.”

“Losing it, Per,” I said. “Are you sure you didn’t see her? Either of you?”

Perry and Amber exchanged a look. “We believe you saw her,” she said.

“Well, that certainly gives me confidence in my own sanity.”

“Look, after what happened last year, I’m not going to rule out anything,” Perry said. “But at the same time, man… she’s always on your mind. She has been for a year now. It’s not that great a leap to imagine that maybe you’re just seeing what you want to see.”

“What, you think I want this? I want to sit here and wonder if I’ve lost my mind?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I know I saw her,” I said. But at the same time, I found myself starting to wonder. After such a long time wondering what the hell was going on, having no answers… learning I’d just gone crazy may turn out to be relieving.

There was a jingle over the door and I glanced at the man walking in. When I saw him, my breath was cut short and I felt a crawl up my back. Gasping, I looked at the others, but Perry was wiping down the counter and Amber was popping open a bottle of juice. I looked back at the spindly, scarecrow-thin man that was walking up to me. He wasn’t the same man who shocked us with his coffee drinking trick last year, but he was wearing the same sort of ancient rags and his skin had the same sickly, ashen pallor. His eyes bore straight into mine, and I felt like I was staring down a well that extended a thousand years or more.

“She was here already,” he said, a statement, not a question. “I can tell by your face.” He looked down at a pebble that had somehow rolled into the coffee shop, bent down and picked it up, and placed it gently on the nearest table. It promptly rolled off and clattered back to the floor.

“Oh man, not again,” Perry moaned. “No more weirdness.”

“What are you, another one of her husband’s thugs sent to scare me?” I bristled. The relentless frustration, after a year of simmering, was about to bubble over into anger. “If you’re here to give me a warning, bucko, it may help if anything that was happening here made a damn bit of sense.”

“I was sent by her husband, yes, but only to observe.” He picked the pebble up and put it back on the table. It immediately rolled off again and he bent over for it like an obedient puppy.

“Observe? Observe what? What was I doing?”

“Not you.” He put the pebble on the table. “Her.” It rolled off.

“Okay, Adam, I believe you now,” Amber said. “You’re not crazy enough to make me see this crap too.”

I felt the heat rising up my neck, blood rushing to my face. It was getting harder to breathe. “What is going on? For God’s sake, what is going on?

He paused, right after putting the pebble down. There was a clattering sound. “Which god?” he asked.

“Are you kidding me?”

He glanced around, nervous, like Steph’s husband could burst in at any moment. “It’s Adam, right?”


He looked me in the yes, his voice pleading. “He’s gone mad.”


“My master.”


“It’s been so long, so long, and nothing has changed. No one faithful above, no new subjects below. It never used to be like this, not in the old days. It was bad, but it was never like this.” Perry, Amber and I shared confused looks. The stranger just picked up the pebble again. “You can’t help. Just go away.”

“Go away? You lunatics followed me here, remember?” He turned and started to walk out, and my mind exploded. “WHO ARE YOU? WHAT’S GOING ON?”

He looked back. “If you never understand, consider yourself lucky.”

He rushed away and I stood up to chase him, but I tripped over the damn pebble, wheezing. Perry caught me and sat me down, trying to keep me from hyperventilating.

“Take it easy, Adam. Calm down, bro.”

“Calm… wheeze… down?”

“Here, drink something.” Amber put her bottle in my hand and I sipped at her juice. It didn’t really help.

“I don’t understand this, Perry, I just… argh! DAMMIT!”

“I know, bro, I know. Just calm down and I swear, we’ll figure this out. All of us together, okay?”

I took another sip of the juice and something hit me. I sipped it again, letting the flavor roll down my tongue. It was a rich, sweet juice, but there was something in it, something tart, that puckered my lips and tugged at my mind.

“What is this?” I asked.

“What, the juice?”

“It’s Stephanie,” I said. “It tastes like Stephanie. She always wore this perfume, this lipstick… I never knew what it was, but this juice tastes just like her!”

“The juice?”

“What is it, Amber? What am I drinking?”

“It’s just some pomegranate juice,” she said.

Pomegranate juice?

I sipped it again.

“Pomegranate juice?”

“Why, do you think that’s important?”

“It must be. Nobody tastes like this.”

“So she got some pomegranate lipstick, Adam, that doesn’t mean anything.”

“No, it was more than that. It wasn’t just lipstick, it was like this flavor… like it was in every cell in her body.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Perry said.

“So? When did we start requiring things to make sense around here?” I scratched my head… Pomegranate juice… she always told me she was in agriculture. Did she grow pomegranates? Did she sell them? What was that, the family business or something?

“Where’s my laptop?”

“Your laptop?” Perry said.

Amber nodded. “Good idea, calm down and get some work done. It’ll make you feel better.”

“Screw work. I need to know everything there is to know about pomegranates.”

“You’re a lunatic.”

“So what else is new?”

I flipped open my laptop and opened my web browser, typing “POMEGRANETE” into the search engine. Google helpfully corrected my spelling, and soon I was looking at a page full of fun facts about pomegranates, which the website seemed to indicate was the most underrated fruit-bearing deciduous shrub in the world. “Hey,” I said, “it’s classified as a superfruit.”

“I thought I saw one wearing a cape and flying around the city,” Perry said. “Anything useful?” He looked over my shoulder. “It says here that they grow them in California and Arizona. Could she be from there?”

“She always said she was from the south.”

“Can we take that for granted?”

“I guess not.” I kept reading. “High in antioxidants…”

“So was Stephanie,” Amber quipped. I shot her a look. “What,” she said, “Perry can make superhero jokes?”

“Clinical trials to test its effectiveness against prostate cancer or lung cancer,” Perry read. I shot Amber a look before she could say anything. “It’s the official symbol of Armenia, representing fertility and marriage. Well, she never tried roping you in there.”

“Forget the symbolism, we need something concrete.”

“I don’t know,” Perry said. “Some of this stuff could be useful. Also an official symbol of many cities in Turkey… has significance in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and…”

His jaw dropped and his eyes bugged. “What?” I said. “What is it?”

“AMBER!” he shouted. She was at the counter now, writing a customer’s name on their cup. He ran over and snatched it from her, reading what she wrote down, then looked at the customer. “What’s your name?” he asked.

“Robert,” he said.

Perry looked at Amber, jabbing his finger at the cup. “RICKY?” he said. “Amber, when Stephanie came in her that time, did you write her name on her mug?”

“How the hell should I know? I write a billion names a year.”

“Yeah, and three right names.”

“Wait,” I said, “are you saying Stephanie might not even be her name?”

“I’m saying there’s no way Stephanie is her name.”

“Well then what is it?” I started rattling through names in my head, looking for one that was close to ‘Stephanie.’ “Stacy? Stefania? Bethany? Tiffany?”

“No.” Perry ran back to my computer and pointed to a name at the bottom of the screen, one that appeared under the heading “SIGNIFICANCE IN GREEK MYTH.”

“I can’t even pronounce that,” I said.

“Here, let me try,” he said: “Persephone.”

It didn’t mean a thing to me then. That changed very quickly.

Next: Chapter Ten-God Only Knows

AUTHOR’S POSTSCRIPT TO CHAPTER NINE: Well, guys, here we are, everything I’ve been building to. How’d I do? Does it make sense? Does it make sense after you go to Wikipedia? Let me know what you think, because this may not be the longest chapter so far, but it’s without a doubt the biggest one.
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Summer Love by Blake M. Petit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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