Do Not Look At The Moon
RP: SubStack Podcasts -Alice in Wonderland -#1 Down the Rabbit Hole

Rapture and Romance

(Moved from main blog)

The challenge for this was one from the blog Terrible Minds, a few years ago. Use this link to get a set of nine random 'interesting' pics from Flickr. Pick three. Write a story, 1000 words max. 

I can't post my images (copyrights) but can describe them: happy people sprawled on a hill below a scarecrow-like sculpture; a detailed colourful telescope view of the Horsehead nebula; a VW camper van in a parking lot. 

Here's my story -  983 words. 

Rapture and Romance

We were a mismatched group. We'd all hung out together at Frosh Week, as we were all from the same small red-neck town. I was on a football scholarship, Tia, a tiny little hippy girl with beads and coloured hair and swirly dresses, was doing a Physics and Astronomy double, and John and Joanne, both from Bible-thumping families, were in religious studies. They were a nice couple, not that pushy about religion, at least to us. We'd decided to share a cheap house near campus, and we each had our own space. Only a three bedroom, but Jo-Jo, as we called them, said they were ok to share a room. They seemed to have resolved the conflict between a growing physical attraction for each other and the strict rules of their upbringing.

I was a firm atheist, and Tia was a mix of spirituality and science, so between the four of us there were a lot of late-night discussions and too many heated arguments. After only a few weeks things were already tense between us all, so Tia proposed a road trip to a nearby music festival.

I splurged and rented a camper van, just like the one Tia said her parents took across Europe. The festival was scheduled for the Fall equinox and was to be a mix of spiritual seminars, craft tables, food and drink vendors, and a series of classic rock bands. Sleeping could be cramped in the van, so Jo-Jo offered to bring a tent. I had no trouble sharing the van with Tia, as I was already starting to fall for her, but she still saw me as definitely in the friend zone.

The festival was awesome. Perfect fall weather, if a little crisp, a huge but friendly crowd, and great music. Jo-Jo found a religious group to hang with that were blending in some pagan cultures, but they seemed ok with that. I hit some seminars with Tia, just to be with her, and they were ok, but so was just sitting in the sun with a beer and a book.

We all met up over supper to compare notes and seemed to have mellowed toward each other. As dusk fell, the music and dancing cranked up and we headed out together for some serious partying. Tia and I lasted until eleven but Jo-Jo were still going strong. Their new friends had been talking about some ceremony at midnight at the top of the hill, an alignment of the planets, a blending of astral planes, an ascension to a higher order. Tia and I shared a look and then politely declined and headed back to crash at the van. In separate beds of course.

The next morning we both awoke early but a little hungover, but glad the two of us had decided to get away. The festival hadn't been that crowded, but I was pleased she'd suggested it.

When we got back to campus we put an ad up yet again for the third bedroom in our place, empty since we moved in. We both dove into our classes, but Tia had these occasional flashes of memory, of people she thought she knew at one time but the details were lost. She asked around campus and went to some support groups. A few others had the same symptoms, but was more of an occasional annoyance than a real problem. I pretended to have some memory flashes too just to go along with her. We were getting closer, still just friends, but I was being optimistic.

Come spring she sprung a new plan on me. She was convinced that the last festival had something to do with these memory issues and convinced me we should take in the spring version in March. Same idea, crafty tables, seminars, lots of music, beer.

So, camper van again and away to the festival. It was sunny and hot, and people seemed to be in a friendly Spring Break mentality. Same craft tables as before, same great music, same smiling crowds, same beer tent - and the same religious area with its blend of the past and present, sort of a pagan meets the rapture.

We managed to wobble back to the van to change into warmer clothes for the evening. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were in bed together. Naked. The sex was good, was great, but afterward, we just got dressed and headed out. Apparently, we were now friends with benefits.

Just before midnight, Tia announced that she wanted to leave the dance and check out the ceremony up on the hilltop. I wasn't that keen but decided to humour her, so we joined about 30 other people, shivering in the night breeze, surrounding a weird scarecrow-like thing someone had erected on the hilltop.

Come midnight, I was about to leave when the scarecrow was enveloped in a bright beam of light from the sky.

"This is it," said Tia, as she tried to pull herself out of my arms.

I had a bad feeling about this. "No, stay here with me please, don't leave."

"I have to see what's there," she said. "Don't worry, I'll be back."

I never could say no to her. I relaxed my arms a bit. "I'll wait for you." I bent down, gave her a kiss, and opened my arms. "Love you, Tia."

She smiled back, that big beautiful smile. "I know," she said.

And then she turned, and in a few steps was gone, just as the light faded.

I shivered in the wind. There weren't many others up here with me, enjoying the view of the night sky. I was tired and cold and had to pee, so I headed down to my car. I still had an hour's drive back to my small residence room.

Maybe next year I'll try to share a house.

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