Friday, 7 August 2009

Man of Her Dreams

Music filled the main ballroom. Beth heard it from the gardens and its beauty filled her with excitement of seeing him there tonight. She had gone to all the trouble of getting her hair and make-up done professionally. As she passed people on the curved grey staircase leading up to the large building, admiring gazes followed her. But none of them mattered. Kris Bowler was there. He stood restlessly by the buffet near the windows but he wasn’t eating anything. His face showed that he wasn’t happy about something. Beth started to walk up to him when another girl did. She asked him a question and he shook his head angrily and stormed outside. Beth followed him at a distance and found him sitting next to the Roman Baths around the back of the ballroom. He had sat down on one of the many marble settees surrounding the Baths. The columns stood with the flowering jasmine climbing around them like perfumed snakes in the dark. Kris’ dark form was sitting about midway down when she arrived. His long hair had been pulled back and plaited with a black ribbon holding it together at the ends. Wisps around his face had escaped and played around his eyes in the evening breeze. Beth thought he looked very hot in that tunic and hosiery along with a cloak he would’ve mixed in very well in the seventeen century.
“Hello.” She said in a timid voice that sounded louder here because there was no background noise.

Kris’ head jerked up as he stood quickly: “Hell, Beth, I didn’t hear you coming.”

“I followed you. You seemed angry. Are you okay?”

“Why?” a frown creased his forehead, “You pity me because I’ve been dumped for some dippy little surfie?”

Beth sat on the settee next to his, “I never pity you. You’re really lovely.”

“I’m sure your date is waiting for you.”

She looked at her hands: “I have never been asked to any of these dances. I came to this one because I have the wardrobe.”

He studied her for a moment before he sat down and his anger melted, “Why not?”

“There’s something wrong with me I suppose.”

He touched her shoulder, “There is nothing wrong you. People just don’t notice you because you’re a quiet achiever.”

“Or they just don’t see me and walk straight into me.”

He smiled: “Yeah, I’ve seen that happen. What’s with that?”

“They need glasses?”

He stood as the music started up. It could be heard on the breeze, “Would you care to dance?”

Smiling she took his hand and stood. He held her close and she could smell his aftershave. The wisps of hair floated around her face as they slowly danced. His right arm around her waist, hold her gently against him, her left hand near the back of his neck. The music from the ballroom played on. The moon set the scene in all the shades of blue and dark shadows framing the Roman baths. But in the distance was a sound and it was becoming louder. It sounded like a radio station.

“And welcome to the beginning of another beautiful day. This is Tom Willings sayin’ Good Mornin’!” The sound of The Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Under the Bridge’ took over from the voice.

Beth rolled over and slammed her hand down on the reset button on the alarm and murmured as she stretched: “Shit! Just when I was starting to enjoy myself.” She pushed back the covers of her bed and sat up. Looking outside, she sighed and flattened out the mass of unruly red hair. It was raining again; not good studying weather. Pushing herself out of bed, she readied herself for class; which Kris Bowler also attended: psychology.

The classes passed slowly. And the rain was heavy all day. She was trying to study; but the dullness of the day made her tired. She hated the library and so tried to eat and study in the canteen. A cappuccino was cooling next to her half-eaten lunch when a flyer was dropped on her table. She took off her reading glasses and picked it up. The beige piece of A4 advertised a classical ball in the main hall of the university. It was a must that everyone showed up in ball gowns and the men in either tuxedos and tails or tunics and hosiery with cloaks. She smiled at the thought of Kris in either a penguin suit or dressed up like he was from the 1700’s and remembered her dream. He’d look pretty hot in anything… or nothing. Beth looked across the maze of tables to where he was sifting through his notes; well trying to. His girlfriend Liza was sitting next to him eating his lunch and talking the whole time.

“How sickening.” The redhead mumbled. As she folded the flyer, he glanced in her direction and threw her a half-grin. She smiled back and packed up her stuff, finished her coffee and left. He had begun to pack up his notes too as she walked past.

“He must be sick of her by now.” Sidney commented sitting on the wide sill of their dorm room. The book she had been reading hadn’t been read for the last ten minutes and was squished up against her stomach as she pulled her knees to her chin. Her long dancer’s legs were shown off well in the pair of blue jeans and she had the typical Australian blonde hair and blue eyes to match her tan complexion; a complete opposite to Beth.

Beth joined her at the window and laughed: “My god, she’s still talking; that poor guy.” They saw Kris sitting in the mottled shade of a line of willows near the middle of the court outside their dorm. He was using his bag as a ‘desk’ to study. As before, he was trying to concentrate with a little brunette blabbermouth sitting next him and failing. He looked up at their window and held Beth’s gaze long enough for Liza to notice. She punched him playfully in the arm and he laughed, kissing her.

Beth felt her cheeks burning as she quickly looked away from the window, “He’s never looked at me for that long.”

climbed down from the sill grinning: “He likes you.” She tossed her unread and unbookmarked book onto her bed as she sang teasingly, “Kris Bowler likes you.”
snapped: “You saw who he kissed.”
The blonde hesitated, “Well, yeah, but you turned away too soon. He looked back up here when Liza took off.”

She spun: “You’re lying.”

frowned: “No, why would I do that? I would never lie to you over something to do with Kris Bowler.” She approached the redhead, “I reckon he likes you.”
“Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

“No, I know so.”

The fortnight flowed slowly. Tests and assignments plagued Bethany’s schedule; so she forgot about what happened. She and Kris were paired up to work on an assignment; and so studied together in the library most days until the assignment was finished.

Two days before the ball, she drove home and found her twenty-first dress and tried it on. It totally surprised her when it fitted.

“Well, if I get my make-up and hair done… I may as well go.” She muttered inspecting it in as she stood in front of the mirror. So, she packed the dress into its bag and took it back to the university with her shoes and stockings.

“We’ll go to Mum’s house and get our hair done and I’ll do your make-up.” Sidney smiled, “Seeing Mum doesn’t live too far from here, it’ll be cool.”

The Saturday arrived and the two of them went to Sidney’s mother’s house and had their hair and make-up done once they were dressed. Mrs Harris took a before and after shot and the pair looked like two totally different people in both shots. They were spun out. But they had to get going and so were off to the ballroom.

As they arrived, the sun was setting on the campus. The whole place looked like it had stepped back into the days of old with all the girls dressed in ball gowns of all kinds and colours. Nearly everyone wore the wigs and many had heavy make-up and the masquerade masks held up to their faces to really go with the theme.

The curved grey staircase was lit; as on that particular Saturday night turned the clock back. The two approached the staircase and Sidney disappeared into the crowd to find her friends and her boyfriend. Leaving Beth walked up the stairs on her own. The torches lit the way and set the atmosphere as people who didn’t normally talk to Bethany complimented her on her gown asking where she got it from; amazed that it was her own. She walked inside and saw a huge buffet.

But then, suddenly this seemed all very familiar; too familiar. All that needed to happen was Kris to have his heart broken and she witnesses it. Bethany walked to the table and looked at the food there. People had already begun to eat and she noticed a figure standing not too far from her. As she looked up, she realised it was Kris. He was standing there in a tunic and hosiery with a mid-length cloak and leather shoes on. His hair had been pulled back into a ponytail and tied with something. Beth could barely keep her eyes off him; but it wasn’t the same case for him. Kris hardly acknowledged her; he seemed to stare through her as Liza approached him with another guy on her arm.

“Stay away from me!” He turned and strode out of the hall with his cloak flapping after him. She watched him walk quickly out onto the balcony and down the other set of the curved staircase. Bethany walked after him at a distance. This was beginning to get too weird. To dream of this night two weeks previous; and now what happened to him was getting too strange for her. She had to talk to him; make sure he was going to be okay. Sure, she didn’t like Liza all that much, but they had been together since high school and she had known Kris since he was young. So, she wanted to make sure he didn’t do anything drastic. Picking up her skirts, she followed him down the stairs and out into the darkness. She rounded the corner of the building and followed the flagstone pathway to the replica Roman Baths. Her leather shoes fortunately didn’t make much noise on the flagstones, so she could sneak up on him in the darkness.

The Baths were cloaked in shadow and the light of the full moon. A Weeping Willow grew at the far end of the setting with a gazebo next to it. Marble benches surrounded the black water as the sentinel columns closed in the Baths. It was what gardeners called a ‘room’. Normally, she liked it; but tonight it looked really creepy and she didn’t really want to be here.

About halfway down, she saw him sitting on a marble bench with his elbows resting on his knees, head down, his hands were clasped together.

“Kris?” she asked timidly.

His head jerked up in fright: “Oh, hell, Bethany, you scare the crap outa me.” He frowned as he wiped his face with a handkerchief, “What are you doing here?”

“I saw what happened. I wanted to make sure you didn’t hurt yourself; seeing how things were with… you know.” She didn’t want to mention Liza’s name and start him yelling.

“Yeah, well, don’t get too close I might make you hate me too.” He looked down and kicked an imaginary rock.

She smiled: “How could you do that?”

“I saw you tonight… you’re beautiful. But I’m sure your date’s waiting for you.” He mumbled and stood, “I’ll take off home.”

“What date?
I didn’t know I had to bring one.”
He turned around, “This was a couples dance.
You didn’t see that on the flyer?”
“What I saw was a turn of the century … oh no.” she blushed and was thankful for the darkness.
Beth sat down and felt like she had been duped.
“Have you got the invite?”

“Yeah.” She pulled it from her pocketbook and unfolded it, “There you are.”

Kris walked to the nearest working lamp and read it:
“I see what’s happened. You got a fixed one. Somebody played a joke on you.” He looked at her, “They gave you an invite so you’d show and be the only one here without a date.”
“Who would do that?”
He refolded the invite and gave it back, “Well, Liza hates your guts and does nothing but talk about how stupid and alone you are.
I keep on defending you; reason being… well, I like you.”
“You pity me because I’m never asked to one of these things and finally when I do show up, I out-dress them all.” She turned to leave when he reached out and touched her arm, “Kris, I’m leaving because it’s not a funny joke and I’m humiliated.”
“I was embarrassed tonight too.” He smiled, “By the very person who wanted both of us out of her life.” The music started in the ballroom.
Both of them looked toward the building and listened for a moment as its sound drifted on the breeze.
He smiled, “Would you care to dance?”
“I would love to.” She grinned.
Just like in her dream, they danced by the Roman Bath in the moonlight.
The scene was no longer creepy; instead it was romantic and the music was perfect as they could just heard it on the breeze. She smiled as they danced: “You want to know something?”
“What?” his voice sounded soft in her ear.
“I dreamt of this very night two weeks ago.
Everything that happened in that dream has happened here. Well, except the duped invite. And there was just one main flaw.”
He chuckled:
“Let me guess. Just when you were getting into enjoying yourself with me, the damn alarm went off.”
“You betcha.”
Kris looked at her:
“I’ll let you in on something.”
Her gut cooled.
Bethany couldn’t put up with this being another stupid joke. Not tonight; not ever. She’d become a bloody recluse if he was going to pull a gag on her now! “What?”
“Your alarm isn’t going to go off.
This night is actually happening and I’m about to kiss you because I want to.” He whispered in her ear, “Is that okay?”
“That’d be fabulous.” She answered.