The Song in the Heart of a Friend Charles C Cole

The Song in the Heart of a Friend
Charles C Cole

Some of my best friends are trees.” Others said it, but I meant it. A few former clients delighted in paying me back in novel ways. I was relaxing in the uppermost boughs of a new friend: gently swaying among interlocked branches, cloud-gazing, listening to humanity around me while safely secluded from it, unseen, unapproachable – except perhaps by air.

A shadow suddenly hovered between me and my invigorating sunshine. I opened my eyes reluctantly. Cupid was back! He hovered above me like Peter Pan.

I’m so glad I found you!” he said. “I have a problem!” He was one of those peculiar folk whose every sentence seemed to end in an exclamation mark.

You don’t see me. I’m taking the afternoon off. Receptionist’s orders.”

Birds started gathering around him, sitting on his head and shoulders like when tourists feed pigeons. The shadow was getting bigger.

Sorry, I’m sort of a celebrity,” said Cupid.

What are you doing here?! Don’t you have places to be? People to bewitch?”

Detective Avery, I need you! Someone did something to me!”

Gonna need more than that, old man,” I groused.

I’ve been poisoned!” He lowered himself to my level. The birds held on.

Then let’s get you help! I don’t know your physiology, but I can make a few calls.”

I can’t eat! I can’t sleep! I’m daydreaming all the time! I’ve never had these feelings before! I don’t want them!”

The symptoms sounded very familiar. “Something happen?”

I’m obsessing over my barista. Yes, she’s human.”

Ironic, given our last conversation. “I may not be an expert, but you sound smitten.”

Impossible!” he hissed. “Doing what I do, day in and day out, I need my wits about me. Imagine me, punch-drunk, making a human fall in love with a penguin, or worse: enraged by unrequited adoration, a mermaid with a gila monster. I’ve seen how humans handle volatile emotions; it’s not pretty. In my case, it would be lethal.”

Does anyone else have the power to do what you do?” I asked, surprisingly engaged.

Not that I’ve heard. That’s why poison makes the most sense.”

Hear me out,” I said. “Is it possible you did this to yourself? A midlife crisis thing?”

I’m centuries from the middle of my life!”

I persisted: “Is this the first time?”

To feel this way? Absolutely!”

Are you making decisions that an objective outsider might consider unhealthy?”

Yes.”

Are these feelings with the barista mutual?”

I’m a faceless patron in a sea of faceless patrons. She’s gracious and attentive to all who come before her. Take my hand! You have to see her for yourself!”

I recoiled. Flying with Cupid was not my idea of laying low.

We have three choices,” I announced. “Temporarily lock you away for your own good and the good of the world, find you someone else to fall for, or get the barista to fall for you.”

I like the final one. A bit self-serving, but I deserve the fruits of my labor, at long last.” He decided to act immediately, brushing the birds off gently. Some settled about me, refusing to cease their hero-worship.

Wait! She’ll never discover that her falling for you was involuntary? Because that would be bad.”

I’m Cupid, not stupid!”

Then do what needs doing. But, for the sake of all that’s good, be nice to her. I’ve worked too hard to get humans and faery-folk communicating. Don’t mess things up. For all our sakes!”

We’ll have maybe fifty years! Not nearly enough!”

One day at a time, Romeo,” I teased.

Three weeks later, Cupid returned. I’d been expecting him. I’m no shrink, but infatuation often includes paranoia, feelings of intense neediness and impatience when the object of our desire turns out to be less ideal than we’d perceived.

He flew in through my open office window, a common practice. His hair was very short and frosted. He wore a large purple bowtie. Everything in his appearance said: Trying too hard.

I hate humans!” he moaned.

Come in,” I said.

Can we go to the roof? I need air.”

Holding his hand and “flying” was shockingly easy (with eyes closed). When we got to our destination, he continued to hover. “Landing would be great. Shoes weren’t made for walking on air.”

He set me down. “What do you need?”

A shoulder to cry on.” Cupid sat, looked at me still standing, then stood. Cupid being only five-foot tall, our differences were pronounced. He hovered again. “You were right.”

I don’t recall making any gloomy prognostications,” I lied.

You warned about matchmaking folktale creatures and humans.”

The conversation had weighed on me; I hadn’t meant to sound so judgmental. “We’ll get there, but we’re still feeling each other out. We can be great friends. I think Peter and Tinker Bell prove that.”

Maybe Cassie, the barista, and I can be friends.”

What happened?”

I smothered her with affection. I grew jealous of every customer she smiled at, male or female, young or old. She loved me; I’d seen to that. But I also broke her heart by acting possessive, accusing her of being unfaithful. She said she’d never been happier, and never sadder when I was less than my best.”

Sorry.” I was.

I told her we needed to end it, for her sake, that I was no good for her. As much pain as she was in, she wouldn’t hear of it, such is the power of my spell. So, I told her the truth.”

Cupid, you didn’t!” I blurted.

I thought it would help to see it wasn’t her fault. She thought I was kidding until she realized I wasn’t.”

I’m truly sorry,” I said, “for both of you. Give her some time. Things will get better, but it may not feel it right now.”

I can do that,” he said. I believed him.

In the cynical part of my mind, I thought, more resigned than smug: He’s tasted the forbidden fruit; he’ll be back.

The Song in the Heart of a Friend Charles C Cole 1

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