“That’s disgusting,” Regina commented horrifically, looking over at Emma Swan as if she were biting the heads off of chickens instead of haphazardly tossing fistfuls of rose petals into the air.
“Tell me about it,” Ruby whispered in congruent distaste as she looked up from small candlelit table for two she was setting, crinkling her nose at the blurry view of blonde curls whirring around the loft apartment’s living room at lightning speed; littering everything within a 5 yard radius with crimson clipped petals. “Downright embarrassing,”
“I must be aging perfectly since this is obviously Emma and Tink’s 25th anniversary,” Regina grumbled, leaning up on her toes to place a chaste kiss on Ruby’s suspecting cheek.
“Yes, and no.” the lanky brunette returned, wrapping her arms around the petite woman’s lower back. “The good news is you are indeed aging perfectly my queen. The bad news is that this is only their six month anniversary,” Ruby muttered in a not to hushed tone.
“I can hear you two over there judging! This is a positive space, if you’re going to be haters I can call Henry to come over and help me set up.”
“Emma, to be honest I’m doing you a favor. So really, you can positive these nuts.” Ruby retorted with a raucous laugh, picking up an unlit tea light candle off of the immaculately starched white table cloth and punting it into the blonde’s direction; snorting wildly when it landed hard and ricocheted off Emma’s shoulder onto the floor.
“Didn’t you try to rope Henry into helping you do this in the first place?” Regina asked, falling into laughter beside her girlfriend. “Isn’t that why we’re here? Even an 11 year old knew that you were going to travel to a place of discomfiture that shouldn’t be witnessed.” Regina taunted, picking a crouton off the garden salad atop the kitchen counter as she walked over to inspect the biggest display of affection she’d ever witnessed; tossing the salad topping into her mouth with a deliberate crunch as she trampled over Emma’s latest row of loose petals, dusting the crumbs off of her hands onto the floor. “Let’s run through the overkill checklist shall we?”
“No,” Emma mumbled; dejectedly throwing her arms up over her chest. “I’m kicking you bastards out of here.”
“Yes, let’s!” Ruby cheered from the far side of the apartment, dropping the lighter and skipping behind the kitchen island in the center of the room.
“Ok, thank you Ruby. Will you assist me please? Just respond accordingly if there are any of the following under this roof; complicated meal, chocolate covered strawberries, massage oils, ten thousand pack of dollar store candles, The Kenny G Essentials collection?”
“Check…check…double check, hold on. I know I saw that fucking CD in here somewhere yesterday, I know she has it.”
“Ha! I don’t have something on your oh-so funny humiliation checklist. Now if you two have had enough, I have some last minute preparations. That thankfully requires neither of you, so out.”
“Aww baby, better watch out; you’re gonna make her cry again.” Ruby teased, wiping theatrically at Emma’s dry cheeks.
“Shut up!” Emma shouted over the now snickering couple, threatening to tantrum like a two year old; jumping between them to disrupt their high fives. “I was on my period and forced to drink three glasses of wine to keep up with you lushes!” with her fists squeezed tightly to her sides her voice tripped into a key that only canines could hear.
“Alright, alright! We’ll go.” Ruby threw her hands in the air in dramatic surrender, opening the front door and motioning for Regina to follow her over the threshold and into the hallway. “Good luck with everything though; Tink is an even bigger dork than you are so she’ll be over the moon.
“I’m betting on tears,” Regina commented wryly, tossing her trench coat over her shoulder; pecking Emma on her temple as she made her way to the door. “We’ve put aside money for who will put on the waterworks first. I say it’ll be you that cracks first, but Ruby thinks you’ll come second; only by a few seconds though.”
“You guys are trash; your three year anniversary is next month. Do you really expect me to believe that I won’t be over on Mifflin Street trying to talk one of you out of shooting fireworks into the sky that write “I’ll love you forever” into the sky?”
“We would never!” clutching at her heart, Regina gasped in horror. “How dare you accuse us of something so heinous? I will not stand here and be insulted.” She was down the stairwell and out onto Main Street before either woman could respond.
“That is so not us, we are not the over the top romantic gesture couple. We save all that bullshit for you and Tink.” Turning her nose up, Ruby headed down the hallway towards the exit; stopping abruptly at the top of the stairs. “We still on for tomorrow?”
“Jesus Christ, for the thousandth time; yes.” She responded with an eye roll, running a frustrated hand through her curly mane. “We’ll be there, McCoul’s Pub at 7:30; open mic followed by shots and drunk Jenga.”
“You know, that kind of attitude isn’t appreciated.”
“Look who’s talking,” she responded, flipping Ruby her middle finger before retreating back into 3B; the sound of jazz saxophone filling the hallway.
[x] [x] [x]
“Ruby darling, please get dressed you’re going to be late; your hair is still damp.” Regina commented, erupting into the closet sporting a towel and freshly coiffed hair. “We didn’t drop Henry off early with Eugenia for you to still end up late. Do you know how easy it was to get him to unplug that game? We need to capitalize on this head start.”
Sighing disappointedly, “I don’t have enough clothes; I never have anything to wear.” Ruby ran her fingers over the row of skirts and dresses once more before dejectedly throwing her hands in the air in defeat.
“You have an entire section of this closet dedicated to clothes with the tags still on. Do not stand there are tell me you don’t have any clothes.” She commented, brushing her bare lips against Ruby’s naked shoulder, bringing cool lips to the delicate skin behind her ear. Splaying her hands against pliable flesh, Regina whispered reassuringly; “You could wrap that bed sheet around you and still end up looking like a goddess under the moonlight.”
“Oh baby, you know how it makes me feel when you compliment me.” Within a beat Regina was being lifted into the air by Ruby’s strong arms and carried towards the oversized bed; towels and responsibilities forgotten as she laid her lithe body on top of the plush comforter.
“Honey, as much as I want you right now;” Regina lamented before trailing hot sticky kisses down the younger woman’s neck and chest; stopping short of the place she knew Ruby wanted her hot tongue and eager lips the most. “You need to get ready, no more stalling.”
“Just let me taste you,” flipping Regina onto her back Ruby kissed her way around the woman’s rib cage, teasing before attempting to take her talents lower. The firm hand in her hair, tightening against the shock of brown hair at the nape of her neck kept Ruby from continuing the trip down.
“Now you know that’s not a good idea.” She waited for rebuttal, but continued when there was nothing but a frustrated groan from the other woman. “If you manage to get dressed and out the door in the next twenty minutes, I say yes to anything you want to me do tonight.”
“Anything? Can we clarify that you said anything?”
“How do I feel about repeating myself?”
“I was just checking!” Ruby screeched jumping off of the bed and running to the closet, returning to the en suite moments later dressed in black leather pants and long sleeve red blouse; tall black strappy patent leather heels dangling from her fingers as she flitted into the bathroom to finish her make up.
“Seriously, why couldn’t you pull this look off fifteen minutes ago??” Regina questioned, affronted at how easily Ruby was dressed and prepared to leave the house.
“We don’t have time for questions babe,” she reminded, avoiding the other woman’s hard stare as she flew around the bedroom in a frenzied whirlwind; picking up various accessories along the way. Clasping the teardrop earrings together with a triumphant sigh, looking at her reflection in the dresser mirror she took in Regina’s heated gaze and partial nudity. “You said twenty minutes! Chop chop dammit!”
“I can’t believe this,”
“Yeah, you’re going to be saying that a lot tonight.”
“You’re so full of shit,” she grumbled, disappearing into the closet to retrieve the slinky blue dress she set aside for tonight’s venture out on the town. “Honey do you need me to grab anything before we go?” she called out, wriggling into the last black pump; Ruby’s horn honk from the driveway giving her all the answer she needed. Bounding down the stairs and out of the front door with an annoyed sigh; turning the lock and traipsing down the walkway she bid 108 Mifflin Street goodbye, sliding onto the warm awaiting leather before letting Ruby start them on their journey.
One outrageously dramatic debate on the Backstreet Boys versus N’SYNC followed by four poorly choreographed Beyoncé sing-a-longs later the couple was pulling into the McCoul’s Pub on two wheels and speed walking into the already crowded venue.
“Where the hell have you two been?” a fiery voice erupted from behind them belonging to no one other than Tina Bell. Turning simultaneously, their eyes landed on a petite woman with flaxen hair chopped drastically into a sleek bob. With her hands rising to sit dramatically on her hips, Tina Bell or Tink as she preferred to go by may have been short in stature but she definitely made up for it in attitude. “I just called both of you. I don’t know why either of you have cell phones if you’re not going to use it.”
“We’re here now,” Ruby cheered sarcastically before heading off to the side of the stage. “Ok babe,” she whispered, nuzzling her nose against the rosewater scented skin at Regina’s neck. “Don’t drink too much without me, I hate playing catch up; you don’t want to have to carry me into the house. I’ll be watching you ladies from the stage.”
“Yeah, well you better hope we still have a seat. Emma and I almost had to beat these girls down because they were eyeing our table.” Tina said waving the lanky brunette off of her friend and dragging her through the crowded rows of booths and tables ending at a table adjacent to the helm of the stage.
“That would’ve been interesting,” locking her arm around the blonde’s; they walked towards the front of the swarming club.
“I know right, I haven’t slapped anyone in a while. I’m almost disappointed they didn’t challenge us more than they did.”
“Oh don’t you hate that?” Regina scoffed, “either commit 100% and fight me or don’t bother to come up expecting change.”
“Please, the whole time she was talking my internal dialogue was shouting I will squish you, you little furby don’t try me tonight.”
“What’s so special about tonight versus any other night?” Regina asked, taking her seat; elbowing Emma in the ribs during their friendly embrace.
“Special?” Tink questioned before downing the glass of white wine enthusiastically; shooting the blonde next to her a wide eyed look.
“Who said anything about special?” Emma countered nonchalantly.
“Alright, why are both of you being so weird?”
“I’m not weird; you’re weird for assuming I’m being weird…weirdo.”
“Okaaay?” Regina drawled, watching both women with rapt attention as they began to enthusiastically clean out Emma’s wallet; doing any and everything to divert eye contact.
[x] [x] [x]
“And when the storm stops
I know in my heart of hearts
Like the rain,
My heart will go on.”
With the last word the heavyset woman with almond shaped eyes and braids flowing down her back took a bow; “Thank you.” She smiled into the microphone as the crowd cheered, stopping on her way off the stage to haphazardly toss it to Ruby.
“Yeah, that was great!” clapping one hand against the mouthpiece, Ruby walked to the center of the stage; sliding into the perfectly lit circle produced from the spotlight on the floor. “Come on give it up one more time for the captivating Tanisha Brookes, our final performer of the night;” bowing sincerely towards the poet in gratitude. “Yeah, that’s right. Show some love. There is so much talent in this place tonight; I’m super mama wolf proud of all you fine folks. Bringing this portion of our night to a close I want to first thank all of our participants and then extend a special thanks to everyone who came out tonight. Even if you didn’t grace the stage tonight you are just as important because you came out to support us when we needed you the most. For those of you who missed my introduction at the beginning of the night, my name is Ruby Lucas and I sing lead for this little known music ensemble called the Fairytale Rejects;” at the mention of the locally famous band the crowd went wild with raucous hoots and cheers.
“OK ok, so maybe we’re not so little known anymore.” She stated as the audience laughed at her modesty. “What some people don’t know about us is before we decided to try to make our mark in the music industry my brother Robin, Ariel and I were merely slam poets; fresh out of high school, battling it out each season on this stage trying to earn our spot on the infamous Wall of Fame. I’m glad to see our hard work paid off and inspired so many to join and follow in our footsteps. I want to give a special shout out to the production crew, working so hard so I don’t have to.” On cue the audience was laughing and clapping in praise. “And another shout out to my crew,” pointing over to the table directly in front. “Just for being fucking awesome!” with a cheesy grin Ruby was leaning over the edge of the scaffolding in attempts to give everyone at the table a long distance high five; everyone besides Regina who was conveniently covering her face with a napkin in shame.
“On our first date, I told my girlfriend that spoken word was my favorite pastime. We were sitting under the gazebo late one night at the lake talking our heads off about everything and nothing that came to our minds. I told her unexpectedly that whenever I had something sitting on my heart I brought it to the stage. Then I promised her that one day I’d end up performing something solely for her because there is no other way I can correctly express how I feel.” Wiping at the back of her neck nervously, she sat sideways on a wooden stool at the edge of the stage and continued her speech; “my granny always says that when something is real then you’ll just know.” She snapped her fingers, smiling back at the faces looking up from the crowd. “And I’m a giant believer in fate, divine intervention, signs from above, you name it. If you have heard some kind of new aged hippie philosophy, I have most likely printed out an article about it and indoctrinated it into my daily mantras.”
Ordinarily composed and confident, standing there under the spotlight discussing a subject so intimate as the love she has for her partner left Ruby with the crippling chill of vulnerability. Feeding off the energy in the room, every chuckle and hoot of encouragement from below seemed to loosen her up and provide her the strength she needed to go on. “The production crew asked if I could do a little something to close the show out and I had every intention of running an old piece. That was until this morning when I woke up out of my sleep and finished a poem that I never thought I would. Five years ago today I met the woman who has turned my life completely inside out,” smiling lovingly to herself she stood and walked over to the edge of the scaffolding, the moment her eyes locked with Regina’s she knew that her timing couldn’t be more perfect. “And I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every single second. The original title of this piece is called ‘To the Woman in the Gray Dress With the Most Expressive Eyes I’ve Ever Seen, I Promise I’m Not a Stalker’; but that’s still a work in progress.” The audience was in an uproar, clapping and whistling at her captivating sense of humor. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she situated the microphone into its stand; dropping her palms and whispering, “Here goes nothin’.”
To the Woman in the Gray Dress, With the Most Expressive Eyes I’ve Ever Seen
When God made you,
He cussed for the first time.
He turned to an angel,
gave him a high five and said,
‘Goddamn, I’m good.’
You were that beautiful.
I spent the last five days trying to figure out
how I was gonna introduce myself to you properly
And I think I finally figured it out and
It’s gonna go something like,
With a proud smile that virtually spilt her face in half, she nodded and addressed the crowd as if they were the deciding factor along with her inner monologue, “That’s all I got so far, but I think it’s a good start.” With further uplifting encouragement from the audience, she continued.
You see, I want that
My friends think I’m crazy kind of love,
That reckless kind of love,
That wake up early, make you breakfast kind of love,
That crack open my life and say,
You gotta see this kind of love
Forget the shallow stuff
I want the deepest kind of love
That I wanna stay up late,
tell you all my secrets kind of love
That every time I see you, I fall to pieces kind of love
I want that stand next to me kind of love
That you are my destiny kind of love
That no matter what happens,
You’ll always get the best of me kind of love
That only you get my heart and my mind,
The world gets the rest of me kind of love
That invest in me kind of love
Because you already know
that I’ve invested in you kind of love
That if you come home upset,
You don’t have to say anything
I’ll already know what to do kind of love
Catching on to her innuendo, the audience below reacted immaturely with cat calling whistles and groans of excitement; most of the goading derived from her group of friends. Stepping away from the mic she moved over to the podium sitting directly at the edge of the platform in front of her closest friends and loved ones, using the strength behind her voice to project her vulnerability to the masses. Finding her paramour’s smiling face once more in the crowd, pushing her heartbeat into overdrive. “I want love,
I want you to bite my lip until I can no longer speak
And then suck my ex-girlfriend’s name out of my mouth,
Just to make sure she never comes up in our conversations
I want you to come to me like an afternoon
Come to me slowly as if you were
A broken sunset with the lazy sky on your shoulders
If you let me be your sunlight,
I promise that I will penetrate your darkness
Until you speak in angel wings
Pull me close to you
Tell me that you love me
Then scratch your future into my back
So I can be everything that you live for
I promise that I will die for you daily
And then resurrect in your screams
I promise that I will love you
As if it’s the only thing that I’ve ever done correctly
Moving around the stage with renewed energy, Ruby turned to speak to the crowd to her left; tipping up on her toes like a child stretching to see how tall she could make herself in mommy’s mirror. “I’m going to be honest; I’m not really a love poet. In fact, every time I try to write about love my hands cramp; just to show me how painful love can be,
And sometimes my pencils break,
Just to prove to me that every now and then
Love takes a little more work than you planned
See I heard that love is blind so,
I write all my poems in Braille
and my poems are never actually finished
Because true love is endless
You see, I always believed that real love is
Kind of like a super model before she’s air brushed;
It’s pure and imperfect,
Just the way that God intended
Grabbing the microphone off the stand, Ruby began to pace the stage; Regina’s watery gaze tracking her every step. With her eyes squeezed tight and her chin tilted up to the sky she breathed anew; “See I’m going to be honest, I’m not a love poet
but if I was to wake up tomorrow morning and decide that I really wanted to write about love
I swear that my first poem…
It would be about you
About how I loved you
The same way that I learned how to ride a bike
With no training wheels or elbow pads
So my scars can tell the story of how I fell for you
With the resounding “aww” from the room, signaled to Ruby that she was on the right track. “You see, I’m not really a love poet. But if I was I’d write about how I see your face in every cloud, and your reflection in every window
If I was a love poet,
I’d write about how you have the audacity to be beautiful
Even on days when everything around you is ugly
I’d write about your eyelashes and
How they are like violin strings
that play symphonies every time you blink
If I was a love poet
I’d write about how I melt in front of you like an ice sculpture
Every time I hear the vibration in your voice
And whenever I see your name on the caller ID
It plays hopscotch inside of my chest
It climbs onto my ribs like the monkey bars
And I feel like a child all over again
If I was to wake up tomorrow morning
and decide that I really wanted to write about love
My first poem
It would be about you
And after all of this she’ll be like,
‘So how do you feel about me?’
And I’ll be confused
And say, let’s put it like this:
I want to be your ex-boyfriend’s stunt man
I want to do everything that he never had the courage to do
Like trust you
I swear that when our lips touch
I can taste the next sixty years of my life
You see, last night
I had a particular dream
I died in one of my dreams,
Not knowing I was asleep
I decided to walk and
I walked in my sleep
I slept in my walk
I walked backwards
until I saw you for the first time
and I could barely muster the courage
to introduce myself all over again
You see, I’ve been trying to find the right words
And I’ve been trying to take the right steps
To what seems to me like thousands of years
But something always seems to go wrong between us
We lived in Egypt,
I was the pharaoh’s slave,
You were his daughter
Loving you led to my death
They claimed that I seduced you
And after they stole my life,
I died and came back as a caterpillar
I turned into a butterfly
I landed in the palm of your hands,
You brushed me away
And the rejection
When I awoke,
I was a kick drum, you were a snare,
We were both owned by this drummer
Named Cozy Cole and when he died,
So did we
But I came back just to look for you
I left notes in random places,
Hoping that you would stumble across
I carved our names in trees
And then prayed that it would jog your memory
I whispered your name in the wind
Hoping somehow, maybe some way
My voice would reach you
But it didn’t and I died early.
I died young with breadcrumbs in my hand
Just hoping that you would find me
But you never did
So they buried me
And when they buried me,
they put these coins over my eyes
And I used them as bus fare to get back to Earth
Just so I could look for you.
That’s why sometimes when we hold hands every so often,
I tend to hold on a little too tight
And I’m sorry…
I just don’t want to lose you again.
Before he died,
My father told me,
That when you find the perfect woman
You do whatever it takes to make sure that she’s next to you
And some days I want to swallow stacks of your pictures
Just so you can be a part of me for a little bit longer
Losing herself in a flurry of emotion, Ruby crossed the stage and began her tentative journey to the only woman strong enough to ground her to this unstable world. “If I could, I would sample your smile and then I would let my heartbeat do the bass line;” she said softly, gripping the microphone at her palm as if holding it would keep her heart from flooding and drowning her with the love she had to give. Turning Regina’s chair around, the expression of total adoration on the older woman’s face was all the consolation Ruby needed to go on.
“We would create the greatest love song of all time, whenever we stand next to each other;” she stated unequivocally as if they were the only people in the room, looking down at their now intertwined fingers in simplistic awe at the delicate skin holding the veins in their wrists proving that they are both flesh and blood and something else entirely trying to work all at once. Bringing their hands up to her lips, Regina brushed her crimson lips against Ruby’s knuckles. With what seemed like a thousand eyes on them, the usually bustling pub was at a standstill. Gazing up into warm mahogany pools, Ruby pulled their joined hands and placed Regina’s flat against her chest; her thudding heartbeat pulsing wildly against the petite woman’s palm. “Love, I was the only one made for you;
And you can be ‘At last,’ my Etta James
I’ll be ‘Oh Child’ when you’re in pain
Or you could be ‘Candy Coated Drops of Rain’
Even though it never rains in Southern California
Just as Ruby suspected, Regina scoffed at the Tony Toni Tone reference; the song remaining an inside joke between them about their favorite car duet song. Sighing, Ruby brought the other woman’s slender fingers to her lips, the normally simplistic action pulling a strained whimper from the petite beauty before her trying desperately to keep from crying in front of an audience.
“And together we could be music.” Reaching into her blazer pocket, Ruby pulled free a modest blue velvet box with blazing gold trim; causing Regina to cover her mouth and gasp in surprise. Afraid to make eye contact, with trembling hands Ruby laid the microphone across Regina’s lap; popping open the case revealing to the world a sparkling gold band bristling with inlaid rubies and topped with a glistening pear shaped diamond. “And when my friends ask if you’re my girlfriend, I’ll say no; she is my musician. And me? I’m her favorite song.” Within a beat, she was pulling the love of her life up and into her arms while the audience applauded and screamed their praises at the performance and display of devotion. Both women holding tightly to each other as if letting go would cause the moment to dissipate into the sky in a whiff of smoke. With her lips to Regina’s temple and the mounting noise around them she whispered into her ear as if they were still lying in the confines of her bedroom; “Do you want to clarify that you said anything?”