A Short Love Story

Henry and Helen stood on a balcony overlooking the fairytale landscape of northern Ohio. He was dressed in dark breeches and a frilly white poet’s shirt. Helen wore the dress worn by Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love.

He approached her. “Helen, I love you.”

When he spoke, his eyes twinkled in a way that Helen had seen only in movies. She swooned, but Henry caught her.

“And I love you,” she mouthed, her voice barely a whisper. “So much.”

Henry’s body fell away at that moment, revealing Peter.

“Oh, Peter, I love you too.”

Peter folded in on himself and was replaced by Arthur.

“Arthur, sweet Arthur I want to ride with you to the castle. I want to sit at your Round Table.”

Gregory furrowed his brows. “What castle? What table?”

Helen pressed her finger to his lips. “Ssssh. It matters not.”

Martin held her tighter. “You’re right. Nothing matters anymore. Come, let me enfold you in a blanket of desire.”

“Martin, you’re a poet!” she paused. “You are Martin, right?”

“No, I’m Mark.”

Helen recoiled. “I don’t like Mark.”

Mark became Henry seconds before he became Peter.

“Thank you, Henry – I mean Peter.”

“No. Thank you.”

Charles smiled so widely that his teeth looked like fence posts. He lifted Helen from the balcony. Together, they soared into the night sky.

Looking down, Helen realized the balcony was just a stage prop in a children’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet. Her feet felt light as they soared higher and higher, beyond the stage and into the dank blackness of space. Why space should be dank, she hadn’t a clue.

“Seeing the dark by itself is a fantasy.” Charles, who was now Herman, mused as they shot past Jupiter’s many moons. “Seeing the light by itself is a fantasy.”

“So I’ve lived in fantasy all my life?”

“Yes, Helen but you’re my fantasy queen.”

“And you, Rigaldo, are my fantasy king.”

At that moment, they embraced like never before, flesh pressed so firmly together that two entities became one. And, so entwined, they lived forever and ever, happily hermaphroditic in the dank blackness of space.

Kevin L. Donihe, who calls his contribution an "ultra-short story," has a previously published novel, Shall We Gather at the Garden? (Eraserhead Press, 2001), and another one, co-written with Carlton Mellick III, up for release shortly. His fiction and poetry have been accepted into over 140 venues in ten countries, including The Mammoth Book of Legal Thrillers (Carroll and Graf/Constable and Robinson). He has also edited the Bare Bone anthology series from Raw Dog Screaming Press.