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Excerpt for The Crystal Ball by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


The Crystal Ball

Copyright 2019 J.T. Evergreen


Published by J.T. Evergreen

at Smashwords


This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Khris Lawrentz for his tireless proofreading.


Miranda


Miranda gazed thoughtfully at her image in the bathroom mirror … then looked away. She thought of Lord Henry, in The Picture of Dorian Grey, who described Lady Narborough as having the remains of a remarkable ugliness. She wondered why fate had dealt her the same hand. If she were only plain looking she could go through life without being noticed.


She wasn’t deformed in any way, had lovely skin, and nice straight teeth. She was tall and slim, but the features of her face lacked symmetry. She was the proverbial ugly duckling. The children in grade school teased her. In high school, the other students seemed to avoid her.


The high school she attended offered a major in music which she joined and felt some acceptance because of her beautiful voice. Her teacher recognized her talent and invited her to join a cantata group he was coaching. From there he moved her to an a capella group, and then coached her in solo work. The night of her graduation, she and four other students sang Mozart’s A cappella – “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.” It brought the house down.


When the applause ended, the other members of her group sat down and left her standing alone at stage-center. Her music teacher struck a chord on the piano. She closed her eyes and began to sing Barber’s Vanessa – “Must Winter Come So Soon.” Her teacher emphasized that she must forget about the audience and concentrate on the music. She was mystified the first time he told her to relax and let God sing through her.


“You have the perfect instrument, Miranda. Let the Father sing through you.”


Over time she began to realize he was right. He encouraged her with an expression she never forgot. He told her to let go and let God. And that’s what she did now. The lyrics to this song were not very long which is why she chose this piece.


When she finished singing, she closed her mouth and opened her eyes. She expected applause but there was only silence. She panicked and looked at her teacher who was standing by the piano wiping his eyes. Was he crying? Was she that bad? And then it began. It was just applause here and there but it grew and before she knew it, everyone was standing, clapping, yelling, and whistling. She was so overwhelmed, all she could do was bow and hurry off stage. The other students left the stage with her, hugging her and telling her how amazing it was. The applause did not stop. She did not know what to do. Her teacher came backstage and embraced her.


“What should I do?”


“They want to hear more, Miranda.”


“But I don’t know anything else.”


“Go back on stage. When they quiet down, ask them if they would like to hear it again.”


“But we’re here to graduate.”


“Who cares? This is a miracle, go with it.”


And so she did. When she asked the audience if they would like to hear the same song since she knew no other, they went crazy. She smiled and looked at her teacher who was ready to strike the cord that would send her on her way. When she finished, the reaction was the same. Only now, the master of ceremony intervened and reminded the audience of why they were there. They quieted down and the ceremony proceeded. When it concluded, Miranda was besieged by well-wishers. It was a very heady experience, but the next morning it was over and she was who she had always been. If nothing else, she was determined to pursue her music study with hopes of someday joining a professional opera company.


Now, at twenty-seven, her personal life held no prospects. She still looked the way she did and would probably be alone the rest of her life. If nothing else, she made an effort to be cheerful and to look for the goodness in those she encountered rather than judging them by how they looked. She hoped they would do the same for her.


Her voice continued to develop in ways she had not expected. She found singing engagements which were very satisfying and well-paying but still no offers from professional companies. She sang solos on a regular basis at the church she belonged to. She felt needed and she was making a contribution. Secretly she wanted more but knew she would never have it.


Aunt Bertha clarified it one day with a remark which cut to the quick of Miranda’s heart. “Honey, get a parrot and a rocking chair and enjoy being single. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.” She forgave her aunt for the well-intentioned but cruel remark because of the pain her philandering husband, Uncle Harvey, caused her and the women he chased.


But enough of feeling sorry for herself. She applied a light shade of lipstick, a tiny bit of eye shadow, dabbed tiny bits of sunscreen on her face and smoothed it in to give her skin a gentle glow. She blotted her lips with a tissue, pinched her cheeks, turned off the bathroom light and headed for the front door. “Okay world, here I come, ready or not.”


She was on her way to the Fuga Centro Salon & Spa on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue to have her hair styled and her body pampered. It was the least she could do to buoy her spirits and thrill the world with a new look. Well, maybe not thrill, but at least reduce her drab appearance as much as possible.


She exited the train station on Jackson Boulevard and crossed the Canal Street Bridge. As she passed the Très Élégant Women’s Apparel Shop, she paused a moment and decided she would drop in on her way home and treat herself to something lovely.


It was half-past one when Miranda opened the door of the salon and reentered the world with her new look. She gazed approvingly at her reflection in the plate glass window and walked confidently toward the train station. But first, she stopped at The Lola Palooza Soup and Sandwich Bar for a late lunch. She was pleased when Claudette, the barista, admired her hairdo. She would definitely return for another meal when she was in town. She left a generous tip and waved to Claudette as she departed.


The Crystal Ball


She purchased some satin undergarments at the Très Élégant Women’s Apparel Shop and was exiting the shop when she noticed The Olde Book Shoppe across the street. She stopped and could not remember having seen it on her way downtown that morning. She turned and continued her walk to the train depot, stopped again, turned around and gazed at the quaint old bookstore. She looked at her watch, then walked across the street. A tiny bell over the door greeted her as she entered. She was an avid reader, especially of old books. There was something magical about holding a hundred-year-old book which had been owned by who knows how many other people. The notes and underscores added to the reading experience. It was as if she could hear the thoughts of these previous readers.


She scanned the interior of the shop. The ambiance pleased her. The well-lit round table at the center of the room attracted her attention. She admired the Tiffany style lampshade over the table, but her attention was drawn to the crystal ball at the center of the table, mounted on a simple wooden pedestal. She slowly circled the table until she came to a volume of what appeared to be fairy tales. The cotton gloves which lay across the open pages told her this volume was old and valuable. She placed her purchase from the apparel shop next to the volume and slipped her hands into the cotton gloves, then began turning pages, admiring the beautiful calligraphy and the well-illustrated images.


She paused when she came to an illustration of a crystal ball mounted on a simple wooden pedestal. She looked up and immediately saw that the illustration matched the crystal ball at the center of the table. What an interesting coincidence, she thought.


She sat down and contemplated the similarity of the two objects. It was then that the face of a man began to appear on both objects. She stood up so abruptly she almost knocked the chair over she had been sitting on. She backed away from the table as the vision of the man’s face became more pronounced. A chill ran up and down her spine as she realized she was alone in the room with the apparition.


Panic kicked in. She took off the cotton gloves, threw them on the table, grabbed her parcel and rushed to the front door, pausing only a second to look back. She could not see the illustration in the book, but the vision of the man’s face in the crystal ball was still there. It was more life-like than ever and appeared to be looking at her and smiling. She exited the bookshop, pulled the door shut and fled to the Canal Street Bridge and the train terminal beyond.


The train gave a slight jerk as it moved out of the station train shed. Miranda was still lost in her thoughts of what she had just experienced when she was startled by, “TICKET PLEASE.”


“Oh, yes. I’m sorry.” She handed her ticket to the conductor who punched it and slipped it under the clip on the back of the seat in front of her. She began to smile when the realization of the silliness of the afternoon settled on her. She gave a sigh of relief and fingered the bag containing the garments she had purchased. As she gazed out of the coach window she saw the reflection of her new hairstyle and smiled. It had been a good day. Choir rehearsal was at seven. She looked forward to the reaction the choir members would have on her new look.


Sadness encompassed her as choir rehearsal ended and everyone left the choir loft. No one had noticed her new hairstyle. She could not remember anyone even looking at her. The feeling of homeliness swept away the joy of the day as she returned to her home. She wasn’t angry because no one noticed. They were probably being kind. What were they supposed to say – you look so lovely when it wasn’t true. She closed the front door, laid the purchase from Très Élégant on the hall table, turned the hall light out, and went into her bedroom. She undressed and went into the bathroom to brush her teeth, and wash her hands and face before retiring. As she dried her face with a towel, she paused and gazed at her reflection in the mirror. A single tear rolled down her cheek which she quickly wiped away. As she turned the bathroom light out and walked to her bed, she remembered what Aunt Bertha had said.


Dawn had already broken when Miranda came awake. The first thing she thought about was the image of the man in the crystal ball. She wondered who he was and why he was appearing to her. He didn’t seem threatening. In fact, he was very handsome and he was smiling at her, or so she thought. It was her own silliness that made her run. What was she running from? Nothing. Just a fairy tale book and a crystal ball. The image she saw was probably just her imagination running wild. The hopeless hope she always had of some beautiful man looking at her and smiling approvingly. It was only a fantasy but a very comforting one.


She felt stupid when the childish thought came to her of going back to the bookstore with hopes of seeing the vision again. But the thought lingered. A week went by and the thought of going back to the bookstore persisted. Finally, she gave into the urge to return. She would live her fantasy for a little while. No one would know and it would make her feel ever so much better.


A few days later she prepared for the trip to Chicago. She would wear the new satin underwear she had purchased and put on her best dress. She placed a pair of white cotton gloves she never wore into her beautiful new shoulder bag she had received in the mail only the day before from The Old Bag Company. It was handmade and guaranteed to be one of a kind. She felt special just having it on her shoulder. It was as if she were preparing to go out on a date, something that had never happened before. She dismissed that thought as foolishness.


As she strolled through the great hall of the train terminal, she remembered something she had recently read. Stop living the life that was expected of you and start living your heart’s desire. She threw her shoulders back and exited the terminal onto Jackson Boulevard. That’s what she was doing and vowed to continue doing it from now on.


Kismet

As she crossed the Canal Street Bridge, her determination wilted. The Olde Book Shoppe was not there. The apparel shop was there just as she remembered, but the bookshop was gone. She could not believe her eyes. Was the whole of that day a dream, the crystal ball, the fairy tale book, and the handsome man in the crystal ball smiling at her? She walked slowly past the spot where the store had been and paused. Could this be the wrong place? No, it was the right place and the shop was gone and probably had never been there. It must have been a dream.


When she reached the corner, she stopped and looked back. Her jaw dropped … The Olde Book Shoppe was there. She ran back and stopped at the entrance. Cautiously she reached forward and touched the doorknob. It was real. She turned it and pushed the door open. The little bell above the door rang its greeting as before. She entered and closed the door, then moved toward the round table but stopped when she heard someone shuffling across the floorboards of a back room. The divider curtain was drawn back and an elderly man stepped into the room, “Good morning, my dear. How may I help you?” Miranda was struck by his beautiful crystal blue eyes peering at her over a pair of gold-rimmed glasses perched on the end of his nose.


“Good morning. I was in the other day admiring the crystal ball,” she pointed to the table, “and the fairy tale book.”


“Was that you? I remember someone coming in but by the time I finished what I was doing, they were gone. I’m so happy you came back.”


“I wanted to take another look at the book.”


“Yes, of course. Now, you just make yourself at home and call me if you need assistance. My name is Morris.”


“Thank you, Morris. I will.” He turned and disappeared into the back room. Miranda paused a moment staring at the divider curtain as it swayed back and forth. His charming accent was reminiscent of old world charm. She smiled and turned to the table in the center of the room. She sat down and looked at the book which was still open to the page with the illustration of the crystal ball, and the crystal ball was still sitting in the center of the table as before. But there was no image on either. She put her hand to her forehead and shook her head slightly. She must have dreamt the whole thing. Was she losing her mind?


As the decision to leave the bookstore occurred to her, she heard the bell over the door tinkle. Someone was coming in. She got up and moved toward the entrance and stopped. The customer who had just entered resembled the handsome man she saw in the book and the crystal ball. There was no question about it. It was him. Then she saw the white cane he carried; her breath caught when she realized he was blind.


“Hello?” came a cheerful greeting from the man.


Miranda looked around, expecting Morris. When he didn’t appear, she greeted the blind man, “Hello, how may I help you?”


“This is a bookstore isn’t it?”


“Yes, it is. It’s The Olde Book Shoppe.


“Oh, good. I’m looking for some books in braille. Can you help me?”


“I don’t actually work here. Let me find Morris, the shop owner.” She moved to the curtain divider.


“Thank you very much.”


Miranda drew the curtain back and looked into the back room, “Morris, are you there?” There was no answer. She returned to the main room, “I’m sorry. Morris doesn’t seem to be there.”


“Oh,” the man paused. “Is there a place where I may sit and wait?”


“Yes, of course, there’s a table and chairs. Here, take my hand.”


“Thank you.” The man reached out. Miranda gently took the man’s hand and led him to a chair at the table. “Thank you. You are most kind.”


“You’re welcome.” She was reluctant to let his hand go. It was warm and comfortable to hold.


As the man sat down, “That’s very interesting. I smell a light scent of cedar wood and baking soda.”


Miranda laughed, “Oh, that’s me.”


“It is?”


“It’s a soap I bathe with every day. Helps my skin. Is the scent too strong?”


“Oh, no, it isn’t. My sense of smell is heightened since I can’t see. It’s a very pleasant scent.”


Miranda took a seat near the man. She could not get over the resemblance of this person. It was exactly what she saw in the book and the crystal ball.


“Please, don’t let me keep you. I’ll be fine until the shopkeeper returns. What was his name?”


“Morris. His name is Morris. I’m in no hurry. I think I’ll wait until he returns. Do you mind?”


“No, of course not. I appreciate the company.”


“What’s your name?”


“Lancelot?”


“Really?”


“Yeah, I know. I get that reaction all the time.”


“Well, it is unusual.”


“And your name is?”


“Miranda.”


“Ah, what a coincidence. I was reading Shakespeare’s The Tempest the other day. There’s a young girl in the tale whose name is Miranda. She was raised and educated on an isolated island by a magician father.”


“A magician father. How lovely.” She remembered little of her father. Miranda chuckled to herself when she thought of seeing Lancelot’s image in the fairy tale book. “Was there a particular type of book you were looking for?”


“Yes, I’m interested in poetry and wanted to see what, if anything, was available.”


“I’m afraid I don’t know the stock of this store … oh, wait. There is a shelf over here marked poetry.”


“If there is one in braille, it will be in a large format.”


“Let me take a look.” Miranda walked to the shelf and began scanning the book spines.”


“Love poems if they have any.”


“I don’t see any in braille.” Miranda picked up a book of short love poems and returned to her chair.


“You found something?”


“Yes, but it’s not in braille”


“What’s it about?”


“It’s a book of short love poems.”


“If they are short, perhaps you wouldn’t mind reading one while we wait. Would that be okay?”


“Yes, of course. I don’t mind in the least.” She scanned the index, “Here’s one. It’s called Butterfly by Crystal R. Kordell. Shall I read this one?”


“Yes, please.” Lancelot smiled in anticipation.


Miranda began,


Butterfly

I was sitting on the bench, in the park one day

And saw a butterfly, coming my way

I opened my hand, and to my surprise

The butterfly landed, consumed in cries


I asked the little one, what is wrong?

And then the little one began to sing me a song

The sky is dark, and my days are gray

And there's nobody here to lift the clouds away


I sat there quietly, for a moment or two

And then I had decided, what to do

I looked at that butterfly

That was consumed in cries


And told her promptly, I tell no lies

Your skies are dark, and days are gray

Because you have no love

To light your way


The butterfly finally stopped her crying

Opened her wings, and went off flying

I sat on that bench until it was dark

And then I finally left the park


Day after day had long since passed

I thought I'd seen that butterfly for the last

And then on a nice and sunny day

I heard a little voice say to me, hey


I turned around, and to my surprise

There she was with her three little butterflies

I stared in awe as she spoke to me

She said to me, you’ve set me free


You've lifted the dark from the skies

And now I see no gray through my eyes

I want to thank you for all you've done

And to let you know that you're our number one


And after that, she flew away

And I haven't seen her since that day

But now that I know her troubles are done

I continue my walk in the warm summer sun



Miranda looked up into the face of Lancelot and waited.


“That was so beautiful, Miranda. Could I trouble you to read it again? You have such a beautiful voice, it adds so much to the poem. I’ll understand if you wish not to.”


“No, of course not. And thank you for the compliment.”


“You’re welcome.” Lancelot settled back in his chair and closed his eyes.


Miranda began again only this time at a slower pace, giving more feeling to the words just as she had been taught to do when singing. She read two more poems to Lancelot and then noticed the afternoon light was fading. “I’m afraid I must go. The last train will be leaving soon and I must be on it.”


“Yes, of course. I feel as though I’ve monopolized your afternoon. I apologize.”


“No need. I’ve enjoyed it. Oh, here comes Morris. He’ll be able to help you with the books you’re looking for. Goodbye, Lancelot.”


“Goodbye, Miranda. Perhaps we’ll meet again.”


“Yes, I’d like that.” Miranda walked to the shop door, glanced back, smiled, and then exited the bookshop. She paused a moment at the display window, watching Morris and Lancelot talking together.


She felt a pang of loneliness as she traveled home to Arlington Heights, chastising herself for not asking to meet with Lancelot again. Perhaps she feared he would say he was not able to. She should have said something. It would have been better to know the truth one way or the other. She smiled when she remembered how he admired her voice. She would go back to the bookstore. Perhaps she would see him again in the crystal ball or in the fairy tale book as before.


She lay awake that night thinking of Lancelot. A tear ran from the corner of her eye when she realized she may have missed an opportunity to be with him. It was silly and childish but she couldn’t help herself. She must go back to the bookstore.


Several days later, Miranda stepped off of the late morning train. She hurried through the terminal and exited onto Jackson Blvd. She remembered the bookstore had not been there once before, and then it appeared. She gave a sigh of relief … it was there. As she approached the display window she was amazed at what she saw. It was a book of braille prominently displayed. She hurried inside and waited for Morris to appear.


“Good morning, my dear. I’m so happy to see you again.”


“The braille book in the window?”


“Yes, isn’t it a beauty?”


“It is. Does Lancelot know you have it?”


“Oh, yes, I gave him an exact copy along with a few other volumes I found in the loft.”


“He was looking for poetry.”


“Yes. I gave him several volumes.”


“Oh.” Miranda’s enthusiasm began to fade. “I’m very happy he has what he was looking for. Thank you, Morris.” She smiled, turned, and walked slowly to the front door.


“He’s been asking about you.”


“What?” she turned back.


“Oh, yes. He’s been here on several occasions hoping to find you. He told me how much he enjoyed listening to you read those poems.”


Miranda was at a loss for words. She was overwhelmed with the possibilities that she had given up on. “Do you think he will return? I would very much like to see him again.”


“Oh, I think he will. There was one particular book he asked about. I told him I’d look for it.”


“Did you find it?”


“Yes, I did.”


“Morris, if I gave you my name and phone number, would you give it to Lancelot?”


“I’d be happy to but, why don’t you give it to him yourself?”


“What?”


“He just passed the display window.” Before Morris finished, the little bell over the door tinkled.


Miranda turned around, “Lancelot!”


“Miranda, is that you?”


“Yes.”


“I’m so happy you’re here. There is so much I have to tell you.” He reached out. Miranda took his hand and led him to the round table in the center of the room.


“Morris told me of all the braille books he found for you.”


“Yes, it was an unexpected treasure.”


“I suppose you won’t need anyone to read to you now that you have these books.”


“Oh, no, that isn’t true. You’ll never know how much I enjoyed having you read for me. I was just afraid of imposing on your time.”


“It’s no imposition and I have plenty of spare time. So, if you want…”


“Yes, I definitely want.” He grinned.


“Okay. Perhaps you could teach me to read braille. I know what it is but there must be a technique to it.”


“I would love to teach you. I work at the Braille Institute a few days each week doing just that.”


“Do you really? How interesting. I’ve also seen blind folks talk to one another with their hands. You probably know that technique.”


“I do.”


“Perhaps I could learn that also. That is if you’re interested in taking the time.”


“Miranda, I have the time and the interest. You have no idea how happy I am we’ve met. Everyone is so busy, no one has time to read to me – but you have and I am grateful.”


They planned their free time, meeting three times a week at the bookshop. The weeks passed quickly as summer slipped into autumn, and then it was almost Thanksgiving.


“Lancelot?”


“Yes, Miranda.”


“Do you have plans for Thanksgiving?”


“Yes, some friends from the Institute have invited me to join them.”


“Oh,” Miranda paused, “that’s very nice. I hope you enjoy yourself.”


“Miranda?”


“Yes.”


Lancelot smiled, “Come on, you can’t fool me. I’ve gotten to know you too well.”


“I don’t know what you mean?”


“It was in your voice. You’re disappointed because I have other plans.”


Miranda paused and then laughed. “You can see better with your ears then I can with my eyes.”


“I never thought of it that way, but I think you’re right. Now, the truth. Tell me why you’re disappointed.”


“Well, ok. I suppose there’s no harm.”


“In telling me what?”


“I was going to invite you to dinner at my home. I’m really a very good cook.”


“You are?”


“Yes, I am.”


“Is the invitation still open?”


Miranda paused, “Well, yes. I suppose so.”


“Then I accept.”


“What about your friends?”


“They’ll understand when I tell them who I’m having dinner with.”


“They know about me?”


“Yes, of course. I tell them about you all the time.”


“Well …”


“Well, what?”


“I was just thinking, would it be all right if I invite you and your friends to dinner at my home?”


“Miranda, I think it would definitely be all right and so very generous of you. I’ll ask them today and let you know. But there is one thing I need to find out first.”


“And that is?”


“I would like to know what you look like.”


“I don’t understand.”


“It’s very simple but kind of personal. I would like to use my fingertips to see what you look like. Do you understand?”


“Yes, I believe I do.” The thought that this beautiful man would discover what she looked like made her uneasy.


“You’re hesitating. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. Please forgive me.”


“No, no, that’s not it. I didn’t realize you were that interested.”


“But I am. So, what do you think?”


She felt she had no choice. If she said no, he might want to know why. She would be unable to tell him the truth. “Yes, of course. What would you like me to do?”


“If you’ll stand in front of me, I’ll trace the features of your face with my fingertips.”


“Okay, trace away,” they laughed, but Miranda was concerned about what he would see with his fingertips. Hopefully, not the truth. Lancelot moved closer and reached out. She took his hands and guided them to her face. She felt the warmth from his hands on her face as they approached.


The Truth Be Known

Lancelot gently began tracing her features. As his fingers traced her nose and moved across her cheeks beneath her eyes he felt the wetness from her tears and pulled away. “You’re crying. I’m so sorry, Miranda.”


“They aren’t tears of sadness, Lancelot.”


“They aren’t?”


“No, they’re not.”


“I don’t understand.”


“Lancelot, no one ever cared enough about me to see what I looked like.”


“I still don’t understand. You’re a very beautiful woman.”


“No, I’m not, but I thank you. Every woman should hear those words at least once in her life and I’m happy they came from you.” She drew away from her friend.


“You’re upset. Why?”


“Because I’ve been using you and I’m so terribly ashamed.”


“What in the world are you talking about? You’re very dear to me, Miranda. I thought we were friends.”


Miranda was on the verge of crying. “I’m not very pleasant to look at, Lancelot. I took advantage of your blindness in so many ways. I’m so sorry. Please, forgive me.” She moved to the table and picked up her belongings and walked toward the door.


“Wait,” pleaded Lancelot. He moved toward the sound of her departing steps, tripped and fell to the floor.


She dropped her coat and rushed to his side, “Lancelot, are you ok?” She helped him to his feet.


Lancelot grabbed her and pulled her into an embrace. “I lied to you, Miranda. I saw what you look like and I don’t care. Please, don’t leave me. I need you.”


“Why did you say I’m beautiful when you knew I wasn’t?”


“What difference does the way you look mean to me? I will never see you with my eyes, only with my fingertips, and my heart. No one wants a blind man, Miranda. No one wants to love a blind man – it’s too much trouble.”


“I do.”


“What? Not out of sympathy I hope. I can feel that from others and I hate it.”


“No, not out of sympathy – never. I haven’t known much happiness, Lancelot. Knowing you has brought that happiness into my life.”


“Then why were you leaving?”


“Because I lied to you which is unforgivable.”


“So, we’re both liars … right?” He began to smile playfully.


“Well, I guess we are.”


“You are so very beautiful, Miranda. What you look like doesn’t matter. It’s what’s between your ears that makes my heart sing when I’m with you. Your voice caresses everything you say. Your goodness oozes out of every pore. And besides…” he broke into his beautiful smile. “…I love the smell of cedar wood and baking soda. I don’t want to live without any of that ever again.”


Miranda began to laugh and cry at the same time. She stopped resisting Lancelot and moved closer to him. He grabbed Miranda’s head and kissed her on the lips.


She had never been kissed like that before. She tensed with her surprise.


Lancelot let go and backed away. “I’m sorry I did that. Please forgive me. I promise I won’t do it again.”


Miranda took Lancelot’s hand and led him to the table. She put his hands on the crystal ball sitting on the table. “Do you know what this is?”


He smoothed his hands over the glass ball. “It feels like glass, but what is it?”


“It’s a crystal ball.”


“I’ve read about them. I understand there are people who claim they see things and make predictions when looking into these balls.”


“Yes, there are. I’m not one of them, but I saw your face in this ball the first time I came into this shop. It frightened me so much I literally ran from the building.”


“Was I that scary looking?”


“No, of course not. I just wasn’t prepared for that to happen. But I came back and then you showed up looking for braille books. I think I fell in love with you that day.”


“Miranda. Do you mean that?”


“Yes, Lancelot. I mean it with all my heart.”


“Why didn’t you say so sooner?”


“I was afraid.”


“Of me?”


“No. Afraid of what you might think or say.”


“And now?”


Miranda paused; “I love you more now than ever. I would love to be your eyes for as long as you want.” Tears welled in her eyes as she waited.


“It’s music to my ears, Miranda, and my heart. And yes, I want … very much.”


“Lancelot, you mean…?”


“Yes. Did you never notice?”


“I was afraid to believe it.”


“And now?”


“Now, I would like you to take back your promise.”


“What promise is that?”


“To never kiss me again.”


“Oh, my God,” he reached out. Miranda walked into his arms which gently closed around her. He kissed her forehead, both of her eyes, her nose, and her cheeks. “I love you, Miranda.” Then he kissed her again on the mouth, tenderly. She responded this time and felt a oneness with this man she never thought possible.


Morris walked in from the back room. “Okay, you two. I’m closing the bookshop. You’ll have to leave. Come on.”


“But Morris…”


“No, but Morris. The two of you will have to find another rendezvous from now on.”


Lancelot turned to the sound of Morris’ voice, “Have you been listening?”


“To every blessed word. Now off with the both of you and give this old man some rest.”


Miranda kissed Morris on the cheek. “Thank you, Morris. Will we ever see you again?”


“Only if you get into trouble.” He smiled as he closed the door, sighed, and looked up.


Epilogue

“Brother Morris, you’re just an old sentimentalist.”


“I know, but I couldn’t help myself, especially with these two. They are so perfect for each other. But I did wonder if they would ever get together.”


“You’ve done a good job.”


“Thank you.”


Miranda and Lancelot stood outside, “It’s going, Lancelot.”


“What’s going?”


“The Olde Book Shoppe. It’s fading away.” She took his hand and placed it on the blank wall of the parking structure.


“Was it a dream?”


“No. It was a miracle.” She took Lancelot’s hand and led him away. “You hungry?”


“Yeah, I could use something.”


“Come on. We’re going to the Lola Palooza Soup and Sandwich Bar. I know the barista. You’re gonna love it.”


“Are you going with me?” He smiled playfully.


“You bet your ass I am.”


“Miranda!”


“I can be naughty when I want to.” She put her arm through his and held him close. She stopped. “Curb,” and then proceeded.


“You’ve been reading on how to communicate with the blind, haven’t you?”


“You bet I have.” They laughed as they walked across the street arm-in-arm.



THE END

About the Author J.T. Evergreen

OCCUPATION - Retired from the grind. Reflecting on successes, failures, and regrets. Exploring new aspects of self, writing that book which will get me an Oscar, staying out of trouble - well, small amounts of trouble are ok. Bringing joy into people's lives with random acts of kindness - the ones who aren't expecting it are the best.

ABOUT ME - Alone in blessed singleness. Wicked sense of humor, enjoy my own company, glad I'm not young any longer. I do miss the intimacy of being in love. Enjoy the possibilities of every moment, an imagination that won't quite, a master weaver - give away everything I make, excellent portrait painter, a national treasure - though no one agrees with me, a good listener, intuitive, a good conversationalist, avoid boredom and boring people at all costs - that's a career all by itself.

INTERESTS - Intelligent conversation: hard to come by these days, metaphysics, mysticism, my pups - Charlie, Max, and Bailey, seeing the funny side of life, going to Macy's at Christmas time - kicking Santa and punching an Elf. If I had a singing voice, which I don't, I would sing all of the time, wherever I was - even in WalMart. Wouldn't that be enchanting? When I receive the Oscar for the book I'm writing, I will have some baritone sing On A Clear Day, and I will lip sync his voice. It will wow the audience.

LOVES - Color and lots of it, strawberry jam, hiking up Yosemite Falls, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, sourdough bread, only made in San Francisco. Hearst Castle, Big Sur, sea air, Adams peanut butter, chocolate milk, rainy days, canaries singing, chocolate chip cookies my mother made, Greek yogurt with honey - oh, yum. Laughter. I make it a point of doing this many times a day.

HATES - Stupidity, insensitivity, bad table manners - come on, how difficult is it to hold a fork properly - it's not a shovel for God's sake. Snow, ice, slush, freeway traffic, lima beans - what was God thinking, sleepless nights, people who are late, texting - it's a cop-out, alcohol, red meat,

FAVORITE BOOKS - The Spiritual Journey of Joel S. Goldsmith.

FAVORITE MUSIC – Joplin’s Peachrine, Ahmad Jamal - Country Tour - the absolute best jazz - never tire of it. Someone Waits for You – Carly Simons, Helen Kane singing Button Up Your Overcoat and I Want to Be Bad – I relate to the lyrics. And the Tenor who sang Springtime for Hitler in the Zero Mostel version of The Producers. No one seems to know who he is. What a voice.

FAVORITE FILMS – The Celluloid Closet, Witness for the Prosecution, It Could Happen to You, Maltese Falcon, Inherit the Wind, 12 Angry Men, Harold and Maude, Murder on the Orient Express, Hope and Glory, Sorry Wrong Number, Speed, Practical Magic, Apollo 13, Where the Red Fern Grows, The original Producers - touch me, hold me - Estelle was terrific, and Zero - what can I say.

FAVORITE QUOTES – The poetry in writing is the illusion it creates: by me. Lord Chesterfield: “Sex: the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” The saddest words of tongue or pen are these - It might have been - indeed they are. If you want to make a success out of old age, you better start now: my mother when I was 15. On a clear day, you really can see forever - you just have to look. I may be rancid butter, but I'm on your side of the bread. Inherit the Wind.

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Omar Khayyam


Other books by J.T. Evergreen

Short Stories to Celebrate the New Year

Alone at the Beach 25 short stories to keep you company

Home Alone 8 Great Stories to keep you company

Born in the Twilight

Injun Summer



This’nThat

Short Stories for a Summer’s Day

Holiday Short Stories

With All My Love

Father Frederick Monahan



Shangri la, Stepping Stones to God

I’m Gay Mother – Get Over it

The Olde Book Shoppe

Naked Before God

The Italian Call Boy



The Silence of Healing

Death of a Pope Birth of Hope

The Best Short Stories Ever

My Love Affair with Father Tomas McTavish

Father Gibbon with Sister Mary Magda in development



I get choked up when I re-read some of my stories.

I’m told that’s a sign of being a good writer.


Connect with J.T. Evergreen


Thank you for reading my book!


Friend me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JTEvergreen

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https://www.linkedin.com/in/jt-evergreen-7a331517a/detail/recent-activity/



Here’s a collection of tunes to send you on your way. Cheers, JT

 http://chirb.it/kps29B ,  http://chirb.it/NJwxIp ,  http://chirb.it/7q7G2y

 http://chirb.it/vd2Cyp , http://chirb.it/2BqBKf ,  http://chirb.it/PzmBa1
 http://chirb.it/gPmcnH ,  http://chirb.it/mqJgeP ,  http://chirb.it/h4em9h

 http://chirb.it/dr8rkr

That's all, folks. Thanks for reading this story.


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