Saturday, 6 October 2018

Unlucky in love


“Life is like a box of chocolates.” Is that really what your mama told you, Forrest, me old mate?

Well, I’ll tell you something. I’d trade this whole Deluxe Selection box – even if it was filled to the brim with my favourite Hazelnut Caramel Crunch Clusters – for a little bit of the old rumpty-pumpty.  

Speaking of hazelnut clusters, don’t mind if I do…   Hmmm. Lubbly, jubbly.

It’s not easy being me, you know. One look and everyone assumes I’ve got the whole romance deal sorted. The rosy, chubby cheeks. The bouncy blonde curls. My wide-eyed innocent gaze to the heavens. The half-arsed bow and arrow. Even those stupid lumps of feather flapping about on my shoulders (as if a pair of pigeon wings could lift my un-birdlike frame).

I know how you all see me. How you imagine I spend my days. You’ve got this image of me flitting from cloud to cloud, shooting darts of romance here and there, infecting the unsuspecting with love (with a capital L) and chucking hearts, flowers and rainbows around like nobody’s business.

You know, the whole vomit-inducing shebang. 

Guilty as charged. 

But did any of you ever stop to wonder if good ole Cupid ever found love, had someone warm and welcoming to go home to at the end of a long day? No, of course you didn’t. Not a single one of you ever gave a thought to the state of my poor, bleeding, unrequited heart.

Yuck, Strawberry Dream. Not my favourite. Too mushy by far. Any of you fancy it?

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. The bitter sweet irony of the God of Love never having got his end away.

Yes, you heard me right. Never. Not once. Not even close. Since ancient times - and I mean real ancient times. Romans and Greeks, togas and intrigues, and the like.

So, next time you’re crying into your beer ‘cos Little Miss Sharon McTottie won’t look your way, instead of chucking a few choice swear words in my direction, stop to consider what it’s like to be an eternal virgin whose day job is all about connecting people to do the horizontal samba. 

Thing is, no-one really goes for the cherubic look, do they? These big baby-blue eyes and pouting lips may make broody wannabe mums swoon and croon over pushchairs, but when it comes to the business of getting the kid implanted, forget it. No way, Jose. 

They want butch, macho or, at the very least, darkly sardonic. Not an easy ask when you look like this.

So, there you go. Chaste and untouched for millenia. Not by choice, in case you missed my hint. The original incel (that’s involuntary celibate, in case you didn’t know - the latest label for blokes who blame all womankind for the fact they can’t get laid instead of looking in the mirror). But without the viciousness, or relentless online baiting. I may be bitter, and horny as holy hell, but I ain’t that bad.

Now, what’s this one. Espresso Delite (American spelling if you please). Could be good. Let’s see. Just a little bite to try….  ….oh no, no, no.
Too bitter for me by far, thanks to thirty years living over a Billericay café where the tea's fit for builders but the coffee's not much more than dirty water.

Funny thing is, lately, I have been feeling a little bit dark and sardonic now and then. It might just be my imagination, but I could swear that there’s a touch of Roger the gargoyle rubbing off on me. 

Roger? Oh, you don’t know him? 

Seriously, you didn’t think I was the only random mythical creature walking the streets with you humans, did you? There’s loads of us, everywhere you look. Vampires, warlocks, goblins, the occasional ogre, elves, not to mention naiads and dryads searching for their spirit streams and home trees that were cemented over years ago. 

People used to notice us, steer clear, shake pitchforks, light torches and chuck the occasional cup of Holy water in our direction. These days, they don’t bat an eyelid. I’m not surprised really – these days most ‘ordinary’ people are scarier than a legion of demons.

Me and Rog have been hanging out a lot lately. Bit of an odd couple. Him all dark, charred and leathery. Me, well… you know. This. But we get on well enough, and he does make me look cool.

I’ve been teaching him the words to Celine Dion’s entire back catalogue. And he’s helping with my Alice Copper and Ozzy impersonations. All good clean fun. Unfortunately.

But I’ve noticed something. I’ve started feeling a bit… how can I say it?...  different. My toenails are getting longer and tougher, my feet are getting bonier, like claws. My cheeks are sinking, right down to the bone structure I never knew I had. And I swear I saw a dark red glint in one eye when I looked in the mirror the other day.

Roger says I’m imagining it. I’m just seeing what I admire in him in myself. Sort of wishful thinking. Arrogant git. 

I mean, would I really want to look like a hobgoblin on speed after a week of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll? 

Too bloody right I would.

Like we said, no-one wants to shag the fat roadie with a face like the Gerber baby. 

Pineapple crème. I’ll save that for Roger. He has the weirdest tastes for a gargoyle. There must be a Walnut Whirl somewhere in here for me. 

So, like I was saying. After all these centuries I can feel something stirring, changing, solidifying. And no…  …it’s not “that”. Not yet, at least.

I don’t think I’m the only one to notice. I got a look today from the girl with the nose ring in the café. Not the usual can-I-pour-my-heart-out-about-my-pig-of-a-boyfriend-before-leaping-back-into-his-bed look, but something that might – just might – hold a hint of an invitation to join her in the sheets myself.

At first, I thought it was for Roger. But no, it was definitely me Tanith stared at for just a little bit longer than necessary when taking the same order I give her every day. I ran a cocky hand through my hair, smoothing it down against my scalp instead of letting the ringlets spring like a halo, as I murmured “One tea and an Eccles cake, please darling”.

When she came back, she gave me two Eccles cakes and an encouraging wink. 

Is that a Rum and Raisin Swirl I see hiding there in the corner? Not any more. There you go. Very nice.

The only downside is the smell. It simply won’t go away. Again, I thought it was Rog, but his usual air of brimstone seemed to linger much longer than it should after he’d left for his weekly meeting with the Dark Overlord yesterday.  

I shower, scrub myself in all those important little places (especially now that I’m getting those signals from Tanith), but when I raise my arms to check my pits, I’m still getting a whiff of sulphur oozing out of me like lava. 

If I’m honest, I secretly relish it. It’s much cooler than the cloud of baby powder that used to follow me everywhere.

So, yes. I’m changing. A kind of ridiculously overdue puberty is transforming me. At long bloody last. 

I can hardly wait. I go to sleep, excited to see what new transformation awaits me when I wake. I walk down the street with a new purposeful stride, Queen’s ‘Find me somebody to love’ pulsing through my head at full volume. My wings have folded flat against my shoulder blades and I think the feathers have all dropped out. 

I can’t remember the last time I saw my bow, let alone shot one of the arrows. The world doesn’t seem to notice. Carries on. Maybe it just doesn’t need me anymore?

I reckon Roger took the arrows. I saw him messing with them over his coffee. Could be he’s already handed them over and sent them to the depths of Hades? Or not. Who knows? Who cares?

Just a few chocs in the box now. I should have saved the bottom layer for Tanith, now that I know I might be in with a chance. But I can always buy a fresh box in the morning, can’t I?
I wonder what that one is? Don’t think I’ve seen it before. Small, round and very dark.
Probably some fancy super-pure Peruvian cocoa…
 Let’s see…  …Nope. Not cocoa at all. Small, hard, vaguely smokey. A lump of rock charred at the edges, fizzing slightly at its centre. Surprisingly tasty.

Yep. I’m changing. And fast. My time has finally come. Tanith is giving me that special smile and nodding towards the side door. I’ve waited long enough.

Question is, can you lot handle my metamorphosis? Are you ready for a world without love? 

Suck it and see.

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