Suzanne

Lily Jarnac, Writer

Suzanne

 

California, 1924 

 

He was sleeping like a baby. 

Dreaming of laying in soft pink clouds and a comforting breeze that smelled like fresh flowers. The clouds were wrapping him up in a warm hug as blue birds chirped beside him. Floating high up in the soft blue sky and admiring the green grass far below him slowly passing by. He feels a sense of familiarity and accepts it with open hands. But quickly and suddenly, the sky turned dark, and the air turned cold. He was slowly slipping, grasping onto any remains of the cloud he could find but it’s not enough. He’s falling through the air, heart racing and limbs flailing.  

His eyes open and his body jumps in shock. Staring at the ceiling above his bed with furrowed brows, confused and disorientated, before he feels another nudge on his side. His head slowly turns, he looks to his side with wide eyes and sees his friend staring back at him, kneeling next to his bed and failing to hide his smile. He whispers, “Wake up, Charlie.” 

Charlie’s face remains unfazed, mostly because his mind is still floating in the pink clouds, as his eyes trail down his body and takes in his outfit, a black and white striped tux with shining shoes. He immediately knows it’s going to be a long night. Sighing and rolling over to mumble into his pillow, “What do you want, Roy?” Unplanned visits in the middle of the night are quite common for their friendship, but that doesn’t make Charlie any more thrilled to be woken from his enchanting REM sleep.  

Roy is pulling off his sheets and yanking at his arm, “We have places to be.” 

Charlie grumbles and sighs, “don’t have to be anywhere.” But Roy is having none of it, “Sorry my friend, you are coming with me whether you like it or not.” Charlie glares up at Roy’s unwavering face before rolling his eyes and climbing out of bed, “I may like parties, but I want you to know that nothing comes before my beauty sleep.”  

Roy jumps up in victory and mumbles an “I know, I know” as he walks to Charlie’s closet, pulling out a white button up and black dress pants. Throwing it all in a heap on his bed and topping it off with a black bow tie.  

“Do I get to know where we’re going this time or-” 

“Nope. It’s a surprise.” 

“Of course it is.”  

Roy tells Charlie to meet him downstairs once he’s done getting ready before strutting out of the room and leaving Charlie to quickly brush his teeth and fix his hair. His mind is entirely taken over by his recurring dream that never fails to calm him. He started dreaming of fuzzy pink clouds a year or so ago and has found himself relying on them in stressful times. They soothe him so deeply that he has started going to bed hours earlier, just to feel its serenity every night.  

As Charlie leaves his apartment building, he sees Roy’s car running and waiting in front of the double doors, the rest of his friends piled in the backseat. They all celebrate as they see him walking down the steps, bodies spilling out of the windows and arms dangling down the sides of the car because of the small size.  

Charlie laughs and shakes his head as he plops in the front seat, yawning as he turns around and looks over them, “Do any of you ever sleep?”  

The car is filled with “No way” and “Where’s the fun in that?” as they take off down the road. Everyone energetic and excited for the night to come.  

 

 

It’s been 2 hours and Charlie is ready for his bed.  

 This specific speakeasy was in an underground bar. There was a secret code to get in, that somehow Roy knew. Again, Charlie wasn’t surprised but it really makes him wonder where he finds this stuff out. The bar was very dim, a jazz band playing on the small stage at the front.   

Once they got there Charlie started making his rounds. Mingling and saying hello to the many familiar faces. Politely rejecting the many girls that have come up to him. Drinking and smoking as he watches the band.  

“Have we met before?” Charlie snaps out of his daydreams of the pretty pink clouds and turns to look at the voice next to him. A gorgeous girl who looks genuinely kind, but Charlie still finds himself feeling a tinge of irritation, “No. Don’t think so.” He gives a polite and awkward smile and looks back to the band, hoping to be left alone in his quiet dark corner where he can wallow in peace. The girl’s jaw falters a little as she scrunches her face up into a slightly offended look, before turning around to leave him be. He releases his breath and closes his eyes as he sees her leaving in the corner of her eye. 

“I saw that.” 

Charlie winces when he hears Roy’s voice, immediately knowing there is a scolding coming his way. He peaks one eye open to get a look at Roy’s unimpressed face, before opening the other and sighing, “Please done start-” 

“What is up with you? Seriously, I think you’ve broken a record for rejection given in a night.” Charlie rolls his eyes at his exaggeration, but Roy is shaking his head, “Charlie. You have been single for what? A year now? You need to get back out there.” 

Charlie glares at Roy, “I’m not interested.” 

“Are you still hung up on your ex? Is that what this is?” Roy honestly didn’t think the breakup affected Charlie that much, considering he had never really committed to somebody long-term before. But it’s been so long that he’s even looked twice at a girl that he’s starting to get concerned for his friend.  

Charlie scoffs, “Do you really think that?” Roy raises his eyebrows and throws out his arms, “I don’t know what to think! Tell me what’s going on, please. I’ve never seen you like this before and I’m a little worried.” 

Charlie looks at his hands as he fidgets with them in search for a good way to explain without sounding ridiculous, “This is going to sound really weird,” he glances up at Roy to see his furrowed brows. He has always been a great listener and genuinely cared about how Charlie was feeling, and Charlie is feeling grateful for that at the moment because this topic feels very sensitive for him, although he really doesn’t understand why, “I… I feel like I’m waiting for something. Like something… or someone… is coming, but it’s bigger than these random girls that only come up to me because they think I’m attractive.” He hesitatingly looks at Roy who is slowly nodding, however still looking very confused, “…Okay. I guess that sounds like a pretty good reason to me. I’m just worried you are going to be wasting your time sitting around waiting.” Charlie picks at a thread in his pants and nods at Roy, “I guess you could be right.” Roy puts his hands on Charlie’s shoulders to get him to look up, “Just keep your eyes open, okay? I think if your gut is saying there is something coming then there probably is, but don’t dismiss everyone at the blink of an eye.” He gives a sympathetic smile and Charlie smiles back, “Thanks a lot, Roy.” Roy pats his shoulder a couple times before sending him a wink and sauntering off to go be the social butterfly that he is.  

Charlie looks back to the band and sighs. His heart sinks at the idea that he is delusional and missing perfectly good opportunities. He feels an anxious bubble form in the pit of his stomach and his eyes lightly glaze over as he gnaws at his lips, thinking over his incredibly dry love life and feeling kind of pathetic because of it, more strongly now as he sits alone in this dark corner booth. His mind starts to wander back to the pink clouds in his dream, how soft and comforting they felt, and he got that feeling that it was time to go home.  

He looked around and found all his friends seemingly having a good time, so he pulled Roy aside and told him he was going to walk home and then made his way out.  

A yawn claws its way up his throat as he finds the entrance and pushes through the door. The band’s calm jazz slowly fading away and quickly being replaced with the sounds of birds chirping outside.  

Immediately he sees the sun starting to rise and the sky turning all different colors. His brows furrow as he takes in the pink clouds above him, recognizing that they are the exact clouds from his dreams. He is mesmerized as they taunt him. His heart rate starts to pick up at the feeling that he has already dreamed this. He turns to his left to begin his walk home, but his eyes are too caught on the hovering clouds that he doesn’t notice the body walking towards him. He crashes into them with quite a bit of force, a shocked gasp escaping him because the clouds had already put him on edge, but also because of the same comforting feeling that washes over him that he feels in his dreams. As soon as his body collided with them it felt like a laser beam had run down his entire body, relaxing every muscle that passes on its track.  

He rebalances himself and looks down at the person with furrowed brows and quick breaths, disoriented from the peculiarly familiar atmosphere he stepped into.  

He’s met with a smiling face looking back at him. Long wavy hair that flows all the way down to her hips. A black flapper dress, flowing and sheer, hanging off her shoulders to accentuate her collarbones. She has a small flower tucked into her hair and silver bracelets on her wrists. Charlie is stunned, partially because he has never seen a girl with such long hair before. He is floundering at her beauty and his jaw slowly dropping as his body relaxes and his heartbeat calms in her presence.  

After a minute or so of staring at one another, she giggles and leans into Charlie whispering, “You knocked me right off my feet.”  

He looks at her bright red lips as she speaks and tries to comprehend what she’s saying, but his body is tingling and his hearing is a little fuzzy. He wonders if she meant that literally or not, because he feels the same way right about now. His sight going completely tunnel vision on her, and he is a little starstruck because he has never seen a woman this way before.  

She reaches her hand out, “I’m Suzanne. And you are?” 

Charlie looks down at her hand like it is some kind of creature he has never seen in his life and gulps to revive his dry mouth. He looks back into her eyes and robotically shakes her hand, “Charlie.”  

She smiles and her teeth are glowing, eyes sparkling as she looks up at him, “Charlie, it’s nice to finally meet you.” 

He is so lost and still feels very dizzy. He is getting chills down his spine and goosebumps down his arms as he looks at her, his dry throat croaks out “Do I know you?” He feels like he can trust her and it’s so strange to him because he has a hard time trusting anyone, let alone strangers. 

Her smile reaches her eyes, and she looks so kind and so beautiful that he kind of wants to cry, “Not yet.”  

He sighs as he melts into the comforting feeling she gives him. Eyes wandering all over her face to understand what is happening to him, but it just makes her giggle again. His ears tingle at the sound of her laugh, “Do you have somewhere to be, Charlie?” 

He shakes his head no before she even finishes her sentence, and she smiles before taking his hand. She slowly leads him back to the bar. Charlie would usually be freaked out beyond belief if this was happening with any other person, but he can’t find it in himself to be worried with her. He feels safe as he looks at her face; the bright pink and orange colors of the sky and clouds above them reflecting off her, making it seem as if she is glowing. He hopes and hopes that this isn’t a dream as she opens the door and leads him inside.  

She leads him all the way to the dark corner booth that he was sitting at before. She sits down and scoots over, looking up at him expectantly, and he clears his throat and climbs in next to her, sitting almost completely turned towards her. She makes small talk with him and asks him questions about himself, he talks briefly about his friends and his job, but he really doesn’t want to talk about himself when there is this amazing creature in front of him. He tries to get to know her, but she skillfully avoids many topics about herself, changing the subject to somehow get him to talk about himself again.  

Charlie asks her if she wants a drink and she smiles and says, “That would be lovely” so he nods and stares in a trance as he gets out of the booth and heads to the bar, not breaking eye contact until she leaves his field of vision.  

As he waits for their drinks, he shakes his head to try and clear the fog that seems to be filling it. He wipes his hands on his pants to try and clear the nervous sweat away as the bartender puts the drinks in front of him. He picks up the drinks and looks around for any of his friends as he makes his way back, spotting Roy who already has his eyes on him. As soon as Roy catches Charlie’s eyes he puts his arms up and scrunches his face, nodding his head towards the booth. Charlie raises his brows and lifts his shoulders, not quite sure how to express from across the room “This is the most enchanting girl I’ve ever met. Please don’t come over here and embarrass me.”  

Charlie pulls his eyes away from Roy as he gets closer to the booth, breathing in a deep breath to try and reign in his nerves but as soon as he sees Suzanne’s face again, her eyes already on him, his stomach does a flip, and his hands are sweating uncontrollably. He slowly steps up to the table and leans over to shakily put down her drink, keeping his eyes on her, but as he goes to set down his own it slips out of his hand and drops harshly onto the table, shattering to pieces and throwing shards of glass in every direction. His head snaps down as he feels a sharp pain in the hand that was holding Suzanne’s drink.  

A large cut runs from the middle of his palm to the edge of it. He hisses as another sharp pain runs up his arm and he watches a streak of blood begin to run down his hand. Suzanne immediately grabs his wrist and gently pulls it towards her to inspect the cut. She lightly holds his hand palm up and the other comes to hover over the cut. She closes her eyes and inhales deeply, Charlie looking at her with furrowed brows.  

After a minute or so of confused silence and Suzanne’s deep breaths, the pain is dulling down to almost nothing, and she is opening her eyes and looking back up at him with sympathy, her brows furrowed and her face slightly wincing as if she can feel his pain. Her fingers run across his skin, and he sighs and melts into the comfort that he gets from it, “Would you like to come to my house? I can fix this right up for you. It’ll feel better in no time.” He gives a silent nod because he is a little speechless and she’s smiling and nodding back before getting her jacket and scooting out of the booth.  

She takes his hand and leads the way as he follows behind like a lost puppy. He thinks that maybe she has practice in the medical field given that she acted so perfectly to someone in pain, but he is confused why that would be something she would avoid talking about. 

 

 

They walk a couple blocks in silence, stealing glances at one another before she clears her throat and quietly speaks, “I don’t usually have people come to my house.” 

They took slow steps in sync, and he turns to give her his attention, but waits for her to say more. “It’s my safe space, you know?” He nods his head in understanding as they turn the corner, the street they are walking on now ending at a beach. 

“I just wanted to tell you that because… I know it can seem a bit… well, weird at first. And I normally would never bring someone I’d just met here, but I’d really like to take care of your hand if you’d like me too-” 

Charlie cuts off her nervous rambling when he links her pinky with his squeezing a little and looking at her with a smile before dropping her hand. They both go silent again as they walk all the way to the end of the road until the sand hits their feet.  

She looks at him and hesitatingly starts walking to their right. He stares at her hair and dress flowing in the ocean breeze and raises his eyebrows as he huffs out a breath and begins trailing behind her. He peeks at the glowing sky reflecting light off of the ocean water, muddled by the dreamy clouds above him.  

They walk through the white and warm sand, all the way to the side of the beach until they reach a patch of trees. Suzanne stops and looks over her shoulder towards Charlie, reaching out her hand and he puts his hand in hers. She pulls back a thick branch covered in leaves and crouches down to walk forward. He follows her and thinks to himself that he should seriously be concerned for his safety, but he just can’t seem to feel anything but safe with her.  

It is green for a few seconds and all he can hear is birds chirping and frogs croaking and cicadas humming. He focuses on her hand in his and he follows her blindly with his head tucked down. Soon he can see his feet clearly again and he looks up to see the side of a Victorian style house, painted a sweet cream, and the yard around it is littered with all kinds of colorful flowers and plants. To their left is the water, the house facing it. It is completely secluded by a half-circle of trees, and he wonders how she managed to find a place like this. He feels like he has entered her own private world, and he thinks that he might not ever want to leave it. 

Suzanne leads him to walk around to the front door and his jaw is slowly dropping at the beauty of it all. There is a wrap-around front deck that has wicker chairs and a little table with a novel and a half-done crossword on it. The sounds of the ocean waves mixed with her wind chimes are putting him in a trance.

“What do you think?”  

“I think I would sell my soul for a house like this.” 

She huffs out a heavy relieved breath at that and smiles the biggest he has seen since they met, “I can’t believe you were nervous about this. I have never seen a house this beautiful.”  

They walk up the steps and she opens the front door for him, “That means a lot. Thank you.”   

Charlie follows her through the entry hall and into the kitchen, peeking at the rooms they pass on the way. The house is filled with natural lighting, there are candles and plants and soft rugs everywhere you look. The furniture looks so cozy and comfortable that he is tempted to curl up in a ball and take a nap if she would let him. His eyes catch a beaten down guitar that’s huddled in the corner of a room they pass; he looks over the pale blue walls of the room before his head knocks into a plant hanging from the ceiling of the hallway. He rubs at his head and speeds up to catch up with Suzanne. 

The kitchen has large windows and old white cabinets. His heart pings at how natural and lived-in her house is; a half-drunken coffee cup on the table and a sweater thrown over the chair, but it makes it so much prettier. There are more glass jars on the shelves than he can count, all filled with what seems to be different herbs, “Would you like some tea?” 

“Tea would be great.” 

He sits down at her table and watches her.  

“I’m going to put some of this in it,” Suzanne raises a glass jar she picked off the shelf, “it’s something I made, it should take your pain away.” After a couple seconds of hesitation from Charlie she speaks up again, “Nothing to worry about, sweetheart. Just some ginger, cinnamon, horsetail, a little lavender. All stuff from my garden out back. I’m not trying to put you under.” She smiles at him, and he nods and whispers out an okay because he truly doesn’t think she wants to hurt him. She quickly makes the tea and gives him a glass. Bringing over rubbing alcohol, gauze and some other things. 

He gives Suzanne his hand before she even has to ask. She first wipes at any excess blood and then cleans the wound, wincing in sympathy as Charlie recoils in pain, muttering “I’m sorry” and “Almost done.” 

When she’s done with that, she’s grabbing a couple other jars and looks at Charlie, “Is it okay if I put some of this on it? It’s just some oils that I’ve made. I know some people don’t really believe in these kinds of things-”  

Charlie interrupts, “It’s okay.” Suzanne smiles at him before rubbing some of the oil around the wound and onto the gauze before taping it up.  

She pulls at his hand and places a kiss to the wrapped-up wound, “All better.” She smiles again and he stares at her mouth and can’t form any words. He can feel the hot tea traveling through his body, relaxing him from the inside out and he barely even feels any pain anymore. A yawn breaks up his throat and she asks him, “Do you want to get some sleep?”  

He’s thinking it is probably a good idea to go back home, but the idea of leaving Suzanne’s nurturing home and presence hurts to even think about, “If you don’t mind.” 

She smiles that pretty smile again and hums out, “Not at all.” 

She brings him upstairs to her room, Charlie feeling like this is some weird and crazy realistic dream as he takes the long trip up the winding staircase. Her room has big windows but is dim with warm lamps in the corners. Plants filling up the sides and a big king-size bed in the middle with the fluffiest covers Charlie has ever seen. 

As he sinks into the soft mattress, he closes his eyes and tries to think of the last time he felt this at peace. The bed dips as Suzanne gets in beside him. He looks over to her with a confused look, and she bites on her cheek before hesitatingly speaking up, “I know this all seems a bit weird.” He sinks deeper into the bed and pulls the covers up to his chin. He thinks her voice may put him to sleep if she keeps speaking. “I want to explain to you why you feel the way you do. But I don’t want you to be afraid.” He opens his eyes lazily and watches her, looking over her hair and glowing skin and whispering, “I’m not afraid. Tell me.” She gulps at his strong regard toward her, “Well, okay. I don’t really like to use this word because a certain stigma surrounds it, but there is no other way to really describe it-” Her mouth closes as he brings his arm up to wrap around her waist.  

“I am a witch.” 

His eyes look up at her and show no hint to what he is thinking, “I know it sounds scary, but there are many different kinds, and I am far from scary. Technically, I am a healing witch. I have the ability to heal, to comfort. I use herbs and oils as a medium, I draw energy from nature and water.” He still looks at her with no reaction and she starts to fidget, “That may be why you feel so relaxed, but I don’t want you to think I compelled you here and I’m never going to let you leave. I dream about important people in my life, or coming into my life. And I have been waiting for you for a long time now. I sent you some dreams as well, so you wouldn’t become overwhelmed-” 

He curls into her and shushes her. He’s not scared, if anything he’s calmer because he has a better understanding of why he feels like this. She sighs out a breath, thankful that he isn’t running for the hills, and hugs him back. They sink into the bed together and he falls asleep with his nose shoved in her neck, breathing in the smell of fresh flowers and the ocean breeze that’s flowing through the open windows and blowing curtains.  

 

 

He is floating in a soft and thick cloud, laying on his back as he watches the pink sky above him. There is a quiet noise in the back of his mind, but he barely notices it as he regards the pretty sky above him with a faint smile. The sound gradually gets sharper and louder. The pink sky and fluffy cloud slowly fade away until everything is black and there is an angry beeping in his ear.  

He blinks his eyes open and looks up at his ceiling. His eyebrows furrow as he slowly looks around his small room and flat bed, colorless and dull. His eyes start to tear up, muttering “No… no no no” 

 He smacks his alarm clock next to him and it abruptly stops beeping and falls to the ground. He pushes the heels of his palms into his eyes and grits his teeth. His heart is dropping so low that he wonders if this is what it feels like to be heartbroken. He stares up at his ceiling with watery eyes, his hand comes up to hover over him, a tear running down the side of his face and traveling into his hair as he sees his palm perfectly healthy and cut-free. 

He sits up and stares out of his window. Seeing the bright pink sky and fluffy clouds. At first he is angry and pouting at them, he wants to give up on his dreams and gut feelings and crawl into his bed and never leave, but the more he stares at it the more compelled he is to stand up.  

He gets up and goes to the window, leaning until his face is pressed to the glass, looking up at the pink and orange, squinting his eyes and scrunching his brows.  

Then suddenly he sprints to his closet to throw on whatever clothes he can find.  

He runs out of his apartment and down the stairs two at a time. He takes off toward the beach as fast as he can. By the time he gets to the white and warm sand he is desperately trying to catch his breath, his hair is a mess on his head and his nose and cheeks are pink from the early morning chill in the air.  

After he takes a quick break, he starts to run towards the trees as best as he can in the sand, clumsily tripping a few times but catching himself, kicking sand behind him.  

Once he gets to the swarm of different greens, he tries to remember what branch it was Suzanne pulled back. His breath is quick, and his heart is racing as all of them blur together. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, thinking back to his hand in hers and her arm coming up to the branch with her clunky silver bracelets on her wrists. He opens his eyes and sees it immediately, pulling it back, crouching under it and walking straight forward. The light becoming green and the branch falling back behind him, enclosing him into the secluded area. 

He keeps his eyes down as he hears all the different animals and insects encourage him on. Soon he falls through the plants and the natural light returns. He keeps his eyes on his feet and he holds his breath. He’s terrified to look up and see no house, see nothing but land screaming at him to go see a doctor. But he forces his head up anyway. 

He sees the sweet cream paint that’s chipping off of the old wood of the house and the various flowers surrounding it. The sparkling blue water to the left and the large and copious garden to his right. He releases a sharp breath of relief and squeezes his eyes shut as his head falls back to the sky, chest heaving as he tries to pull himself together. 

Soon enough he is collecting himself and slowly following the sounds of the wind chimes, walking slowly up the steps and to deck to the front door. He stops and takes a deep breath, raising his hand to knock, but before he can the door opens.  

Suzanne stands in the doorframe, hair down to her hips and the top half braided into a thick braid in the back. She’s wearing a flowing dress and sweater and has her clunky silver bracelets on her wrists. He thinks she may have just woken up, but she still looks more beautiful than she did in his dream. She smiles at him, and he melts at the sight of it. He wants to cry from the relief he feels that she is real. He smiles back at her, speechless and breathless.  

“Hi Charlie.”