A blazing ball of fire hung inches above clouds of coral along the North Pacific horizon. Most April tourists had returned to the city to eat and take in a show before retiring to hotel rooms, in all their sunburned glory, washing away sand and sea from unmentionable places and pouring themselves into bed. The beach was given over to romance, the air lingering with the day’s warmth.
Together a couple sat on a blanket laid on the white beach, the Hualālai Resort spread out behind them, nothing but clear water and endless colored sky ahead. Gary was lying beside a nubile goddess, his girlfriend, Hailey, a tidy picnic of fresh papaya, light wheat crackers, and Roquefort cheese, shipped directly from the source in Southern France especially for this occasion. A bottle of Riesling was chilling next to two wine glasses, reflecting the purple, pink, and orange of the setting sun. It was perfect.
Hailey was staring out across the ocean, her eyes the color of the tide, thoughtful. Gazing admiringly at her toned body, fitted nicely into a soft yellow string bikini, he asked, “What are you thinking about, Sugar Lips?”
With an audible sigh she said, “I’m worried about you, Big Daddy.” She looked at him, tears brimming her eyes. “You having to be on medication. It’s scary. I don’t know what I’d do without you!” Gently placing his face in her soft hands, she continued. “Are you taking your anticoagulant?”
“Of course,” he said. “You worry too much, love.”
“We don’t want your little eye problem to become an even bigger problem,” she chided. “The doctor said…”
“I know what the doctor said, Hailey. No need to get yourself worked up,” he said. “I’m just glad he cleared me to fly, otherwise this might have gone differently.”
Confused, Hailey looked at him, searching his amber eyes as he reached behind his back and produced a tiny blue box. Her face lit up with anticipation. Gary rolled up onto one knee.
“I love you, Hailey. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. We have so many memories together and I want to keep creating more. Let’s grow old together. Complete me by saying yes to the rest of our lives.” He opened the box, revealing a simple platinum band, a cathedral pear cut halo diamond – ice blue, and exactly what she asked for.
She squealed, bouncing on her knees delightedly. “Yes! Yes, yes, yes! Let’s get married,” she said. He placed the ring on her finger and she threw her arms around his neck. As he breathed in her heady scent of vanilla and coconut sun lotion, content in their embrace, she sighed, rolling her eyes then admiring the 3 carat diamond, letting it catch the fading light. It looked like a glistening crocodile tear.
The next day the couple took the long flight back to the mainland. Gary hid the pain of his growing headache behind an interested smile and listening ear as Hailey spoke incessantly about the engagement party. It had to be the party of the season.
Nighttime on Lake Tahoe bloomed with the fragrance of imported lilies and orchids, a multitude of fireflies competing with the soft glow from hundreds of white paper lanterns and twinkle lights hung from the surrounding trees and topiaries. A dozen tables clad with white linen and lace held their own with flickering candlelight. A stage was set facing the tables, where a twelve piece string orchestra was playing melodies from many decades past. The hum of conversation floated through the night as Gary and Hailey mingled with their friends and family, spreading jubilation with each new guest.
Searching out a group of well-coiffed ladies, Hailey couldn’t help but brag. “Isn’t it just perfect? The fireflies are just glorious!”
As a group, the ladies nodded and murmured their approval. One spoke to Hailey. “Speaking of glorious, where ever did you find that dress? It’s simple stunning!”
Hailey sashayed for a moment, showing off the vintage-inspired, slim fitting dress. It was a strapless with a sweetheart neckline featuring metallic fringe at the bodice and layers of cascading feathers, fluttering around mid-thigh. “Do you like it? It’s new!” She knew they were seeing the green of jealousy and dollar signs – exactly what she expected. Envy and awe.
There was slight feedback from the microphone at center stage as Gary stood up and tapped on it. All eyes turned to him. “Ahem. Ladies, gentlemen. I’m not usually one for speeches and I know we have yet to break out the bubbly, but I wanted to say how amazing you all are. We are lucky to be surrounded by the people we love, our friends and family,” he said. “Now let’s pop the cork on that Dom Pérignon!”
Cheers and laughter came from the crowd now gathered in front of the stage. In an attempt to show off, Gary shakes the toasting bottle before trying the cork. From the back of the gathering a man shouts, “Duck!” to the amusement of everyone. The cork stubbornly stayed put. Gary shook it one more time and tried it again. Still the cork wouldn’t budge. He looked down on it curiously, the horde chuckling awkwardly.
A small pop sounded and all eyes turned to Gary expectantly. Everything went in slow motion. A scream came from somewhere close and echoed in the night. The cork, finally free from the bottle, had ruptured his eye and lodged itself in the socket, which was starting to trickle blood on his ashen face and crisp white shirt. The blood clot previously occluding the retinal artery broke loose, forcing its way into the carotid. The clot took a fast track to his brain, causing an unknown aneurysm to burst, creating an intracranial hemorrhage and pressure. Blood started dripping from his nose and leaking from his ears as he collapsed. He struggled for breath as his brain shut down, blood spreading around his head.
Hailey had rushed to his side when she heard the scream. Standing over Gary, head tilted in contemplation, his blood pooling at her feet. “That’s too bad,” she said tonelessly. “Tealand crimson are a terrible color palette.” As she walked away, the six-inch heels on her genuine leather, ultramarine rhinestone shoes left drops of blood on the otherwise pristine stage.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Blood Drops ©Robin Allen 2015
All rights reserved. This story, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including recording, photocopying, offset, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author, except by reviewers who may quote brief passages to be printed in a magazine or newspaper.