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FANTASY WOMAN • by Wayne Scheer

Her golden sari graced her body like wild flowers on rolling hills. Nearly six feet tall, she towered over most of her Mumbai sisters and brothers, even in her sandals. Although people rushed past her, there seemed to be an invisible wall separating her from them. Car horns honked and bicycle bells trilled, yet she appeared engulfed in a serene silence.

This was my last night traveling in India before returning to school in the States. I had been part of a carefully planned group tour, herded by day to popular tourist sites and deposited to our hotel in the evening for dinner, where the curry was tempered and the food familiar. I sought adventure, although my timid soul feared breaking from the safety of the group.

Still, I decided to take a chance and walk the streets on my own, the first thing I did by myself in the past ten days.

Uncommonly hot and humid, even for Mumbai, steam rose from the pavement as in a Bollywood movie. I had nowhere in particular to go, planning little more than an evening stroll before returning to my hotel room to pack for my flight home. But something about the graceful way the woman in the gold sari maneuvered through the crowded streets enchanted me, as if she were performing a carefully choreographed ballet.

I watched her stop and nod to a street vendor. He ran a huge stalk of sugar cane, nearly seven feet long, twice through a juicer, poured the sweet nectar over ice, added a squeeze of lemon juice, and handed it to her. She gave the man a few coins, and after a slow, eyes-closed sip, offered a slight nod.

I ached for a taste of her drink, but I feared ingesting a street vendor’s melted ice.

She turned in my direction. My first reaction was to hang my head, embarrassed that she had caught me spying. But when I looked up, I saw the same nod of approval she had offered the vendor.

I followed. I knew it was crazy to trail after her but I felt drawn, as if I lacked a will of my own. I traced her steps through darkening streets. People stared at the foreigner following a local woman into the night. A young man smiled brazenly, but the others made their disapproval clear, their dark eyes stabbing into mine. A stray dog barked threateningly, but I continued following her through a maze of side streets and brick buildings. The commotion I had grown accustomed to decreased, until I could hear the sound of her sandals sliding along the Shahbad stone footpath.

I wanted to head back to the safety of my hotel, but something deep within urged me to continue following my fantasy woman.

I had no idea where I was when she stopped and turned in my direction. She offered no change in expression except for her mysterious, reassuring nod. Unlocking a basement apartment, she left the door slightly ajar. I stood in the heavily shadowed doorway, my heart pounding, and peered through the space left by the open door. She lit candles, and in the flickering luminescence, I watched her unravel her sari until she stood completely naked. I felt my eyes bulge as I stared, afraid to even blink.

With long, sensual fingers, she motioned to me.

I entered, half expecting a man with a knife to jump out from the doorway.

I followed her to a tiny bedroom, containing nothing more than a dresser and a bed. In my mind, I calculated how much local currency I had in my pocket, more than willing to give her whatever I owned. But she didn’t ask for money.

Without saying a word, she unbuttoned my shirt, each button releasing a layer of fear and anxiety. As she unbuckled my pants, it was as if my brain had been turned and my body came alive to the sensuality of the moment.

We made love in silence. When I tried to speak, she placed a delicate finger on my lips.

Afterwards, she padded in bare feet to an immaculate kitchen. She gestured for me to sit at the small table beside a window, and offered me strong tea while she prepared scrambled eggs. I watched her add a combination of spices. For the first time since arriving in India, I felt no fear of the unfamiliar.

She set two plates between us and divided the food. Next to my plate, she placed a shiny fork. She ate her eggs with her fingers, licking at the yellow-white morsels with quick flicks of her pink tongue. When we finished, she carried the plates to the sink and walked me to the door.

I still had no idea what her voice sounded like.

Her deep brown eyes displayed neither happiness nor regret. I whispered goodbye. She nodded, ever-so-slightly, and closed the door, barely making a sound.

I walked in what I thought was the direction of my hotel, unafraid.


Wayne Scheer has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net. His work has appeared in print and online in a variety of publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, Eclectica, flashquake and The Internet Review of Books. Revealing Moments, a collection of twenty-four flash stories, is available at Thumbscrews Press.

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Posted on March 26, 2009 in Romance, Stories
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  • Fred Meyer

    “it was as if my brain had been turned and my”

    Brain had been turned? I don’t get that part.

    I enjoyed this story. It was well-written and interesting, but, not knowing or wanting to know the genre before I read, I kept waiting for something horror or sci-fi to happen. I am not complaining, just saying. :)

  • http://rumjhumkbiswas.wordpress.com rumjhum

    That’s some fantasy, eh? :-)

  • Gerard Demayne

    That first 1 star was harsh.

    Well written but I can’t help feeling it’s insulting to local sensibilities. Not exactly racist but I must have picked up something during all that sensitivity training they made me take because I kept thinking how that would make an Indian local feel. Ironically if the woman had been a whore it would probably be less offensive. Meh. I could be talking rubbish. We have at least two or three Indian writers here who I’d be interested to see comment.

    So. Well written, but not much else to it. I thought “she” was going to be a “he”. I am always looking for a punchline though and this literary stuff generally escapes me.

  • Gerard Demayne

    rumjhum, comment more!

  • http://www.annebrooke.com Anne Brooke

    Thought this was very powerful, gripping and erotic – I loved it!

    Axxx

  • Chetan

    Well written. I thought of it to be horror kind of. It turned out to be something crispy inside. Not a perfect Indian scene but surely impends towards it. Good attempt.

  • Avis HG

    Bit run of the mill – eh? I thought EDF didn’t DO smut? (Just an observation, I’ve no objection to it myself, if done well) Oh and the verb tenses could do with sorting.

  • Sumukh

    Well written and engrossing; certainly captures the essense of a foreigner in a country like india. I was expecting some kind of twist in the end, but it turns into a sort of “dream fantasy”.

  • Bob

    The first sentence was a doozy – I almost stopped there. The rest of it read like one of those Playboy (Penthouse? I can never keep track) “It happened to me” erotic fantasies. Unfortunately, this one never got erotic enough to be interesting, nor weird enough to be, well, interesting in a different way.

  • http://teenangel.netfirms.com Jim Hartley

    Interesting, well written, but it just didn’t seem to go anywhere. The ending just sort of faded out, leaving a “so what?” feeling.

  • http://gretaigl.blogspot.com/ Greta

    Sensual and intriguing. I, too, expected some twist at the end–the tall woman was a man, or a cutthroat prostitute–but the lack of the twist was it’s own twist. My only real gripe was I thought the beginning exposition a bit “chunky,” but not enough that it prevented me from reading on.

    Nice job.

  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ Oonah V Joslin

    I agree about the tenses needing sorting and I have to say, I was left feeling as Gerard did… and vaguely embarrassed.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    A well-written, reporting of the innocence of dreamland, a dream which could never actually be realized. That he could just up-and-leave without involvement of some sort, without even speaking, and without fear reveals it as a dream. Because he could and will wake up in his own space, no intrusive, disregarding, or irresponsible deed actually performed he will wake up with clear emotions and conscience.

  • Jen

    I wuite enjoyed this. After reading the comments, I can see that the protanganist might be slightly racist. but by the end of the storyit seems like he could’ve learned his lesson.
    I didn’t really see this as erotic but rather one of those romantic “moment in time” stories.

  • JohnOBX

    I thought part of the allure of this story was how it tip-toed along the line of “oh oh”. You hung in there because there was this feeling something unusual was about to happen, which in a subtle way it did, but not in the way I (or most others from the comments) expected.

    There were two things that jumped out the most was the part about people noticing that the protag is following the girl. Unless he’s holding hands walking down the street with her, I don’t buy it. I’ve never been to Mumbai, but I’ve been to dozens of other big cities around the world. When you are walking down a busy sidewalk nobody gives a damn what you are up to as long as you are leaving them alone.

    The second was the one-night stand aspect. I haven’t been to India but I have worked with and am familiar with many people from there. There are always exceptions, but they are a rather conservative society socially and whereas I could imagine the MC having a nod, a wink and a shag with a gal in LA, London or Paris, I didn’t think it worked so well here, not without some kind of set up. Was she a hooker? His reaction (thinking about the money in his pocket) might lead you to believe so, but then she never asks for anything. Was she a more “modern” Indian woman? She’s wearing traditional garmets, not jeans and a scoop neck.

    Anyway, my knocks aside, I thought this was okay. Certainly didn’t qualify as “smut” though it leaned more into the realm of a “pipe dream” than fantasy.

    Now the author will reveal this is based on a true story, making me feel very stupid. ;-)

  • Alan W. Davidson

    I enjoyed the story for what is was: a “fantasy”.

    The descriptions were quite good, perhaps bordering over-the-top at times.

    I am wondering why the author chose to set the story in India in particular? I have been to India for both work and pleasure (though not the kind of pleasure as described in this piece…)and agree with JohnOBX that it is a very conservative society.

    I believe that the westerner would be very much noticed walking down a street in Mumbai, or any other city in India, as he would have plenty of children looking for stray rupees or people trying to sell him wooden elephants and such.

    I enjoyed the piece, Wayne.

  • http:www.michelleklein.com Shelle

    The flavor of the story and the descriptions therein are very appealing … but I don’t find that the random encounter between the tourist and the alluring woman is enough to hold up the story. Use your wonderful way with words to make something interesting happen.

  • http://canyonsofgray.blogspot.com dj barber

    The story had a nice easy pace–almost a timepiece from the 1940′s in its style. I was looking for that twist that Gerard and so many others were too, but on its face this is just a nice romantic story.
    And I never caught a hint of anything racist, just an alluring fantasy.

    –dj

  • Paul Freeman

    A bit too schoolboyish fantasy for me.

  • http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/TheFalcon.html Roxanne Packard

    I liked this fantasy, as it appealed to me on a couple of levels. I think most of the previous commentors missed what I feel was the whole point of the story.

    Yes, it was a nice little one night stand that would never probably happen in such a conservative society, (Unless the woman happen to have a spiritual revelation that the stranger could father a child for her, especially since it didn’t sound like they used protection, but I digress.)

    Anyway, the woman wasn’t really the point of the story, the point of the story was that the main character (who I kept expecting to be female) had been in India for some time, and was about to return home, and had been SCARED of little things the entire time. He was scared of the water, of the people a little, and maybe even of the food, but after having an experience that was so out of the ordinary, he was able to overcome his fear, and move on.

    All in all a good short story.
    Have a happy day,
    Roxanne Packard
    P.S. Look for my name on Amazon!

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