Immortal Desires

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Day Eight

New Hamlet’s 75th anniversary festival was picking up momentum by the time Travis and Guardian escorted Hunter and Agatha along Prospect Avenue. Due to the town’s small size, it wasn’t necessary for the folk to drive to the festival; all they could do was merely walk their way across town to the banks of Otter River, meeting up with their family members and friends and chatting with each other as they trekked.

“… There are always rides, food, and concerts over there and when midnight falls, there’s going to be fireworks! That’s the best part of the festival,” Agatha said matter-of-factly to Guardian who listened without a peep, dressed in her all-concealing burqa and hijab reminiscent of Muslim women. As always, Travis wore his black trench coat, which Hunter noted with some curiosity. Maybe it worked extremely well in concealing the wounds all over his arms and torso…

“How come you always wear that thing whenever you’re out? You must be sweating like a pig!”

“Ha ha! Actually, not really. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know for sure,” Travis dropped into a serious tone and expression upon the last sentence, ending it with a shrug as if saying who cares? Hunter contrasted Travis by wearing a pair of tan shorts held up by a dark leather belt along with a buttoned sky-blue T-shirt. Agatha wore a pink tank top with similar shorts but with a slimmer and lighter leather belt. Hunter was also carrying a large rolled-up blanket for the festival.

Ever since the day came up, Travis and Guardian were full of anticipation for the event. They were also looking forward to what would happen between Guardian and Hunter. From the moment they escorted the Huntingtons, Guardian made sure to be next to Hunter as much as possible without raising the ire of Agatha.

Hunter seemed to note this with a bit of apprehension, furtively sneaking glances at Travis’ wife who seemed to be always meeting his eyes and feeling half-giddy with amusement and excitement. His heart did somersaults whenever their eyes met briefly. It was somewhat like being back in high school with Agatha…

When they reached their destination at Otter River, they picked a spot to settle their blanket on and then sat down, Travis shifting his trench coat around his legs so that he could sit comfortably without stretching or scuffing it with his shoes which turned out to be Doc Martens. His wife sat down extremely carefully next to him, her knees in front of her chest. Both Hunter and Agatha noted this with amused expressions and shook their heads in slight pity for her as they settled down next to each other.

The concert was a rock-and-roll local band called The Screaming Hams who signed up to serve as musical entertainment for the festival, the carnival nearby serving as the rest of the festival’s entertainment.

After a while of listening to the music, Agatha murmured into Hunter’s ear before getting up to fetch some food.

“Hey babe, I’m gonna walk around and see if I can’t chat up some people or not,” Hunter heard Travis say to his wife and saw him kiss her upon the forehead. He realized he was left alone with her, his heart doing somersaults again at the very thought, the images of himself Frenching Travis’ wife out in the open upon his blanket springing unbidden within his mind’s eye. He quickly destroyed those thoughts, as if hastily stuffing them away out of embarrassed shame of himself.

As if on cue, he noted her scooting closer to him and he made every effort not to make any eye contact or make a move on her. Despite his efforts, he could feel her eyes on him, or was it his imagination?

At this point, he wondered why and how this was happening with him, a married man of fifty years. Why was he desiring another woman who happened to be concealed like a perverse sort of Christmas present, who happened to be a sexpot according to what he, Agatha, and his neighbors heard, who happened to be very little-known and mysterious, and most of all, her eyes, the deep and intense golden eyes that always seemed to bore into his own? How did he end up desiring her when he had a wife of his own who was quite faithful and served the role of a dutiful wife? Was it perhaps he had grown bored after all this time? He wondered about that on and off ever since clapping eyes upon Travis’ wife for the first time.

“The music, it is enchanting, is it not?” he heard her speak, startling him out of his reverie. Her tone was as dreamy as ever, though careful and slightly shy at the same time.

“What? Oh… yeah, it is,” Hunter spoke, clearing his throat significantly and chanced a glance to Travis’ wife, locking eyes which made him look away, feeling both disappointed and elated at the same time.

“I apologize for startling you, Hunter, but you seemed… enraptured… by the song,” she said, still looking at him as if studying him intently.

“Uh… was I? I must’ve…” he furtively glanced at her, trying his best not to meet her intense eyes at least directly. It was something akin to looking at the sun, without the associated pain with it. He saw her cock her head.

“Forgive me if I am forward with you, but you seem to be quite shy around me, no?” Hunter didn’t reply to her question at all.

“It is all right, you know. I don’t bite… much,” she said, and Hunter could definitely feel the amusement coming off her when she said that, making him feel relieved and silly at himself at the same time.

This time, Hunter had the courage to truly look at her in the eyes longer than a second. So inspired by his own courage, he even felt daring himself to take her hand in his.

But before he could act on his blooming desire, he saw Agatha winding her way around the blankets of other people towards their own. He quashed the desire with a slight frown and then waved to her cheerfully as best as he could.

“Got us some corn dogs and funnel cake! Want some?” Agatha offered a corn dog to Travis’ wife who shook her head.

“Thank you, but no thanks,” she replied and Agatha seemed taken aback with slight confusion, looking to Hunter who also wore the same expression with furrowed brows.

“I have eaten earlier today before we escorted you two; that is why I politely refused your offer.”

“It’s that Muslim thing of yours, right?” Hunter asked and Agatha looked at him sharply. Travis’ wife merely stared at him for a few moments before nodding slightly. The Huntingtons were caught off-guard by the growing amusement which seemed to come from Travis’ wife, implying that she wasn’t even offended by what Hunter said.

“Yes. Yes, it is,” she replied, “I apologize for not telling the both of you about this, but you must understand.” The Huntingtons looked at each other and then nodded to her, smiling.

“Well, I’m back. Did I miss anything?” Travis appeared from nearby, settling down next to his wife, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.

“Er, nope,” Hunter replied as casually as he could and changed the subject, “make any new friends?” Travis grinned in turn.

“Yeah, they kept telling me how lucky I am for some reason. This guy, David Howe, he’s a teacher at one of the schools, says I’m a terror among the children,” he shrugged, shaking his head.

“I know him, he told me that too, I think it’s something to do with you-know-who,” Hunter said with a slight incline of his head towards Travis’ wife. Travis laughed heartily as his wife closed her eyes as if she was tired.

“Ohh mercy!” Travis took his glasses off to wipe his eyes of tears of mirth.

The day wore on towards evening and the people of New Hamlet were aware of their new couple in their midst being with the Huntingtons, coming up to chat with the four of them, especially Travis and his wife as they walked on by.

“Oh man, remind me to ward the place when we come back, don’t want them mobbing either one of us when we come out,” Hunter heard Travis muttering to his wife who said nothing but stroked his shoulder in acknowledgment. He wondered what Travis meant by “ward”. During the course of the day, Hunter had eventually found a sort of uneasy peace with himself, keeping the unbidden thoughts at bay and keeping himself focused on the event and his wife, Agatha.

In a short time, night truly fell upon the riverbank and the crowd was gradually becoming silent with restless patience for the fireworks. Hunter realized he could pull off a move on Travis’ wife under the cover of darkness without drawing any attention. He felt thrilled with such a prospect.

So he screwed up his courage, and found it infinitely easier than he thought, somewhat surprised at the same time. Taking a deep breath as if preparing to dive off the highest diving board, he smoothly and stealthily moved his hand from his side towards Travis’ wife’s side, feeling along the blanket for her garmented hand or hip, or as he wildly hoped the thigh.

But what happened next surprised him even more: barely halfway across from his side, his hand met hers, feeling concealed fingers against his fingertips. Her hand then grasped his tentatively at first before tightening slowly. His heart somersaulted wildly, feeling his adrenaline pump throughout his body.

A firework streaked from the ground into the sky to burst into red showers that cascaded towards the ground, illuminating the crowd in captivation.

All except Hunter and Travis’ wife were gazing raptly upon the successive fireworks, pale blues and goldens staying with each other through the alternating darkness and colored illuminations until the fireworks were spent.

At that point, they let go of their stares and hands amidst cheers and wild applause from the rest of the crowd. Hunter joined in smoothly, not caring if Travis’ wife also joined in or not.

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