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Toni Davis

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Coincidental Magic
By Toni Davis
Monday, May 22, 2006

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Noah Akhito-Benson is your typical lesbian post-doc…until a freak accident alters her life forever. She starts to realise that love will always find her, no matter what choices she makes.

Author's Note: I hate to have to say this but y'all know the drill. Please no posting of my original work ANYWHERE without my express permission. All original fiction is copywritten under Dark Delight Scriptions. If you want to post it somewhere, you can always email me. Thanks for respecting my work and my privacy. The artwork was done by the most incredible artist around, the most awesome LONE WOLF. I owe her mad mad money for lending her skillz to this piece. I couldn't have gotten this far without seeing what could be done with my story. Cheers!

Chapter 1

 

Did you ever wake up one day and felt like it was going to be perfect? No, I don’t mean that I just won five million bucks on the lottery perfect, I mean…odd. Special. Weird. Maybe all of those things rolled into one. It’s not like you wished upon a star for it or even told someone you wanted it. It just…happened. And the moment you poked your little toe from underneath the covers to put your foot on the floor, events took on a life of their own. If anyone had told you that one moment in time on a day like that would change your life forever, that you would never be the same again in the space of 24 hours, you’d have laughed in their face. But that moment came and went, tapping random lives with its magic wand turning some into heroes and others into ghosts. Why? Well, that’s the mystery isn’t it?

Let’s take today as a for instance. I got up this morning to what I always considered to be a perfect Indian summer day: cool enough for long sleeves but warm enough that I didn’t need a sweater or jacket. One of those roll-down-the-car-windows-to-blast-the-Steve-Miller-Band-at-Volume-9 days. I indulged in a long, hot shower, staring at my body in bemusement as my blood rose to the surface of my much too pale skin. Pale as compared to who, toots, Buckwheat? You've been hanging around the white folks too long. You need a tan like you need another orifice in your cranium. Mentally slapping my inner voice for insubordination, I turned my attention Fiona Apple’s sultry voice as it floated from my banged-up multi-CD player on the nightstand by the bed. I picked up the remote from the towel rack and changed CDs. Fiona was too melancholy for a day like this. Nope, sorry Fiona, dear…but maybe something a bit more…ah yes, there it is. The B-52s. Schweet. Cosmic Thing blared across the room, which I’m sure sent Figment, my dear calico cat, into near fits. That’s ok, she’ll forgive me...someday.

I barely remember the rest of my morning ritual; the selection of the least pitiful looking outfit in my closet, bopping around the room in time to the music, hell I barely remember brushing my teeth! Perfect days tend to make me perfectly air-headed. That’s ok, though; this mood isn’t going anywhere, if I can help it. Things just sort of flowed by like an ambling little stream. My coffee pot didn’t crack for the eighteenth time, my bagel didn’t burn in my dilapidated old toaster for once. I finally got up the cajones to open the official-looking letter from Dr. Cosentino’s secretary…oh yes, I am IN! It’s not every day that a doctoral student gets chosen to work in his lab. Only post-docs have ever had the privilege of darkening his lab door. You see, Dr. Vincent Cosentino is considered to be the God of Endocrinology, the pharmacological genius that helped men get pregnant (when I meet him, I swear I’ll give him a big ole kiss for allowing men to share the hell that is child-bearing…women everywhere owe him their breast implants for that little work of wonder). Working for him is a sure fire way to gain some serious notoriety…and having a way to get to meet his terminally hot daughter helps too.

I kissed the happy news-laden missive and began skipping around the furniture. Ladies and gentlemen, we have now crossed the border between Fair ta Middlin’ and Perfect into new territory. This was going to be a totally freakish smile-inducing day. I love those. They happen often as lightning striking the same place twice. Though that last image isn’t particularly the happy one I was going for, it came to mind for some reason. Dark clouds can move in without warning, the sky can open up and here comes the biblical rain. It’s amazing what you will ignore when you’re feeling all yippy-skippy. 


Noah? says my pesky inner voice, once again interrupting my euphoric state.

Yes?

Have you looked at the clock? Isn’t a certain someone waiting for you?


Hmm?  Glancing at the Mickey Mouse clock on the wall, I see it’s---- “Holy crap, I’m late!”


Yeeess, and that’s a surprise, why?


Oh piss off, you!


A fifty-yard dash to the car, one squealing peel-out (Sorry about your trash can, Mr. Bannerman!) and fifteen minutes later, I’m standing in front of BabyCakes, my favourite breakfast spot.  Normally I wouldn’t bother with a fancy schmancy place like this but…it has Angela.  You had to say her name with italics because she was all class.  Really I should know better, chasing after some freshman chick like I was still an undergrad.  I met her three weeks ago when I was forced to come here due to the closing of the Chesepeake Bagel House, the best place to buy a breakfast bagel in Charlottesville.  It was 8am, I was hung over as hell, grumpy and none too polite.  There was no one behind the counter when I walked in which did not help improve my mood.

“Is there anyone that actually works here?” I had complained while drumming my fingers on the glass top impatiently.  A pretty ash-blonde head popped up from underneath, nearly scaring the bejeesus out of me.

“Didn’t hear the bell ring there,” the young woman apologized.  “Sorry about that.”  My jaw had dropped a good three inches. I swear, she was 19 if she was a day, fabulous grey peepers and a body that simply screamed athlete.  With just a couple of sentences from her, I was lost.  Gone.  Totally smitten.  Good thing my gayboy friends were waiting in the car; I’d have never heard the end of it.  She stuck out her perfectly manicured hand to me.  “My name is Angela.  I’m kind of new in town so you’ll have to pardon me if I seem a little out of it sometimes.”


Oh sister, I could forgive you anything if you’d just come home with me.


 “Pardon me?” Angela queried.  I shook my head.


“Nothing, just me, being an idiot,” I mumbled shaking the proffered hand. Wow, is that CK One I smell? 


“So what’ll it be?” Her eyes had me rooted to the floor in stunned admiration.

“Huh?  Oh!  What do you suggest? I’ve never been here before,” I admitted, cursing my traitorous body as a warm flush rose in my face. 

“Well, I’m sure I we can find something you’ll like.”


I walked out of there with an armful of food, much to the shock of my waiting friends. 

“Goddamn, Noah, what the hell did you do?  Buy out the store?” snarked Paco from the back seat.  He’d been my friend since our days at Albemarle High and Iloved him to pieces; however, if I had let him get away with that comment, the others would’ve soon joined in. 
 

“Stow it, Pacs, I know you lot love to eat me out of house and home so I figured I’d splurge so you won’t come by to eat my food.”


Jared, who was sitting behind me in the passenger seat, squinted out the window.  “Hmph,” he snorted. “More it was like you let your hormones get the best of you again.  Did you at least get her number?”

“Better than that,” I announced with a smirk.  “She gave me her work schedule for the next month.”

So here I am, anxious as all hell despite this huge-assed grin on my face.  I wanted to share my good news with someone, anyone.  That’s not true …I really want to share my news with her

Dammit, Noah, just ask her out already.


I rolled my eyes in despair. Oh it’s you again.


 Damn skippy it’s me.  Look, walk in there, and KISS HER ALREADY.


It’s not that simple.

Really? You’ve been doing it in your dreams for the last three weeks.  How hard can it be?


Oddly enough, that stupid inner child had a point.  I looked up into the clear sunny sky, and gazed into its blue depths to find my courage.  Well, here goes nothin’.  The last thing I remember was a brilliant flash of light, brighter than anything I’d ever seen, then darkness fell.

Chapter 2

KC! We’re gonna need another bus! There’s blood all over the damn place and someone needs to get these people back! Get behind the yellow tape, sir!

This one isn’t lookin’ so hot, Murph. Looks like Martha Jefferson might have to deal with her. UVA says their ER is full.

What?! That’s bullshit. Get on the horn and tell them rich brat, la-de-da ER docs that we have a bona fide disaster over here. Breaktime’s fucking over!


What the hell--? Where am I? Why can’t I move my hands? I can feel heat radiating in waves but I don’t know from what direction. I hear the crunch of glass underneath boots from somewhere near my right. A young paramedic leans over me with a penlight, flicking the narrow beam across my face.

Man, I’m surprised this stiff’s still in one piece. Her eyes are givin’ me the creeps.

Stiff? What the--? Hey, buddy, who’re you calling a stiff? Just wait till I—wait…whoa…why am I not moving? I can’t feel my lips. Hey! Can anyone hear me?

“Actually no, they can’t.”

Wha-? Who’s there?

“Just me, Noah.”

Oh, you again. Care to tell me what you’re still doing around? And why the hell can’t I move? What happened?

“Well, to answer your first question, I am not still around. I was never with you in the first place. Your ‘inner child’, as you so sarcastically call her, is on permanent holiday. To answer your second question, you can not move because you are deceased…relatively speaking, of course”

Hold the phone, there, sister. What do you mean, deceased?

“I mean, deceased as in dead, no longer among the living, shinimashita—“

All right! All right! I get the picture. What the hell is so relative about being dead? The voice is silent for a time, as if contemplating what to say next. I can hear the crackling of flames, the crashing of wood supports disintegrating. The wail of sirens seems to come from everywhere. Sometimes I wish the Doppler Effect weren’t quite so effective.

“In the human sense of life, your body is no longer functioning at this point in time. Thus, for all intents and purposes, you are dead in the here and now. You are, however, very much alive somewhere else.”

Say what? I’m a damned biologist, Jim, not a quantum physicist.

“Point taken. Honestly, quantum physics has nothing to do with it.”

I hear several people approaching from my left, dragging something that sounds large and metallic.

Bobbie Jo, get her torso, will ya? I’ll grab her legs.

Why do I have to get her top half?

Because you’re the chick, because I don’t feel right getting near her boobs and because I freakin’ say so! Now, let’s get this body moved.

All right, all right.


Wait! Where are they taking me?

“It’s nothing you need to concern yourself with. At least, not yet.”

Listen, enough’s enough already. You’re scaring me and I'm petrified enough as it is...just the facts, if you don't mind.

“I—well, my real name is Iwanaga-Hime…but you can call me Iwa-san.”

Perfect. I have a voice in my head that has a Japanese name. My Japanese mother would be so thrilled. Hey, watch it there, genius! I yelled, despite the fact the medic couldn’t hear me. That’s my leg you’re manhandling.

I could almost feel disembodied voice smirk at my interruption. “As for who I am…in my country, I am the goddess of eternal life. I am here with you only by happenstance.”

My mother always told me that there was no such thing as chance, only fate.

“In some respects, she is correct. The restaurant you were about to enter exploded due to the carelessness of one of its employees. He lit a cigarette to close to the open flame of a nearby gas stove. What is odd is that the explosion was somehow powerful enough for your reality to become fused with three others including the Reality of the Gods. We immortals sometimes call an event like this ‘coincidental magic’. Such things as fate and destiny cannot dictate the outcome of this event. Only the one who is affected can decide what will happen.”

Brilliant. So I’m dead because some Einstein cook decided he wanted to take a quick drag. How annoying. I felt like kicking something then realized how absurd that feeling was in this situation.

Iwa-san’s golden laugh sparkled in the silences of my mind. “One could think of this as an opportunity, Noah-san.”

Yeah? I grumbled. How so?

“I am to be your guide through these other realities and you will have the chance to choose which ones you wish to remain in. In other words, you are being given the chance to rewrite your own history.”

Author’s notes:

Mou, daijoubu: translates roughly to “It’s all right now.” or “Everything will be all right.”  There are so many ways that this could be said that it’s not funny. I settled on this one though it’s more informal Japanese and Iwa-san would probably have used anshinshinasai if she were using polite speech.

shinimashita: translates as “dead” or “in death” (forgot to explain that in previous chapter)

-hime: translates as “Princess” If you wanted to use an honorific for a female of status that may or may not be royalty, you would call her ojou-sama.


yukatabira: light and loose-fitting robes, worn as an alternative to the Kimono by both sexes in a relaxed or casual setting.


Ikkimashou:  “It’s time to leave.” Or “Let’s go.”

Okaa-san: mother.  A child will sometime shorten it to kaa-san sort of like ‘Mom’, which Noah does occasionally.

kami: a god. The Japanese have a very different view of gods and goddesses.  Long explanation which can wait until later.

There really is such a thing a goddess as Iwanaga-Hime but I will provide the details at the close of the fic. It’s not a long story but she is part of a line of major gods and a direct descendent of the god who is said to have created Japan.

Heartfelt thanks go out to Seravy for being such an inspiring beta and for all her help in the translations. She deserves more credit for this fic than you know.

Chapter 3

It’s so unnaturally quiet in this room.  There’s a sheet over my face, my body; I hear voices speaking in hushed tones across from me.  The loud buzzing of a saw shocks me out of the torpor I’ve been in since my body was taken from the accident site.  The goddess in my mind has been silent for a long time now and I’m worried that she might have left me.


“I have not left just yet, Noah.”

Jeez, will you announce yourself or something…you almost scared me to….to….

“To death?”

Dammit, that’s not funny, Iwa-san, I mutter petulantly.

There goes that musical laugh of hers again, flowing inside me like summer rain.  A random thought about what she really looks like pops into my head out of nowhere.

“You will get to find out for yourself soon enough.  For now, however, you need to concentrate.”

Why?

“You need to leave this body behind and it would be best if you do it now.”

Why now?  Why not later?  What’s going to happen to it?

“I do not think you would like to be inside it at the moment. Now hush and concentrate,” the goddess insists.  The voices that were across the room are moving closer.  I can hear the metallic clatter of instruments on a tray, the drag of rubber wheels on bare linoleum.

A click, a hissing intake of breath, the sounds of whirring machinery; they are all coming from somewhere next to me in this cold and lifeless room.

“The deceased is a female of mixed Asian-African American descent, approximately 28 years old, height, 5 foot 6 inches, light brown eyes, no apparent scars or birthmarks anywhere on the body other than the injuries sustained in the blast,” drones a man’s voice, presumably the coroner’s.  He continues to catalogue the various external attributes of my body in a professional, dispassionate tone.

“It is time for you to leave now, Noah,” Iwa-san’s voice whispers in the ear opposite the doctor.  “This could be unpleasant for you, if you decide to linger any longer.”

Now that is the understatement of the year. Suddenly, I feel warmth flooding through me, a tingling, itchy feeling that’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  I try to focus on that feeling, to capture it in my memory; I doubt I’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing the touch of an immortal again.  The next thing I know, I’m floating out and over the table, until I am standing upright beside my body.  It’s freaky, but I’m not afraid.  I’m more curious than anything else.

“You might change your mind in a minute, Noah-san.”

What makes you say that? I asked with piqued interest.

I finally see what she means.  A tall, swarthy man dressed in bright green hospital scrubs picks up a long handled autopsy saw, and presses the green button a few times to test the small circular blade attached to it.  It seems like every move he makes is torturing me with its slowness, forcing my eyes to follow his work.  Light from the fluorescent lamp above his head glints dully off the scalpel blade as he slices a Y shaped incision into my chest.  Blood spurts briefly then pools where the cuts are made.  It’s only when the coroner picks up the electric autopsy saw once again that reality hits me.  

I’m dead.  I’m really truly dead.

Screams of horror pour from my mouth before I can stop them.  My hands are shaking uncontrollably; I’m begging him to stop, yelling that he’s hurting me.  But he can’t hear a word I’m saying and I certainly can’t feel the pain.  I can feel the muscles around my mouth contort in a rictus of shock and anguish.

A pair of arms suddenly reaches around to cradle me; my hands reach up to claw them away, only to feel them draw around me tighter.  


“You should have listened to me,” Iwa-san said in quiet admonition.  She placed a butterfly kiss on my forehead and I felt my eyes grow heavy.  Mou, daijoubu. Rest now.”  Then all was blissful silence and the damp blanket of sleep.


It seems like I’ve been asleep for hours; when I finally awake, my head feels leaden as if someone packed it with buckshot.

“Did you sleep well?”

My eyes focus and refocus, trying to make out the figure kneeling beside me.  I’m sure that look pretty stupid, laying there with my mouth gaping open.  She is beautiful, this Iwanaga-Hime. Long, jet-black hair flowed over her smooth alabaster shoulders; her hands were long and graceful, like a dancer’s.  Her eyes were so dark, that I thought they were like bottomless wells. She had a marvelous blend of Maggie Cheung’s incredible body and Joan Chen’s elegant face. I don’t know what picture I had in my head when I envisioned the goddess-princess but it was nothing like the person that sat beside me.

“Is there something wrong, Noah?” she asked with a small frown of concern.

“No! No, just…” I stammered, feeling the heat rising to my face. “Well, you’re a lot more hot-looking that I thought you’d be.”

Iwa-san laughed out loud and I’m pretty sure I turned the colour of a ripe tomato. 

“Sorry,” I muttered. “But it’s true .”

 

Her laugh eventually slowed to just a few giggles.  “That is all right.  What would you think if I told you that, in my country, I am considered very ugly?”

“No way!”

“Oh yes,” she replied with a sigh.  “I was even sent back to my father by the man he had chosen for me to marry because he thought I was too unsightly to bear his children.”

“I always wondered why my mother left Japan.  Now I know why.  You people have a weird sense of what’s beautiful and what’s not.”

The eternal goddess chuckled musically from behind her hand.  “Do not forget that you are half-Japanese.  I am sure your mother passed on some of our cultural quirks to you.”

I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye, noting for the first time that she was stark naked.  “I sure hope to hell not.  Because if everyone there has as little trouble running around in their birthday suit as you do, I’m in deep trouble,” I grumble. Iwa-san had the good grace to blush at my comment.  As much as I respected the lithesome deity, I doubt I could concentrate on anything with her sashaying around nude.

“Very well.”  Her eyes clouded over briefly and a misty haze gathered around her, flowing over her body like milk.  After a few minutes, she sat before me completely clothed in a blue yukatabira that looked like it was made of silk.  A brief thought of how the blue complimented the darkness of her eyes flitted through my mind and I was tempted to reach out to feel the magical fabric.  “Will this suffice?” she inquired.

“Perfect.”

Rolling onto my side, I heave myself into a sitting position to get a better look at my surroundings.  “So where are we now?”

“We are still in the hospital but…” she paused uncertainly. “We can not leave here just yet.  You have some unfinished business that you need to attend to before your journey into the alternate histories can begin.”

I quirk a curious eyebrow at her. “Oh?  And what business might that be?”

The raven-haired goddess waved her hand and the room shifted.  We were back in the morgue, sad to say.  I was prepared to see my body again, I was even prepared to see it in tiny little pieces but I wasn’t prepared for the sight before me.  My parents were standing beside my corpse, my father briefly nodded to one of the mortuary techs, who turned and left the room.


The room seemed to tilt and spin at the sight of okaa-san. Her soft almond-shaped eyes were red and raw from crying; my father had his bear-claw sized hands on her shoulders, softly massaging them while he muttered words of comfort in a rumbling undertone.  She stood ramrod straight while staring into my lifeless face.  


If I know my mother, she’d hold all her emotions in until she was alone.  I never once knew her to cry in front of anyone, not even my father.  She really held onto that famous Japanese stoicism with a firm grip; all pride and steel.  Dad said that, when her family threw her out of the house after they learned about her affair with him, a gaijin which was the most unpardonable sin, she left with her head held high.  She never shed a tear over what she had lost.  Not then, not ever.  Of course, it got much worse once she had me.  I was considered a konketsuji or a mixed blood child which made it tough for us all the way around.


“Kirue?”  My father took one of my mother’s hands in his and gently squeezed.  Ikkimashou.” 

Kaa-san returned the gesture with a sad smile.  Will you give me a minute, David?  I want to say goodbye to Noah.  I can’t just leave her like this.  You understand, don’t you?”

“Of course,” he replied.  “I’ll wait for you outside.  I’m sure she already knows how I feel.”


Her eyes followed him until he went through the door, then she leaned over to touch my face.

Ara, Noah-chan. What am I going to do with you gone, my only child?  Don’t worry.  Soon you’ll be a kami and you’ll be wandering around the house again, getting into trouble like you always did,” Kaa-san paused as her voice cracked a bit, then continued. “Odaiji ni... Itsu made mo, anata wa watashi no kokoro ni aru.  (“Be well, and know you will always be in my heart.”

Gotta love my mother.  She’s lived in the States for 25 years and never quite managed to latch onto English that much.  She always said the language too inadequate to use for expressing her true intentions. 

I am a complete wreck by this point, shaking and weeping silent, ghostly tears.  I want so much to hold my mother again, to tell her that I’m sorry for dying.  I’m so pissed at myself for being at the wrong place at the wrong time that I can feel myself shaking with rage. 

“How can you just stand there and see her in pain?” I ask the passive goddess standing beside me.  “How can you just stand there and do nothing?”


Iwa-san turned to me, her eyes shining with unshed tears.  “Kirue-san is not in pain right now, Noah.  But no one, not even a god, can take away the emptiness of losing a child.”


Her words sound reasonable enough to me in my head but nothing can stop the tide of overflowing guilt rampaging through me.  “And what was I supposed to do?  What can I do as a freaking ghost?” I yell.

“You can look on this and remember.  Remember that life is a gift and that every second, every waking moment, is a drop of water in an endless sea of those who drift in and out of your life.  Everything you do affects them, not just yourself.  Knowing this, feeling your parents’ grief; these things may help you in the journey ahead, to make the choices that will alter your existence from this moment on.”

Her words hit me like a blast of ice water.  I have to say, she certainly has a way of sobering people up.  This is a lot of responsibility and I’m not sure I’m ready for it.

“No one ever is,” the dark-haired woman replied as if she read my thoughts. “But as coincidental magic is never purposeful, you do not have many options.” She shrugged her shoulders noncommittally.  “Either you find a solution to sealing this rift by choosing the life you wish to lead or you will cease to exist.”


I blink a few times in shock at the harshness of her matter-of-fact tone.  “Eh, not helpful, Iwa-san.”


"My apologies.  Your language makes it hard to convey subtleties.”

"Thanks,” I mutter drily. 


"Anytime.”


 

TO BE CONTINUED 


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