There was a knock at the door. Janelle had arrived for their dinner date. “Why, hello!” Janelle said with a bit of shock. “You must be Charles’ son or something?”
“Janelle, stop playing around.”
“Yes! Me! Charles.” He replied with annoyance. “Come on in and stop playing around out there.”
“But Charles…You look almost forty years younger!”
“What are you talking about? I’m the same-” Charles looked at the mirror near the door. Incredulous, he placed his hands on his face. Janelle stood just behind him, questioning how this was possible.
Searching his thoughts, he began to grin. “This is incredible. I…I thought the guy was a quack. Off his rocker. A loon!” He held his hands out in front of him. “But he did it! He actually did it!” He grabbed Janelle by the hand and spun her around.
“Did what?” Asked Janelle. He reached into his pockets, frantically looking for Mr. E’s card. “I met this guy on the street this morning. Right after you and I parted. He said all I needed to do was to make a wish and he would grant it.” He turned around and looked at her. “Well, I didn’t believe him. I made the wish, just so I could get on with my day.” Tilting his head to add exclamation. “He was rather persistent.”
He looked at Janelle. “Look at me! Now, I can do things with you, being young again. This is wonderful!”
He grabbed his coat and Janelle by the hand and rushed out the door.
They sat in a corner booth smiling and cooing over dinner. He cut the last bite of his steak. “Baby! Nothing is gonna get in our way now!”
The music played in the background. A jumpy ditty by Cab Calloway, “Jumpin’ Jive.” Charles threw down his handkerchief. “Hey doll face, let’s dance?” He held out his hand and guided her out of the booth. Swiveling his hips, he spun her around while her dress swayed. She smiled, beaming at him.
Their feet twisted in and out while they danced cheek to cheek, smile to smile, swaying on the melody of the horns and the orchestra. “Baby, baby, baby, we are gonna do things, now! Let’s go see the world together! Just me and you!”
Janelle giggled. “I loved you before, but what a difference a little pep in your step makes.”
“Baby, this is just the beginning.” He kissed Janelle, slowly.
The following morning Charles decided to slide away from bed and buy breakfast before Janelle awoke. While he waited for the order, he thought about how things were going to be different this time around; how he was going to use these minutes wisely, living every moment, and doing everything he’d missed out on the first time around.
Finding Janelle still asleep, laying on her side, he slid back in bed behind her. He leaned over and kissed the side of her face. The kiss roused her from sleep. “Hey you.” She smiled up at him. “Good Morning.”
Charles was terror struck. “Janelle!?” The light shown upon her face from below, giving her countenance a ghostly view.
“Charles what’s the matter?!” She reached out to touch his face, but he grabbed her hand before she could. “What’s wrong?” She asked with a worried tone.
Charles sprang from the bed, flattening himself against the wall, never taking his eyes off her. This thing that sounded like Janelle, began to move toward him. He ran through the bedroom door and spilled out onto the living room.
“Charles!” Janelle shouted after him as she slowly emerged from the bedroom. He spotted her moving toward him while he was coming to grips with the disconnect between what his eyes were seeing and his ears were hearing. “Your face! And hands! You look old! But how can this be?”
“Charles, what are you talking about?” Janelle looked into a mirror situated behind the bathroom door. She shrieked while she groped at the lines in her face, feeling the weight of time cutting creases into her once moist skin. “What’s happened to me?!” She began to cry.
“Somehow you have become old just as I have now become young again.” Age and time, the very things he thought he had escaped were hanging heavy upon Janelle, staring back at him, but with Janelle’s eyes.
“How can this be!?”
“I don’t know! I can’t explain it!” Charles ran to his coat and began digging around in the pockets, dropping keys and pens in a frantic scramble. “Here it is!” He held up Mr. E’s card. “This is too much of a coincidence.” He muttered to himself before dashing out of the apartment. He must have some answers.
by Malakhai Jones