Today in our tale, Libby tells us about an outing with Ares. Libby and Ares are the stars of my ‘Of Gods & Goats’ trilogy. The word prompt this week is ‘Finger’ so the story will reflect the prompt. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.
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I suppose I may as well tell you the ‘Waiting in Line’ tale and what followed. I`m sure the stories have already been travelling up and down the dirt roads my mailman Gary covers with the speed of Clark Kent in spandex mode. There are no secrets in Pride County, Pennsylvania. I know when Cathy-Sue Proctor has her upper lip waxed before that mustache that she tries to deny exists is ripped from her face. That was kind of catty, wasn`t it? Sorry. I had a long night last night. Gods are voracious in their appetites. I`ll leave it at that and let you draw your own conclusions but let me add a wink and a nudge.
So yes, the county fair, where do I begin? I`ll start when we pulled up and parked in Leon Atchison’s hay field and – No, let`s start when we pulled up to go into Leon`s field. I should have known right then something was up. Ares was close to bursting from the truck; his anticipation level was so high. I feared he would combust with excitement before we got our parking pass and pulled into the chosen section of muddy pasture. I didn`t spend much time gawking at the fairgrounds as we approached the entrance. I was too damned busy trying to stay on my feet to gawk.
Thank Hera there was a short line. I tugged my wrist free from the behemoth and stalked back to get the sandal I had lost. Folks in line were smiling at me as I passed. Several lived on my road. I grinned and hopped my way back to Ares, finally getting my toes between the straps.
“He`s very excited,” I explained to a plump woman in front of us. You could feel the anticipation oozing from the war god in bib overalls and a pale blue tee. She nodded.
“Yah, so are my boys,” she patted the heads of twins no older than five. I thought about patting Ares buzzed dome but I didn`t have a step-stool. I patted his massive bicep instead. The line moved. Ares looked down on me at his side. I rested my head on his arm.
“Come, I tire of waiting,” he made to push through to the hand-stamping ladies seated in a small shady shelter.
“Whoa, you can`t just shove ahead. You have to wait,” I explained, planting my feet like a mule.
“I am Ares!” he announced, slapping his beer barrel of a chest smartly. I snorted to hide my mortification. “I should be granted immediate passage,” he boasted. The plump mother of twins and everyone else glared at the snarling mountain of stud-cake at my side.
“He`s from Greece,” I offered. They seemed to accept that, more or less. “His family is somewhat important over there.”
“My family is somewhat important?! Has the sun baked your mortal brain, Libby?!” Ares turned and laid a hand on my head. His fingers spanned from ear to ear. “I mean, your American brain,” he amended then gave me a sheepish smile. “Aye,” he then announced with enough volume his kin up on Olympus would have heard him clearly, “I am from Greece! Come to this land to study goats. I have also found a good woman to pleasure! She is a fine cook, and keeps me well placated!” he slapped my ass. Titters rose from the line. “There, Bunting, I have over smoothed things as you say.”
“Thank you, Ares,” I sighed.
He nodded regally. I got my hand stamped. It was a pig stamp. I watched Ares` reaction when the woman asked for his hand. He was puzzled at first, but then when he saw the bright blue hog his expression shifted to great joy. “A boar, how fitting. Did you know that I command boars?” he asked the elderly volunteer. She blinked at him through her bifocals.
“I`m sure she does,” I took the exuberant man and lead him into the fairgrounds. Various sounds and smells greeted us: browning peppers, onions, and sausages, grease for frying funnel cakes, sheep blatting, cows lowing, hogs squealing, kids screaming in merriment. I love a fair.
“I seek the horses,” the man holding my hand proclaimed. I pointed at a barn down over a small knoll. He frowned and shook his head. “Nay, Libby, not the flesh and blood steeds, the mechanical ones!”
We stopped walking beside a ‘Toss-a-Dart’ booth. I was thoroughly confused.
“Ares, we don`t have anything like that at this little fair. Maybe the state fair would but….”
“Nay, my good friend, Gary, the carrier of missives, explained that there were mechanical horses here. They are bound in one place, and move in a circular manner upon a platform. They prance up and down despite the fact that they have been impaled,” he said, his hands moving wildly as they did when he was getting aggravated. I arched an eyebrow at him. He exhaled dramatically, his gesticulating hands dropping to his sides. “Gary tells me that these horses run in circles and children attempt to grab jewelry as they pass.”
“You`re talking about a merry-go-round,” I said and was promptly kissed soundly. I stumbled when he released me and pushed a red curl from my dreamy eye.
“Aye, a merry-go-around,” the man perused the rides, his height giving him a great advantage.
“They haven`t had a merry-go-round here for years, Ares,” I said. He deflated like a pricked hot air balloon. “Sorry,” I added and wrapped my arms around his waist. “We can ride all the other rides though,” I pointed out cheerfully. He nodded, but the fire had been taken out of him I was saddened to see. “Let`s try the Ferris Wheel,” I offered. Ares came along in my wake. Soon we were in a bright green gondola, stopping and starting as the ride was slowly filled. It wasn`t a huge wheel in comparison to other ones at larger fairs, but once at the top it did give you a lovely view of a few rolling Pennsylvania valleys. That in itself was reason to ride it I thought. I was chattering away, pointing out various things to Ares as we started and stopped. Near the top he looked at me and something made my mouth stop running.
“You look very pretty,” he said running a sensual eye over my sundress. “Blue is a good match for your eyes,” he added, reaching out to finger the hem of my little blue dress with white eyelet. “I had hoped to have something to gift you with, but the mechanical horses were not here, thusly I could not find the ring to place upon your finger.”
“Uhm,” came out, followed by a very loud gulp. “Uhm,” Madame Mensa here said again. “It`s okay,” I finally managed to put two words together. “Which, you know, finger were you going to put the ring on?” I asked, keeping the knowledge of the carousel ring and its size to myself. He already felt badly, there was no point in adding to his disenchantment and embarrassment.
“I thought to place it on your right hand,” he informed me. I`ll admit it, I was kind of disappointed when I realized it wasn`t an engagement ring he was thinking of. Silly woman, I know. Like he would propose to a mortal when he never did ask Aphrodite for her hand? Granted, she was married to his brother, Hephaestus, so an engagement to Ares may have made things a teensy bit awkward. I forced a smile and curled into his side as the ride began to rotate in earnest. His fingers were moving through my hair, which was down just as he preferred it.
I couldn`t think of a single thing to say, so I rubbed his chest, my left ring finger feeling rather naked since I no longer wore Matt`s band. I don`t think my dead husband would object to Ares` ring taking the place of his. Knowing Matt, he would smooch my cheek, clap Ares on the shoulder and tell him to make sure he kept me happy. If angels came down to attend weddings, that is.
“Want to check out the goat barn next?” I asked after a few moments of wheeling and silence ensued.
“That would be fine, Libby,” he replied, dropping a kiss to the top of my head. He then lifted my hand from his chest and placed his lips to the knuckle of my right ring finger. The gentle devotion of that gesture made my lashes damp for a moment. Ring or no ring, I couldn`t love the big lummox more.
Just a small FYI, in case this isn`t widely known – The Romans began the trend of giving rings as symbols of marital status and wore them on their right hands. In the western world, wedding rings are worn on the left hand, but in many nations around the world wedding rings are worn on the right ring finger. Eastern Orthodox Christians, such as those in Greece, carry on the Roman tradition in this manner.
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