[Editor’s Choice: Hilarious Love Short Story: I Ask For Just One Thing]
My God, she is stunning. This woman is beyond movie star beautiful, she is class and hotness, elegance & nastiness. She has a thick Ukrainian accent and wears tight fitting clothes. She is the perfect woman.
“I just want her to love me forever,” Stanley thought. “And I would want nothing more out of life.” Stanley is a nerd’s nerd. Wimpy and droll. Everyone assumes he is a genius. Maybe it’s the glasses and his almost lustful love of technology. But Stanley is not a genius. He has a good job as a computer programer, sure, but anyone can learn that stuff. He knows it and occasionally thinks that if he applied himself more he could do something great. But Stanley didn’t want to do much of anything, great or otherwise. He certainly didn’t want to spend time with others. Stanley despises others.
Although Stanley knows he is no genius, he thinks everyone else he meets are complete and utter idiots. He “manages” others well enough. He gets along fine with his boss and he calls his mother every evening around supper time to wish her a “Bon appetit.” But he does this last bit only because he feels that his mother will die soon and possibly leave him some money.
Stanley keeps his one bedroom apartment in Glendale Terrace neat and tidy. Aside from his work and his mom, Stanley has very little else in his life. He keeps to himself mostly and enjoys watching “his shows.” He watches Hot in Cleveland and reruns of Golden Girls. Stanley gets along very well with people who stay safely behind the television screen. He especially finds people in situational comedies to be quite enjoyable. He likes feisty women. At least he thinks he does. The only women he ever gets close to are the ones on the TV. Except for Anna.
Anna arrived to the Glendale Terrace apartment complex, from the Ukraine, 8 months and 5 days ago. Stanley keeps track of it on his Norman Rockwell wall calendar. It was a free gift from the time he bought a years worth of copier paper from Staples. Stanley doesn’t like the idea of ever running out of things. He shops at Costco and Price Club and anywhere else where you have to be a member and buy 35 rolls of toilet paper at once. It makes him feel prepared, safe. Anna makes him feel… warm and sweaty. No other real life person has ever made him feel these things before.
At first Stanley thought Anna might be one of those Russian mail order brides he saw in an episode of Dateline, but no men ever come around. She does leave the apartment, but never late at night and she hardly ever speaks on the phone to anyone. She always smiles at Stanley. She even spoke to him once.
“And what are you called?” she cooed. Stanley nearly wet himself, but managed to find the words… “I am called Stanley.”
“It is my pleasure, Stanley.” Anna held out her hand for Stanley to shake.
He’s not sure where it came from but suddenly Stanley had the urge to take her hand and do the unthinkable! He smelled it. Anna didn’t seem upset at all by his sniffing. She giggled, gracefully retrieved her hand and walked away. Stanley was mortified. He had meant to kiss her hand, gallantly, like he watched Clark Cable do on the old black and whites on Turner Classics. But, he somehow forgot the entire kissing bit and while his nose was pressed up against her hand, his inclination was to … sniff.
Damn, she smelled good. Like vanilla and peaches and cloves. He really wanted to lick her hand. Good thing she pulled it away before that impulse took over.
“I just want her to love me forever,” Stanley prayed to whomever was listening as he lay in bed that night. He didn’t dislike his life as much as he knew it could be better. Much better. If only he had one thing – love. To be clear, Stanley wanted to be loved, not necessarily do the loving. Stanley thought loving someone would be too much work and could get tedious. Although he did want to be on the receiving end of it. Specifically, he wanted Anna, the Russian Goddess across the hall. “Then, and only then, will my life be complete.”
The next day, while walking to work, Stanley sipped on his Earl Grey tea from his travel mug. The mug was a free gift from The Circle K from that time he decided to buy every pack of chewing gum in the store. In case he decided to take up the habit of chewing gum.
As he walked his usual route to the office, he passed a little shop and noticed the sign above “Zelda’s Psychic Reading & Wish Granting.” Stanley has walked this way to work for the past six years and wonders to himself why he never noticed this sign before. As soon as he thinks that thought, a chubby Israeli lady opens the front door and yells in a thick Israeli accent, “We only notice what we are ready to notice.”
“Excuse me,” Stanley says, looking around, not sure who this lady is speaking to.
“YOU! I’m speaking to you. Come in Stanley, I don’t have all day.” The lady turns back into her home and shuts the door. Stanley is frozen.
Stanley stays on the sidewalk for a good five or so minutes. By the time he takes another sip of his Earl Grey tea, it’s cold. Still, Stanley was never one for rushing things. He knows better than to go inside a stranger’s home. This woman is for sure a Gypsy. He saw a segment on 20/20 about gypsies. They lead you in with a $10 tarot card reading, by the time you leave, you have paid $200 for a spell to break a horrible jinx they have convinced you was placed on you and your entire family. It’s a bait and switch. It’s a scam. It’s bad, evil, mumbo jumbo and Stanley may not be a genius but he’s not falling for it.
But, how did she know my name?
Stanley puts his travel mug down near the front door. He places his hand on the doorknob and slowly, very slowly, gently pushes it open.
“Come in already! The door is not going to bite you! Push the damn thing open!” the lady commands.
Stanley looks around the place and is disappointed. It looks like a normal home. There are no gargoyle statues or witchy type artifacts, no candle’s burning, no tarot cards, not even a crystal ball! What sort of gypsy was this anyway?
“I am no gypsy! Sit your ass down and tell me what you want.” the lady instructs.
Stanley sits. “Who are you? How do you know my name?” he asks with a hint of fear in his voice.
“What’s the matter, you can’t read? I’m Zelda, like the sign says. I know you’re name, because I am psychic, also like the sign says. Now, give my your hand.”
Stanley hands over his hand. Zelda closes her eyes. She speaks softly, “Once in a life, if you are very lucky, you will ask for a wish, from the bottom of your heart, with all of your might, and in that exact moment, if all the planets are aligned and it is very silent, and if you are ready to receive, your wish is heard and granted. You, Stanley, are very, very lucky.”
“I am?” Stanley asked, surprised.
“And since you won’t tell me, I will tell you – you want this woman, Anna, to love you forever, yes?” Zelda asked.
“Yes, that’s true. That is what I want.”
Zelda studied him a bit longer. “What if I told you that this Anna is destined to meet someone else? Someone she will be very happy with. The man of her dreams….”
Stanley interrupts Zelda, “That’s me, I can be that, the man of her dreams.”
“Silence!” Zelda demanded. She continued. “Anna is supposed to meet a wonderful man, not you, someone who will fulfill all of her hopes and dreams. A man who will love her deeply, unconditionally. Anna has had a very difficult life, she has remained positive and hopeful throughout, she deserves true love, no?”
“NO!” Stanley demands, crashing his fist down on the table.
Zelda takes a moment to consider Stanley. She continues,
“What I am about to ask you, Stanley, is very important.”
“Okay, so ask.”
“Are you ready?” Zelda challenged.
“Yes, I am ready.” Stanley says impatiently.
“Are you prepared to have your wish granted, even if that means that Anna will be deprived of what is best for her life?”
Stanley didn’t need to think long. He had always heard that true love is when you want the best for the other person, but Stanley didn’t love anyone so that takes care of that. After all, he had only exchanged a few words, and a sniff, with Anna. Still, he was sure of one thing… he wanted Anna. For himself. And he wanted her to love him forever, regardless if it was what was best for her. This is his wish and he will not be talked out of it!
“Yes, I am sure.” Stanley replied, getting a little bored with this Zelda person.
“Very well.” Zelda closed her eyes once more and smacked the top of Stanley’s head. Hard.
“Ouch, what was that for?” Stanley asked has he massaged his head.
“Done. Your wish will be granted this evening. That will be twenty bucks. Thank you and good luck.” Zelda gets up to smoke a cigarette. Stanley puts a $20 bill on the table and asks, “But, what do I do?”
In between puffs Zelda instructed, “Just go to her, knock on her door. You won’t need to say anything. She will fall in love with immediately, just like you want. Now, shut the door behind you, I don’t want flies to get in.”
Stanley could barely concentrate at work. He thought, if Zelda was not a gypsy but an actual, true wish granter that his life will never be the same again. He will have his meals prepared for him, his shoes shined, sex whenever he wanted with a ridiculously sexy woman. How can this be possible? And for only twenty dollars? But Zelda did not say he had a curse and she did not tell him to buy anything else or to come back in a week or anything like that, so… maybe this really is happening!
Stanley ran all the way home.
As he got dressed that evening, he made a point to pick out his best white button down, his favorite striped tie, which was a gift rom Marshall’s from the time he bought 25 packs of white t-shirts because they had just the right combo of cotton and polyester.
He thought about how he knew nothing about this Anna woman and soon they will be together. How exciting. Of course, the more Stanley thought about it, the less interested he was in learning all about her, he wanted to observe her, the way he did with the women on TV. He wanted her to love him in every way possible, yes, he absolutely wanted that but he didn’t want to have to do much in return. He wanted to go about his life, as usual, with merely the addition of a beautiful, classy, smoking hot woman to love him. Will he love her? He doubted it. No matter, this wasn’t about her, this was his wish, his rules.
I hope she doesn’t talk too much, Stanley worried.
As he stood outside of Anna’s door he reminded himself that he doesn’t need to say anything. Anna will instantly love him. Good. He loves the idea of not having to do anything from the get go. He was ready. Stanley knocked on the door and waited.
Anna, looking ravishing in her transparent cream colored nightgown, opened the door.
“Hello?” she said.
Anna looks around. She sees no one.
“Hello?” Anna looks around again, still seeing no one, she is about to shut the door when she notices something on the ground.
Looking up at her with the biggest, most beautiful eyes is the cutest Maltese puppy Anna has ever seen! “Oh, look at you. Are you lost?”
Anna picks up the puppy and cradles it. She looks around and sees that she is indeed alone with the puppy. “Are you a gift? Oh, you are so cute!”
The puppy licks Anna’s hand.
It tastes like vanilla and peaches and cloves.
“Okay, sweetie-pie, you come with me. Don’t worry,” Anna says as she shuts the door behind her, “I am going to love you forever.”