“Do you think it was ever real?” Jeff shifted his face towards me.
“What was?” I replied absently, staring into the distance.
“The horse, the Pegasus?” He lifted off his elbows, rolling onto his side. “That one?”
My eyes refocused, taking in the golden bronze sculpture not far from our blanket.
The lowering evening light glinted like magic and I could almost imagine the creature lifting into the sky, its precision pistons and hydraulics whirring smooth and silent. It would soar on glorious wings, skimming clouds and the far off mountain tops. Then Jeff nudged me.
“Wow, you’re just lost today!” He sniggered.
I tore my eyes away from the monument. I flushed under his gaze. His ice-blue eyes softened and the corners of his mouth curled into a grin. My hair slipped across my face and he stretched out his hand to lift it away. His hand brushed my cheek and my heart quickened.
Embarrassed, or shy – I couldn’t decide which – I broke eye contact and dipped my head, hiding a heady smile. I heard Jeff move closer to me. His arms wrapped themselves about me and I let my body mould itself against his.
“I’ve never met anyone like you, Tansy,” he whispered, his words moving like velvet across my skin and into my ear.
I smiled and his mouth met mine. For a moment I froze, wondering if my inexperience would register with him, but I had nothing to worry about and melted into the kiss, my lips moving gently against his. It wasn’t just our mouths that responded and I let my hands rove, my fingers ending up entwined in his hair and stroking the nape of his neck.
Soft kisses rained down, and his lips explored my shoulder. My back lightly arched and my head dropped to the side as his touch sent tiny fizzing explosions through my body. I opened my eyes and the late sun bathed me in golden rays, and I caught a glimpse of the gleaming Pegasus in the corner of my eye. Its cogs and gears and wheels shone, and the light flowed through its mane and tail, and I almost believed it alive.
Jeff’s mouth sought mine again and then he reluctantly moved aside grinning at me as we untangled. I giggled and he laughed. “You do things to me!” He threw himself down onto his back and stared up into the sky.
I shuffled closer and looked at him, his face rosy with desire, untidy hair, and creased shirt. I smoothed my hand across his chest, slipping it between an unbuttoned gap to caress his skin. He closed his eyes and groaned.
I laughed and sat up, tucking my legs beneath me. Jeff rolled over and leaned against me, propping himself back up on his elbows again. The horse glowed in front of us as the sun disappeared behind the mountain. It became a shadowy figure as pale moonlight took over from the sun, ghostly even.
“So,” he broke the silence. “Do you think it was real?”
I didn’t answer.
“I mean, years ago, centuries ago, before they were banned?” When I still didn’t speak, he continued. “Not just horses, but people, you know – the mechanical ones. They got really advanced, then when they thought we’d not be able to tell the difference, they banned them. Do you believe that? I never saw one I couldn’t tell was robotic.” His voice trailed off as he stared at the sculpture. “If they were real, they sure were beautiful.”
My skin prickled, goosebumps spread across my arms, and my scalp tingled.
“I’d know if I met one. Not that I could, they don’t exist anymore.” He turned to smile at me. “That one, the Pegasus, it enchants me. That’s why I like coming here, and with you –” His fingers trailed across my bare arm. “With you, it’s even better.”
I linked my fingers with his. His hand was warm, sweaty, and real. He gazed into my eyes with such intensity, such adoration, that I knew his naivety was genuine.
I leaned down and touched my lips to his. He pulled me into his embrace and his hand moved slowly down my neck, across my collarbone, and down to the soft cotton décolletage of my dress. Not far beneath the cotton, beneath my silky organic skin, beneath the network of miniscule tubes and hydraulics, beneath the silent whir of cogs and gears, beat my heart, my clockwork heart.
Really needed to write something for this photo provided by Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge prompt. A sculpture by Hasan Novorozi. The steampunk Pegasus just spoke to me, as do most things steampunk!
Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.