Cupid's Mistake

By Tamayo Ginbara

We all make mistakes, all the time, every day of our lives. Most of them are things that really don't matter in the end, like drinking hot chocolate even after blowing on it fifteen times, and you know it's going to scald your tongue anyway, but you still drink it. Mistakes like that don't matter in the long run, but there are mistakes that you'll always regret. I think I made one of those mistakes yesterday afternoon when I fell in love, and it all started when I became a professional author of love letters.

Well, it's more like I like to think I'm a pro. I'm not sure such a title even exists. Anyway, it was the end of ninth-grade and the beginning of summer when it all started, that time of the year when the sun's just hot enough that you can actually feel it's radiance on every bare patch of your skin, but not enough that you have that perfect beach tan yet. I was leaning up against my locker waiting for my trig grade, wishing I hadn't worn my halter top. That slick metal door made my back feel like it was February when everything other part of my body could clearly identify with early June. The only reason I was at school on what should have been my first day of glorious summer vacation was because I was five seconds late to my exam and Mr. Bollinger wouldn't unlock the door.

Anyway, I was waiting to get the results of my Trigonometry exam back and start my three joyous months of uninterrupted rest and relaxation. I had my eyes close, picturing what my first beach trip would be like, when I heard May running towards me, her legs extending ahead of her more so than I had ever seen before then. Her round thick-rimmed glasses bobbed up and down with her jet black braided pigtails. So she wasn't the prettiest girl in the world. At least she knew how to cheer me up when I felt sad and she kept my secrets. More than I could say about any of my other girlfriends.

"Carly! Carly!", she gasped for breath. "Carly! He asked me! He asked me!"

I knew right away that the "he" May was referring to was Bryan Lawson, the boy May had harbored an undying crush on ever since she first saw him working as an assistant Little League coach at the park two summers ago. He wasn't a total heartthrob, but he was easy on the eyes. May finally got up the courage to talk with Lawson in January after I had to convince her that she was dangerously close to stalker territory. Turned out Lawson had been interested in May too and admired her tennis skills that she was sure no one had seen or would even care about. They became fast friends, and now…

"He wants to go to Six Flags with me next weekend! I think it's our first date!" she said, jumping up and down like she was on a sugar high.

"Calm down, hon." I said, putting my hands on her shoulder, trying to bring her back to reality. "Are you planning on telling him?" I asked her, referring to her confession of love that was so fierce in her eyes.

"Oh God, I want to so bad! But what am I going to say?! I'm just going to get tongue-tied like I always do." Her mood switched faster than I could blink.

"Don't give me that." I said, smirking a little more than I probably meant to.

"Well yeah, I can tell you, but I can't tell HIM!" she desperately explained, falling up against the locker next to me, a suppressed clanging wound its way down the empty hallway.

"What about a love letter?" I asked completely nonchalantly.

"Are you crazy?!" she gasped, her face turning a nice, even scarlet.

"Well if you won't write one, then I will." I said, thinking of how much fun it could be to help her. At this point, Mr. Bollinger rounded the corner up ahead off to the left, my grades in his hand. I left the conversation before she could reply, grabbed my answer sheet, and thanked him for a great year, then strutted outside as the first glimmers of the summer sun rained down upon me.

Free of my academic obligations, I started to work on a heartfelt note, relaying everything I could remember May telling me about Lawson for the past few months. My fingers trembled as the emotion poured out from my ballpoint pen onto the pink stationary. I became lost in the whirlwind of passion as my pen reached the end of the paper and I signed it in May's name. It was perfect.

I slipped the letter into Lawson's duffel when we all went to the beach three weeks later. He and May have been a couple ever since. I got a little full of myself after that and started helping my other friends with their boy troubles. My letters became more and more descriptive. Just by talking to the girls, I could see exactly what they saw in their respective boyfriends-to-be. I began to hunger to be able to find a girl with a boy she liked, all so I could be wrapped back up in the exhilaration of being the scribe of that particular girl's confession. It became underground knowledge to every girl in Harris High about my deeds. Amongst the female student body, I even got the unbelievable nickname of "Cupid". When it seemed my legend had reached its peak, he showed up.

It was just a routine drop-off. This one was for Linda Rinehart, one of the varsity cheerleaders. The target? Val Courtam, the newest kid in the 11th grade. He had jagged dishwater-blonde hair that twisted down to the nape of his neck, dark blue eyes so empty you could easily confuse them as a black void. He rarely spoke but they way he held himself you would think the whole world was on his shoulders. I spent all night working on a letter to win this guy over so he could see how deep and true Linda's love for him was. All I had to do was slip it in and…

"So you're Cupid."

My legs turned to jelly beneath me as I turned around and soon found myself up against the locker, staring deep into those empty lifeless pools. I knew I was dead where I stood and the male population would know about every little detail of my workings. I could smell my shaking breath, ripe with my chili from lunch, flowing out against his chiseled jaw, back up into my nose. "V-Val…" I found my voice at last, a narrow smirk developing just near the edge of where my eyes could still see.

"Let's go somewhere a little more private. We need to talk."

Sliding his rough digits in between my own slender fingers, he gripped tightly onto my hand and led me away down the hall, I, trailing behind as if I was just a little kid, was dumbstruck and curious at the same time. "W-Where are we going?"

"We're going to have a little chat, Cupid." It sounded like he was spitting as he called me by my nickname.

"My name's Carly." I muttered back, the reality of how degrading I must look being dragged along like this must have been. Val and I rounded a corner and he pushed me into an empty lab room, closing the door, locking it, and sitting down on one of the polished wooden stools, his leg crossed over his other leg like a girl would.

"So you're the one who's been taking my business." He smirked, looking as if he thought he was seeing right through me.

"Business?" I said, my face all twisted up without any grasp of what he was talking about. "I don't even have a part-time job. What the hell are you…"

"Your letters." He said, his dangerously smooth voice interrupted my train of thought. He wielded that condescending attitude of his like a pro and I was left speechless as a result. "How am I supposed to work when everyone I can make fall in love already has a helping hand around here?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" I declared, wanting to know what was going on right this instant.

"I'm Cupid." He sighed, pushing up off the stool, earnestly staring me down.

I had to stifle my laughs as I fell back against the edge of the jet black countertop. "Cupid? Oh god, that's rich. Where're your wings, angel boy? Give me a break!"

I wasn't laughing long, not after the piercing scream of an arrow white as ivory passed right across the bridge of my nose. My legs gave out again as I held my weight up with my hands on the countertop, struggling to pick myself up as my now-sweaty palms slipped around on the surface.

I felt so enraptured as I stared at him, my mouth slack with awe as he smiled, not smirked, at me. "Need any more proof?" he snickered, lowering his golden tool of the trade.

His hair had begun to glow, and his deep blue eyes had turned far paler. It was like I was staring at an angel. His confidence overwhelmed me, his passion burned from his eyes up against my body, and a wave of mental heat as my brain felt like it was melting underneath his gaze. I had the feeling I got every time I wrote for the other girls, except for one difference. This time, it was a feeling I didn't want anyone else to have. "What do you want with me?"

"I want you to quit it with the letters." He asked simply enough.

"Why should I? It's just a couple love letters." I asked, trying to solve the problem best I could with the man I had just discovered to be the god of love.

"You think it's that easy to be the guy who holds the ability to make anyone fall in love? You're on deadlines 24/7, and failure's not an option. You think it's so easy? Then why don't you do it?"

"Me?!" I nearly toppled over. He HAD to be joking!

"Yeah, you. You want to be Cupid for your friends so bad. Let's see how you do."

"What… what about the rest of the…"

"World?" he finished my sentence once again. "Oh you don't think there's only one Cupid, do you? I'm just the Cupid of this particular area. Every matter concerning falling in love in a 25-mile radius will be your jurisdiction. So, "Cupid"?" he asked, mocking my nickname once again. I could see why now. "What do you say?"

He was taunting me, and it was working. With a look of interest, he lifted his bow and held it out to me. I hesitated just a moment before wrapping my fingers around the fragile frame, feeling it's tepid surface slide between my palm. Without a second thought, I pulled it away, watching it slip from his grasp, and smiled back. "Deal."

"Now for the ground rules." He said, amused.

"Ground rules?"

"The first is when you have to make someone fall in love, you have to be there. No exceptions. As far as the second rule goes, you can never fall in love."

"Why?" I asked curiously.

"Falling in love with anyone as Cupid means disturbing the natural balance. You're not meant to be a part of anyone's romantic life, just alter it. Being a part of it means altering a person's fate outside what it's meant to be. Altering a person's fate means altering the world's fate, and altering the world's fate means…"

"Alright, alright, I get it. I won't fall in love." I sighed, crossing my arms over my chest. "Now about Rule #1. How do I get to where I need to?"

"Oh, that's easy." Val smiled, walking up to me. I felt my breath leave me as his strong arms wrapped around me, pulling his close to his searing-hot chest, my cheeks flushed with enough heat; I think steam could have come off of them. "Use you wings."

It was instantaneous. Pure white wings flowed up and out of my back, reaching up to the fluorescent lights on the ceiling. Despite how expansive they were, they felt light as the air around us.

I felt so relieved it was just the two of us right now. It was like something out of a fairy tale. He didn't even need to say a word, not when I could tell everything he was thinking just by looking into his eyes. I guess I'm not going to make a very good Cupid, Val. Oh, and I'm sorry, Linda. He's mine.