Fractured Fragment Friday: “There’s No Present Like the Time”

Since we’re in the Holidays now (well, maybe you’re not, but I’ve been in them since the beginning of October) and I have a new collection that’s started its preorder campaign, I’m going to combine both (sort of) with a tale about a special type of present.   Here’s the blurb for “There’s No Present Like the Time”:

What constitutes a true waste of time? Peter and Vanessa have different ideas. WhileTheresNoPresent1NewCover on a rare vacation, Peter chances to meet a mysterious woman who brings these differences to a head.


And here’s the excerpt:

“You know it will not work,” a gravelly-smooth voice said from behind the counter. The accent had an old-world feel – perhaps eastern European?

Peter looked up from the case at the woman who had just spoken. She had waist-length, reddish-blonde hair that she wore tied back in a braid. The hair framed a smooth face of indeterminate age; Peter had never been good at judging this, but there was something about her that made him feel she was older than she looked. Maybe she’d had surgery to smooth things over, but those intense green-blue eyes were also at once wise and youthful.

Her dress looked like it had been thrown together from a slew of diaphanous scarves, and as she turned and set her lunch bag on a shelf behind the counter, the colors seemed to change as the layers shifted back and forth over each other. It was interesting to watch – a bit too interesting, and Peter felt his face getting hot as he turned his attention back to the case.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t even realize you were there,” he said.

“Hmmm, I do not hear that often. I wonder if I’m losing my charm,” she said.

“No, I don’t think so,” Peter said, and then realized how that might have sounded. “I was focused on the watches, not that I was looking… I mean.”

“Do not worry – she won’t mind that you helped out a sister with her self-esteem issues,” she smiled, and extended her hand with its sharp, red-enameled nails across the counter. “I am Magda, and you are?”

“Peter,” he said. He clasped her hand with his, but he found himself looking too deeply into those green-blue eyes, so he quickly released her hand and returned to looking at the watches. “What did you mean when you said it won’t work?”

“You cannot make someone care about time with a watch,” she said.

“I think if it’s appealing enough…” Peter said, then stopped and said, “Wait – I don’t recall saying anything about why I came here. How did you…?”

“You are looking at the women’s watches,” Magda said.

“Even so…”

“And most women are not particularly conscious of seconds and minutes; they tend to linger,” she purred.

He half-expected her to roll her tongue over those full red lips of hers, and then wondered why he was even thinking about it.

“That seems a bit sexist,” Peter said, but he was so pleasantly uncomfortable that his mild objection didn’t even convince himself.

“Do not worry yourself – I will not tell her why you are giving her a watch,” Magda chuckled. “But do not be disappointed if she keeps wasting time.”

“You’re right – and I’m wasting mine,” Peter said.

He turned to leave, but she reached across the counter and her long nails latched onto his shoulder.

“I have something for you. Wait here,” she said, and he watched her flouncing scarves slide over her curves and each other as she disappeared through the curtains at the back of the shop.

Peter was uncomfortable with how this Magda kept drawing his eye; he wasn’t the wandering kind. He didn’t need the ticking all around him to remind him how long he’d been gone from Vanessa, but his embarrassment amplified it. He pulled out his cell phone and checked it. She still hadn’t called or texted, but, like Magda had guessed, the woman wasn’t that time-conscious – it was why he was here in this shop in the first place. Of course, the cell coverage was always spotty up here; Vanessa might be trying to reach him and worrying why he wasn’t answering. He didn’t want to be rude, but he needed to go find her, and had made up his mind to leave when Magda reappeared.

“This will do the trick,” she said.

She set a black velvet tray on the counter. On it were two silver watches – one man’s, one lady’s – decorated in an elaborate matching Celtic snake knot design. They did more than match; when laid against each other, they seemed as one piece of metal, the way the patterns twisted in and out of each other, just as though they were joined. The pattern continued all along the supple metal bands.

“Good – you are pleased with them,” Magda smiled.

“It’s exactly what she’s into,” Peter said. “I’ll take it.”

He set his cell down on the counter and reached for the lady’s watch, but Magda stopped him with a “Don’t touch!”, and then her warm, right hand was there holding his, those nails tickling the inside of his palm. She snatched up the man’s watch with her left hand.

“You will take both. As you can see, they are a mated set,” she said.

He found himself staring into her eyes again, and felt her warm hand lay the cool metal on his arm and then the band slid smoothly around his wrist like a snake. He could feel it throbbing in time with the clocks, or maybe it was the pulse in his wrist racing with his heart.

“No more wasted time,” she said, and she released his hand.

It took him a moment to realize her eyes were no longer holding his. He blushed again and tried to focus his attention on the watch that was now wrapped around his arm, instead of watching Magda slip the lady’s watch into a silk bag. He turned his arm to find the clasp, but he couldn’t locate it.

“There’s No Present Like the Time” is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/874946

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FB75RHV

It’s also included in the collection Goddesses, Sleep with the Snowmen, and Other Fantasies listed below.

I assure you, this story isn’t a waste of time, so give it a read! Just saying…


Collection10 CoverNext up for release on November 30th – a new collection! Goddesses, Sleep with the Snowmen, and Other Fantasies contains ten short speculative fictions, including a previously unpublished flash fiction (which is why there are only nine covers pictured on GSwtSaOF’s cover.) The stories include:

“There’s No Present Like the Time”, “Cellfishness”, “Out of Place”, “All the News That’s Fit for You”, “Interview with the Blue Neon God”, “Goddesses”, “Victimless”, “Stalking Rebecca”, “Sleep with the Snowmen”, and the “The Voices.”

Goddesses, Sleep with the Snowmen, and Other Fantasies is currently available for preorder FOR A REDUCED PROMOTIONAL PRICE at various online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/906524

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KFQGLSR

(The paperback edition is in process of being proofed.)


BreathingCoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing – including his most recent release “Breathing is Overrated” (I may have mentioned that this was one of my three Honorable Mentions in the Writers of the Future contest) – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri

• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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