Aim For The Ground, Not The Stars

Photo by Flora Westbrook from Pexels

“Jesus, even in your fantasies you shoot for the floor,” Nick said, holding up the ragged sleeve of Jess’ costume.

Oh, the stars, that’s right, I’m supposed to aim for the stars,” Jess answered in the least mocking tone she could muster. After five years of marriage, Nick decided it was time to divulge his shameful secret- he loved Renaissance fairs. No, not loved, obsessed, he was obsessed with renaissance fairs. Nothing made him happier, he said, than dressing up in a historically accurate costume, eating a turkey leg in one hand and drinking beer from his chipped bull horn in the other. So that’s how Jess found herself here, dressed in a period-accurate costume as a wench. Something she never thought to put on her own bucket list.

Jess wasn’t totally surprised when Nick admitted his secret love for medieval markets. He was a history nerd and liked role playing in the bedroom, so it wasn’t too far of a stretch. What Jess was surprised about was how Nick used the proposal to go on a European vacation to sneak in his real desire to hit up the biggest medieval fair in Europe. It wasn’t until they were well into their trip planning, with Amsterdam, Bruges, and Paris all on the docket, that Nick casually tried to mention they should add Provins, France to their lineup.

“Listen, did I laugh when you confessed your nerdy secret? No. I jumped right in the deep end with you and got a costume. Now I need you to not judge me because being a dirty, foul-mouthed barmaid is my fantasy,” Jess responded, never taking her eyes off the mirror as she smudged black eyeliner around her eyes.

Jess liked the unsavory side of life, the underbelly of society. She would play the role of the zany villain over the always-say-the-right-thing gallant hero any day. She was no princess, so she sure as hell wasn’t going to be one in an imaginary world. And thus why she scraped the bottom of the commoner barrel to find inspiration for her character- the wench who sometimes gave it up when she was in a financial pinch but mostly dealt with the rift raft, listened to drunken tales, and helped spread town gossip like wildfire. Sure, most people would probably be dressed up as some sort of royalty, nobility, clergy, or any member of the aristocracy- because that’s what people normally dream about, being the elite, the 1%. Jess imagined most women would be wearing pretty gowns and have their hair braided in long fishtails. Men would dress up as knights in literal shining armor, since they for sure never saw battle. Not Jess. Jess was a bottom feeder. It was so much more interesting at the bottom.

Originally, Jess decided to dress up because she read in some magazine before she got married that it was important to join your partner in their interests. So when your partner says ‘Hey honey, come look at this,’ you get your lazy butt up and go look at whatever nonsense they’re talking about. And when your partner says they really, really, really want to do something, well, apparently it has the possibility to end in LARPing.

Okay, thankfully Nick’s medieval obsession stopped short of live action role playing, but Jess was still going to keep her eye out for that follow on confession. What Jess quickly learned was that what Nick was really obsessed with was dressing up in leather armor and getting obliterated, with a high emphasis on the obliterated part.

Which was totally fine by her.

The festival itself was unreal, like being transported back in time. The city of Provins transformed it’s entire town into a medieval market. Jess was sweltering in the mid-summer sun as they roamed up and down the winding streets lined with stalls, drinking beer and foraging for mushrooms covered in a savory garlic sauce.

“You know, since you’re not actually behind a bar or serving people drinks, people might just confuse you for a whore.” Four and a half bull horns in, it was safe to say the unfiltered Nick was drunk.

“I know, it’s great,” Jess said, looking down at her surprisingly full bosom covered in a thick layer of sweat. Bras weren’t a thing back in the day, so women’s breasts just sort of sat uncomfortably on top of leather, or in Jess’ case, cloth, corsets. Much more voluptuous women than Jess were also sown up in corsets, their melons cheerfully attracting the gaze of every man who walked by them. Raw sexiness. Dirt. Sweat. Boisterous chatter. Flowing alcohol. To Jess’ surprise, this was her fantasy too.

“It’s fine. I look like a vagabond. We fit together,” Nick said, tossing a sticky pastry into his mouth.

“You’re a what?” Jess flashed Nick a skeptical looked.

“A vagrant. A cut throat,” Nick answered, expanding on his low titles.

“So that’s what you are in your fantasies, huh? I thought you were a knight.”

“Fuck that,” Nick said with a chuckle. He chugged his horn until it was finished and put his arm around Jess. “Let’s go find some more beer.”

Jess looked over at Nick’s broken in armor, covered in sweat from inebriated adventures in his bachelorhood. She herself wore a thin, already torn skirt and blotchy linen shirt. A wine bottle swung from her hip and a horn swung from Nick’s. They stood out in a sea of velvet and metal and jewelry and other finery. Maybe they did fit- like two dark pieces of a puzzle, sticky from the wine of their forty-something owner who shoved them together because fuck it, it’s late and she’s tired.

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