Aficionado for Encantado
By Sarina Dorie
As a child, Sarina Dorie dreamed of being an astronaut/archeologist/fashion designer/illustrator/writer. Later in life, after realizing this might be an unrealistic goal, Sarina went to the Pacific NW College of Art where she earned a degree in illustration. After realizing this might also be an unrealistic goal, she went to Portland State University for a master's in education to pursue the equally cut-throat career of teaching art in the public school system. After years of dedication to art and writing, most of Sarina's dreams have come true; in addition to teaching, she is a writer/artist/ fashion designer/ belly dancer. In addition to showing her art internationally, she has sold art to Shimmer Magazine for an interior illustration, and another piece is on the April 2011 cover of Bards and Sages. Sarina's unpublished novel, Silent Moon has won Romance Writer of America awards, and she has sold her short story "Zombie Psychology" to Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, and "Losing One's Appetite" to Daily Science Fiction. Her piece, "A Ghost's Guide to Haunting Humans," won the March Whidbey NILA Student Choice Award.
Now, if only Jack Sparrow asks her to marry him, all her dreams will come true.
Marcela came highly recommended as a guide from the travel agency. As I explained exactly what I wanted to get out of my trip, her brow furrowed. I was here in Brazil because I was convinced my soulmate was an encantado.
I didn't want just any Prince Charming. I wanted an enchanted prince. I started to tell her about the legends.
She held up a hand to stop me. "Lexi, I know what an encantado is. But why would you want one? Even if dolphin-men exist, they would smell like fish. And they're bald." She scrunched up her nose.
She was probably in her mid-twenties, about my age. Didn't she find an older gentleman with a bald spot sexy too?
Her plump lips twitched with amusement. "You must be careful. They'll lure you away and enchant you, kidnap you, and have their way with you."
"That's my hope. There's nothing hotter than a shape-shifter. It sounds like a sex-filled vacation." And then there would be wedding bells.
I omitted the part about them being incredible lovers. I didn't need competition. I wasn't blessed with the healthy, bronze glow of her skin or her natural beauty. Her mini-dress was skin-tight and fashionable, with a matching black hat.
"You are paying cash up front? I will help you find an encantado." She flicked her long hair over her shoulder. "We will go on a festival tour. In legends these men are attracted to music and dancing."
I fought my jet-lag as we attended a festival. The street was a kaleidoscope of colors and music. People sang and shouted in Portuguese. Marcela wove her way through the dancers and onlookers, grabbing my hand and pulling me along. With so much festivity for such a small event, I could hardly imagine what Carnival was like.
From the way Marcela dressed us up in skin-tight skirts and blouses, and crazy, jewel-encrusted hats with feathers poking out like samba peacocks, there was no way any man—human or monster—could not notice us.
She steered us in front of a group of musicians playing a catchy song. The air was thick with the odor of sweat and cigarette smoke. I found myself clapping my hands and swaying to the music.
Marcela shouted over the music, "You will never catch a man dancing like that."
She showed me how to sway my hips. I tried to repeat it.
"No, no!" she laughed.
She put my hands on her hips so I could feel the way she moved. I blushed. The nearest musician blushed too.
Two young men played exotic stringed instruments, and a woman played a drum. Marcela winked at the older man in the fedora. He only had eyes for her and didn't even look at me. Marcela pushed me forward anyway. Just as she had made me practice, I switched my hat with his.
"Who is the dancer now?" I asked in practiced Portuguese.
He laughed and switched our hats back. He had a full set of hair. There was no bald spot or blowhole on the top of his head. Marcela guided me to the next group of musicians. We danced late into the night. I must have peeked under about forty hats.
By 4 a.m., my legs were so tired I didn't know if I could walk back to my hotel. Marcela circled an arm around me to keep me upright. "Don't worry, Lexi. We will find your encantado tomorrow."
The following night was similar to the first. Lots of drinking, dancing and looking under hats. I met a few cute musicians but none of them were enchanted.
Since encantado were dolphin-shifters, they would have fish cravings. That's why I'd rubbed shrimp on my pulse points instead of perfume on the third night. Marcela shook her head at me and laughed.
"Hey, I only have two more nights to find my encantado," I said. If no one whisked me away to an underwater palace, I would be going back to my boring life.
She ruffled my hair. "Maybe we should try men other than musicians?"
"Oh, no! They are always musicians." And was that really such a surprise? They were romantic artists expressing their passion through music—and lovemaking. It was said they could play a woman's body with deft, expert hands as only a musician could.
Again, I didn't tell her this. I didn't want her to seduce my encantado.
That last night we found him. When I looked under his hat, I knew I'd hit the jackpot. Better yet, he didn't run away from me like Bigfoot had.
Marcela pulled me aside. "That's just a birthmark. Maybe a scar. You're too drunk to know a true encantado from a fake."
"This is my last chance for a magical evening," I said.
"It depends what kind of magic you're looking for." She leaned forward and kissed me.
I was so surprised I squeaked. It had been a long time since I'd kissed anyone and she was a good kisser. I felt my body melting against her. But she wasn't what I wanted.
I drew back and glanced at the man. "Marcela, I'm sorry, you're just not. . . ."
"Yes, yes, not you're type." She waved a dismissive hand at my musician. "Go with your encantado."
I took him back to my room and forgot about her kiss. I began to have my doubts when he didn't smell like fish. The sex was pretty crummy. As I began to sober up, I decided it really was a birthmark on his head. Talk about awkward. I couldn't get him out of my room fast enough. Then I fell into an exhausted sleep.
In the morning when my alarm went off to remind me to get up and go to the airport, I found a text on my phone from Marcela.
Too bad you never looked under my hat.
Embedded in the message was a photo, her hat tossed aside. Her chin was tilted down so the bald spot and blowhole were obvious.
What? She'd been the encantado—or in this case, an encantada? I dialed her number but there was no answer.
I'd blown my chance with the only magical creature who had ever wanted me. As if it wasn't bad enough I was destined for a life of normalcy, my high school reunion was coming up in two weeks and I still didn't have a date. My life sucked—and not in a kinky, fun vampire boyfriend kind of way.