She rounded the corner incautiously. He was leaning against the wall past the approach angle so that she didn’t see him. That’s why she ran into him. Then she noticed two identical textbooks open on the ground, pages flapping. Two binders lay side by side: one black, the other covered in large, red hearts. She gasped and put her hand over her mouth; her cheeks flushed.
They apologized, then because they recognized each other from class both said, “Oh, you’re from Ms Lescaux’s class.” They laughed.
The boy offered to pick up her books. She demurred. She felt guilty because she had been thinking about him and wasn’t paying attention, but he was fast and retrieved the fallen items before she did. He proffered them, lingering a moment to look straight into her eyes. She hesitated lest she appear too eager, but the things were hers so she took them. She saw his eyes had no irises, at least none she could detect. She wondered what the world looked like with eyes like that, through giant pupils. Did things focus on the retina like everyone else’s or did he only see an indistinct blur? Those unholy eyes were framed by pale skin that retained the same ashen quality it had under the phosphorescent lights of the classroom. It made the boy’s eyes look deeper somehow, bottomless. It took her breath away.
“Can I walk to class with you?” the boy asked.
She hadn’t expected it. He was very good looking while she thought herself plain and did not believe she attracted men — especially beautiful boys with dark eyes. She imagined he hadn’t noticed her. “Yes,” she said, softly, thinking she had misunderstood. She wanted to say it again, except a lightness in her chest that felt like it would lift her off the ground kept her silent.
“Good,” he said. “Let’s go, it’s almost time to start.” She waited for the boy to say something else. When he remained silent, she wondered if he regretted asking her to walk with him. Probably, she thought, he was just being nice because he’d been standing in her way. She decided he was embarrassed. By the time he held the door to the classroom for her, it annoyed her because by now she thought it hypocritical. They went to their usual seats; his in front, hers in back.
The course, “The Paranormal in Contemporary Literature,” was non-credit, given as part of the college’s outreach program. Her mother teased her that it was a waste of time. Tonight’s lecture was on a novel about a girl who falls in love with a vampire. Ms Lescaux’s lecture was exegetical, emphasizing how the protagonist had to renounce his family to reach the higher spiritual plane of the immortals.
As she listened to Ms Lescaux, it became clear to the girl that the boy in the first row was a vampire. It would explain his dark eyes and pale skin, his vulnerability. The more she thought about this, she became aware of her body in the way she usually only felt on waking. She imagined he would be beside her and she would have two tiny holes in her neck and she would be his for all eternity. Her mother would be sorry.
When the class was over he waited near the door. Although he approached her he seemed to look askance, but he said, “Great class.”
“Yes,” she said, disappointed because she thought that sounded too common for a vampire. “I like happy endings,” she added.
He looked at her. His eyebrows wrinkled, suggesting he didn’t understand. He said, “But she lost her friends and family, didn’t she? Is that a good thing?” She hadn’t thought about them, but it didn’t bother her.
They filed out of the building into a moonless night. After a few moments of silence, the boy said, as though he had just thought of it, “Hey, would you like to go to a movie with me tomorrow night? Dawn is showing at the Rialto.”
The girl’s heart seemed to grow inside her. She imagined them sitting in a dark theater and wondered how to keep him away from her neck. Maybe after she got to know him, she thought. A mischievous smile crossed her face. She was nervous when she said, “That would be nice.” She felt certain that her mother wouldn’t believe her. She would have to wait until she had left mortality behind. Then her mother would be sorry. Or maybe proud.
“Great,” he said. He looked toward the sound of a car honking. He added, “I’ll meet you outside the theater,” and ran toward a large black car waiting at the curb.
Suddenly left alone, the girl felt abandoned that she would not see him until the next night, but she remembered sunlight is lethal to vampires and felt better. It was not his fault. She would have to make adjustments.
Unexpectedly, the boy ran back to her. “Say,” he said, “why don’t you meet me at 5:00, while it’s still light. We can grab a bite before the show starts.”
The girl looked at him for a long moment. Tears welled up in her eyes. “Liar,” she shouted. She slapped his face, turned, and ran.
Kendall Furlong says: “First, I’m an old guy trying to reinvent himself. Some consternation goes with being referred to as elderly by the set closer to diapers than to me, but though fatal the condition allowed me to retire and pursue the dream of writing. I’ve written one confessions novel (which will remain unpublished), several short stories including a couple of contest winners, and am working on two longer works, a mystery novel and speculative fiction piece set in the near future.”
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