It’s not easy being in love when you’re undead. I mean, this definitely isn’t the afterlife I would have chosen for myself. If I had the choice, I’d still be living and breathing and sitting in AP Calc next to Alexa Morgan. Just saying her name makes the skin-flap where my beating heart used to sit flutter with excitement.
But I’m not living and breathing. Far from it.
I let my guard down for five minutes and got bitten on the ankle by Brianna, the braided seven-year-old brat from next door. I guess she had turned the day before, and I had popped a cold can of Coke and sat in the back yard watching YouTube videos on my phone with my AirPods in. I never even heard that little demon coming. The chills came an hour later, then the twitching, and then, BOOM… FULL. BLOWN. ZOMBIE. MODE. I got her back the next day by eating her little brother, Dylan.
Anyway, back to Alexa Morgan. I’ve had a crush on her since the ninth grade. She has blue eyes that look like a stormy sea, and red hair that falls in loose curls around her shoulders. She’s a total smoke show. And she’s smart too. I mean, I liked her brain even before I turned. I first saw her in ninth grade English class. I sat behind her and some days I’d just lean forward and smell her fruity shampoo. Not in a creepy way, though. It was more like I just needed to be close to her. Geez, now that I say it out loud, it sounds totally creepy.
Anyway, yeah, she smelled good, but the problem is even death didn’t make my love for her go away. Nope. No one ever talks about how hard it is to be like me and be in love with someone who’s still alive. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a divide that’s too wide to cross.
So, now I just stumble around hoping to run into her. I lurch around the mall, hang around outside the school, and even stagger over to her house just hoping that she’ll notice me and remember who I was.
And she has noticed me.
One time, I was waiting outside her house with a couple of real foot draggers. I told them to beat it, that I was trying to impress a girl and I didn’t want them moaning and groaning and making me look bad. I mean, one dude’s nose was hanging off his face. Well, they just grunted and ignored me, and at that exact moment she came outside, and so I walked over, real cool.
She looked right at me, and I tried to say, “Hey girl, it’s me, Kyle,” but all that came out was ahhhhhhhhhhhh.
Then those two losers came stumbling across the street, and I guess she scares easily, because she started yelling, “Stay away! Get away from me!”
At first I didn’t notice the bat sticking out of her backpack, but I got a close-up look when she started swinging it at my head. I yelled, “Whoa! It’s me, Kyle. Kyle Miller!” But again, all that came out was ahhhhhhhhhhhh. I had to trip Nose Dude and let him take one for the team, while I got out of there in a hurry.
I took one quick glance back while making my escape and saw Alexa caving in that dude’s face with her bat, and I could see she had a pretty epic swing. Elbow up, great follow through.
As I turned the corner and lost sight of her, I remember thinking the girl can handle herself — she’s the total package.
And now, I think again about that grade nine English class, when we studied Romeo and Juliet, and how the love they shared was ultimately strangled by death’s cold hand. And I keep hoping that maybe, someday, she’ll be caught off guard and strangled by a passing zombie, and then we could be together forever. Or at least until our flesh rots off.
Michael McCourt is a high school English and Music teacher living in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories. When not teaching and writing, he coaches high school football and spends time outdoors with his wife Sarah, and children, Ethan and Grace.