Chapter One part 1
inspired my first ever fantasy.
As I stared across the racks of wine bottles at the girl
with the blonde hair cropped just at her shoulders and thick pink glasses, something
stirred deep in the pit of my stomach, then travelled lower. The book obscuring
half her face was bound in bright colors with a man and woman embracing on the
cover. Being in here every day this week has taught me that tomorrow she would
come in with a different one.
Her name tag read Emma. Emma hadn’t taken notice of me studying
her, which is exactly how it was supposed to be. I was no one from nowhere.
Looking at her made me ache in places I hadn’t known existed
before. Like wiggling a loose tooth, I kept coming in here to feel it again.
Loneliness. It had taken days for me to recognize the emotion she evoked in me.
I hadn’t allowed myself the self-indulgent feeling since I was ten-years-old,
enduring the trials. Imagining us together both eased and worsened the
loneliness, but I couldn’t help myself.
print on the blanket underneath us is covered in small blue flowers. Her eyes
fasten onto mine and she can’t help but lean forward, toward me, reaching for
The refrigerator fans were so loud, I could barely hear the
country music playing in the background. The fans also kicked up the smell of
wet concrete into the air, which oddly enough, I’ve developed a fondness for.
I reached for the wine bottle in front of me, all the while
watching her liquid brown eyes race across the pages. When I walked in today,
she pulled her head out of her book to smile, attempt eye contact, and welcome
me into Smoky Badger Liquors. I had pulled the hood of my heavy brown coat up
over my head so she couldn’t have seen anything but a nod as I entered. My Masters
always gave me high marks in camouflage. I’m exceptionally good at disappearing
into shadow, so I can watch. So I can hunt.
My Masters trained me harder than the rest because of my
bright blue eyes and dark curly hair. They explained the rare features were
disadvantageous and molded me with disciplinary force until I was able to master
silent movements and veil my presence until I became a ghost in any environment.
I seldom removed my hood. In North America, it was easier to blend in, but I
still garnered many looks if I left the hood down, especially from women. They
would hold eye contact for too long, give me mysterious smiles. It was my
understanding women are the keener observers of the sexes. I couldn’t help but
feel they had spotted something which made me stand out, and I couldn’t have
that. The hood stayed up.
her back to the half-built skyscraper where I spend my nights. The night air
sweeps through the large rectangular cuts where floor-to-ceiling windows would
eventually be installed, though no worker has appeared since I arrived in town.
The white stars twinkle down at us, granting us with their divine knowing. Having
Emma here with me is the utmost felicity. Her lips spread into a smile when she
sees what I’ve brought out.
Normally, the numerous pockets on my dark khaki pants would
be full of daggers, but I had to leave them behind to get through the metal detector.
The first time I entered, Emma apologized for it, saying too many ‘yay-hoos’ had
come in with their guns on their way out to or back from hunting trips. I
didn’t comment because I was hunting too. Although physical weapons would not
be of useful aid to me this time.
I tracked it to this area a week ago. It had been clinging
to the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to feed again. That wasn’t going
to happen though. Not while I was around.
out a bottle of wine, as well as a loaf of bread and a small block of cheese.
In my fantasy, we sit on the blanket and eat to our heart’s content. She tells
me about the books she reads, though I’m sure their content is too
sophisticated for my understanding. In my fantasy, I don’t eat alone.
There is a word for what I keep imagining. I’d once seen a
picture of two people eating on a blanket together on a massive sign by the
road when I was hunting in Ohio. They smiled and waved, their other arms locked
behind each other’s backs in half an embrace. I still couldn’t remember the
word. I eat alone and don’t talk to humans because I am not worthy. Not yet anyway.
But what is that word?
“Did you need help
finding anything?” Emma tipped the book away from her face to ask me the
I realized then that I’d been holding the same bottle of
wine for almost ten minutes.
Then it happened. Emma looked at me. Truly looked at me, so
that no matter how expert I am at staying hidden, I was completely and utterly
seen. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. My heart tripped over itself in
earnest as if waving its arms and crying out, ‘Yes, I see you too. I am so pleased
you see me.’
I hadn’t yet responded and my expression intensified toward
her. The only other customer in the store glanced over from the bourbon display
and raised an eyebrow in my direction. The man’s dirty blonde hair framed a
round face covered in scraggly facial hair not quite long enough to be a beard.
His eyes were skeptical, looking at me like he knew my every thought about the
woman behind the counter. He wore his camouflage trench coat unzipped, showing
off a black “Metallica” tee shirt. The coat still managed to nearly swallow up his
six-foot frame. I resisted the urge to squirm under the gaze of a lanky young man
with bad posture.
“Um.” I paused before walking toward Emma. “Yes, actually I’m not sure what I should purchase next.” I shouldn’t have engaged. It wasn’t tactical. There was no reason to do so, but I couldn’t help myself with those brown eyes boring into me.
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