Early Junior year, mom had to go to Starlight Shores to score a movie. It was only two months. Dad was called out there too. There was a special case, and he was being asked to help make a breakthrough in it. It was everything they had set out for when they were young. It just happened that they were happening at the exact same time.
They were taking the younger girls with them, but they didn’t want to rip us away from our school. Penny had scouts keeping an eye on her for college sports, and of course someone needed to keep an eye on her. Reluctantly, they left me in charge of everything and told me that the neighbors would help in anyway they could, and to contact them if Penny got out of hand.
The night after they left, I got a very unexpected phone call from a certain someone I had been avoiding for the last two years. Our lives ran in different circles. He was one of the popular crowd, along with his two brothers and my sister. I was always off by myself, or sitting at the lunch table with the other kids that kept to themselves. We liked life that way. And people from the popular crowd certainly never talked to us.
In this case, though, Penny had given him the name and number to ‘Lulu.’ The girl he’d met that night. Apparently she hadn’t told him that I was really Lucina Black, her little twinie. Her very, very uncool twinie. Of course, I found out all of this after attempting to hang up on him from the sheer nerves of hearing his voice on the phone. It was only with Penny’s begging (as per usual) that I took a deep breath and properly answered.
“Sorry, ah, about that. Phone troubles. It happens.”
“I absolutely understand!” he replied. “Hey, my friend Penny said you’d be at her place tonight. Is that true? Can I see you again?” See. Me. Again. He wanted to see me again. After two years! I had a little alien screaming about all the traps this was in my the back of my head, but I wanted to know why, so I agreed.
Of course, I wasn’t going to be unprepared. When he rang the doorbell, Penny was just finishing making me over. Again.
I wasn’t quite the same as that night, with the summer dress, but it looked just as nice.
“Lulu! Hello!” He paused. “You look exactly the same as you did…And here I was starting to think I’d just imagined you up!”
“No, I’m quite real.”
“That’s good.” He got a good laugh from that. “I’ve been looking for you. I thought this was supposed to be a small town.”
“It is. Why were you looking for me?”
“Because I wanted to see you again? Talk to you again?”
“Maybe take you to homecoming?” he said.
“You don’t even know me!”
“I’d really like to get to know you.”
“So let me get this straight. You see a mysterious girl at a popular dance club. The only girl that’s ever not been instantly enthralled with you, I’d presume?” A chuckle escaped from him.
“I suppose you could say that.”
“And you want to get to know her better based on that?” It occurred to me that I was shooting myself in the foot. Someone’s finally interested in me? Be a horrible brat to him. Really though, I had never been particularly interested in dating. Whenever I felt an urge to try, I always found some reason to brush it off. Why should now be different?
“Well, when you put it that way it sounds like I’m some sort of player.”
“Well, are you?”
“No! My brother might be, but that’s not my style. Not really. I mean, I did date around a bit back home, ah I mean in Bridge Port. Er…Sorry. It’s weird living here. After growing up there. You know?”
“Ah, yeah. Sure.”
“Would you like to sit down?” He was kind of cute, stumbling over himself like that. If I didn’t know better I’d think he was the one that had never been on a date before. Well, it can’t really be called a date if we were just hanging out on my front porch…
I suppose he could see the stunned look on my face. “Sorry, I don’t normally…act like this. I ah, I’ve just really been thinking…a lot about talking to you. You seemed so interesting. I wanted to know if I was, uhm, well, right about that. Uhm…Penny’s always told me all these interesting things about you.” Penny. Great. I wondered what I had to live up to. Perhaps a superstar award winning gymnast?
“You do realize that Penny has been known to lie from time to time, right? To look better to her friends?”
“Yeah, I noticed that. But who doesn’t in high school?” I was still quite skeptical, but he’d given me absolutely no reasons to not talk to him, at least this one time.
“Alright, alright, I give.” I gave him a big smile. “I have nothing to hold against you, so let’s sit down and chat.” And chat we did. For about an hour. But then…
It was ‘Night on Cuddle Bench, take two.’ This time, though, I didn’t shrug him off quite so quickly.
It was fantastic. Who would’ve known?
Turns out being cynical can sometimes keep some great things in life away. Not that I’m going to give up who I am. Just expand my horizons a bit.
Matthew didn’t need to be impressed by fancy sports skills or music skills or a high sense of fashion. He loved my art, and liked hanging out with me. A lot of times after school he would come home with me and watch TV while I painted. Of course we chatted a great deal (I know some people like just staring at the television but I’ve never been able to do that for the most part). He told me that he wanted to be a scientist, and I told him about my dreams of being a writer. Matthew was supportive of that dream, but kept hinting that I should try my hand at being a professional painter. He just wanted to see me fill the world with my art.
The news was taking some weird terms then, talking about this new ‘disease’ that was affecting people. That the shady people that hung out in the shadows had fangs and glowing eyes and wanted to eat us. I had to see a few reports before I realized they were actually taking this crap seriously. I think.
They liked showing clips from horror movies with vampires, so I couldn’t help but think this was some elaborate, stupid Halloween prank that they’d started producing very early.
“They’ll sneak into your bedroom while you sleep to turn you into one of them. Stay indoors after dark, and make sure you lock all your doors and windows, and hang wreathes of garlic at every point of entry to keep them out!”
“Do not listen to the old myths. If you encounter one, run. Find the nearest police officer and allow them to take care of the matter.” There was a pause on the news as they shuffled topics. They didn’t seem to be completely on top of the story they were presenting. “It may be surprising to old movie goers, but there are natural born vampires as well. That’s right folks. They can have children…”
Blah-de-blah. By that point Matthew turned the television off. I couldn’t blame him. It was all just so ridiculous.
“It’ll all be over after Halloween,” I tried assuring him.
“Yeah, you’re probably right.” I didn’t even notice the fear in his voice that evening.