By Melissa L. Webb
Photo of an alley in Gion at night using HDR (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I stepped out of the restaurant, a sigh of disappointment on my lips. That was 3 hours of my life I couldn’t get back. 3 hours waiting for a man who had never shown.
He seemed so eager to get together. I honestly thought this one might have potential. I thought he might be someone who could help drive the loneliness away.
But in the end he turned out to be just like all the rest of the men I had dated. An irresponsible, unreliable jerk that could care less if he broke someone’s heart.
Well that was just fine. I didn’t need him. I didn’t need anyone.
“May I get your car for you, Miss?” the attendant asked as I stepped into the chilly night air.
“No,” I told him with a smile I didn’t feel. “I parked down the street. But thank you.”
He looked at me, uncertainty in his eyes. Are you sure you’ll be all right to walk alone? It’s awful dark out there and…well…”
I knew I looked like a fragile thing, but after being as hurt as often as I was, you build up scar tissue. I was tougher than I looked because of it. Besides, I was pissed. I’d like to see someone try me.
“I’ll be fine,” I told him. “It’s not too far away.”
He nodded but still seemed unsure. “Have a good evening,” he called as I headed down the sidewalk.
I definitely hoped it would get better. The night was still young. Maybe I could still enjoy my evening if I tried.
I weaved through the crowds of people out for a night on the town. They all looked so happy. So normal. Smiling faces with someone who cared about them by their side.
It wasn’t fair. All I wanted was to be loved. I wanted to feel like I was important in someone’s world. Was that really too much to ask?
As I stepped onto a side street, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I shivered as a certain sense of foreboding came over me. I could feel eyes sweeping over me, watching me with close intensity.
I quickened my step, knowing my car wasn’t too far away. I needed to get to it. Fast. I would be safe inside, headed home and away from any trouble the night had to offer.
The sound of footsteps echoed behind me, out of sync with my own. My pursuer was growing bolder. They had stopped watching and were now on the move.
I was being followed.
Whoever it was, they were growing closer by the minute. Their gunshot-like footsteps ricocheting off the brick buildings around me, making it hard to determine exactly how close they were. I knew they couldn’t be far behind. If the goose bumps covering my flesh were any indication, then they were practically breathing down my neck.
I was never going to make it to the car. Boy, this night was not going to end well.
I ducked into an alley, planning to make my stand. I was tired, cold, and emotionally raw. They chose the wrong night to make me angry. I didn’t care what it cost me; my stalker wasn’t walking away without some damage.
A shadow stepped into the alley, causing me to take several steps back. This was really happening. I was going to be a victim of some back alley violence. And I’d really thought the night couldn’t get any worse.
“Annie?” a voice filled with worry and doubt swept through the alley.
I recognized it immediately. It was the jerk who stood me up. “Oliver? What are you doing here?”
He stepped forward, the moonlight illuminating him. “I’m sorry I’m late. I saw you leaving as I arrived. I was hoping to catch you before you got in your car. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
He had startled me. Very much. I was just glad he spoke before I tried to protect myself. Things would have been very bad if he hadn’t.
But…I was still angry he stood me up. He wasn’t forgiven for that. Not yet.
“What happened? Why were you late?” I asked him, hating the pout in my voice. I was better than that, but the loneliness was taking its toll.
“I had a flat tire and my phone was dead. I know it sounds lame, but it’s the honest-to-God truth.”
He was right. It sounded lame all right. Did he really think I was dumb enough to fall for that? “You expect me to believe that?”
“Please,” he said, shortening the distance between us. “I would never have intentionally done this to you. I like you too much. I want this to work.”
I wanted to believe his words. I wanted to think he was different from the rest, but I had been hurt too many times. If he’d treat me like this now, how would he act when he learned the truth?
“I need someone in my life, Oliver. Someone I can count on.”
“I can be that, Annie. I swear. Don’t let this stupid accident keep us apart.”
I watched the sincerity dance through his eyes. He honestly thought he wanted to be with me. But how could I even dare to hope?
“I need someone who’s compassionate, honest, caring, and loyal. Can you be those things?”
“Yes, I can.”
“Can you be sweet, and fun, and always happy to see me?”
“Yes, Annie. I can be all those thing. Just let me make this up to you. Please.”
“I need a companion. One who will stand by me. Even when I tell them I’m a witch.”
Oliver froze, confusion sliding over his face. “You’re a…what?”
I felt my heart sink. He was just like the rest of them. I should have known better than to risk my heart again. He would never accept me. No one ever would. I was a freak. One that was meant to be alone forever.
“Just leave,” I told him, wanting to be free of him before the tears came.
He backed up slowly, still confused by my confession.
All I wanted was an end to my loneliness. Someone to greet me when I came home. Someone I could share my life with. Someone to make my house feel less empty.
Devotion, faithfulness, loyalty. These were words I had been chasing all my life. And I had never found them in another person before.
And I realized then, what my problem was. I was a witch. I didn’t need a human. I didn’t need a man’s love to feel needed.
“Oliver,” I said, stopping him before he could leave. “I’ve changed my mind. You get to make it up to me after all. Seems I don’t need a date. I just need a familiar. And I think you’d make a perfect one.” I smiled as the man’s form changed, hair turning to fur right before my eyes.
- Chapter 1- Friday Flash (melissalwebb.wordpress.com)