Between collecting souls,
looking after Ryan,
and being Jack’s thug as he terrorizes other vampires, I haven’t had to time to work on my book. Or sleep. Or do anything at all. But despite everything, I made the time to meet with Michelle for dinner.
My heart was pounding as I walked over to the table Michelle was sitting at. She looked up and smiled at me.
“Hey,” she said. “You look great.”
“You too,” I replied, sitting down. “Why’d you pick this restaurant?”
She shrugged. “It’s not the fanciest place in town, but it’s way classier than eating fast food on a first date.” I browsed the menu and we placed our orders.
“So… what do you talk about during a first date?” I asked sheepishly.
Michelle snorted. “Oh my gosh. Don’t tell me you’ve never been on a date before.”
There was that one time in my third cycle when I went out with a guy for dinner. But I couldn’t really count that as a date since we didn’t get to finish it. And the reason why is because he choked on his food and I had to collect his soul shortly after. I really hope Michelle doesn’t die and make this awkward.
I shook my head and she clasped her hand to her mouth, holding back her laughter. “Well, on a first date you usually try to get to know each other,” she said after regaining her composure. “So, tell me about you. What makes you you?”
“I like reading books, and I’ve been trying to write one, but it’s kind of a mess right now.”
Michelle nodded approvingly. “A girl after my own heart. What’s it about?”
I blanched. I never talked about my work-in-progress book with anyone, even after almost two decades of working on it.
“Oh, uh, it’s kind of like a slice of life novel that just follows the main character around,” I mumbled.
“Really? You’re gonna make it that vague? Come on, just give me a brief synopsis. I won’t judge you even if it’s a raunchy romance novel.”
“The main character is, um, the grim reaper.”
Michelle’s eyes lit up. “That’s interesting. How did you come up with the idea?”
“I just thought it would be fun to write about the grim reaper. You know, see what her- I mean his- daily life was like,” I shrugged, trying to act nonchalant. “Anyway, what about you?”
“As for me, I like books, too. Pretty much the reason why I became a librarian,” she began. “My parents wanted me to go to med school, because everyone in my family is a doctor or nurse. But I’m just not that into treating people or saving lives. They refused to support me after I told them that, so I had to scrounge up whatever cash I could just to finish college.”
“Oh,” was all that I could say.
“Don’t feel bad for me, everything turned out well anyway. When I saw that the library here was hiring, I jumped at the opportunity. It fit all of my criteria: I get to surround myself with books, and I get to be as far away as possible from my family.” She took a long sip of her drink. “Anyway, enough about my sob story. What about your family? Are they as crazy as mine?”
“I don’t have any, actually. I’m an orphan,” I said my perfectly rehearsed lie. “I grew up moving from one foster family to another, so I don’t really have any place to call home.”
Michelle was quiet for a while. “Wow. I really sounded like an asshole whining about my family, huh?”
I laughed. “No, it’s fine. I don’t mind it.”
After getting past the awkwardness, we managed to talk all night, not realizing how long we’ve spent at that restaurant.
I kept stealing glances at her, too. She looked lovely tonight, and I hope she didn’t notice how much I stared at her.
But I think she stole glances at me, too, because I could feel her eyes on me while we ate.
Michelle and I walked home together. Adrenaline rushing through me, I awkwardly invited her inside. But she just laughed and said she had things to do so she took off.
I couldn’t stop smiling. How could going out with someone just once make me feel this way?
I was getting ready for bed when I heard a knock at the front door, snapping me out of my blissful daydreams. I glanced at the wall clock. “Who the hell thinks it’s okay to visit this late at night?” I muttered.
It was Angelo. I stepped outside and shivering as my bare feet made contact with the cool wood on the porch.
“What brings you here?” I asked.
“Hi, sorry for coming over so late, I have really weird shifts at the hospital,” he explained. “I’m here because you forgot your phone there. Lucretia asked me to get it back to you.” He handed my phone over.
So that’s why it seemed like nobody was dying today. I wanted to kick myself, and hoped I wouldn’t get scolded again for forgetting my duties.
“Oh my god. I’m so stupid. Thank you so much, Angelo. I’m sorry you had to go out of your way for me.”
“No worries. I’ll get going now, have a good night!” He waved as he stepped off the porch and walked away.
Time to check the damage. Surprisingly, no one really did die today, which was a relief. But after a few minutes of replying to texts and scrolling mindlessly through my social media, a notification popped up. I opened it. It was a soul dying just a short walk away from my house. I checked to see who it was and a lump in my throat formed.
It was Angelo. But maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was someone else who just had the same name. I went to the location, crossing my fingers, hoping it wasn’t him.
But it really was him. He was lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk, his breath shallow as he fought to stay conscious. I breathed shakily as I collected his soul, trying to ignore the familiar feeling of the killer’s eyes watching me. I don’t know why I felt this way, I didn’t even know the guy that well. But in a way, wasn’t this my fault? Didn’t he die because of my forgetfulness, because there was a murderer on the loose trying to get a reaper’s attention? I blinked away tears as I watched this boy I barely knew slip away.