The Real Me
by Susan Anwin
We were part of this group at high school, almost all of us human
(me passing as one), and for a while all was well, so much so that
sometimes even I forgot what I was. They were my friends, and we hung
out during breaks and after school and spent the summer holidays at
each other's cottages. I fit in seamlessly, and good that I did. It is
vital for my kind to blend in. It shouldn't be too hard as at first
glance we look just like humans. The problem starts when we develop
feels for them.
Of course the good times couldn't last. Lucy joined the class in 7th
grade; I knew she was bad news the minute she stepped through the door.
She took bullshit from noone; she had that kind of fearless bravado
that put even us boys in shame. She stole from shops and sneaked into
abandoned factories as a pastime. Of course she became a member of our
group in no time. She was the one to find us new headquarters when our
old one got discovered. But not only that; despite her lousy grades she
was very much awake. You could talk with her about everything and
anything. Seeing her soon became the high point of my day. Of course I
was very much aware of the danger this implied. I won't be able to hide
the truth much longer; I was developing a crush. I had to break the
news to my family as this might affect them as well.
"What have you done?" my mother sat by the kitchen table, somehow collapsed in on herself.
"It's not his fault," my father countered her with weary
resignation. "He's at that age. We'll have to move again and keep a low
profile for a while."
I wanted to protest. I liked living in this town, here was a place
where I finally felt welcome, but I was not in a position to complain.
I brought this on us.
There was no way around it; I had to say goodbye to my friends, and
to Lucy of course. The little defect of my kind is widely known, it's
how we are identified by prospective hunters. See, when we fall in
love, we undergo certain... changes.
The following weeks we were busy packing and moving our whole lives
to yet another city. I tried to see Lucy as little as possible. The
hunch that she wasn't completely indifferent towards me either didn't
make it any easier. I could already feel some of the changes in me.
Sometimes I had to leave my friends abruptly with some fake excuse and
withdraw into a toilet stall, preferably outside hearing distance.
I couldn't delay it any longer. It was our last day together, all
the guys looked as listless as I felt. After we said our final
goodbyes, I turned to Lucy. "Can we talk in private?"
My closest friends knew about my feelings, but for once they decided not to be jackasses about it.
Lucy and I went in a little further among the trees where we were
outside seeing and hearing distance. I followed her and knew with a
wistful certainty that it was the last time I saw her dark red curls
bounce in the hazy sunshine.
"So, the thing is..." I had no words to explain her, all I could
hope was that she would be as fearless and cool about it as she was
about anything else usually. I could already feel the change taking
over me, so maybe all I had to do is let it speak for me and hope Lucy
She paled to a ghostly white hue under her freckles. I know the
change is a lot to take in if it's your first time seeing it, but it
still hurt to see the shock and repulsion on her face. I don't have the
ability to speak in this form, so all I could do is watch her bolt
screaming from the clearing, the only sound in the ensuing silence
before the clamor of the hunters began, was the sound of my heart
© 2018 Susan Anwin
Susan Anwin was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary.
Her flash-fiction "Talk of Armadale trees" was featured in the
anthology My Favourite Place, published by the
Scottish Book Trust in 2012. Her short stories "Fog-People", "Eddie's
Lousy Saturday", "You'll die as fish", "People of the Green Cloud",
"Dragonfly-man", "Daddy is Driving the Car", "Soul for Sale", "Dark
Sister" and "The Man Who Broke Time" were published by Aphelion
in 2016 and 2017.
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