All eyes were on Heven.
Why wouldn’t they be?
She was beautiful. There was something about her that people responded to that much was obvious. As I was about to turn away (wouldn’t be good to be caught staring), I saw a guy directly across from her reach out and brush a strand of her hair away from her face. He was grinning, like a cat that ate the mouse.
I didn’t like him.
In fact, I wanted to deck him.
But I wouldn’t. Why shouldn’t she be happy?
The lady at the counter slid a cup across the counter and I handed her a few dollars, grabbed the cup (turns out I ordered something hot) and walked away. The booth directly in front of the one Heven was sitting in was being vacated and the temptation to be close to her was too great. I tried not to think about how easy my vow not to get too close to her was disregarded as I casually walked over and slid in. I sat with my back to Heven, her back to me. I imagined that without the thick wood of the bench, our backs would be pressed together.
I took a sip of my drink, it was coffee and it was sweet (not bad but I preferred something else) and sat it down. Then I reached into my leather jacket and pulled out a comic and slapped it down on the table. It fell open and I left it that way. To anyone who looked I would look like someone who was enjoying a coffee with my read.
In actuality, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the book if I wanted too. I was closer than I had ever been to her before. Her voice captivated me, held me prisoner, I sat there drinking the okay coffee drink and not even tasting it.
They – she – was talking about a party, apparently the party of the year. It was going to be in a couple weeks and apparently everyone was going to be there. The girls were all excited, talking about cheerleading. Apparently Heven was just named next year’s varsity squad captain.
I was proud of her.
There wasn’t anything especially enthralling about their conversations; it was really more the sound of her voice and the feeling of camaraderie that they all had together that kept me involved. It had been a long time since I felt like I belonged any place or even to anyone like that. The familiarity they had with one another, the ease with which they teased and talked, it was something that I missed but not really something I had longed for. Until perhaps now.
I thought maybe that it was enough that she had this. That this was her world. She represented so much of what I had wanted for myself (except the head cheerleader thing – that would be weird.) and if it wasn’t meant for me then she was my choice for who should have it.
I don’t know how long I sat there, not quite part of, but as close as I could get to her world. It must have been a while because eventually her crowd started dwindling. I looked up and she was walking past the booth I was sitting in. I caught her profile as she walked by, and she was smiling.
“Drop me at the library?” She said to her red headed friend whose name I didn’t bother to catch.
The girl sighed dramatically. “Sure, then I’m going home to purchase an essay on the black market.”
Heven’s laugh lingered long after she’d gone.
I gathered my comic and tossed the mystery coffee in the trash and headed to the library.
The library was empty. It had been for about half an hour. The librarian just flicked the lights, reminding me, the last one here, that it was closing time. I stared down at the essay, still not complete. But it was almost done, I just needed more time.
I shouldn’t have spent so long at the café after cheerleading. I shouldn’t have gone at all. But I wanted to, and besides it was way more fun than this. With a sigh I pushed away from the table and went to find the librarian.
She was shelving books in the children’s section, humming softly.
“Excuse me.” I said, whispering. It was the library after all.
She turned and smiled. “Are you all finished then? Have a wonderful night.”
“Actually, I’m not. I’m almost finished, but I need some more time. I have this essay due tomorrow and…”
She smiled again, not seeming the least bit annoyed. “How much longer do you need?”
“Forty-five minutes?” I said, knowing it was more like an hour.
“Hmmm. All right then. Hurry and finish, I have some paperwork to do anyway.”
“Oh, thank you!” I rushed back to my seat and buried myself in my work. Sure enough, an hour later my back was stiff but I was done. I stood and packed everything in my bag. Thank goodness that was over. I was soo tired of homework. Thankfully, it was almost summer break.
“Thank you, so much.” I told the librarian on the way out the door.
“You’re welcome, have a great night!”
I let myself out into the cool night air. I couldn’t wait to get home and put on my PJs. It had been a long day but a good one. Things were going so good. They couldn’t get any better.
I had no idea how quickly things could change.
The library closed an hour ago but I still hadn’t seen Heven come out. It was dark outside and there was no sign of her ride. It was possible that she went out the back door but I would have seen, I would have heard, but I knew she hadn’t gone out the back because the front door pointed her in the direction of her house.
I paced the street and all the dark shadows that I could conceal myself in while waiting impatiently for her to come out. What if something was wrong? What if she needed help?
I had just made up my mind to go in there when the front doors opened and Heven stepped out. She slung her backpack over her shoulder and looked off down the street in the direction of her house.
I melted further into the darkness, preparing to follow once she was a bit further ahead.
My attention slipped away from her when I heard someone nearby. The monster appeared in front of me, grinning like the Cheshire cat.
“What have we here?”
I had no explanation. I got caught watching the one person I was suppose to not care about, the one person I was supposed to pretend didn’t exist.
“We had a deal; you broke your end of the deal.”
Before I could do anything else I was alone, the monster disappeared into the night.
Moments later, I heard a scream.