Now, the real question: what do I do with this short story? Just leave it here on my blog? Bundle it up and put it on Amazon? Ideas warmly welcome!
~I pretended to be sick for the next couple of days. My parents didn’t think much of it and left me alone. Missing school at this point was a joke—the school year was a week away from being over and then I’d graduate.
Tuesday, I woke early and went to my post at the window, peering out into the golden dawn light. And I saw him. The creepy man from the Dairy Queen, sitting on the curb across the street, watching my house.
I was pissed. I got ready faster than I’d managed in twelve years of school, and walked outside to face him. He hadn’t moved since I checked five minutes before, and I approached him with fire burning through me.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing here?” I demanded, stopping a pace in front of him, hands on hips, looking forward to this battle more than I could admit.
“Waiting to see you.”
“Well, I’m here now. What do you want?” I snapped.
“I want to know how well you know James.”
Everything James had warned me about flashed through my mind. I had to play this very carefully. “He’s my boyfriend and a senior at school. I think that’s all that matters to you.”
The man uncurled from his hunched over seat and stood, a good foot taller than me. The random desire to chuck my hairbrush at him flitted through my thoughts.
“And if you knew what he really is, would that make a difference?”
“I know he’s a good man. He’s kind, honest, and treats me better than I could ever hope for. That’s what he really is. And you know, what? I love him. For all that he is.” I hadn’t voiced the words before and I still kick myself for saying them to the stranger and not James first.
“He’s never mentioned anything else?” The man leaned forward, like he was going to smell me.
I held my ground. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but maybe you’re missing my meaning. I know James Henniker. I know him. And even if there are things about him I haven’t learned yet, I know he’s exactly what I want.”
With that, I spun and went to the tank. I drove too fast the whole way to school and squealed the tires pulling into my parking spot. James waited for me, doing his best to not be amused at my arrival.
I stalked up to him, put both hands on his shoulders, and pulled him down for a good long kiss.
We finally broke apart when several people started clapping and cheering. I didn’t let go, keeping him close so he could hear me whisper, “I don’t care. I love you. Everything else is just a bonus. And if you want to stay, I know I’ll never want anyone else.”
James still denies it, but I know he was nearly in tears.
After graduation, James came to my house. My parents were still worried about how serious things had gotten, so ‘all of a sudden.’ If they only knew.
James had asked to be released. He’s told me since that he was so grateful to be allowed to do so on his own terms. The last thing he wanted was to be forced from the Sary.
I’ve heard a hundred other stories by now. So many things he’s seen and done, the pain and hope of far more years than I can imagine. Part of me feels guilty he’s giving it all up. That for me he would chose to become human—to die again.
He says that it’s more like he’s been waiting for this chance forever. That by becoming mortal, he’s gaining more than he ever thought possible.
There’s just one favor he’s asked me to do for him: set up my camera in the backyard. Once the house is empty—my parents left for the lake—I set things up in a secluded corner near an old dead tree my father is always promising to have removed.
James asks for some privacy. He hasn’t shown me his wings since the first time. I didn’t press. If he wanted to show me them, he would. But I get the feeling it’s just too painful.
When I ask him later about the photo, he shakes his head and smiles. “It’s a secret. I know I’ll probably have to burn it someday, but I don’t want to completely forget what I once was.”