The night had gone just as planned. Both were veterans of the dating game and were careful to avoid early mistakes inside the dimly lit arena. He had brought a rose. She had not ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. But it was almost halftime and Ben always got nervous around halftime.
He had been anxiously anticipating this evening since the moment he saw her. Flashing lights and a flat tire had stopped him on a rainy night as he traveled home from work. That simple act of kindness was rewarded by a girl who had traveled to Europe and China, loved college football, laughed at his bad jokes just to be nice, and never texted LOL. Her black hair hung in waves past her cinnamon shoulders. The confidence in her brown eyes met his with a hint of teasing.
When her phone rang Ben smiled and held his breath. Halftime. This was “the call”. Her best friend would be calling to give her an excuse to leave if the date was not going the way she wanted.
“I’m better in the second half.” Ben mumbled to himself.
“What was that?”
“Oh. Nothing.” Idiot!
He casually looked around the restaurant and tried to hide that he was hanging on her every word.
“So where were we?”
His head snapped back and she was smiling knowingly at him.
Ben was better in the second half. He told her about the time that he and a friend had gone to Vegas when they turned 21. She leaned in close as he showed her pictures on his phone from his travels to Haiti to help build an orphanage. He meant it when he told her how beautiful she looked.
They laughed and shared thoughts on life until the waiter informed them that the restaurant would be closing in 15 minutes.
The announcement hit Ben like an alarm threatening to wake him from a beautiful dream. His mind struggled about what to do. He did not want this night to end and from the look in her eyes, neither did she.
“I know this seems forward, but would like to come back to my apartment for some coffee. I don’t usually do this, but I would really like to keep talking with you. I know it’s late and you don’t really know me so I would understand if you…”
“I’d love to.”
She laughed. “No funny business though.”
“Scouts honor.” Ben said as he held up the live long and prosper sign.
She laughed again.
Proof that Ben had not planned on having anyone over was scattered across the living room and kitchen of his small apartment. He scrambled to pick up the clutter.
“Sorry about the mess. Let me just throw this stuff in the bedroom…”
She sat down on the couch amused and watched as he plucked a pair of tennis shoes off the kitchen table. When his arms were full he walked to his door down the hall to unload them.
From the back of the apartment he call out, “Close your eyes.”
“I thought we agreed. No funny business.” There was a laughter in her voice.
Ben replaced the load in his arms with his puppy Benji. He peeked around the corner to make sure her eyes were closed and they were. Ben added that to the list of things that made this girl so amazing and sat down next to her on the couch.
The smile on her face melted away as her eyes grew wide in surprise.
“This is Benji.” Ben set him down in her lap and the energetic puppy immediately jumped up and licked her face.
She let out a scream and covered her face with her hands.
“Don’t worry. He’s friendly!”
Through her hands she yelled, “I’m deathly allergic to dogs!”
“Oh crap! I’m sorry!”
Ben scooped up Benji and ran to put him back in his room. When he returned she still covered her face with her hands.
“What do we need to do? Can we get some medicine from Walgreens?”
Her voice seemed calmer now, but deeper. For a second he thought that her throat might be constricting.
“I said I’m deathly allergic. The allergic part is for me, but deathly part was for you.”
She raised her head, revealing her face as it seemed to shift beneath her skin. The whites of her eyes had disappeared leaving only inky black. They were no longer human. The joy in them was gone. It had been replaced by hunger.
(Happy Halloween Everybody!)
Copyright © 2011 Adam Drake