Life on Pause
She was here for the fifth night in a row. She was expecting you. She had to be, at this point. Why else would she have waited in the park until after dark?
“Are you stalking me?” you ask her with a smile. The grin she returns to you shines bright in the milky darkness.
“I dunno,” she says. You don’t stop as you pass her, so she moves to follow you. “Do you want me to be?”
“That’s creepy.”
“Not as creepy as hanging out in a haunted library all day, only leaving when it’s witching hour!” She cackles.
You snort and give her shoulder a nudge. “Hey, a job is a job. It’s helping to pay the bills, so–”
“I forget that you’re older than me,” she interrupts. “You’re so short.”
“You’re so tall,” you protest.
The two of you tease each other relentlessly as you walk back to your apartment complex. The night is silent except for your voices. She talks about her classes, and you make up lies about your job. She remarks that the first time she saw you, she thought you were a vampire. You laugh nervously.
“Well, you know by now that this is my place,” you say when you reach your building. She smiles. Standing in the light cast from the windows, she looks luminescent.
“Goodnight, Victoria,” she says, taking a step back.
“Goodnight, Lena.” Something in your chest clenches. Watching her walk away, you want to call out to her, make her stay. But you can’t. You can’t get any closer to her than you already are. This casual friendship, this unspoken routine, is as far as your relationship can extend. So instead of inviting her inside, you climb the stairs to your apartment, your heart heavy.
You don’t age.
You’ve been twenty-three for more years than you can count. Ever since you gave your dinner to an old woman who turned out to be a fairy, you’ve been “blessed” with immortality.
It’s more of a curse, if anything. You’ve been forced to remove yourself from any personal relationships, and it’s impossible to stay in any place longer than a few years. If anyone found out about your extended lifespan, you’d be questioned and experimented on and thrust into a spotlight you don’t want anything to do with. No, much better to fade into shadows, working odd jobs at odd places, never letting yourself stand out.
You don’t know why Lena noticed you. You were leaving the library at sundown, just like you do every day, when she approached you and asked about the book in your hands.
Five nights later, the two of you had fallen into something akin to a friendship, but it can’t last. Not when she has a future ahead of her, and all you would do is put her life on pause.
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