Her

The first time that he noticed her it was… rather unimpressive, if he was honest. Life-changing first meetings of this manner are often described with heavy emotions, drawn out stares, pounding hearts and shaky legs.

None of this happened to any degree, she simply stared at him from across the café. He had just taken a sip from his tea cup, rubbing his eyes and turning in his seat to ask the barista for another apple pastry, but instead his eyes were drawn to a skinny pale woman sitting by herself next to the window. She had no drink in front of her and seemed to resolutely be staring in his direction, so when he caught her eye he smirked widely and waggled his eyebrows in her direction.

If she was embarrassed to be caught staring she did not show it, instead she met his gaze with an icy look in her eyes that made him cough nervously and turn back around.

‘Jeez, what have I done now?’ He thought to himself, but decided that perhaps he had misread the situation. Nevertheless, he didn’t turn back around, giving proper focus to completing his thesis for the first time in a while. By the time he deemed his work for the day done, stretching in his seat and massaging the back of his neck, he had forgotten about the girl altogether, and did not notice her still sitting by the window, glaring at his back.

The next time they were fated to meet was even stranger.

His latest conquest, a short chubby girl by the name of Sarah, had insisted their date be at the cinema, to watch some shitty rom-com that had been released the previous week. He didn’t notice until they were in line to enter the screen, but across the lobby stood the same girl from the cafe. This time her presence really began to unnerve him, she stood rigidly in place and stared at him with a blank face that still managed to convey animosity.

Nobody else seemed to acknowledge her presence, they didn’t even give her a glance, yet they still seemed to give her a large berth as they walked around the area where she stood. It was bizarre, although he knew that if she wasn’t staring at him specifically he’d probably just actively ignore her freakish aura altogether like everyone else.

‘Maybe she’s jealous of Sarah?’ He mused, that would explain why she was so hostile.

He hardened his resolve, standing up a little straighter and wrapping his free arm around his date. Sarah giggled, and he smiled down at her, turning his back to the strange girl and putting her out of mind.

Though his thoughts drifted back to the pale girl he managed to keep himself distracted during the film, in part by watching the lacklustre dialogue, and in part due to the inexperienced but passable handjob that Sarah gave him half way through the movie.

He gave Sarah a good fucking in his car before he drove her home, playing the part of a good boyfriend and waiting until she was safely inside her house before driving away.

After the cinema incident, he just kept seeing the pale woman. She was in the park while walking his dog, in mythology section of the library, in the grocery aisle at the supermarket. She was everywhere. 

He became paranoid, looking over his shoulder every few minutes and scanning every face nearby for a glimpse of pale skin. He lost his shitty cashier job, Sarah broke up with him for being ‘too distracted’, and to make matters worse he had to be put on sleeping pills since he couldn’t get to sleep once he started thinking about her following him.

Whatever this stalking was – an unrequited crush, an unknown grudge against his person, or any other obsessive reason, he wanted it to end now.

He finally decided enough was enough when he saw her lurking outside his apartment complex.

She smiled as he approached, throwing him off guard as he saw for the first time a human emotion on her face. However as he got closer he reevaluated his assessment, whatever that smile was it was inhuman. Her smile was crooked and false, like a mannequin or life-like animation. Almost there, but not quite, It didn’t reach her eyes and certainly seemed to be disingenuous.

It was now that he started to feel those heavy emotions, anxiety and fright wracked his body leaving his heart beating wildly and his legs feeling uncertain and ungainly as he kept striding forward. His clumsy steps came to a stop a few feet away from her, he opened his mouth to tell her to fuck off, or share some similar sentiment, however his breath caught and no sound came out as his struggled to swallow the lump that had grown in his throat.

His lungs seemed to stop working and his breathing – now seeming as loud as thunder – became irregular and short, as if someone had seized the tender flesh in a hard grasp.

The pale woman walked towards him, still grinning, and now he recognised it as his own grin from the café pasted unnaturally onto her own face. Had he been able to, he would have ran as fast as his legs could carry him, screaming bloody murder. However, his legs stayed fixed to the ground no matter how much he wanted to move them, and any potential screams died before they could leave his mouth.

He was powerless, to terrified to move, locked in paced by utter terror and fear. The only visible reaction could make was to let tears run down his face as he began to cry.

She tilted her head, like some sort of dog, blinking rapidly and staring at the tears as they ran down his cheeks.

“P-please,” Finally his voice relented, and he choked out the plea.

Her grin grew wider, and she struck.

His next words were garbled not by his terror, but by the blood bubbling from his mouth. He fell to the pavement, letting blood pool at his side where he had been mutilated. Sliced open, navel to jawbone like some sick Shakespearean play.

As he looked around blearily for his attacker he realised that he was alone.

She was gone, and then –  so was he.

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