Savior: Chapter 6
Over the next month the deep freeze set in. Blanketing our city with a glistening covering of snow, contrasting against the grey skies, and bone chilling wind. Normally, I would have given up on my quest. Become bored with it after a few weeks and moved on to my next short term obsession. But this was different. My fathers anger and violence toward me was escalating. What used to be occasional, random outbursts, were now occurring almost daily.
I started being home less and less, to avoid the hateful confrontations. I’d save my lunch money and just ride around in random trains, killing time until nightfall. Then I’d unload and look for HIM. Of course, I never found him, or any other vampire for that matter. How could I? Like Kim said, this city is just too damn big. I was on a fools mission and I knew it, but I couldn’t stop. It was like my life would lose all meaning if I didn’t keep searching. Somewhere in my mind I had turned this mysterious, handsome vampire boy into a messiah. My savior. He was my path to freedom. I didn’t know how or why, he just was. Something told me he knew it, too. He felt it. Even though I have not seen him during my search, there have been times when I’ve felt him near. Some foreign energy buzzing faintly in my head. A heightened sense of awareness. This beacon always became stronger, the closer I got to the point of origin. As much as I tried to avoid that place, I somehow knew that’s where the answers would be found.
I started dressing only in black, locking a dark hat, low on my brow. I’d stay in the shadows and slowly creep along the storefronts toward the alley. Always making sure to stay out of view from the coffee shop and Jasmine. If I crouched down in a certain spot, I could see her in there. I swear she knew I was there, too. She’d take long glances out of the front window. How did she know I was there, wrapped in these shadows? How come she had to work every single night?
One night I was sitting against a brick wall, a few dark blocks from the alley, with my knees drawn up to shield me from the cold. I had hit the proverbial wall. Given up. This search was stupid and pointless. My life was stupid and pointless. What am I doing out here every night? Searching for some made up dream? Putting my fate in the hands of some nameless stranger who doesn’t even know I exist? This has to end. I’m pathetic.
As I was about to get up and head for home, a voice broke the silence, startlingly so.
“Tyler? What are you doing out here?”
I looked over and saw the unmistakable silhouette of Jasmine standing a few feet away. Not really feeling the energy to explain myself, I buried my head back between my knees.
“Are you hurt? Do you need help?”
“I’m fine. Well I might need help, but that’s nothing for you to do.”
She stepped in beside me and sat down. “What do you mean? I might be able to help.”
“Nah. I’m a stupid idiot and I just realized it. Nothing to help with.”
“I don’t know you real well, but you seem pretty smart to me. Why are you sitting out here in the cold? Can I take you somewhere?”
“Nah. It’s cool.”
“Well, I don’t have a car, but I could walk with you. Where do you need to go?”
“Why don’t you come home with me. Eat something. Get warmed up. I’m only a few blocks from here. Come on.”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on. I won’t bite.”
She stood up and held her hand out to me, “besides, I might be able to help you find what you’re looking for.”
That last statement definitely caught my attention. I looked up from the sidewalk and saw her hand and a piercing, electric smile. I reluctantly took her hand, and obediently followed her to her apartment.
Walking into her place was like entering a different dimension. It was like a dimly junk shop, with odd things displayed everywhere you looked. The first thing I saw was a display case filled with crystal figurines, backlit in blue. Dragons and wizards. She had one of those energy balls. Gargoyles. Statues. Paintings. Beaded doorways. Everything. It was a haunting, yet alluring little apartment. She put on some gothic sounding music at a low volume, and lit some incense.
“Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be back in a minute,” she said, as she disappeared through one of many beaded doorways, leaving me alone in this museum of strange. I removed my backpack and coat, and slouched into a low couch.
She returned a few minutes later, holding two large mugs. She was now wearing only a black tank top, displaying tattoos that covered all of her visible skin. I got caught up staring at her colorful chest, and didn’t realize she was handing me one of the mugs.
“It’s ok. Why get them if you don’t want people to see them. Here. Drink this. It’ll warm you up.”
I cupped the heavy mug with both hands and brought it to my lips. What hit my tongue was a spicy, yet citrusy warm liquid, like nothing I’ve ever tasted before.
“You like? It’s my own concoction, loosely based on an old Balkan tea.”
“Yeah. It’s good. Thanks. I really like your place. Do you live alone here?”
“Kind of. My roommate is in Europe for an undetermined period of time. He still pays his rent, so whatever. You don’t think there’s too much stuff in here? That’s what Stan always says.”
“No. No. I think it’s cool.”
Just then a black cat came out of nowhere and landed next to me on the couch. I jumped, but somehow managed to not spill.
“Oh! Sorry. Tyler, meet Vlad. He’s my cat and I think he likes you. He usually doesn’t come out of hiding for strangers. You must have good energy.”
“You’re too cute.”
We sat, sipping tea in silence for a while. Jasmine was a strange girl for sure, but I didn’t feel threatened by her. She was calm and kind, but different from anybody I’d ever met before. Not that I’d met many people to begin with.
“So, do you go to school?”
“Yeah. Ninth grade.”
“I remember ninth grade. Haha. I was very…awkward. I hadn’t really found myself yet. You seem way more comfortable with yourself at your age than I was.”
“I don’t know. I just am who I am. Nothing special.”
“But you are special. Just by saying what you said tells me that. You are you. An individual. Not a pack follower.”
“Having no friends doesn’t make me an individual.”
“I beg to differ. You’ll see. The friends will come. Once they grow up and get over all the bullshit. So, besides school, what do you like to do?”
“I saw that…at the coffee shop. Do you have a portfolio? I’d like to see what you draw.”
I reached for my backpack and looked inside. “I just have like a sketch book in here.”
“It’s not my best stuff.”
“Suit yourself. Bring your best stuff by the coffee shop sometime. I’d love to see what you draw. I do some drawing myself.”
“Really? Can I see?”
“I’d have to dig it up. Another time.”
Just behind her, I could clearly see a drawing pad and pencils scattered around a table. She just lied to me, and a slight twinge of panic washed over me. She really wanted to get inside my sketchbook for some reason. That little panic started to grow and my imagination started to take me to some very dark places. I needed to get out of here. Something was telling me I wasn’t safe. I scrambled through my mind, trying to come up with a good escape plan, when I felt a hand on my knee.
“You need to relax. Have a little fun.”
Jasmine had reached across the coffee table and started to massage my knee. Her touch was electric. Like it could burn me if she wanted. She leaned in closer, as the arc of her hand broadened. Now encompassing my entire thigh with a strange, warm and tingly feeling.
“Why do you always look so sad Tyler? Life doesn’t always have to be so heavy. So serious.”
She stood up and eased herself onto the coffee table, closing the space between us. Her hand returned to its place on my thigh, tracing a pattern on my denim. I kept my hands in my lap, and my gaze fixed on her moving hand. I didn’t know what to say, or what to do. This was new territory for me. I didn’t know if this was seduction, or if I was about to be eaten alive. In my fourteen years, I had never even held hands with another girl. Yet here I was, in an apartment with a much older girl. A no doubt, experienced girl. I couldn’t even be sure if she was human. All her words and movements seemed so calm, and so calculated. As if this was previously mapped out and planned. I felt like an insignificant bug, tangled in Jasmine’s web. Easy prey. As her hand circled in closer and closer to my center, I felt myself submit.
She reached for my hand with her free hand, and held it.
“So sad and so lonely. Doesn’t anybody ever show you love? Everybody deserves love.”
Her hand left my thigh and slid under my shirt along my side. Long delicate strokes, spanning from my ribcage to my waist. It felt so incredibly good. Inviting. Her touch was so addictive.
“Who’s hurting you Tyler? I can read it in your eyes. Where does this pain come from?”
As the words left her lips, her hand glided to the center of my chest, massaging the guard around my fragile heart. I felt my temperature rise. My cheeks were starting to burn. I needed air. Cold, fresh air.
“I can make the pain go away.”
Her hand descended down my chest, to my abdomen. I felt the snap on my jeans give way. My heartbeat pounded so loud in my ears, I thought I might pass out.
“I…I…sho…I should probably get going, you know. My…my mom…is probably wondering where I am.”
I made an effort to stand up out of the deep couch. Jasmine did very little in the way of making room for me. She simply sat there silent and expressionless. Now standing, I was kind of trapped between her legs. I awkwardly reached for my coat, trying not to tip over in the process. Finally Jasmine stood up herself, giving me a few more inches to work with. As I fumbled with my sleeves, I said “thanks for showing me your place and…and tea.”
Her hands reached for the bottom edge of my coat. As she zipped it up for me, she let her hand brush up against my young excitement, pushing painfully out from my jeans. A knowing smile spread across her pale face, as she allowed her touch to linger there.
“Th…thanks. I better…umm…g…go.”
Keeping her smile, she said, “come over any time Tyler. I mean it.” As she steered me toward the door, she added “see you at the shop? Soon?”
It wasn’t until I heard the latch of the door closing behind me, that I allowed myself to exhale. I had to steady myself, with support from the wall, as I navigated my way to the entryway. My thoughts clouded and dizzy. I didn’t feel like myself at all. Like maybe I was drugged. I dug deep within myself, to find a way to get out of here and as far away as possible. I heaved open the big glass door and was enveloped by the welcoming hands of winter. The bitter coldness penetrated me, knocking the cobwebs out of my fogged over mind.