“Who are you, and what are you doing on my porch?”
A tall teenage boy stood short of the porch steps, glaring at the man lounging on the porch in suspicion. The man only smiled infuriatingly, showing slightly elongated canines. Eli took a step back as the man got up from his porch swing and prowled towards him, stopping right in front of Eli. Eli stared hard at the man’s strange, steely-gold eyes (Contacts for sure, he thought), hating that he had to slightly tilt his head up to meet his gaze.
“Who am I indeed?” The man’s voice was velvety, soft as the night. He flashed another smile that showed all his teeth, but didn’t quite reach his eyes. “I go by many names. It’s hard to simply choose one.” Something feral flashed behind his the gold as he studied Eli “You may call me D.”
Eli almost scoffed. You may. Who does this guy think he is? But he held his ground, a current of impatience running through his voice as he said, “If you’re looking for my mom, you’re going to have to wait. She’ll come home in about twenty minutes.” He had his one year anniversary with his girlfriend Issa tomorrow. He couldn’t waste time on this guy.
“Oh no no no.” The man- no, D, shook his head emphatically, further to prove his point. He leaned in closer, too close, in Eli’s opinion. “I’m here for you.”
D started walking around, sauntering even, as he poked at the windchimes hanging up on their porch and kicked at the hideous garden gnomes Eli’s mom loved to annoy the neighbors with in curiosity. As if he’d never seen them before. “You have a girlfriend right?”
Eli choked, as if the wind got knocked out of him. How did he even know about Issa? Eli really wanted to back away slowly from D, now looking at him inquisitively, but something in the back of his head told him to stay, listen to what the man had to say, and remember it. Even though every cell in his body was telling him this was creepy, weird, scary, and about a billion more emotions Eli couldn’t explain. This man defied the laws of the world. Eli could feel it in his bones.
“You better not do anything to Issa,” Eli warned, in a way he hoped was menacing. He even went as far to take a step towards D, fist halfway curled in.
D laughed. “Oh no no no. I don’t want anything to do with this Issa. Which is why I’m here.”
Eli was afraid to hear the answer. “W-why?”
“Because I can. And because I want to make a deal.”
“What kind of deal?” Eli asked hesitantly, knowing that once he heard it, there was no going back.
D stood up from where he crouched looking at a beetle, dirt getting on his otherwise immaculate crisp clean suit. He stretched up to his full height. “One that involves your girlfriend’s life.”
Eli actually hissed between his gritted teeth. “I thought you said you didn’t want anything to do with her!”
“I don’t.” D stalked closer to Eli, and Eli tried to find any hint that he was lying in his cold, fall-colored eyes. “But sometimes life takes what it wants with no regard to anything else.” Holding Marc’s green gaze, he added, “Cassandra Simons will die tomorrow at exactly 5:11 PM in an unfortunate automobile accident, on her way home from her anniversary celebration. With you.” D smirked. “Did I mention you were the one driving?”
Eli almost felt a panic attack coming on. “This- what you’re telling me is true?”
“Of course! Whyever would I lie?”
“Are you saying that in return for my girlfriend’s life, I have to give you something of my own?”
“You’re a smart boy. I knew you would get it.”
“Then what- what do you want?” Eli reached around to his backpack, fumbling with the zippers, the heavy load almost forgotten when he saw D at his house on his way home from school. He glanced up at the perfect looking man in front of him (even Eli had to admit that), peering through his tawny hair. “I- I have money.” Was this man really making him so afraid that he had to stutter??
D barked out a spurt of laughter. “Money! You mean that human currency? Don’t make me laugh!”
Eli noticed with narrowed eyes that he said human, as though he wasn't one. And he was already laughing. “Then what do you want?”
D shrugged, a languid, carefree motion. “Nothing that has a solid form.” He rather deliberately chewed on his bottom lip, menace sparking in his eyes as he showed off his sharper than normal canines. “An eye for an eye, a life for a life, am I right?”
Eli felt his heart skip a beat. “You want my life.” It was more of a statement than a question.
“Your life is worth more to me than hers anyways.” D’s lips twisted up into a smile. “What better anniversary gift to get her?”
Oh how I hate this man. Does he take pleasure in this? But Eli didn’t stop himself, even as he felt himself grow sick, as he replied, “OK then. But you better not touch her then, got it man?”
D yawned. “Yada yada. Got it. Deal made.”
Eli grabbed D by the elbow when he made to turn away. “Who are you?”
D gave his most brilliant smile yet. “You can call me a collector of some sorts.”
As Eli let D go, he didn’t look back as he unlocked the door and went into his house. Eli still couldn’t believe he made a deal with that man, not even knowing why he did so in the first place. He wasn’t one to trust strangers so easily and yet. . . Going into his room, he took a glance out the window as he dropped his backpack to the ground. He made a sputtering sound as he noticed D still hanging around on his property, bending down to check his reflection in their old car’s side mirror. How vain.
And yet Eli could’ve sworn he heard D murmur as he brushed away his raven locks, “Do his eyes really see me as this?”
His supposedly last day. Time to see if the deal really held true.
He watched as he fussed in front of the mirror, tightening and loosening his tie.
He watched as he got in the same car he was fated to die in, picking her up and going to the movie theater, then their favorite restaurant.
He watched as he nervously went through dinner, laughing at her jokes.
Catching wisps of her brilliant red hair.
Keeping a few notes of her laughter tucked near his heart.
Promising to cherish her gift.
Then one last photo together. If things went right, his last.
Then finally going into the car, dropping her off at her house, him driving.
How he took one last look at her, ultimately not paying attention to the light.
How that lead to the truck crashing through, the driver himself distracted.
How it was him who died, how it missed her by mere inches.
The too late ambulance. The tearful driver. The shocked pedestrians (that of course took pictures).
And how she screamed.
Death couldn’t help but grin as he swooped down and took Eli away, making sure not to touch the girl, raven hair flying inconveniently in front of his eyes.
Ah, human misery. Never a more delicious sound.
Issa walked dazed in the rain. She had just been discharged from the hospital, and had refused her friends or family offering to bring her home. She wanted to go for a walk in the park instead. She tilted her head up towards the sky, closing her eyes as she felt the cool, wet rain run in rivulets down her face, into the hollow of her throat. Cleaning off the last of her makeup. Washing away who she used to be.
Eli didn’t deserve this, she thought dimly, barely hearing herself over the rushing torrents of water, soaking her utterly. Until she was the only one left standing outside. The rain pasted the dress she specially bought for that occasion to her skin, the dress she would never wear again. She welcomed the discomfort.
“How long are you going to stand there, Cassandra Simons?”
Sighing slightly, Issa turned her head back down, opening her eyes, not bothering to wipe away the droplets gathered at the ends of her eyelashes. “Who are you?” she asked dully, not even bothering to ask how the stranger knew her name. She just didn’t care anymore.
The woman smiled, showing pointed canines. Her mane of black hair spilled over her shoulders as her golden eyes glinted with some otherworldly emotion. She sat on the edge of a now turned-off fountain a few feet or so ahead of Issa. Her hands were clasped together in the middle of her black frock, feet encased in tall, spiky heels.Her whole being seemed sweet like poisoned sugar.
“I go by many names, “ the woman simpered. “D is fine.”
“Why are you here?”
The corners of her lips turned ever outwards, showing gleaming white teeth.
“How would you like to make a deal with me, Issa?”