I slipped my black hoodie over my head and put the hood up. I shimmied into my black skinny jeans and laced up my black Converse. I looked at myself in the gold-rimmed ceiling-to-floor mirror and smiled. I would totally blend into the night. I opened my bedroom door and poked my head out. I could hear my dad's football game from down the stairs and could smell my mom's facial cream that she wore to bed every night from her bedroom. I quietly closed my door.
I crossed my room to the window. I stuck one leg out and hesitated. Am I really going to do this? I asked myself. Hell yes. I stuck my other leg out the window and stared at the dark ground below me.
“God help me,” I muttered and jumped.
I landed on the damp grass with a soft thud, but I stood up and scampered to the sidewalk. I started walking to the park that was three blocks away without looking back.
The night air was cool against my cheeks and a chill rocked through me. I shoved my hands into my hoodie’s pockets and huffed a hot breath that blew my bangs off my forehead for a second. A red car zoomed past, the driver giving me a look. But I kept my eyes ahead of me and forced myself to not think about what I was doing.
When the park was in sight, time slowed down. It seemed like hours had passed by the time I actually sat down on one of the swings on the swing set. I anxiously made circles in the sand with my feet as I waited.
“Blaire.” A cold, sullen voice broke the silence.
My head snapped up to see Damien standing in the pale light of the streetlight. He was across the park, but I could see him pretty clearly. My heart fluttered, despite the little warning bells that went off in my head.
“You came,” he said and took a few steps closer.
I didn’t move or say anything. I just stared at him. He didn’t look like a zombie at all. He didn’t have the decomposing flesh or the hungry look in his eye like all the stereotypes suggested. Damien looked normal—normal enough that I’d fallen for him. “Zombie” only meant that he’s been dead but was now alive. When he told me three weeks ago, I’d run away and hadn’t contacted him since. But yesterday he emailed me, telling me to meet him at the park at midnight.
I don’t even know why I came. Impulse, maybe? Curiosity?
“How are you?” he asked me and kept walking towards me.
I kicked at the sand. “How do you think?”
I heard him sigh sadly.
For a few minutes, the only noise I heard was his approaching footsteps and my uneven breathing. Then I could see his worn Nike shoes, standing in the sand in front of me. I steeled myself, and looked up at him.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I was expecting his face to look different to me now that I knew what he was. But he looked the same—his blue eyes were still soft and intruiged, his small nose was still lightly freckled, his mouth was still in his famous half-smile half-smirk and his black wavy hair still hung in his face.
“Hi,” he said, the smirk in him showing a bit more than the smile.
I couldn’t help myself; I threw myself into his arms. He enveloped me into a deep hug and I got comfortable against his chest. I didn’t even notice that his skin was just a tad cooler than mine. I felt his lips in my hair, and he whispered something to me that I couldn’t comprehend. I listened for his heartbeat, but of course there was none. I squeezed my eyes shut and focused on how wonderful it felt to be in his arms and ignored everything else.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about me sooner,” he told me in a quiet voice.
“It doesn’t matter,” I replied. “I know now.”
He hugged me tighter, but said nothing for a while. Finally, he murmured, “I was so worried I’d lost you, Blaire.”
I sighed. “I almost thought you had for a few weeks. It was just so hard to imagine being with a zombie.”
Damien pulled away. He put his hands on my shoulders and stared at me directly in the eye. “Can you see it now?”
When I’d come tonight, my heart had been set on breaking it off with him. But when I saw the fear in his eyes, I was speechless. He looked genuinely scared of my rejection. His innocence touched something in me that made me do what I did next.
I thrust myself at him and our lips connected. He seemed surprised at first, but then he kissed me back. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled myself closer. The whole time, the phrase “I’m making out with a zombie” never even crossed my mind. It felt good kissing Damien. I felt like I was giving every person who would ever say I was stupid for loving a zombie the finger.
I pulled back. “Does that answer your question?”
He grinned and kissed me again. The funny thing was that at the beginning of the night, I thought I knew that Damien and I were over, but now we seemed to be even closer. Eventually, we broke apart and just rested our foreheads against each other’s.
A few minutes later I pulled away. “I have to go, Damien. My parent’s will be wondering why my bedroom light is still on.”
He nodded. “Call me, okay?”
He pressed his lips to my forehead and I closed my eyes, soaking in the cool imprint they made on my skin. Then he let me go and I hurried away, turning back to look at him every three of four strides. When I was across the park and at the sidewalk, I blew him a kiss and started jogging away.
The whole way back to my house, I felt all warm and tingly inside. I had absolutely no regrets about my decision, and that felt good. I was proud of myself for looking past his “deadness” and seeing the boy in him. I mean, he was still the same boy I’d fallen for, even though he was technically dead.
“I’m in love with a zombie,” I said aloud. I don’t know why I did—I guess I just wanted to hear it out loud.
And I felt amazing when I did. It was like I was finally admitting it to myself and finally understanding. Nothing changed. I was still in love with Damien. Even though he was a zombie.