November 6, 2015
A Surprise in the Astronomy Section
In early November, Joy and I decided to get together for a girls night out. We hadn’t seen each other much lately since she started her second job and I was finishing up my classes. She suggested going to Newburyport for the evening to relax and get away from our parents for a bit. I pulled into my usual spot in her driveway and honked the horn happily to mark my arrival. Joy waved as she lifted her shade and held up one finger to signal that she would be out soon.
I leaned back in the driver’s seat of my car and sighed. This will be nice. I’ve missed Joy. Then I flipped the visor down and inspected my makeup in the mirror. I brushed some stray flecks of stray eyeshadow from under my left eye as I heard the garage door open. I fixed my bangs, flipped up the mirror, and turned off the car. My living best friend walked towards me as I stepped out into the crisp fall air. She smelled good, but thankfully my will was strong enough to give me the strength to never want to hurt her.
“It’s been way too long, bestie,” I said as I pulled her warm body into a tight embrace. She chuckled and muttered, “I’ve missed you lots, Jess,” into my shoulder before I let her go. “So,” she shrugged, “your car or mine? If we take mine, I won’t be drinking.” I laughed and held up my keys. “My car it is then!”
I handed Joy the aux cord to my speakers and she began to play a newer country song. I hated country, but the only two people allowed to play it in my car are Nikki and Joy. However, once they start playing the really twangy crap, that’s when I take back DJ privileges and play rock or alternative. On our way to Newburyport, I was updated on Joy’s recently ended relationship.
“It was so weird how he broke up with me,” she sighed, “he told me that he felt bad for keeping me in this relationship for so long because now he was starting to feel that this was a mistake and that he was still hung up on his ex. I don’t know if I believe that,” Joy sighed. I had never seen her like this. I hated it. She hadn’t had a relationship like this before, and she seemed changed slightly by it. She continued on, “I don’t know why he didn’t figure that out earlier. I mean, we had been seeing each other for over two months and everything seemed to be fine. Why couldn’t he have decided that before we started talking about making this into a serious relationship? I thought he was serious about me. He really wanted to meet my parents and tried to make a good first impression when he did. He also introduced me to his grandparents. Jess, this sucks!”
“I know it does, Joy. I wish I could read his mind to know what really happened. Well, I actually could if you wanted me to!” I laughed. Her face changed from confusion to disgust in the blink of an eye, which made me laugh even harder. “Jessie! Don’t joke about eating his brain! I mean, I’d love to know what he does think, but not by having my best friend kill him, smash open his skull, and feast on his brains!” Her face was a little paler underneath her makeup from the thought of what zombie might do.
“Jess, can I ask you a few zombie-related question?” I looked over at her and nodded. “Ask away, friend!” I could see her trying to decide which question to ask first.
“When you were first changed, how did you and Nikki know what you were?” “Well, I found out after Nikki did. I kinda put two and two together when I wanted to smash open the dorm room door and devour the brains of the two girls standing out in the hall. And since vampires crave blood and werewolves only transform during a full moon, the craving for brains really only spoke to zombie.” I hoped my answer didn’t keep her from wanting to find out more. The silence preceding her next question terrified me. “Why have you never tried to eat my brains?” I quietly laughed before I answered her. “Believe me, the zombie beast inside thinks you smell absolutely fantastic and delicious. However, I am strong enough to remember how much you mean to me and that I would never forgive myself if I ever did anything to you. And trust me, that much regret for all eternity would be totally unbearable.”
She smiled. I could tell that reassured her that I would never put her in danger. I really do care about her, probably more than I do about anybody else in the world. Joy is just one of those rare people who do not have a mean bone in their body. She accepted me after my zombification without any problems. So far, other than Nikki, she has become the most supportive person in my life, well afterlife. I’m so unbelievably lucky to have her and I’m so grateful that she will stick with me even though I’m a monster.
She asked me a few more questions as we headed up 495, and then we sang along to Carrie Underwood until we pulled into the public town parking lot since it was still a little too early to head to dinner. We stepped out of the car and began to walk up one of the main streets to do some window shopping. Joy saw a few cute outfits in some of the store windows but didn’t end up buying any of them. At the end of the street on the corner, there was a cute little book shop.
I walked past it, but I think Joy saw my eyes light up when I glanced into the storefront. I didn’t feel like dragging her through the store, and continued to walk around the corner to the next shop. “Jess,” Joy called out from behind me. “Let’s go in. I know how much you love bookstores and I’m thinking of getting back into reading for pleasure. Let’s have a look around!” I quickly turned around as I heard the bell attached to the door jingle as my best friend held it open for me to enter. I took a deep breath as I walked through the door.
“I love the smell of a bookstore,” I sighed as I quickly wandered over to a bookcase labeled “New Releases”. Joy laughed at my silly obsession. She followed me to a few of the book displays and then went off to look at some of the new releases for young adults.
As I began reading the book sleeve descriptions of some new thriller novels, I felt a wave of relief wash over me. It’s so silly how such a small thing can give me such pleasure, I thought as I smiled to myself. Then I quickly stopped and looked up.
For a moment, I felt like I was being watched. No one was there when I looked around. I shrugged it off as some slight paranoia and continued looking through the stacks of books. Eventually, I found one that really peaked my interest and I went off in search of Joy to share my find. I kept reading the back cover as I walked towards the other room. Unfortunately, I was too wrapped up in reading to notice the man looking at the astronomy section and I ran right into him. I slammed into him with such force that I dropped my book and clutch on the floor.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry,” I exclaimed with embarrassment. “I’m so sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. Are you okay?” I asked as I bent down to retrieve the items that splayed across the floor. The man chuckled, “I’m alright. No damage done.” I looked up at him as I stood back up.
I brushed my bangs from my eyes to look at him. His face was kind with a big smile. He was quite tall and had a large build. As I continued to look at him, I noticed that there was something different about him, but I couldn’t tell exactly what it was. Then it hit me, is he another zombie?