By Deborah Dubas Groom
It was far later in the evening, than was usually safe for a woman to be walking alone on a darkened city side street. The sidewalk was shiny with partially frozen rain, and Colleen’s stiletto boots speared dirty fallen leaves as she scurried along. She darted bird-like glances down alleys and loading bays. Her pale thin hands pulled forward the pockets of her leather coat. Her heels tapped out a frantic staccato, as she rushed past an open door at the downtown mission church.
Once past, she paused at the end of the street, becoming partially invisible due to a shattered streetlight. She stopped, becoming unnaturally still. Coming out of a local bar was Connor, his face flushed and slack, his arms swinging by his side as he shambled towards her.
Five years before, right out of high school, he’d approached her parents, and asked for her hand. He’d promised them he’d look after her, and keep her safe and fed. Beaming, they’d given him the money she’d saved for her wedding. It was everything she had.
He took her from the country to a city she’d never been, saying that there would be a lot of good paying jobs. He said once they had more money, they could have the wedding of her dreams. Within the first three months all of her savings were spent, and the two of them were barely making enough for rent. Connor would take both of their paycheques, for the bills he said, and yet somehow the debts piled up, and went unpaid. Things became desperate. Connor began staying out later and later until the night he didn’t return at all.
It was a night very like this one. Colleen’s jaw went rigid. Her nails dug into the skin of her hands as the unbidden memories flooded her senses. She had raced around the city looking for him. Her panic had risen up, hysteria twisting her muscles, making her stumble, and go into places she should never have gone.
Tonight, as he stumbled closer, she saw his now bloated features. He was no longer the young handsome farmer’s son who vanished years ago. Her eyes narrowed into darkened slits. As he got closer, his head lifted and a look of recognition emerged slowly in his half-lidded eyes. He took one stumbling step, leaning towards her, and abruptly stopped, rocking back on his heels.
“Colleen? Is that you?”
She remained silent.
“What are you doing here? You look so skinny and white. This place ain’t safe. Bad things can happen around here.” Colleen’s eyes’ glittered.
“I know. I was here before, looking for you.”
The colour bled out of her irises and her eyes slammed into a rich obsidian black. She surged forward, ripped him off his feet, and smashed him into the broken brick wall of a derelict building. Her fangs slashed open his throat, and she drank deeply, as he finally kept his promise to her parents. Tonight, he would make sure she was well fed.
Deborah Dubas Groom