Sapphire: A Paranormal Romance (6 page)

BOOK: Sapphire: A Paranormal Romance
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“I have no idea,”
Jimmy said.  “I’m supposed to meet her again tonight.”

 “What?  When?”

“Tonight,” Jimmy
said. 

She shook her
head.  “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.  This whole story sounds a little
bit crazy to me, Jimmy.  Who is this person?  Where did she come from?”

Jimmy shrugged and
finished eating his cornflakes.  Then he drank the milk out of the bowl.

“Mom,” he said,
“you always say you want me to meet a girl and go on dates, but now I have a
girl who is interested and you want to find drama.  Make up your mind.”

He stood up, put
the bowl in the sink, and then walked back to the table.  He leaned down and
kissed his mother on the head.  She looked like she wanted to say more, but
couldn’t find the words.  Jimmy headed past his mother and down the hall.  He
had a bit of a smirk on his face, but he also felt a bit sorry for his mother. 
He never talked back to her like this.  For Jimmy and his mother, it had always
been him and her against the world.  Jimmy always did what his mother asked,
even wearing a bad tux and going to a dance he did not want to attend.  Talking
back like this, showing open rebellion, defying her, was a complete 180 from
the person who had left for the dance the night before.  This was not like him
at all, and even he knew it, but he still felt good.  At the same time, what
was his mother’s deal?  Shouldn’t she be happy that he had met someone?  Yeah,
they had met under strange circumstances, but so what?  Kids met at dances all
the time, right?  Of course, he had met Sapphire standing beside a road, but
that was just semantics.  Why was his mother reacting like this?  It seemed way
out of proportion to events and it made Jimmy nervous and put him on the
defensive.

He had a lot on
his mind as he got dressed.  He was wondering how he would get through work,
listening to George asking him questions all day and mocking him at every
turn.  He wondered how he would get back down to the bridge tonight.  He
wondered what he would say to Sapphire, if she even showed, and what might
happen if she did.  He wondered when the football jocks were going to show up
at some point and just how badly he was going to get beaten.  Given the fact
that he had injured one of them pretty badly—an injury that could have ended a
potential football career—he bet he was in for a good beating.  He wondered if
he would end up in the hospital.

Then he thought
about Sapphire again.  Despite his protests, George was right.  When he stopped
to think about it, so was his mother.  Everything about Sapphire and the events
of the previous night made little to no sense.  When he tried to think of where
she might have been going when she vanished down beside that bridge, he came up
with nothing.  There were no homes down there.  There was no path leading to
homes down there.  It was as if she were living in the river.  He shook his
head and smiled at the thought.  There had to be an explanation, but what it
was eluded Jimmy.

Instead, he
thought about Sapphire’s laugh and the feel of her hair and how it bounced
around her head when they danced to the up-tempo music.  He remembered the
feeling of her body against his, beneath his hands, as they danced to the slow
ones. 

He had never
kissed a girl.  He certainly had never French-kissed a girl.  Now he had done
both, and he had to admit he was feeling tingles in places he had never felt
them before.  He guessed he might be falling in love, even though that seemed
like a ridiculous proposition since he had just met her and, well, there were
all of those weird things about her to deal with.  Jimmy smiled when he thought
about how they had dazzled the entire crowd at the prom and that he had had his
first kiss.  And with a girl who is pretty as Sapphire, no less.

He was dressed and
ready to go in record time.  He sighed at the thought of a day stocking shelves
at the local Shop Smart.  He would be answering questions from old ladies and
mothers with children in tow. All the while, his mind would be thinking about
her.  He would eat lunch with George, and George would tell him he was crazy
and not to head down to the bridge, but he would ignore him.  He would ignore
his mother, as well, when she tried to tell him that he was being foolish and
that he shouldn’t pursue this girl.

He was still
daydreaming when the car pulled up outside and honked.  Jimmy waved to his
mother, grabbed his lunch, and headed out the door.  George was not his smiling
self, he could tell already.  It was going to be a long day.

 

It seemed to take
forever for lunch to arrive.  Jimmy’s back was killing him.  Today was the day
to re-stock the canned goods and the pallets were exceptionally heavy.  Plus,
his stacking partner remained stoically silent.  No matter how much Jimmy tried
to talk to him or joke with him, George remained silent.  He would mumble
something, grunt, or make sounds to indicate he had heard, but he did not join
in the conversation.

Jimmy and George
had been working at Shop Smart since it opened.  The store was gleaming white
and had an open ceiling where you could see the steel beams that held up the
roof.  The aisles were packed with goods at discount prices.  There was a kind
of ordered chaos to the whole affair that Jimmy liked.  They had been all of
about sixteen years old when the store had opened, and they had immediately
signed up to stock shelves some evenings and most weekends during the school
year.  During the summers, they worked there all day, every day.  The pay
wasn’t great, but it was better than not having money.

Most of the time,
Jimmy actually liked stocking on weekends.  George and Jimmy had   the trust of
the management and they were left pretty much alone.  They would often find a
relatively secluded spot and then goof around.  They got their work done, but
they had fun while doing it.  They would quote
Monty Python
and other
English comedians to one another.  They would talk about the last movie they
had seen, but since they had very different likes and dislikes when it came to
movies, they would often argue.  Every Saturday night they would hang out,
sometimes watch a movie, and pretend like they had lives outside of work and
school.

The fact that it
seemed that Jimmy might now actually have a life outside of school and work
seemed to be making George just a little bit testy.  Whenever he looked over at
George, the young man was scowling.  Why did everyone around him seem to want
him to stay away from Sapphire and why was everyone reacting to her like she
was poison?

“You ready for
lunch?” Jimmy asked.

George nodded and
shrugged at the same time.  “I guess.”

They finished
pushing the pallets and boxes out of the way of the customers and then headed
for the back of the store.  They both stopped at the fridge in the break room
and removed their paper bags. Then they bypassed the tables in the break room
and headed for the picnic table behind the building near the alley.  Not far
away, a truck had backed up to a loading dock and a couple of other workers
were moving boxes into the stockroom. 

George sat down
opposite Jimmy and immediately opened the brown bag he had placed in front of
himself.  He pulled out the sandwich and began eating without saying a word. 
The sandwich looked like ham and cheese to Jimmy, which normally would have
produced a bout of complaining from George, who preferred turkey.  This time,
unlike most of the lunches they had shared, George lowered his head and seemed
entirely focused on devouring the ham and cheese.

“OK,” Jimmy said
after a couple bites of his tuna sandwich. “Are you going to tell me what’s
bugging you?  I thought you talked too damn much until you decided not to talk
to me, and then I found out that was even more annoying.”

George threw down
his sandwich and glared at Jimmy.  “I’m annoying?  Did you just say that I’m
the one who’s annoying?  How dare you!”

The vehemence and
vitriol with which George shouted took Jimmy aback.  “What the hell did I do?”

“Are you
completely stupid?” George said. His voice was rising.  Jimmy looked back and
saw that the guys on the loading dock had stopped to look at them.  Jimmy felt
the blood rising up his neck to his face.  “Did last night not happen in your
world?  Did you not completely ignore me and the rest of Knorr High School to
dance with some mysterious chick we met on the side of the road who, for
reasons that make zero sense to anyone with a brain, then had us drop her off
in the same place and vanished beneath the bridge?  Have you not been walking
around moon-eyed all damn day as if all of your prayers have been answered,
even though you know that most of the football team is going to murder you on
Monday?   Don’t you feel, like I do, as if you were drinking all night when you
know good and well that neither of us touched a drop?  Jesus, Jimmy, nothing
about last night made any sense from the moment we saw her on the side of the
road, and you act like this is the same thing that happens to you every
weekend!”

With that, George
crumpled up what was left of his lunch and threw it in a garbage can near the
picnic table.  He grabbed his can of soda, guzzled it all, and threw that into
the garbage, belched angrily, and got up.  Without looking back at Jimmy, who
still sat in his spot with his mouth opening and closing like a dying fish, he
stormed back into the Shop Smart.  Jimmy watched the door close slowly on
hinges that prevented the door from slamming.  Had those hinges not been
designed that way, he was certain George would have slammed the door.

Jimmy suddenly did
not feel like eating.  He alternated between being outrageously angry at George
and wondering if his best friend could be that jealous, and then feeling waves
of uncertainty and fear.  When he paused to really look at the situation, he
knew that George was right, the night with Sapphire was odd in the extreme.  At
the same time, whenever anyone met anyone, what did they really know about
them? In his gut, she was good. And surely there was some kind of rational
explanation for why Sapphire had been at that spot beside the road and then
asked to be dropped off there when they had come back later. What was a little
less understandable was how no one, not even George and Jimmy, could have not
heard of or seen Sapphire before.  He planned to ask Sapphire about that later
when he saw her.

That was another
thing that caused a stab of fear to enter his gut. What if it had all been a
joke?  Maybe one of the jocks or someone else who enjoyed making Jimmy’s life
miserable had brought a friend or relative in from another town just to play a
horrible trick on him.  Maybe Sapphire had been in on the joke all along. 
Maybe, if she was legit, she was having second thoughts in the clear light of
day and just wouldn’t show.  Jimmy could end up spending a long and cold
evening standing beside a dangerous road near a bridge over a cold and dark
river.  What if she just didn’t show?  Jimmy had never had a girlfriend. He had
never been on a date in his life, and he certainly had never been on a second
date.  What if he screwed things up?  She could end up being real, with a real
explanation for everything, only to end up running away from him anyway.

Jimmy managed to
finish his sandwich and potato chips.  He drank his soda and tossed the
remnants into the garbage. Somehow, he thought, he had to get through the rest
of the workday and then try to figure out what the hell he was going to do
about tonight.  He would probably have to walk or ride his bike, and that did
not appeal to him.  Before he got to that, however, he had to deal with George.

Jimmy had known
George for most of his life.  They had met in grade school on Jimmy’s first day
as the new kid in school. George had arrived wearing pants that looked like they
had been painted by a spastic psychotic.  They ate their first lunch together
that day and became fast friends.  George had very strong opinions and could be
obnoxious, but he was loyal, and had always been there when Jimmy needed a
friend.  They had been tormented together and been through so much; the last
thing Jimmy needed or wanted was to lose that because of a girl he had met. 

“There has to be
an easier way to do this,” he muttered as he went back into the store.  Exactly
what that way was, however, he had no idea.

 

The
rest of the afternoon crawled by.  Jimmy found a spot at the far end of the
store to stack shelves and he and George tried the best they could not to stand
anywhere near each other.  It made for a particularly frustrating day.  When
the day was done, Jimmy got on his bike and headed back home without saying
goodbye to George.  George, meanwhile, tore off in his car with the tires
squealing. 

Jimmy made it home
after about twenty minutes of riding his bike up and down the hills that had
always made riding a bike particularly difficult.  He got home with a massive
headache, sweating, and feeling rotten.  The only thing that had made the ride
bearable was thinking about seeing Sapphire’s eyes again.  At the same time, he
felt those nagging doubts in his mind: she would not show up; she would be part
of some elaborate practical joke; all of this would somehow end up on YouTube. 
Somehow, all of that seemed like a real possibility.

He opened and
walked in the front door and heard it slam behind him.  He took off his work
shirt and made his way down the hall toward his room. He was just about to push
open the door when his mother called out to him. 

BOOK: Sapphire: A Paranormal Romance
7.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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