The haunted trail was a sexy choice, Owen reflected in study hall. It was a perfect combo of darkness and closeness: make-out city, baby. Not that he was particularly anxious about it. He liked being around Amanda Overstreet; kissing would only be a bonus. In fact, he just plain liked her. That purring voice, man! Those swimmy eyes. Owen grinned and tried to get back into his History assignment. She was out of his lanky league, sure, but not by much. If he made a good impression, if they had a great time on this, their first date, then the Homecoming dance, two weeks away, was a real possibility.
The glossy lips. The glistening hair. Amanda looked so amazing when he picked her up, Owen could hardly breathe. And he knew what the glisten meant: that it was a big date for her, too. The night was crisp. The trail was winding. They made fun of the lurking creatures, some of whom were played by kids from school. “Oh, no way,” she giggle-purred, pointing at a sheeted ghost. “I mean, even I could do better.” Kissing seemed soon, Homecoming certain. But then Brett Myers, a zombie currently, a football fucktard generally, broke character to tell Amanda she was looking fine tonight. Owen bristled. Myers was a little too emphatic, Amanda a little too flustered. And then it came: the moment that would haunt Owen for years. Myers, after giving Owen a sizing-up look, and apparently finding him wimp-sized, asked Amanda to go with him to a party later. Amanda stammered something about it being up to Owen. Misery rained down on Owen. He considered bouncing, just going straight home to pout and fume and watch porn, but he had the feeling that if he let this crap pass he’d regret it forever.
He looked Amanda Overstreet in her swimmy blue eyes and told her she wasn’t as classy as he thought. She flinched, as if punched. Then he punched Myers in his stupid zombie face. This fucktard! This worthless asshole. Myers stumbled backwards, looking shocked, but then scowled and charged forward. Rage kept Owen in the game for only so long. In the end, some vampires intervened and pulled Myers off him.
It was the right move. It was. Owen had bruises but not regrets. Except what did it actually change? Myers stayed a jerk and started dating Amanda. On Homecoming night, he took her to the dance and probably made out with her, whereas Owen sat alone in his room and absolutely did not make out with her. Instead he guzzled beer and thought about voodoo dolls. And life went on. Did it ever, man. Time passed like tumbling pumpkins. There were dates and dances and random passing hobbies. One summer he was street and carried a switchblade; the next summer he was craftsy and made collages. Always sadness lurked. Even when he finished grad school and got a job in publishing. Even when he took his girlfriend to an Italian restaurant and proposed. “Sweetheart,” Caitlyn whispered, her brown eyes damp, “oh, my sweet monkey.” Still, Owen suspected that if she could marry anyone, any guy from her past or present, she wouldn’t pick him. But fuck, maybe that went for him, too. He stifled a sigh while she talked dessert options. The kiss that never was. The Homecoming that never happened.
They ordered, and then, before sharing their lives forever, shared caramel yogurt cake.