Did she really look at me or was that my imagination? I thought and blinked a few times. She had never done that before, so why start now? I then walked out the door and to my locker to get my book bag and headed for gym.
“Hello, Kota.” said Connelly as he suddenly appeared at my side. I looked at him and he smiled uneasily, like he was nervous about something.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, concern flashing in my eyes.
“It’s nothing like an emergency, but just some things that need to be said.” he said as we walked through the breezeway, and when we got to the end, he opened the door to the hall leading to the gym.
“What do you mean?” I asked confusedly.
“I think it’s time to explain.” he said and we walked into the gym and up to the bleachers.
“Oh wait, I’ve got to change into my gym outfit.” I said. He looked frustrated at having to postpone what he wanted to say, but gave a stiff nod and went up to Ivan and Mira while I ran to the girl’s dressing room.
“Finally, you remembered your suit.” Sue said when she saw me in the dressing room.
“Yeah, sorry about last time. I am so nervous that I’m going to embarrass myself in front of him.” I said, a little of the nervousness leaking through my voice.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll do fine.” she said encouragingly. We quickly suited out and then ran back out and into the gym.
“Connelly’s going to tell me something later.” I said, glancing up at him as Sue and I sat on the bleachers and he seemed to be arguing with Ivan and Mira about something.
“What do you think it’s about?” Sue asked.
“I don’t know, but I hope it’s not anything bad.” I said, knowing that that was a very slim hope indeed for some odd reason.
“Kota, are you okay? You look a little pale.” Sue looked at me with concern on her face.
“I’m a little nervous, that’s all.” I said, putting a hand on my stomach.
“Kota, can I talk to you?” I turned and looked into Connelly’s face. He smiled softly at me and then looked at Sue. I looked at Sue too and she got the message.
“I think I hear someone calling me. Sorry, got to go.” she said and walked off while Ivan descended towards her. I looked back at Connelly now, waiting for him to start explaining.
“You know when I told you that my eyes were different?” he asked and I nodded.
“Well, that’s not the only thing that’s different about me.” he said and looked at me. This time though when he looked at me I could see his eyes. And they were red. As soon as I saw them, I stiffened for a second, but then relaxed, remembering that there was no danger. It was Connelly and he wouldn’t hurt me. They were just contacts.
“You are hilarious you know that? If you go through all the trouble to buy colored contacts and then track me down and scare me, you could at least tell me right after instead of yelling at me. You know I had nightmares about that guy— you?” I was angry now. He disgusted me. This was not the funny kind of joke. Not even a little. I thought we had gone through this and we were done. I didn’t want to talk about this and if I would have known it was that he wanted talk about, I wouldn’t have made Sue leave.
“Colored contacts? Kota, I’m not playing.” He turned so his body was facing me and his face was serious.
“If you don’t like the way your eyes look then all you had to do was take the contacts out. You didn’t have to wear that hat all the time.” I said and he looked away, sighing in anger.
“Kota, you think I’m wearing contacts? —” He cut off and ran over to the coach and whispered something in his ear. Coach Bailey turned around to look at me and then nodded. Connelly then beckoned to me. I hesitated, wondering if I should go with him or not since he had been so mean to me, but then unsurely walked down to him.
“What did you ask him?” I asked.
“I said you were feeling sick and some fresh air would do you good.” he said and we went outside to the track. It was empty so we could be alone.
“I took you out here so I could show you without anyone else seeing.” he said and before I could ask what he meant, he took his hat off and looked at me. His hair fell on his face and I could once again see his eyes. I felt the same thing I had felt when he had pinned me to the ground in the theater and a powerful streak of fear swept through me at the memory.
His eyes were beautiful and warned of danger at the same time. They were bright red, unlike that night when they had been blood red and incidentally were full of blood lust. But now, they were tight with nervousness and sincerity.
I gasped, staring terrified at him, and let out a whimper of fear. He was the one who had attacked me two weeks ago, the one who had given me nightmares for all this time. He was the one who had burned my wrists and the one who had almost bit me, killed me. My eyes grew wide with fear and then squinted as scared tears escaped from them.
“No,” he said, pain in his eyes and voice, “No. Don’t be afraid. Don’t cry.” he said, taking a step towards me and reaching out a hand. I tensed and looked down, closing my eyes. I couldn’t think clearly. I had to think clearly.
I didn’t feel him touch me or hear another step from him. Then, as if from a breeze, something brushed my hair away from my face, but I didn’t open my eyes. “Don’t cry.” he said softly, pleadingly, painfully. “Don’t be scared.”
“I-I have to think.” I whispered. I felt his soft and cold hand brush my cheek, but he didn’t say any more.
The memory of that Saturday played back in my mind once again. The theater monster leaned over me, his blood red eyes contemplating me, darkness seeping from his skin, at his feet, and billowing out of his mouth with his every breath. The noxious gas that was the darkness around us went into my lungs and acted like some kind of drug, making me dizzy and lose control of my muscles. I couldn’t hold my head facing up so I let it fall to one side and he gasped and jumped off me. But not before I saw what was in his eyes, the emotions he couldn’t hide.
Fear and anger. And then, right before the anger masked over the fear, sadness played prominently in his eyes. He had almost bit me, but had stopped at the last minute. He had stopped. Those three emotions had stopped him…..
He didn’t want to hurt me…. He didn’t want to hurt me. The thought echoed in my mind, sinking in. I slowly relaxed my shoulders, my hands relaxing and slowly falling back to my sides. I rose out of my bent over position and stood straighter. I finally opened my eyes and saw Connelly standing in front of me, his hand still on my cheek, but wearing his hat again.
I probably still looked a little scared, it was just the way I felt, but I was a little braver now that I had overcome my nightmare. That being my boyfriend-to-be. It’s weird how even in this dark, serious, scary time, I could think up something funny like that.
I put my hand on his, which lay on my left cheek, and reached slowly over and pulled off his hat. He had his eyes closed. I whispered one laugh through my nose. “Connelly.” I said and waited, but when he didn’t look at me I said in almost a whisper, “…. Open your eyes.” He kept them closed, but then, after a few seconds, he slowly opened them. They were pained, angry, and ashamed. With his thumb, he wiped away the last of my tears from my cheek and I smiled.