When I first approached the boy from the side, I had no idea how extremely cute he’d be! Hehehe! It really took me by surprise.
I mean, it was pretty dark out here in the woods, but he was sitting by a crackling fire, not far from the narrow river in front of him…and the flickering flame had illuminated his beauty just enough for me to be totally stunned by it. Dark blond hair with a set of inviting brown eyes and unbearably kissable lips. Slim shoulders and long lashes. The kind of attractive allure that beckons to you from a distance. I had to get closer. Wow. Escaping from the rest of my group of fellow campers tonight, he was the last treasure that I ever could have expected to find way out here in the wilderness like this.
Infatuation took over instantly. So quickly, in fact, that I found it nearly impossible to not join him on the river’s edge. He was there all by himself, in the dark, and I was drawn to him in a way that I couldn’t quite explain. Maybe it was some kind of amorous spell that he had cast upon me without my knowledge. Who knows? I just wanted to be closer. So much closer.
“Hey…” I said softly. Bashfully hiding my dark blue eyes away from him as I stepped closer.
“Oh!” He seemed surprised that he had been seen out in the open like this. “Hey. Or, like…hi…and stuff.”
“…And stuff? Hehehe!”
“Sorry. You kinda caught me while I was drifting off.” He said.
“Really? Sorry.” I told him. “I didn’t mean to intrude. I didn’t think anybody else was out here.”
“Yeah. Same.” He smiled. “It’s ok, I was just…thinking. That’s all.”
“An activity that most people seem to run away from nowadays.” I grinned. “Do you mind if I join you?”
“No. Not at all. Cop a squat wherever you want to.” He said with a shrug. He noticed my button down shirt and sash, with green shorts and a belt. A red neckerchief around my neck, tucked under my collar. “Boy Scout, huh?”
“Oh…yeah. Sorta.” I told him. “My troop was kind of doing the scary story, camp fire, thing tonight. It didn’t really sound like a good time to me, so I found a way to sneak off for a while. Do my own thing, you know?”
“What’s the matter?” He smirked. “You don’t like scary stories?” Just to look at him, his smirk seemed to dance in time with his small campfire. It almost felt like love at first sight. He was about as fair and bewitching as any boy that I had ever laid eyes on before. It was actually kind of fascinating to be honest.
“I do, actually. I just think that I’ve heard them all. Or at least all the variations they’ve told me so far about the same three or four urban legends that I know aren’t true. Like, the escaped killer in the woods, the monsters waiting in the trees, the restless spirits in the old haunted house at the end of the road…they all get old after a while.” I said.
“Yeah. I can understand that.” His eyes met mine for a moment. An extended moment. The kind of connection that most straight boys would be uncomfortable with after a few seconds. Then he smiled softly, and extended his hand. “The name’s Joshua. Or, you know…just Josh.” He said.
Connecting my hand to his was such a privilege. “Skyler.” I told him.
“So, like…what are you doing way out here, by yourself?”
“It’s a long story, believe me.” He said. “I just came out here to listen to the babbling calm of the river tonight, combined with the subtle cracks and pops of this small fire over here. It soothes me.”
“Do you need soothing?” I asked.
“Don’t we all?” He replied, giving me a boyish grin. “It’s cool to find some time to appreciate the little things every now and then, you know? It clears those dusty cobwebs out of the brain. And the soul.”
“I’m only thirteen. I don’t think I’ve got enough cobwebs to cause me much trouble at this point.”
“Me too. Well…sort of. But I get what you mean.” Josh said. “Still, age and experience aren’t really the same thing, are they? Everybody needs some time to just…breathe. Focus. Reflect on who you are, and maybe what you’ve done. Do a little soul searching. Discover the borders of your own conscience so you know what to expect from yourself when the time comes.”
I grinned and asked, “When the time comes to do what, exactly?”
Josh didn’t answer right away. He just nodded and smiled at me, and he said, “You’re really cute. You know that?”
I’ve ever had another boy tell me that before. It was such a sudden shock that I almost took offense to the compliment at first. I was like a turtle, sensing danger and immediately wanting to suck myself back into my shell before he could see me for who I am. My emotions seemed to be all tangled up in the confusion of his brazen admission, but…to be honest…at the same time, I kind of liked the fact that he was so forward about it. I just wasn’t prepared for that kind of thing, that’s all. Heh…again…wow…
“Really?” I said, turning red in the face.
“Yeah. Really.” He said. “I’m sorry. That doesn’t make you uneasy or anything, does it? That I said that out loud? Hehehe, I get nervous around cute boys sometimes.”
Why am I getting so hard right now? It’s not like he was blessing me with a marriage proposal or anything! He was just…making an honest observation, that’s all.
“No. It’s ok.” I grinned, bashfully. “So you, ummm…well…I’m guessing that you like…boys, then?”
Josh snickered to himself. “Omigod…hehehe, yeah. Sorry. It’s been so long that I sometimes forget to ‘lead’ with that kind of thing before I let loose with the flirtations compliments.” Now it was his turn to be a little embarrassed by the whole thing. “Don’t worry, though. K? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or anything. I just…I run off at the mouth sometimes without thinking. It’s meant to be flattering. That’s all. I swear.”
“It’s totally cool.” I said. “And I am flattered. Seriously.” Feeling a little emboldened by the beautiful boy sitting next to me by the crackling fire…I took a chance and told him, “I think…well…I know….that I kinda like boys too.”
“Really? Holy damn! Score one for our team!” He giggled, and I laughed right along with him. It felt so good to say it out loud so he could hear me. It just made this whole random journey to the river thing feel like ‘fate’ being gift wrapped and handed to me on a silver platter, you know?
“Hehehe! Ok, now you’re making me wiggle a little bit.” I said, hiding my eyes from him again.
“You’re cute when you wiggle.” He said, gazing at me with a smirk.
Trying to avoid the subject before shaking myself to pieces right there in front of him, I diverted my attention up to the sky and said, “The stars are awfully bright around here. Well, I mean…I live in the city, so the urban lights usually drown most of them out. But…out here? It’s like…amazing. I didn’t even know that there were so many.”
Josh looked up and replied, “Really? They always look like this to me. Maybe I’ve just learned to take them for granted, that’s all.” Then he added, “The cities used to be much darker, you know? Not as many people. Hardly any traffic. There was a time when the whole world looked like this. Maybe even brighter.”
Josh seemed so wistful about it. As he stared at the sky, I took a brief moment to enjoy the elegant grace of his profile as he gently brushed some of his soft blond hair out of his eyes. Still…curiosity got the best of me. “Used to be? Hehehe…cities always looked the same to me.”
He suddenly looked back over at me…then he turned to look all around us to see if anybody else might be watching us from the shadows or anything. His scanning of the dark woods was so thorough that I found myself looking over my should to help him. Then, when the coast was clear…Joshua asked me, “Skyler…if I told you something…something private…could you keep it a secret?”
I faked a gasp, and giggled, “Oh no! Don’t tell me that you’re gay, or anything? I don’t know if I’d be able to handle it. Hehehe!”
He smiled along with me, and then leaned over a bit to softly say, “I’m not…exactly what you think I am.”
A bit confused, I was like, “I’m not exactly sure what that means.”
“It means, that you’re totally ok sitting here with me by the river, but…you should know…you and me? We’re not exactly the same.”
Still a bit lost, I told him, “I think I’m missing out on your message here, dude. Just tell me. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
Josh looked around again, and he whisered…”I’m a vampire, Skyler.”
I gave him a sideways look for a moment, waiting for him to laugh or deliver the rest of his random punchline…but he didn’t. “Hahaha! Dude, what are you talking about?”
“I know that it’s hard to believe. Trust me, I get it.” He said. “But, I assure you…it’s true.”
Was it some kind of game? I was beginning to wonder if the rest of my scout troop had set me up with some sort of silly prank or something tonight. “Prove it.” I said.
“Trust me, Skyler…me proving that I am what I say I am would not end up well for you.” He told me, but I couldn’t help but to giggle nonetheless.
“So…is that why you’re out here tonight, clearing cobwebs and all that? Because you’re a vampire that needs soothing?”
“In part.” He replied. “And also just to get some peace of mind. I, honestly, didn’t think anybody would stumble across me out here like this. Certainly not a boy as pretty as you are…”
“Hehehe! Nu-unh! Don’t change the subject.” I said. “So…you’re a vampire, right?” Josh nodded, amused by me turning this into a little game. “Ok, so…if that’s true…can you, ummmm….can you hypnotize me?”
He laughed. “No. We don’t just going around hypnotizing people. Can you actually see me standing here giving you the Bela Legosi eyes right now?”
“The Bela what?” I asked.
“Nevermind. You wouldn’t get it. Hehehe! But no. I can’t hypnotize people.”
“Ok, then. Can you…turn into a bat? Or a wolf?” I asked.
“That’s just the movies, Skyler. That stuff’s not real.”
“Oh! But vampires are real?” I grinned.
“Try again.” He said.
I figured I’d humor him for a bit longer. I don’t know, the whole ‘vampire’ act kind of made him even cuter than he was before for some odd reason. “Can you read my mind?” I asked, inviting him to do so.
A bit nervous, Joshua said, “I…I shouldn’t. That would be a real invasion of your privacy…”
“It’s ok. I don’t care.” I smiled. “Go ahead. Read my mind. I might have some interesting stuff rattling around in there, for all you know.”
With a deep red blush of his own, Joshua said, “Seriously…it’s not a good thing for us to do. Even with permission. We sort of consider that to be…overly invasive. I mean, you understand that, right?”
I simply smiled at him, and felt a slight warm shiver as his bashful nature caused him to look away and hide his eyes from me. “Alright, alright. I guess I can let you off the hook with that one.” I thought for a second, and I asked, “Can you fly?”
“Oh yeah. Sure.” He shrugged.
“Hehehe, what? You can???”
“Sure! You wanna see?”
“Hell yeah, I wanna see!” I giggled.
“Well…too bad! Because I can’t fly.” He laughed. “You watch too many movies, you know that? Hehehe!”
“Awww, shit! And here I thought I was going to see something cool tonight.” I grinned in response. I thought for another few seconds, and I asked, “So…you said ‘we’. Talking about vampires, that is. Does that mean there’s a bunch of you guys running around, or what? Should I be careful in these woods all by myself.”
“Heh…I doubt being ‘careful’ would do you much good either way. But it might be a good idea, yes.”
“Soooo…how many?” I asked. “Ten? Twenty? More than twenty?”
“A lot…” He smirked.
“What does that mean? Like…hundreds?” He gave me a raised eyebrow to further accent his smirk. “More than hundreds? Thousands? TENS of thousands? Give me a hint.”
With only a slight hesitation, Josh giggled, “Let’s just say…if you knew how many of our kind you passed on the streets at night…you wouldn’t be able to count them all. Especially if you live in the big city. Not to make you paranoid or anything.”
“Oh, well…of course not.” I said. I paused for a moment, but as long as we were playing this little game, I might as well go all in, right? “So…does that mean that you kill people? Drink their blood?”
He lowered his eyes for a moment. The he said, “I try not to. I wish I didn’t have to. But it’s really not up to me anymore. It’s just a matter of survival.”
Lightening the mood to continue our friendly game, I grinned and said, “So, I’m sitting here by the river with a violent murderer then, huh?”
It did get him to offer up a halfhearted smile for me, and I’m glad that he knew I was just kidding. “Subtle, Skyler…”
“I’m no more a murderer than you are for eating a chicken sandwich or scrambled eggs for breakfast, ya know?”
“I’m that’ll hold up in a court of law, won’t it?” I said, but leaned over to gently butt him with my shoulder to get him to smile all the way this time.
“Well, I haven’t feasted on you yet. Have I?”
“I wouldn’t let you. I’m stronger and faster than I look, believe me.” I said, balling up my fists and holding them up in the most awkward way imaginable. “Besides…can’t I just do something like ‘this’ to get you to back down?” I made a small crucifix with both of my index fingers and Josh laughed out loud, pushing my hands down.
“NO!” He said. “I was an altar boy at my church for three and a half years. And crosses don’t do anything but make us look at you guys like you’re crazy before we run up and bite you anyway. So scratch that off of your list of things to protect you and throw it in the trash, right next to ‘garlic’ or having to be ‘invited inside’ before we entered your house. Honestly…I don’t even know how the vampire lore go so out of whack. Seems silly to the rest of us.”
“So, tell me this…how old are you, then? Really. If I may ask.”
“Do you really want to know?” He said. I nodded, and with a sigh, he said, “Well, in your human years? I think I’ll be about 250 years old next Spring.”
I attempted to keep a straight face, but played along anyway. “250 years, huh? Wow. I mean…wouldn’t you get bored after a while?”
“Well, sure. I’d think that after a century of living in darkness and all…your brain would start to deteriorate. I mean…how much can one person experience in their lifetime, right?”
I was almost convinced that I had him stumped on that one for a moment. There was an extended pause, where only the river and crackling fire could be heard as he thought of an answer. But, surprisingly, he came back with, “There’s always something new to see. New to learn. New to experience. And even when you think you’ve seen it all before…you can still experience it anew through someone else’s eyes. Sometimes, the brings even more joy than experiencing those golden moments for yourself, you know?” Hey…good answer. It made me smile. I might just keep that in mind from now on.
I paused for a moment myself to further contemplate what he told me, and I saw Joshua poking at the fire with a stick a few times to keep it going for a it longer, flashing me a smile that made me melt all over again as if I was seeing it for the first time. Then, I asked him…”Do you ever get lonely?”
With a sigh, he replied, “Sometimes. Yeah.” But then he looked at me and said, “If only I was lucky enough to have a cutie like you come and talk to me every night like this…I might be able to find myself someone special to love.” I turned my eyes away from him, giggling timidly to myself. “What about you, Skyler? Aren’t you looking for someone to love too?”
“Hehehe, I guess so.” I said. “But…it might take me some time, I suppose. It sounds like an awesome idea, but…something tells me that I’d have a lot to explain before I go making someone special my ‘boyfriend’, you know?” Adding, “My whole existence is…complicated.”
“Heh, tell me about it.” He grinned, looking back up at the sky. “I’m sure that you’ll find your Prince Charming, Skyler. I doubt you’ll have any trouble hooking up with a boy of your choosing when you’re ready.”
“I hope so.” I told him. “Maybe someday…”
“How ’bout tonight?” He smiled.
Snickering bashfully, I said, “I thik it would take a little bit longer than a cool conversation by the fire to claim that I’m in ‘love’ with somebody…”
“I wasn’t talking about ‘me’.” He said.
And I answered, “…I was.”
Our eyes connected for a moment.
A long moment.
The pull was undeniable. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so courageous, and yet so cowardly, at the same time.
“Skylerrrrrr!” Came a voice from further back in the woods, and I heard the calls multiply as my scout troop started to search for me in the dark.
“Shit. I guess they noticed that I…” But before I could finish, Joshua jerked forward and kissed me briefly on the lips. A quick kiss…but a tender one. I had never been kissed by another boy before. I’ve never been kissed by anyone before. It happened so fast that I was disappointed that I didn’t take more time to enjoy it while it was happening. Geez, a little warning would have been nice. “Oh…oh wow…” I gasped.
“Maybe, ummm…maybe we’ll run into each other again some time?” He said.
“Gosh, I hope so…hehehe…” I told him. “But, like…I’ll hold on to that kiss until then. K?”
“Deal.” He smiled.
“I’ve…I’ve gotta run. Just…wow…ok. I’m uhhh…it was cool to meet you, Josh.” I said, still trembling.
“Good to meet you too, Skyler.”
And just as I stood up and began to back away from the comforting warmth of his campfire and the pleasure of his company, I said, “Good luck, k? With everything.” And then I said, “Keep searching for that soul of yours. I have a feeling that it’s a treasure worth finding.”
And with that, we shared a clumsy goodbye wave as I rushed back up into the thick of the woods to rejoin my troop. Faron was the first one to see me coming, and said, “THERE you are! Geez! What the hell was taking you so long?”
“Sorry. I got caught up with something. I didn’t mean to. It just, sorta…happened.” I said as I came back to join the other seven Boy Scouts in my troop, all sitting around the fading embers of our own campfire.
“It was getting kinda COLD out here, you know? The fire died down, like, twenty minutes ago.” Faron said.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I just…” I sighed to myself, and the other boys could all see the infatuated smile on my face.
“Oh God, Skyler…not again!” Barry said, covered in a blanket. “Did you develop another crush?”
With a dip in my knees, I gleefully confessed, “I couldn’t HELP it, you guys! He was soooooo CUTE!!!”
Faron laughed at me. “Skyler…he was supposed to be your DONOR! Not your boyfriend! Hehehe! This is your third try now!”
“I know! I know! And I’m gonna do it, eventually, just…he was too hot to feed on, you know?” I said. “Honestly, when I went down there, I thought you guys were pranking me or something. He honestly said he was a vampire, like the rest of us. Hehehe! I mean, OBVIOUSLY, he’s not one of us, but…it was just kinda cool to talk to him about it and humor his vampire fantasy for a while, you know?”
“His fantasy, or yours, Buttplug?” Barry teased.
Faron put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Skyler, you’re never gonna get your ‘Donor Selection’ merit badge if you keep falling in love with them before you make the initial bite. I told you…you should have gone further South along the river to where the older campers stay. Less guilt. More blood.”
“Hey…I’m still a newblood, ok? I’ve got a couple more weeks to make my first feed. I’ll get around to it.” I said. “It’s just…Joshua was too sweet. I liked him. I would feel bad, taking an angel like that away from the world.”
“Forever the romantic.” He said. “You’re gonna make a terrible vampire, Skyler. I mean that. Hehehe! The second you get anywhere CLOSE to a bloodlust, you just keep the hell away from me. I didn’t crossover just to get drained by the likes of our ‘boy crazy’ Romeo.”
Barry was shivering slightly, and he said, “Can you two stop yapping already? Jesus, Skyler…it’s chilly out here! Give us a break!”
“Yeah. Sorry.” I told him, and I pointed both of my hands at the smoldering fire, concentrating to spit out a few extra hot sparks on the wood to get it started up again. “Happy now?”
“VERY! It’s about time!”
Everybody moved in close to get some extra heat from the flames, but…I thought about the time I spent with Joshua, and what he said about…you know…always having something new to experience. Always having something to look forward to. And even then…still finding joy in the joy of others, seeing it for the first time. Something about it just warmed my heard. Sure, the rest of my scout troop caught me daydreaming a lot that night, but I didn’t care much. For a brief moment, I got to feel human again. I haven’t been away from daylight for more than a month yet, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see the sun again.
I’ll get that ‘Donor Selection’ merit badge some other night. But for now…I just want to dwell on the sacred moments I shared with a make-believe vampire…on the edge of a river…by a crackling campfire…
…And my very first kiss.
Maybe life can still be grand after all…