I used to have pets. They were good company but one by one they died and I didn’t have the heart to replace them. I had been single for a decade. Still youngish at 40 I wasn’t worried about it. I was lonely sure, and nights were a bit cold in my drafty apartment but I managed. I even got in the cute habit of yelling out, “Hey honey, I’m home,” every night as I tossed my laptop bag onto the hall table and my keys into the bowl.
It was a silly thing to do. It wasn’t hurting anyone and for a fleeting moment it made me feel like I was in a 50’s sitcom and my significant other would be waiting in the living room, maybe not in a dress wearing pearls with a martini but maybe with a pizza and some mixed drinks. And if they weren’t there in real life, online ordering apps handled the pizza end of it.
Friday, I opened the door after a long day of being called an idiot and all I really wanted to do was skip right to the drinks. I opened my mouth to greet my imaginary partner and sighed. What was the point? Shrugging, I ignored my black mood and called out, “Honey, I’m home! Did you miss me?”
“I did, darling,” a voice called back.
I dropped the laptop bag on the floor. The tantalizing scent of pineapple and ham pizza drifted to me in the foyer. I walked down the hall to the living room. Curled up on my sofa was a petite brunette with a pixie cute in silky striped pajamas, holding two drinks. “I made you a seven and seven. We’re out of rum,” she said and made a face. “It’s gross but it gets the job done.” she took a sip to prove her point and grimaced. “I am sooooo um, well drunk. Work was traumatic. You?”
“I-ah, it was also traumatic,” I replied wondering if I had had a stroke.
She waved for me to come closer. I did, magnetically pulled to the sofa. I collapsed next to her and she handed me the drink. I sipped it, coughing. “Gah, this is revolting.”
“Mm,” she agreed.
I gave her a sidelong glance. Her eyes were so brown they were black. Her skin was a nice medium tone like a natural tan and a hint of cleavage could be seen where she had misbuttoned the top two buttons on her pajama top. Shapely legs were pulled up under her and she had one hell of a wicked smile.
“You are my dream girl,” I told her.
Her cheeks flamed red and a giggle escaped her. “You’re in a mood,” she commented, flipping the pizza box open. “Get a slice in you before you puke up all that whiskey.”
I ate a slice. It tasted fine, not like LSD or any other hallucinogens. Not that I would know. Listen, it tasted like ham, and pineapple and lovely mozzarella. My drink tasted like suffering which is what whiskey always tasted like to me, so it wasn’t the food.
“How long have we been together?” I asked.
Her smile faltered, “Janie, don’t ask questions like that. It makes me think you don’t want me here. Don’t you want me here?”
Something in her eyes glowed oddly. I blinked and it was gone. My dream girl smiled and grabbed my free hand. Her nails were manicured in a matte black giving me the illusion of a wolf’s claws. Her skin was warm and the scent of pizza, whiskey and something wild hit me. Her smile was wistful.
“I do want you here,” I replied. “I must have hit my head or something at work today, honey. I’m sorry.”
That pleased her and she squeezed my fingers. The black in her eyes started to fade to a root beer. She tugged on my hand until we were half in a cuddle. The shock to my system was instant. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had wanted to touch me, let alone huddle up on the sofa together. Her warmth seeped into me.
“Am I dreaming?”
She frowned. “Janie please.”
“I’m just… happy you’re with me,” I said when her breath hitched, eyes flashing black again. Whatever she was, she wanted to be with me and as she placed a gentle kiss on my cheek, I realized I wanted her to be with me too. “I can’t remember your name.”
“Janie,” she warned.
“Fine,” I said. I wasn’t allowed to ask or know who or what or where she came from if I wanted to keep her. Was I that lonely? Had I been fooling myself with my little game? Had I called something into existence? Someone? Was she a demon? Did I care?
She slid her free hand up my thigh.
I did not care.
“Do you want me to stay,” she asked, a hint of points showing in her smile.
“Yeah,” I said, “Stay with me.”
Her smile was brilliant.
Honey, I am home.
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