It started with nothing more than a quizzical glance from the girl next door on a stormy afternoon in September. It was the first time Jackson had seen her, and as he stared – as though marooned on a surreal planet made up of only her eyes – it occurred to him that her sudden appearance that day made perfect sense. If spring was a time of beginnings, it followed that fall would be the dawn of ends. She, he knew somehow, would be his death.
Noticing that he had mysteriously managed to grab her curiosity, if only for a second, Jackson decided to work up the confidence to approach her. He was not typically a shy guy, in fact he was usually downright impulsive, but something told him that this manoeuvre demanded a rehearsal or two. It was the way a simple glance from her seemed to tug at his brain and nestle in his gut like a parasite. She, he knew somehow, was a tumour.
Thanks to the storm, the bus was behind schedule, giving Jackson time to plan his attack. Her alarmingly green eyes, which had passed over him with an undeniable intensity, were now buried in a book. Her small umbrella seemed more protective of it than of her, and heavy droplets were rolling down her head and falling off of her pointed nose as a result. Having no umbrella of his own to offer her, Jackson opted for a more daring approach. He pulled out his phone and dialled a taxi. When it pulled up (luckily, before the bus), he gestured her towards it with a simple, “on me.”
“I’m Jackson,” he said once they were safely seated in the vehicle, which splashed silt up at the passer-bys as it took off.
She eyed him once more, squinting with persistence. Jackson almost worried that she was seeing through his veil of false-ease, but then decided to blame the dark grey day for her carefulness.
“Lianne,” she finally responded.
“Well, Lianne, where are we off to? Ladies first, of course.”
“Well, Jackson, that depends on whether you’re willing to play hookey with me.”
A subtle smirk appeared across her face just as a flash of lightening cracked through the sky. Had he not been stunned by her forwardness, Jackson might have noticed how it revealed a hint of monstrous salacity behind those increasingly haunting eyes. But wasn’t that always the story?
He, she knew somehow, would be just as easy as the rest.