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Andrew’s eyes flickered over the selfie for a moment before recognition dawned.? Sally… Fergus? Yes, it was her, no question. She’d lost a fair bit of weight and her goth makeup was more artfully applied than it had been in high school, but it was her.
He hadn’t specifically tried to be her friend.? In fact, he could remember rather disliking her at first, in the snobby, overly judgmental way he hoped he had grown out of.
He found her to generally be a bit of an edgelord, always trying perhaps a bit too hard to be irreverent.? She was everything he found annoying, and she – he was sure – saw him as just another preppy buttoned-down loser.
She’d been really vocally into The Purge fanfiction, he remembered.? Mostly crossover stuff with… Predator, maybe?? And some kind of hurt-comfort fic about the Benidio Del Toro Wolf Man?? There was a time when he was embarrassed to even know what a hurt-comfort fic was.
But despite themselves, they had gotten along really well.? He remembered long conversations with her on the bus on band trips, about Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Lord of the Rings or classic ’70s rock or stuff like that.? And she was half-Korean, though you might not know it to look at her, and he had to admit that hearing her talk about that culture and the history was pretty cool.? He had been mildly embarrassed by how well they had gotten along, to be honest.
And now, six years later and several cities away, here she was showing up on his dating app as he idly flicked through it on the streetcar.? He opened up her bio.
Goth girl looking for someone to watch monster movies with, fall asleep on couch with, cuddle, bake pot brownies with
Studying creature design at CMU Makeup College
Nazis, fuck off
Follow me on Instagram
And then there was a link to her Instagram account.
He scrolled through her pics again.? The first was a simple selfie of her in a low-cut black top.? Even that felt weird to look at. When he knew her, she was a bit plump and clearly uncomfortable with her body, hiding behind baggy, shapeless clothes, but now was clearly in great shape and rocking a moderately risque outfit.? Her makeup was subtler, too; sure, her eyeliner was very dark, her foundation was an unnaturally pale shade, and her lipstick was black, but she didn’t have giant gloomy panda eyes anymore. She looked less like a suicide prevention poster and more like Death from the Sandman comics, or that creepy hot chick from The Craft.? And she was smiling, something he’d only ever seen her do in person, never in a photo before.
He scrolled to the next picture.? This one looked professionally done; she was sitting on an elegant black loveseat, in an old-fashioned (Victorian, maybe?) style.? Her knees were up, her long legs wrapped in black-and-white striped stockings that seemed to dominate the image, black high-heeled shoes dangling over the edge of the couch.? It looked like she was wearing a frilly black dress, but it was hard to tell at this angle. Only her head and a single arm and shoulder were visible leaning out from behind them.? She was smiling mischievously, her hand reaching out to hold a glass of some very dark red liquid. Her hair, normally in a straight black bob with pronounced bangs, was curly in this one, falling around her head in glamourous ringlets.
He’d never been attracted to her before, but there was no denying it: she was gorgeous.
“What the hell,” he murmured to himself, and swiped right on her.
Within seconds, a notification popped up.
It’s a match!? You and Sally have both liked each other!? Who will be the first to message?
Andrew wasn’t sure where to proceed from here.? He had had very little success with this app so far, finding few matches, fewer still who messaged back.? Most of those who did turned out to be phishing scams or bots or just trolls, and he could count on the fingers of one hand the number of actual dates he had gotten through this damn app.
Well, here went nothing.
Hey, he typed.? Remember me?
He immediately backspaced away the entire message and started from scratch.? Better to assume she remembered him. He was memorable. Right?
Hey, he typed again.? How’ve you been?
That was better.? Before he could keep overthinking it, he hit send.
About twenty minutes went by.? He read a bit of his book, got off his streetcar, boarded a connecting streetcar.? As he was settling into it, he noticed a notification from the app. Sally had messaged him back.
Been great!? fancy seeing you here!? You live in town?
Yeah, he replied.? On Ossington.? Just graduated U of T.? I see you’re at a makeup college?
That’s so cool!? ya i am doing creature design.? I want to work on movies
They were filming something near my house last week.? I güvenilir bahis think Keifer Sutherland might have been there, he typed.
Andrew felt like it was his turn to text now and had no idea how to continue the conversation after that.? This was already further than most of these conversations got for him. Luckily, Sally broke the silence.
So you swiped right on me
Yeah I did
I had a big crush on you in high school you know
Yeah really you ass
Shit, I’m sorry.? If I knew I would have probably asked you to prom or something
As he typed it he wondered if it was true, before deciding that, yes, back at Wingham High he had been so desperate that he would have.? It would beat going stag, which he had done instead.
Too late lol
For prom?? Or in general?
Just for prom i guess.? Emoji sticking its tongue out.
Okay, good.? You want to get coffee?
All in all, he thought, he had had far worse texting conversations.
He followed her Instagram link, and caught himself creeping her gallery on a few occasions.? It was hard to say what had changed, why the goth look he had once turned his nose up at suddenly worked so well for him.? How much of it was her greater skill at makeup, and how much was a change in his own attitude?
Whatever it was, her Instagram was great.? Her pictures were beautifully taken, with great lighting and artistic arrangement, occasionally a little titillating but always, he thought, tasteful.? Sexy but never outright lewd. Mostly it was pictures of her, but there were also quite a few of prosthetic pieces, which the captions identified as school assignments.? Pictures of her with friends, or cosplaying at conventions, posing with cult celebrities (hey, Bruce Campbell!). Pictures of her tattoos. Pictures of her Warhammer army – Vampire Counts, naturally, expertly painted.
The more he saw of her Instagram, the more he recognized of the Sally he had known – not the too-cool-for-school miserable goth facade she projected to the world, but the fun-loving sweet-natured girl her friends knew was underneath.
He quickly realized she had multitudes of followers on there, loyal ones too, and the comments on some of her photos weren’t worth getting into.? Most of her followers were courteous, cool people, but there was a definite undercurrent of barely-restrained thirst from more than a few of them, when it was restrained at all.
Finally the day came for the coffee date.? It was a Saturday, early in the afternoon. Andrew was nervous.? He thought about shaving, but decided not to. He had a fashionable amount of scruff in the pic that had attracted her attention in the first place, and decided to leave it.? He put on his favourite black turtleneck. He owned a few black turtlenecks. He debated putting on a button-up shirt and a tie but decided against it. It was just a coffee date, and besides, his turtleneck was semi-formal if he paired it with his blue peacoat.
It had been quite a while for Andrew.? He wasn’t great at talking to girls or at getting to know, well, people in general.? There was undeniably something comforting about a date (was this even a date?) with someone he already knew, but enough time had gone by that he wasn’t sure what use their prior acquaintance would be.? Besides, she was surely out of his league by now, high school crush notwithstanding, and would realize it within minutes of meeting him.
Oh well.? He had to try.
The thing about Andrew was that he was actually a really good-looking guy but he didn’t realize it.? He had thick, wavy dark hair, strong features, and a bedroom-eyes resting face. He looked disheveled in the best possible way, like you had just woken up next to him.
He arrived at the coffee shop she had chosen.? It was a cute little place, the kind with big armchairs where they don’t bug you and students are working on their laptops everywhere, listening to their lo-fi hiphop beats.? Sally wasn’t there yet, but a text confirmed she was on her way. Andrew took a table for two, surprised how calm he was. He had taken a zen approach here, he realized: either something would happen, or it wouldn’t.? And there was something almost empowering about the realization that he wasn’t even sure he wanted anything beyond maybe friendship with her. He wasn’t trying to win her affection; he was still deciding whether or not he even wanted it.
All that went out the window when he saw her walk into the cafe.? His breath was taken away, and his wasn’t the only head she turned as she came in.
Sally’s black hair was a bouncy, playful bob around her multiply-pierced ears.? Her bright red lipstick was a splash of colour, pulled up in a radiant smile of recognition, on a snowy white foundation.? But other than her makeup, which looked painstakingly applied, she appeared to be dressed down – at least by her standards.? A dark red türkçe bahis leather bomber jacket over a t-shirt with Bela Lugosi’s glowering mug on it. Dark grey jeans, a spikey belt, and deep purple Docs.? Her purse was a black leather thing with a white imprint of a skeletal hand on it.
Aside from her face, he wouldn’t have recognized her as the girl he knew in Wingham.? Even her walk was different. The embarrassed shuffle he had known was gone, given way wholly to a confident, bouncy swagger.? God, she looked good.
“Andrew!” she called, running up to hug him.? He stood, grateful not to have already gotten an awkward boner, and put his arms around her.? He became uncomfortably aware of her large breasts pushing against his chest, but Sally seemed either oblivious or unconcerned.
He ordered a London fog.? She got something whose name he didn’t catch, but he was pretty sure coconut milk came into it somehow.? It sounded very healthy.
“I used to be really into London fogs,” she said, as they sat down at the table.
“Hands down my favourite hot beverage,” Andrew said.
She smiled.? “How much of that is because of the name?”
“Well, I did major in English,” he admitted.? “So it is like drinking, I don’t know, a Dickens novel.”
“I know you did,” she said.? “I creeped your social media too.? I know you creeped my Instagram. You liked a bunch of my pics.”
“I wouldn’t say ‘creep’,” insisted Andrew.? “I… perused it. You were so shy in high school.? I almost didn’t recognize you at first.” He wondered for a moment if this had been the wrong thing to say, but Sally nodded.
“Yeah, high school was rough,” she agreed.? “I don’t know what I had to be so unhappy about.”
“Being a teenager is awkward.? You don’t need a reason to be unhappy.? I thought I was so fucking smart then.”
“Dude, weren’t you an A student?”
“Mostly A minuses,” he quibbled.? “I’d say I was a pretty classic big fish in a small pond.? Once I moved here-” he gestured around, then stopped. “Toronto, I mean, not here here, like to this coffee shop.”? She chuckled. “I honestly had a bit of an identity crisis.? Being smart enough to get into U of T doesn’t impress people who also got into U of T.? And then you meet some of the legacy students and you realize it’s not even that big of an achievement in the first place.”
“Tell me about it,” said Sally.? “So you’ve been living here for, what, four years now?”
“About that, yeah.”
“I won’t be the nine billionth person to ask you what your plans are now that you’ve graduated.”
“Thank you.? Post-grad life is stressful.”? She nodded. “How about you?” he asked.? “You said you’re taking classes at like a special effects school?”
“Yeah, CMU.? It’s only like a six week course though.”
“Oh, so what have you been doing since high school?”? As soon as he asked, he realized that this time, he had indeed broached an uncomfortable subject.
“Well, I didn’t get out of Wingham until like two years ago.? I was working at the roadhouse, raising money for school.” He remembered that not everyone at Wingham High had grown up with middle-class parents like he had. “I was up at York U for a bit, but I didn’t like it there, and around that time my Instagram thing started to really take off so money was less of a concern than it had been.? So I dropped out of that back in April of last year, and now I’m at CMU.”
“I didn’t realize your Instagram thing was so big.? Are you, like, an Influencer?”
She grimaced.? “I hate that word, but yes, a low-level Influencer.? It feels so weird. I mean, you know me. I never liked being the centre of attention.”
“I guess I started it just after high school ended, when I was first getting into yoga and I wanted to to, like, document my journey or whatever.? Somehow it blew up, and then a makeup company offered me a brand deal. It’s not what I want to do forever, but the money’s good, so I’ll ride it as long as I can.”
“I think I could tell, from looking at them, that you weren’t really trying to go viral or anything.? And I mean that in a good way. Like, it felt natural. Like, here’s Sally the artfuck band geek taking mood shots because she feels like it, not some kind of calculated appeal to the algorithms or whatever.? If that makes sense.”
She laughed.? “I think so. Thank you?? Honestly I feel a lot more like myself nowadays, and I won’t lie, the validation is kind of nice.? We were all trying so hard to be the coolest versions of ourselves back at Wingham. I don’t miss it.”
“Yeah, you were never good at being inauthentic.? I feel like you were trying to be edgy and shocking and I was trying to be a snooty douche and it didn’t work very well for either of us.”
“Snooty douche worked okay for you,” she flirted.? “Didn’t I already tell you I had a crush on you back then?? Maybe you weren’t as douchey as you remember.”
“Maybe,” güvenilir bahis siteleri he admitted.? “‘Had a crush’?”
She laughed.? “You’re doing alright so far.? Don’t try the snooty douche thing now, though.? It doesn’t work on me anymore.”
“Noted.? What does work?”? It wasn’t like Andrew to flirt so shamelessly.? On a first date like this he would normally be a lot more reserved, trying to make up his mind whether or not he was really interested, but he realized now that he had already made up his mind without realizing it.
They already had a bedrock of friendship, and that connection was still there.? He didn’t need to get to know her better; he already knew her. But now he wanted more than just her friendship.? The only obstacle to a romantic relationship before had been removed, but frankly, the fact that he had once been embarrassed by her was now an even greater embarrassment.
He wanted to date her.
“Well,” she said, “I’m nearly done my drink.? Do you have any plans for the rest of the afternoon?”? He shook his head. “You want to watch a movie?”
“Not opposed.? What’s playing?”
“Oh, I meant, like, at my apartment.? I live only a few blocks from here, and I just found out that Robot Monster is on Amazon Prime.”
The walk to her place wasn’t far.? She lived in the basement of a handsome old-fashioned house just off Queen Street, in a two-bedroom apartment she was able to afford by herself.? She explained that she was using the spare bedroom as a workspace for her design and prosthetics work, and she also had a little green screen set up for photography, and did most of her model painting in there.? A door on the front of the house opened directly onto a staircase leading down, the only window – albeit a good-sized one – draped in a heavy blackout curtain.
Inside the basement apartment, the walls were painted black, but Sally had hung a number of neon lights on the wall, twisting coils forming jack-o’-lanterns, skulls, Halloween witch faces.? The floor was carpeted in a thick black shag. Framed posters for horror movies – It Follows, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Evil Dead 2, Plan Nine from Outer Space – lined the walls between them.? The opposite wall was dominated almost entirely by shelves, with a big collection of movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, monster movie memorabilia and knick-knacks, and books.? Books about movie history, makeup history, tabletop RPG rulebooks, comics, what looked like a complete collection of the Tales from the Crypt comic.? At the far end of the room was a wall-mounted 50″ TV, with a Blu-Ray player and Nintendo Switch next to it, facing a black leather couch and a coffee table.? A display cabinet in the corner was full of small models, her Warhammer army, monster action figures. The ceiling, meanwhile, was decorated with glow-in-the-dark stars.? It was like the platonic ideal of a basement, simultaneously gloomy and luxuriant.
“Yeah, this is your apartment, alright,” said Andrew.
Sally took his coat and hung it, and hers, in a tidy closet under the stairs.? Her bare arms were heavily tattooed; the Creature from the Black Lagoon swam up one arm while the other was dominated by bats and what looked like hyenas.? There was something confidently mischievous in her manner, like she had the rest of the night all planned out, and Andrew would have to wait to find out.
“Can I get you a drink?” she asked.? “I’ve got some nice rum I’m trying to finish.” He accepted, and she mixed him a rum-and-coke.? They sat down on the couch and she queued up Robot Monster.
“So you haven’t seen this movie before?”
“I think I saw the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of it, a long time ago.? It’s the one where he’s wearing, like, a gorilla suit and a diving helmet?”
“That’s the one.? I think that was before the writers really hit their stride though, which is a shame, because this movie rules so hard.”? She hit play, and the opening score of the movie stuttered to life.
It was like old times, in a way.? Watching a rotten old B-movie with Sally, laughing, cracking jokes, cringing at the annoying child actors.? He could almost forget how much had changed since Wingham, just as he remembered once again how much he had enjoyed her company.
“That is a terrible monster,” said Andrew.
“I love him,” said Sally.? “I won’t hear a word against Ro-Man.”
But as the movie went on, Andrew because increasingly, uncomfortably aware of the warmth of Sally’s body only a few inches from him.? He could have sworn she was inching closer to him. He didn’t want to be too forward, but he didn’t want to pull away, either. Finally, with no illusions, she leaned her head against his shoulder, cuddling up to him.? Tentatively, Andrew moved an arm around her, fingers brushing against her waist, and she welcomed the contact.
He could feel himself stiffening at her touch, her muscles springy, tight.? If she was aware of his predicament, though, she gave no indication. She grew quieter, seemingly focused more on the movie.? He wondered if she did know how hard he was. Was she uncomfortable? She didn’t pull away. Teasing him, perhaps?
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