This story is by Kellie Smith and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
They used to call me Valery Goldsmith and God, I was lame. No gravitas; no style; no sass. Thankfully I am not the girl I used to be – like some country song, all mellow notes, I lived a life of quiet desperation. But one Friday night I lost my virginity and I transformed into something – different.
I had just finished my exams and, unlike the other kids in my grade, who scuttled off to celebrate in Janis Whitley’s hot tub, I had to attend my casual job at the local supermarket deli. Which is where I was at 6:05pm when Dean Danzel showed up.
‘Hey,’ I said, eyeing him over the cut slabs of cheddar cheese and shiny, tight-assed olives.
He barely nodded and donned a matching outfit to mine; an apron and a top hat that resembled a fat marshmallow. We looked like some misshapen Italian cartoon ad, the ones that advertised spaghetti! and ravioli! for the whole family to enjoya! Me, short and tiny; he, tall and stroppy.
Getting a nod out of Dean Danzel was a real hoot. He was a renowned isolate and generally avoided girls; but he could cut meats to millimetre precision, and that was a real bonus in this line of work.
‘Did you have a nice day?’ I asked. Annoying him gave me a juvenile kind of pleasure.
He ignored me and fiddled with the smoked ham.
I rolled my eyes and went back to – whatever I was doing. That pretty much summed me up; whatever.
6.15pm: I waited, bored, for Mrs. Humphries to appear, like she did every Friday, folks. Frumpy Mrs. Humphries would glide past like a ballerina in espadrilles, her trolley rolling silently on the glossy floor, bursting with stuff. She always looked existentially lost and I wondered – would I turn out like her?
‘Oh crap!’ I spat, the sharp pain in my finger drawing my attention. Blood promptly spat out of my skin where a plastic salad lid had sliced it.
And that is when it happened; when he was suddenly there.
‘Are you – OK?’ Dean loomed over me.
Here’s the thing about Dean. His skin was translucently pale, and he had always been – well – sallow-looking. But, at the same time, he could have done a show on one of those snooty men’s fashion covers – the Versace ones where they have cut suits and long hair and soft purple rings under their eyes.
‘Uh – yeah. I think.’
His smell was nauseating; a waft of lemon pepper mixed with something more primal.
‘Do you have to stand so close?’ I snapped.
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is where I present my case for being a Stupid Virgin at 18 years of age; I had no balls. I was oblivious to the opportunities before me. I didn’t quite get the full throb of life, and so I let out cranky little outbursts like this. Ergo sum, the boys would run in the other direction.
Not so with Dean. He simply blinked at me.
Flustered, I stormed off to the backroom.
I had to get my breathing back – there amidst the foam boxes, I was having something of a panic attack. I looked at the clock; 6.27pm.
And then a rustling sound; Dean had followed me.
I looked up at him, slowly, my body vibrating as if a hive of bees has suddenly camped out in my chest.
He seemed to be shaking, too; his face, abnormally pale, his pupils dilated. He grabbed my wrist and brought my finger to his face –
‘Are you trying to lick me?’ I croaked.
‘Would it bother you?’ he asked, his face very close.
I gulped, pulling out a Band-Aid from the First Aid kit on the wall.
‘I don’t know. I might – go home early. I don’t feel well. Blood makes me – queasy.’
‘OK,’ he said, breathing hard.
I scuttled out of there, mind numb, looking for my handbag and my darn sweater. Then, realizing I had a long walk home, in the dark and cold, I thought I best empty my bladder. My father was always banging on about bladders; holding it all in, he’d say, would make your intestines shrivel up. Well, we couldn’t have that, now, could we?
I ran back into the storage room –
And there he was – his hands shoved deep in the brains and livers bucket, blood dripping off his arms, his mouth a red mess. He stopped, mid-air, frozen.
‘Oh,’ I said.
‘Hey,’ he said, wiping his mouth slowly. ‘You came back.’
I stood there in shock: I knew he was weird, but this scene topped the list of weirdness. Bizarrely, his dark eyes only stirred something else in me; shameful, unexpected, unadulterated desire.
‘Want to – perhaps – walk me home?’ I said, not knowing that it would be the last walk I ever made back to that house, where my parents sat, eating their dull TV dinners and living their dull little lives.
I smiled. ‘It is just – dark and cold out there.’
‘No, fine. It will give me a chance to ask you – something.’
‘Ask me what?’ I stepped closer to him, mind humming happily on a monotone C note.
‘Want to lose your virginity with me?’ he asked.
I laughed – appalled.
‘It’s just – you smell like a virgin,’ he said, coming closer. The blood stains were still on his shirt; bits of brain were caught on his Adam’s apple, which seemed to throb and bob.
‘You have a keen sense of smell,’ I said, ignoring the waft of animal flesh on his arms.
He put a hand out, and as he touched my arm, his fingers were stone cold.
‘One more question.’
‘Indeed,’ said I.
‘Do you mind doing it with a vampire?’
I didn’t have time to open my mouth or move or scream before his mouth opened, his fangs spurted out and he lunged…
Yep. By 7.15pm that Friday night, I had lost my virginity. To a vampire.
I can’t say it was the best or worst experience I’ve ever had. But it made me the woman I am today. A brand new kind of beast. A Loser Virgin transformed into Brilliant, Vivacious Me. Like an upgraded vacuum cleaner. Spick and span. Instagram-able. Valery Vampire, nee Goldsmith.
My world is new and sparkly these days. And sometimes I still visit that deli, late at night, with Dean.
We like the hot chickens the best.