Thursday the 15th. We had it all set. Zac had told me he'd moved into a little bungalow just on the outskirts of my town. He'd taken a week just to set up the house, so it'd look 'decent' for me. After essentially doing 'it' over Skype, I'd lie on my bed in my awkward beige bra and un-matching patterned underwear, and he'd tell me what he'd been up to with the house. Every time Zac mentioned how he'd struggled to paint the walls, or to dismantle an old stodgy sofa, I'd offer to come over and help. He always declined. At the time I just figured he wanted be all macho, macho man about it.
Eventually he did invite me over. It was the night before the day he asked me. The short notice threw me off a bit. Because it meant I'd have to come up with a very, very good excuse for my parents, especially since Zac wanted me to stay over. I wanted to stay over. I wanted to know what it was like to fold myself into his body, and to feel his breath on my neck. It had become such a physical urge, not even a sexual urge, that my body drove my mind.
For the first time in forever, I started a conversation with my Mum. She looked so pleased, the weary light I'd catch in her eyes when she brought dinner up for me disappeared. It made me feel like I should more often. 'No,' I told myself fiercely. 'Zac is all I have, and all I'll ever need, why should I even try to bother making amends now?
"Mum...?" I did that thing where I strung out the 'm', in the obnoxious asking-for-something way.
She smiled at me merrily, handing me a biscuit from the jar. We were standing in the kitchen. I hate to say it, but Mum's one of those mums who always seem to live in the kitchen. "What is it, dear?"
The biscuit seemed like conversation bribery. I took it. "I was wondering if I could stay over at...Tina's tomorrow night?" Tina is one of those friends I told you about, where she's more functional than friend material.
"You don't usually hang with Tina," Mum said warily. I almost winced at the word 'hang'. Since when did Mum ever try to be down with the teenage lingo?
"Well we've kind of bonded over a project we've been working on at school," I answered, slightly defensively. I hoped Mum didn't notice the blatant lie.
After studying my face for a few minutes, she nodded her head slowly. "Sure. If you tell me the address, I'll pick you up afterwards."
Panic set into my chest. "No, it's okay, it's a nice walk." Laughing a little, to try and set my nerves and Mum's worries at ease, I added, "I've been up in my room so much, I need the sunshine to give some colour in my face."
"You do!" she jumped in, almost immediately. "Dear, we've been so worried about you. We feel like we've lost you to technology, it's made us so sad..."
I had to bite my lip to hold back the tears. To hide the sadness in my eyes, I locked her into a hug. She smothered me with her lavender soap scent and firm grip. Once I quickly stepped out of the embrace I said softly, "It's okay, I'm okay, honestly." It was so hard to reassure her when I wasn't even sure myself.
That night, I stayed up talking to Zac. I always did this, always had for the past couple of years. But that night was different. We weren't discussing 'what if', we were discussing 'what will be'. It was so fantastic. I could practically taste his lips on mine already, and when I fell asleep, I felt like his arms were wrapped around my waist.
To avoid suspicion from my school mates, I packed all my overnight things into my PE bag. That was toothbrush, clothes, underwear, hairbrush, the bare necessities. I'd heard awful things about people's 'first time', so I packed extra undies. My mind was a mixture of emotions all day. See, if my friends were my actual friends, they'd have noticed the jittery way I had acted. Or maybe they were just used to me being peculiar.
Zac's messages were pretty slow that day. He only sent me the odd message to confirm the address and directions. Because his replies had been a little slow since he got the house, it had made sense to me that they were slow on Thursday the 15th.
The people on TeensQuack were aware of how much Zac and I liked each other. On the forums we'd exchanged banter back and forth, and the majority of the members shipped us hard. We told a couple of the other senior members that we were meeting up, and they both acted like they were over the moon about it. We were, and still might be (I haven't had the chance to check since I started writing this, obviously), the Brangelina of TeensQuack.
After school, I headed down the opposite side of the road than I usually would. No one noticed. I knew the area vaguely, from driving around town with my parents, so I wasn't too wary. The state of the houses declined though, with every turn I made. The paintwork was more stained, the windows were more smudgy, and the front gardens became more ridden with weeds.
The address. 44 Cornfield Drive, eventually came in front of me. It didn't look as though Zac had spent a week doing it up. There were weeds everywhere. The paint crumbled off the walls. But I saw a figure lurking in the window. Tall, dark hair, pale skin. Yes. Zac. The apprehension melted away, and I put a hand on the wooden gate.
A car door slammed as I opened the gate. Two sets of footsteps hurried in my direction. I turned around. My eyes widened. One of the two people put a hand on my shoulder. "You need to come with us. Now."