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Shapeshifters

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I awoke to the irritating pitter-patter of my twenty-five year old, wannabe pornstar, step-mom's stilletoes. "Are we gunna go shoppin' or are ya just gunna sit at home all day again?" she screams from the end of the staircase, sounding about as annoyed as I felt. She pops a bubble with her discount-priced gum. I threw on the tackiest "Batman Forever" T-shirt I could find on my bedroom floor, and decided I wasn't going to answer her question. I stumbled into the bathroom, and attempted to tame the messy mop of long, blonde hair I was cursed with. I debated on whether or not to wash my face, later deciding not to. I lazily stepped down the stairs, meeting my stepmother, A, at the bottom. "Why don't you answer me? Let's go! Now!" I assumed it was a ritorical question. Walking out the front door and into the passenger seat of her BMW, I took a quick sip of some stale redbull from the glove compartment. I watched as A walked outside. She was going to forget to lock the door. Wait for it, wait for it. Bingo! "Lock the door, dumba**!" I shouted rudely. She locked the door and jumped into the car. "So where to, honeymunchkin?" D asks, her fake enthusiasm obvious. Another ritorical question.
Within the hour, A managed to drag me to five different stores, each store having their own discusting scent of chemicals and mould. One in particular, smelt distinctly of citrus. The citrus store is where I met Victor.
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No, it wasn't love at first sight, and I didn't get "butterflies in my belly" when I stomped up to him and asked "WHAT THE F*** IS THAT SMELL, DUDE?." He seemed confused, but I failed to see the complexity of my question. He stared at me in shock for a few seconds before A broke the silence. "Danny?" she screamed, once she had realized I was gone. I waved at her, then continued my silent conversation with the stranger. As we contined to stare at each other in the middle of the false eyelash section, he started a rather awkward conversation about Batman. I guess my tacky shirt turned out to be my own personal cupid. Once we had discussed everything from Joker to Scarecrow, I eyed A heading towards the checkout. I excused myself from the conversation with the intresting stranger, and headed towards A. It seemed that the "stranger" was also the cashier. His phone number was found on the reciept from A's purchases, during the silent car ride home.
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As we pulled up onto our driveway, I raced out of the car and into the house, anxious to call the stranger. During the three hour phone call, I learnt his name was Victor, he was fifteen, and was the quarter-back on a football leauge. He dropped out of school to work full time, but only to support his one-month old daughter, whom he had full custody of. I was also informed that he wasn't working the following day, and that I was welcome to stop by to meet his daughter. I guessed it was because he liked blondes.
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The following morning, I rushed to all my classes, skipping latin, my last class, to catch the bus. In my head, I planned V and I's conversation. I would start with flattery; ex. "Your house is beautiful, your daughter is stunning, etc. Then, work my way to his hobbies and interests. Forty-five miniutes and two extra-strenth advils later, I finally found his apartment. With a bit of flirting with the concierge, I managed to get inside the building, only to discover the elevator was out of service. V lived on the twenty-first floor. While climbing the never-ending staircases, I was thankful I had skipped Latin, or I would have been late. I still remember the feeling when I knocked on his door; a mix of anxiety, excitement and regret, all wrapped into one painful emotion. I waited for the sound of footsteps, but I heard nothing. A baby crying, a microwave beeping, anything would have sufficed. I waited. And waited.
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"Hey Danny" he whispered as he opened the door, looking unprepared. He smelt of shampoo and shaving cream. I assumed he had just finished bathing. He made a hand gesture, and I walked inside. I still wonder, to this day, what that hand gesture meant. My pre-written conversation topics were mentally erased the moment I saw him. "Hey, can you grab Ann's milk? Just pop in it the microwave.. it should be in the fridge.. thanks." I hesitated. I has just met this boy yesterday, yet he had already invited me over, and was now asking me to prepare his child's meal! Lost in thought, I walked out of V's room and searched for the kitchen. Victor's tall shadow appeared from behind me, daughter in hand. I blushed, and faced them, shaking ann's bottle. I passed the bottle over to V, careful not to spill the thick, mushy substance. "Why don't we go to my room, and you can tell me about yourself as I feed Ann?
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"Well, I write books. I want to do it, like, y'know.. as a job. I guess.. I haven't really decided yet. I really wanna be a singer though.. like a rockstar, like.. i don't know, "The Rolling Stones", i guess. I play guitar, and piano, and pretty much anything that makes a half-decent sound. My parents died in a car-crash when I was 5, so I was sent to live with my dad's mistress... f****d up, huh? My grandfather finally 'fessed up about my dad and some blonde high-school s***, who was like, dunnoe, fifteen. So whatever, she took me in, and yeah. What else... let's see... what do you wanna know?" V looked almost discusted by my story, but I was immune to those kind of looks by now. "What's your real name?" he asks playfully, "Daniel? Daniella?" "It's Daniel. Yeah I know it's a guy name, captian obvious. But I love my name. Any other stupid questions?"
"What's your natural haircolour?" "Black" "Eye colour?" "You can't change your eye colour, idiot" "Do you think it's time for Ann's nap?" "Most likely."
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I watched as he rushed into Ann's room, and softly placed her on her delicate crib. His muscular arms flexed as he ajusted Ann's head. By the time he returned, I was already wandering around his apartment. It was beautiful. Beige walls, hardwood flooring, and light carpeting in the bedrooms. I assumed he must have been working two jobs, becuase he could have never have been able to afford those luxuries on a cashier's budget. V finally caught me, and whispered something about a television in the next room. Following him, I continued to glance around. When we arrived in the living room, I was anxious to sit down and kill some of the silence in the air. He flipped the televisions channels untill he found a football game. I sat on his leather couch, mentally asking myself questions, like why he hadn't moved closer to me yet. Was it the age difference? It was only a year... maybe his daughter? Before I could continue, he had moved closer to me. "Football, huh?" I asked foolishy, trying to start a conversation. He simply nodded. Enough talking, I figured, and leaned into his shoulder, playfully complaining about the "boringness" of football. When I recieved no responce, I became desperate. Was he upset? Did he invite me over simply to watch television. I placed my hand near his, waiting for him to make a move. I decided I should play the "hard to get" card. "So do you have a girlfriend?" I asked sheepishly, but I wasn't expecting his responce to be so devestating. " I did, I was married once, to Ann's mother. She was killed, a few days after Ann was born." I was planning on telling him I had a boyfriend, but instead, I sat in silence, wondering what I should say. With a loss for words, I placed my head on his lap and whispered how sorry I was. Four months after that conversation, Victor finally asked me out on a date. I assume he had notice my sudden lack of enthusiasm when he invited me over to watch movies at his house; again. And again. I remember the day so clearly. He picked me up outside of my highschool, since there was a bus from my school directly to a major intersection with many restaurants near-by. We decided to eat at an "Authentic Indian Restaurant", but to me, it tased like A's leftover chicken dinner. After dinner, while walking to the nearest bus-stop, Victor paused, grabbed my arm, and locked his eyes with mine so tight I could feel his pain. "What's wrong?" I asked, hesitating. He sat in the middle of the sidewalk, motioning for me to join him. Crossing my legs, I repeated myself. "What's wrong?"
"There's something I haven't told you about Ann's mom...





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