• Natalie Fellowes

Chapter Two

A total eclipse of the eye

Lillie drank in the moment. She couldn’t quite believe what was happening to her. Life could not get any better than this. It was everything she had wished for and more. Here she was, with him and she was his sole focus of attention. Oh my God, the way he looked at her; it made her breathless.

She flicked her hair and hoped that the look she was returning was as seductive as the one he was giving her. It was all very new to her, this flirting business and she was a bit nervous that she wasn’t doing it right. It was fun; exhilarating in fact. No one had told her how much she would love it and how natural it felt. She had excelled in the theory but had always felt a bit self-conscious when it came to the role playing part of the class. She never volunteered to go to the front and perform for the others. If you didn’t put your hand up, you could just hide away. Now she knew what she had been missing.

An image of her parents flashed in her mind. The cold scene of her mother waiting for her father to return each night as his reluctance for home-cooked domesticity increased with each day. Lillie looked up at Ben. She didn’t want that.

Another drink, he asks? Sure, why not, she flirts. The warmth of the margaritas illuminated the room into technicolour. She had never experienced such colours before. This must be how it felt to be alive. Suddenly she knew what she had to do.

Hold that drink, she taps his arm. I’ll be back. Lillie rushed into the crowd and scanned the room. Cacophony smiled back at her. She finally found the redhead in the far corner, laughing coquettishly with another tall, handsome guy. Lillie blinked. The redhead’s digital countdown appeared in the corner of her eye, whirling down to near zero. Lillie found herself bristling with contempt. How dare she think it was a dead cert; wasting her Flirt like that? She wouldn’t be laughing when she hits rock bottom. She headed over to the redhead and pulled her over. I’m not doing it, Lillie shouted over the music. The redhead stared at her. What are you talking about? Lillie repeated herself. I’m not doing it. I’m not giving up my Flirt. I’m going to do it on my own.

The redhead burst into laughter. What do you mean, you’re not doing it? Don’t you want him? Lillie shook her head. Not like this. Not unless it’s real. I want him to fall for me, for me. The redhead continued laughing. Do you really think he would go for you if it wasn’t for your Flirt? How naive are you? Something in Lillie burned. An ignition of guttural power that she never knew existed flew out of her. Watch me, she snarled.

Lillie headed back to Ben. I’m ready for my drink, she said. The redhead watched as he passed it to her. As Lillie took a sip, the redhead caught Ben’s eyes and nodded at him. He nodded back with his eyes. A silent understanding. He leant into Lillie and whispered something that delighted her, as he slipped something into her drink. Laughing forcefully loudly for the redhead’s sake, Lillie downed her drink, inviting the headiness of intoxication to take her back to the place she had just been before the conversation.

Everyone knows that you can never go back to a good dream once you’ve come out of it, however hard you try. Lillie tried but she couldn’t quite get back the rhythm she had with Ben. Instead a shadow seemed to be falling on her. The colours dampened and the room started to drain to grey. Like an eclipse, she was suddenly in darkness. She swayed onto Ben’s arm, her balance unsteady. He held her up. Let’s get you some air, he said, supporting her and gently leading her out. Suddenly the cold air slapped Lillie’s cheeks hard, knocking her back. Everything faded to black.

A flutter of light, undulating between darkness. Daylight peeped through the curtains as the morning breeze blew through. Lillie opened her eyes slowly, blinking to focus. She was in her bed; same clothes as the night before. Alone.

Something didn’t feel quite right. She blinked to check her Flirt balance. All there. She had heard of unassuming students waking up after a night of drink to find their Flirt stolen. Her head hurt and her mouth had a soapy taste. She had been drinking but surely not so much to feel like this? She showered and headed out, looking for Ben.

She found him in the campus dining hall with the redhead sitting on his lap. Her heart contracted. She felt a shiver go up the back of her neck as her body became consumed in a sudden cold sweat. Can I have a word with you please, she said to him. A look passed between him and the redhead before he stood up and walked over to her. Can we go somewhere private? Sure.

Lillie attempted to flirt away his coldness but nothing came. I wouldn’t bother if I were you, he said. It’s all gone. What’s all gone, asked Lillie? Your Flirt, came back the chilled response.

Lillie’s cold sweat returned with a vengeance. She went numb. No flirt? How? She blinked to check her balance. It was all still there. Ben smirked. Of course it looks like it’s all still there. You made the wrong choice, baby.

Lillie ran. She ran. Fight-or-flight were the only options at that moment for her and her body had chosen the latter. Fighting back tears, she ran towards the playing fields where the A-team were practising hockey. She ran straight to a brunette, sobbing. Help me Audrey, please. They’ve taken my Flirt.

In the girls’ locker room, Audrey and another girl, Lucy wrapped a blanket around Lillie’s shivering shoulders. Captain of the Hockey Squad, Lucy was used to consoling. It’s going to be okay, she said. Audrey nodded. Lucy’s right. We can work through this. Lucy gave Lillie a hug. It happened to Abigail last month. They exchanged the contact lenses so it looked like her Flirt was still intact, even though it wasn’t, and hacked into her account to transfer her Flirt to theirs. Lillie looked at Lucy. Ben did that? No, it was a different guy. That tall, exchange student who’s now gone. He was always hanging around with that redhead, don’t know her name. Do you? Lillie shrugged. She was more interested in Abigail. What happened to her? Did she get her Flirt back? Lucy hesitated, then shook her head. She left. She got a visit from the redhead and the very next day, she packed up and was gone. Just like Melissa and Eva before her. I don’t know what she had on them but she can’t get away with this. She can’t go around stealing everyone’s Flirt. You have to do something Lillie.

Lillie put her head in her hands. She was not the confrontational type. So far, she had excelled and lived life behind a shroud. She had experienced one night of Flirt, maybe that was enough? Look at her parents, maybe being single wasn’t a bad thing after all? Lillie sighed. She had done nothing wrong though. It all seemed so unfair. What should she do?





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