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Authors: Nikki Rae

The Donor

BOOK: The Donor
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The Donor

Nikki Rae

 

Copyright © 2014 by Nikki Rae Colligan. All rights reserved worldwide. This work may not be copied, stored in a retrieval system, or distributed without prior written permission of the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. If you have this file or a print out of this file, you are depriving the author and the publisher of their rightful royalties and are punishable under law. Cover art designed by the author.

“The future came and went in the mildly discouraging way that futures do.”
—Neil Gaiman

The Donor

 

Part One

 

 

I always thought it was weird that human beings wanted to fly. I wonder how many birds have gotten sucked up into plane engines over however many years since they were invented. I try to relax. I tell myself to stop thinking such morbid things as I shut the keyhole of a window with one hand and grip the armrest of the seat with the other.             

 

***

 

I joined MyTrueMatch.com over three months ago. I uploaded a picture of myself and typed a list of my favorite things, like jogging (to look athletic), reading (for intelligence), and painting (to appear creative). There were a few hits on my profile right away. All either spam emails for weight loss pills or very creepy messages from guys whose interests included “banging” and “clubbing”. I wasn’t looking for a knight in shining armor, but I also wasn’t looking to get locked up in a basement being told to rub lotion on my skin or I’ll get the hose again either.

 I’d given up hope on finding anyone until a few weeks ago. There was no picture by his name, just the generic, 2-dimensional cartoon of a grey-faced man. He started off the conversation innocently enough:  

 

JonahBlack[5:00pm]:
Hello. I think we have a few things in common.

 

JonahBlack[5:02pm]:
I would really enjoy talking with you.

 

It wasn’t exactly poetic, but I hadn’t signed up for MyTrueMatch for poetry. If I wanted pretty words and flowers, I would have gone a more traditional route. A bar or movie. Somewhere normal people met and got to know each other. I scanned his profile to find that we did have a few things in common. He liked to read and he was into taking walks. Sounded legit enough to me. I waited a day or so before I responded so I wouldn’t look too desperate.

 

CaseyWilliams[11:00pm]:
I think you might be right about that, but why so mysterious, Mr. Jonah Black?

 

I didn’t expect an automatic response, but there it was, glowing on the screen of my computer in blocky blue letters:

 

JonahBlack[11:02pm]:
I thought we could talk and get to know each other instead.

 

JonahBlack[11:02pm]:
How are you?

 

So began our month-long dance of getting to know one another. It wasn’t like we were falling in love. That’s not what either of us was after anyway. Throughout our conversations, I asked him questions and he answered without hesitation. I knew where he lived (Boston), his supposed age (39—21 years older than me), height (6’2”), build (average), eye color (hazel), hair color (brown), and so on. But I found it odd that he would tell me all of these things willingly yet not send me a picture of himself. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care what he looked like. It didn’t matter.

 

CaseyWilliams[9:00pm]:
So, you sound nice.

 

I typed once.

 

CaseyWilliams[9:01pm]:
Why no picture?

 

JonahBlack[9:03pm]:
I’m not photogenic.

 

CaseyWilliams[9:05pm]:
Or, you know, you could be a 12 yr. old boy.

 

JonahBlack[9:06pm]:
Or a 100 year old man.

 

CaseyWilliams[9:07pm]:
Exactly.

 

During the short time we had been talking, I’d since Googled my grey-faced suitor. He had no Facebook that I could tell. No other form of social media. It was like he only existed within MyTrueMatch, like he only came to life when we were in front of our respective computer screens.

I was slightly uneasy that I couldn’t match a face with our conversations, but I didn’t want to waste time waiting for another decent guy to hit on my profile. He seemed normal enough, and I wasn’t about to get picky.

It was around this time that we started talking about when we would meet.

 

***

 

The plane lands with minimal turbulence, but I still feel like I have to throw up. My pulse pounds in my ears for too long before we’re allowed to exit the big metal bird. Then I have to shuffle through the crowded airport to wait in front of a conveyer belt of luggage for my suitcase. When I booked a flight that landed at nine at night Boston time, I didn’t think it would be this crowded, but there are people everywhere. People complaining about their suitcases missing, how hungry they are, how much money they’re spending to fly somewhere cold in the middle of January and not get fed. Fortunately, my old red suitcase with blue flowers on it tumbles down the line, and I squeeze through a few people to retrieve it.

It’s heavier than I remember it being when I packed it this morning and now I’m worried that I brought too much with me. I think about taking a minute to breathe, maybe contemplate exactly what it is I’m doing, and possibly vomit, but I decide against all of that and instead follow a small crowd of people who all happen to be going in the same direction I need to go: toward the exit.

 

***

 

CaseyWilliams[2:01am]:
So when I get there, how will I know how to find you?

 

I thought about making another joke about how I should look for a little kid holding balloons or a guy being pushed around in a wheelchair by his nurse, but I didn’t want him to think that I actually believed he was a twelve year old or some creepy old man luring teenage girls to his home. He was way more articulate than any guy
my
age I’d ever met, and he paid for my flight from Sacramento to Boston, which I doubt a pre-teen would have the resources for. He also sent off these…I don’t know. Vibes? I couldn’t quite place what it was, but I wasn’t afraid of him. Maybe the situation itself, but not the man without a face.

 

JonahBlack[2:02am]:
You know what I look like.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:06am]:
From what you’ve told me, yeah. If you’re not lying.

 

JonahBlack[2:06am]:
I have no reason to lie.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:09am]:
How do I know that?

 

JonahBlack[2:10am]:
How do I know
you’re
not lying?

 

JonahBlack[2:10am]:
You have a picture of a very attractive young woman, but how do I know that it’s really you?

 

CaseyWilliams[2:12am]:
…You have no way of knowing for sure, I guess.

 

JonahBlack[2:12am]:
Exactly.

 

JonahBlack[2:13am]:
I promise, I’m not 12.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:15am]:
Okay.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:15am]:
But.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:16am]:
What if you’re luring me out there because you need a babysitter for YOUR
twelve year old?

 

JonahBlack[2:17am]:
Are you nervous?

 

CaseyWilliams[2:17am]:
No.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:17am]:
Not at all.

 

JonahBlack[2:18am]:
Are you lying?

 

CaseyWilliams[2:18am]:
Yup.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:18am]:
Completely.

 

JonahBlack[2:20am]:
You joke when you’re nervous. I can tell.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:22am]:
Yeah.

 

He paused. I paused. I wondered if his hands were hovering over the keys the same way mine were, trying to word in his head first what to say next before typing it out and hitting enter.

 

JonahBlack[2:26am]:
Did you tell anyone where you would be for those two weeks?

 

CaseyWilliams[2:26am]:
Yes.

 

I had so far only told my parents. They thought I was going to look at schools. No need to burden them with more than they could take on. And I really doubted they would have been okay with this situation.

 

JonahBlack[2:27am]:
You have a plan

 

JonahBlack[2:27am]:
In case you don’t want to be here?

 

I swallowed hard. I was getting uncomfortable with thinking this guy would make me want to leave so badly that I would need a way out of the situation. I was determined to do this. I wasn’t about to be chased off. The only plan I had so far was to call home at a certain time every day, figuring my parents would worry if they didn’t hear from me when the truth was they were too busy to worry about much else besides working and trying to keep the bill collectors at bay.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:29am]:
Yes.

 

JonahBlack[2:30am]:
Then you’ll be perfectly safe.

 

JonahBlack[2:31am]:
I promise, I’m not scary
.
:)

 

I knew I was only proving him right about my nerves with my response:

 

CaseyWilliams[2:35am]:
You so better not be 12.

 

CaseyWilliams[2:36am]:
Or 100.

 

***

 

Jonah was right. I know what he looks like. He doesn’t spot me right away, so I have a few minutes to take him in. He’s dressed kind of fancy for someone who’s just picking up some girl at an airport. He’s tall, wearing dark grey business pants, a tie of the same color peeking out of his heavy black coat. His hair is short and brown. I can’t make out the color of his eyes from so far away.

He spots me. I’m surprised when I watch him go through the same process of looking at me, mentally counting off the things I’ve told him about myself and what my profile picture looked like and comparing it to the person walking toward him. He smiles slightly, and it’s like the small movement of his lips electrifies the rest of his expression. Yet even as we move closer and closer to each other, I’m convinced that it’s not him. That he hasn’t seen me.

When we’re close enough to make out each others’ features, my feet stop moving. When he says my name, his voice is soft, not as deep as I imagined it being.

His features are soft, but strong. Angled but not sharp. He’s a little pale, but it’s winter here—cold, snowy winter. Everyone is pale. Although I knew how tall he was from our conversations, I didn’t expect him to be so much taller than me—I almost have to crane my neck to look at him. His eyes are in fact Hazel, like he told me they were, and he has to lower his gaze slightly in order to look at me.

“Casey.” It isn’t a question. He knows who I am. I half expect him to stick out his hand to shake.

“Jonah?” I ask before either of us has to go through that.

Then he smiles, and he has straight, white teeth except for one on the bottom row, which is a little bit misaligned.

“So,” he says after a while. I’m a little amazed that I can still hear him over the sounds of the airport around us. He takes my suitcase from me, gently and without asking. My hands feel empty, so I loop my thumbs into the straps of my backpack. “How was your flight?”

I’m aware that he’s taken a step toward the exit, completely on autopilot.

“Okay,” I answer. My voice comes out too high so I clear my throat. I stare at my flats. I swipe my hair behind my ear. “I’ve never been on a plane before. So that was…new.” God. I’m already sounding stupid.

He laughs again. A soft, easy, sound.

 

***

 

JonahBlack[10:02pm]:
Are you sure you want to do this?

 

He asked me one night. We talked almost every night from ten to two, sometimes later. After my parents went to sleep and thought I had done the same.

 

JonahBlack[10:04pm]:
I’m excited to finally meet you but we can wait if you want.

 

CaseyWilliams[10:04pm]:
No. It’s okay, really.

 

I didn’t have time to wait.

 

JonahBlack[10:06pm]:
It’s colder here.

 

JonahBlack[10:06pm]:
Do you have clothes that are warm enough?

 

It barely ever drops below fifty degrees in California. When it’s cold, we just shut the windows.

BOOK: The Donor
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