I was at a birthday party and it went something like this (sort of)
The forgotten wallet at the birthday party,
to which too many people came
It was going to be a birthday party in a tight friendly circle. That was until random people started showing up. They had supposedly learned about our gathering by a drunken text message from the birthday girl. So a bunch of unknown to me people came on over and they on their behalf had invited friends of theirs to also come and have a drink at some girls place. They were oblivious she had a birthday that night.
Still their presence was welcomed since it brought a considered amount of laughter and cheered up the atmosphere. That and the fact they brought more alcohol. I didn’t mind.
In a blur of loud music and unheard names the party moved on after midnight. That was when the chairs turned out to be not enough, the room felt smaller and smaller and the cigarette smoke was a smell I had gotten used to.
At around 3 the room emptied. Some barely standing on their feet guys left, driven home by their sober girlfriends.
I walked around the room taking photos, sipping my red wine, grateful for the rich taste. That was when I noticed someone’s wallet on the shelf. It seemed unattended.
“To whom does it belong?”
All the present shrugged shoulders.
I opened the wallet and searched for an ID. On the picture was the guy who had just left, too drunk to even speak.
“Anyone knows him?” I asked again.
I didn’t remember being introduced to him either.
His name was Andre, 20 years old.
I put back in the ID.
I asked around just to be sure.
One girl happened to have the number of Andre’s friend.
I tried calling. The phone was off. After the fifth time I gave up and wrote a text, telling Andre to call me and come get his wallet.
I felt it was my responsibility to take the wallet with me since I had found it.
At 4 AM the party members had narrowed to seven people, five of which me and my friends.
At around 5 I remember closing my eyes. Then I recall a few wake ups and that Gangnam style song playing on TV.
When the morning came and passed, and the night was less than an hour away Andre hadn’t called yet.
I paced around my room.
I figured he might be still sleeping after the hard party last night.
Since I had his ID I knew the address. A somewhat wild but appealing idea formed in my head and I succumbed to it immediately.
I took a cab to his place.
On the street one or two dogs barked at me insanely and I shushed them multiple times. It was late and I didn’t mean to disturb any neighbors on a Saturday.
He lived in a house and though it was dark and seemed no one was in I figured I should at least check before I leave. The front porch was unlocked and I pushed the door. It swung with a squeaking noise. I closed my eyes for a brief moment and proceeded to the door.
I rang the bell. Then knocked with my fist.
No one showed.
I went to the window and tried to lift myself to take a look. I felt more like a stalker then a thief, with my pity attempts to jump and have a glance.
I circled around the house looking for something to stand on. I listened for sounds, voices and was in alert for movement inside.
But the place was so quiet I only really heard the sound of my own footsteps.
As I went to the back of the house, a fragile yellow glimmer, somewhere low to the ground caught my attention. It was the basement. I knelt, trying to see through the small dusty opening. The window was dim, only letting me see a small portion of the narrow room below. With his back to me was Andre. I was sure it was him for he was wearing the same shirt as the night before. I thought to thump on the glass and call him out but then I saw something that made me reconsider. The light was coming from two candelabrums each to his side, both burning with five candles. That struck me as odd. I shifted slowly to the right for a better view. Andre took off his shirt. I didn’t know whether to look away or keep watching. His skin was very pale, more than I remembered from the birthday. He took off his pants too, and in a second stood there naked. I may have blushed but was too curious of his actions to notice.
The little flames flickered, as if a sudden wind had threatened to blow their fragile lives away; the hesitant light became an eerie illumination which turned him into a creature half in light half in darkness. In that moment of something magical and yet frightening Andre took his skin off.
I watched paralyzed, too shocked to move, think or breathe. It looked simple and nonchalant like he was removing a cloth; he took a hard grip on his black hair and pulled it down like a hood, with the rest of his face; I saw his hollow eyes, his mangled nose and mouth coming upside down, grimacing at me with their false humanity. The pale skin then slid off his shoulders and he pushed it down to his waist and hips until it was at his ankles. He stepped out of the human skin and I saw his reality, his true identity.
His entire body was covered with lizard-like scales that smoothly blended from golden to crimson red which glistened when caught in the light.
I had never seen anything like him. His ears as far as I could see were little longer than humans and pointy, and his fingers ended with long black nails. His body was slender, but muscular underneath the scaled exterior.
I traced his spine only to find it extending in the form of a tail, thick at the beginning but ending thin as a whip.
I was truly astonished, and though Andre’s being was out of my world and even far out of my imagination I found him beautiful and enchanting.
I had completely forgotten about my purpose of visiting and hoped to stay a little longer and observe him.
That was until he rapidly turned towards me and his yellow eyes caught mine in a moment of pure horror in which I panicked and fell back.
I heard his scream, his anger from the fact he was selfishly and rudely watched by an unknown face. I might be wrong, but now I think his scream sounded more like the roar of something ancient, something you get to meet only in movies and books.
I wanted to run, but at first my legs denied me the ability to stand right away and gallop from Andre’s back yard. When I heard the door of the basement open and then slam I stood up and ran.
On my way out I tossed the wallet on the front door rug and shouted “I brought your wallet” hoping he would hear it and accept it as the explanation of my presence on his territory.
He didn’t come after me.
I didn’t think he would expose himself that night, risking someone to see him. At home I sat on tugged my blanket over my head.
Maybe he would come in his human skin one day and say thank you for the wallet. Maybe he would come and threaten to kill me if I ever reveal his secret. Now I think about it, he may have thought I want to steal his skin, leaving him to face the monster every day.
But I never told anyone. I made it my secret too. Perhaps I shared his burden.
As days pass sometimes I remember my secret friend with skin of gold and rubies and I smile, not frightened. I find his burning yellow eyes warmer than any humans. And of that I feel sad.