Frost was firmly dug in at her table in the school café. It was midterms and anxiety was running high, while sanity was at a shocking new low. She was sure that the hours of sleep every student in the café had gotten over the past week, if added up, would probably be less than forty-eight total. Most of her peers had headphones jammed in their ears like her, and bleary desperation in their eyes. There were more cups of coffee in the room than people and if a conversation dared go louder than a murmur the culprits were shamed into silence with bloodshot glares.
As it was, Frost had one more paper to turn in and she was slogging through her final round of edits when it happened. She didn’t know where the guy came from, but he was suddenly standing across the table from her, his stunned-looking brown eyes fixed on her. She glanced up from her computer in time to see his lips move. It took all her willpower to not sigh in annoyance and roll her eyes. She pulled out her headphones.
“What?” There was no way to completely eliminate the edge in her tone, but she did try to minimize it.
“Are you a witch?”
Frost blinked at him, tipping her head a little to one side. Had the stress of midterms destroyed all his brain cells, she wondered. They remained like that, eyes locked, for a good thirty seconds, while Frost waited to see if he was serious, if there was a punch line coming. He didn’t move, didn’t blink.
“Why would you ever ask that question?” Frost finally said.
“I – just…because I need to know.” He blinked once and licked his lips nervously. “Are you a witch?”
This time the emphasis was on the first word and he sounded painfully earnest. Frost leaned back in her chair, really letting herself look at him. He was her height, maybe an inch or two taller than her, and was dressed fairly innocuously. Loose, but not baggy, blue jeans, a dark blue t-shirt, and nice looking sneakers. She deemed his face not unfortunate, but nothing to write home about, and his brown hair was average in color and style.
No clues gathered from his appearance, Frost took a moment to assess her own. Hiking boots, worn and ragged blue jeans, blue long-sleeved shirt, and a ratty, second-hand, grey zip-up hoodie. Her hair was unstyled, she was wearing her glasses, and she had no makeup on at all. It was a far cry from her high school goth days of bondage pants, black lipstick, and mesh shirts, and even her usual outfits that almost always had one article of black clothing in them.
“What is wrong with you?” she asked.
“Nothing is wrong,” he told her. “It’s a perfectly valid question, so are you?”
“No, that is not a valid question, people do not just go around asking people they don’t know if they are witches, and I am not answering your question until you answer mine – why do you want to know?” Frost found herself speaking slower and annunciating more like she was talking to a small child, her exasperation fully evident.
He tucked his hands into his pockets and shuffled his feet. “It’s because you’re really pretty and all the most beautiful girls I meet are witches.”
Frost was torn between the urge to laugh hysterically or to shake him until his teeth rattled to the ground and some sense appeared in his skull. She settled on rubbing her face and pinching the bridge of her nose instead.
After a moment she looked up and saw him opening his mouth.
“No. Just no. Go away and think about how truly terrible an experience this has been for both of us.” Frost pointed across the café. “Go. Now.”
“But you didn’t -”
His shoulders slumped and he walked away.
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