From the author: A little spooky short to round off Halloween season, this is a story about conversations while waiting for a lift.
Fiona bobbed on her feet as she watched for lights on the road. It was cooler than she’d anticipated and the hairs on her neck and arms were sticking up. She could see them in the moonlight, little lines on end like the fur of a witch’s cat.
“Waiting for someone?” asked a voice and she jumped. A woman was leant against the railings beside her. Her costume was fabulous: huge antler sprouting from tumbling auburn curls and a ragged, forest green dress with smears of dirt smattered over it. She shimmered, highlighter on her cheeks and shoulders.
“Yeah, my ride. Were you at the party?” Fiona asked, glancing to the house. She would have clocked that outfit, must have taken hours to get the hair right.
“What’s your name? I don’t recognise you,” the woman asked.
“I’m Nancy Drew meets Sherlock,” Fiona said, doffing her deerstalker, “It’s a stupid costume, but I was in a rush.”
“It’s fetching,” the woman said, grinning. She had amazing teeth, startling against the bloody lipstick smearing down her chin.
“Yours is way better,” Fiona said, whistling as she came closer. “Look at that sparkle, I’d have to swim in glitter to shine like that.”
“You like it?” the woman asked, holding her arm out and turning this way and that to let the moonlight bounce off her skin.
“It looks amazing, I’d never have thought of it.”
“I could show you more.”
“I’d love to, but, not to be rude, do I know you? I’m new to the place, Rob invited me along tonight and I’ve probably met you and blanked it.”
The woman giggled, putting a hand up to cover her mouth. Even her nails were done, almost black in the light and wicked long.
“You’re so sweet. I’m Zo.” She held the hand out and Fiona took it, shaking.
“You’re frozen!” Fiona gasped, clasping Zo’s hand between her own. “Come get a hug, you’re ice.”
“A hug?” Zo faltered. Fiona pulled her in, settling Zo into the shape of her, tucking her chin to one side to avoid the antlers.
“Sorry if this is over friendly, it’s so hard to get warm after a chill. I had to walk miles home in the snow one night and my kidneys hated me for days, it was agony.” She wrapped her arms around Zo's back, noting how thin it was - she didn't look skin and bone but maybe that was good dressing. No wonder she was cold!
“It’s kind of you to worry,” Zo said, close to Fiona’s neck.
“Gotta look out for each other,” Fiona said. Her phone buzzed with the notification of her taxi approaching. “That’s my ride, you heading anywhere? I always love a fee split.”
“I was going back home, I just stopped for a snack.”
“Good choice! Are you online? I’m friends with Rob on insta, you can add me?”
“That would be nice,” Zo said, resting her head against Fiona’s shoulder. “I should let you go now, though.”
She stepped back, out of Fiona’s arms and looked her over. Her eyes seemed golden in the light, flashing luminous as the headlights came into view.
“You heading back to the party?” Fiona asked, rubbing her arms. They glittered, just a little, the shimmer from their hug catching the light.
“I think so, yes,” Zo said, smiling again. “Safe journey.”
“You too, have fun,” Fiona said with a grin.
“Oh, I will,” Zo promised, turning and walking up towards the house.