After school I hitched a ride with my mother down to the trail. I got there a bit late, at 7:12 instead of 7:00 when I'd told her to meet me, but luckily Zhong was still there. Her mother was also there leaning out of the window of her van and arguing with her in Chinese. Her tone changed as I approached her. She smiled, said something to Zhong, then drove off.
"Hey," said Zhong, as I approached her. It had been a while since I'd last Rollerbladed, and I was still a bit shaky. She glided gracefully towards me, in sharp contrast to my Shaky, disconnected movements, and extended her hand to help stabilize me. This turned out to be a mistake, as I was somewhat heavier than she was, and if I'd really been collapsing I would have pulled her down with me. As it was, I just stumbled a bit, so we stumbled together and found our way back up.
"Hey," I finally answered, as we glided towards the trail. I was getting a feel for it now, and I was no longer feeling quite so embarrassed.
"What did you want to talk to me about?" she asked.
I looked around, and determining that there was no one close enough to listen, started talking.
"I don't know where to begin," I said.
"The beginning," answered Zhong matter-of-factly. She swung her small backpack to her side, unzipped, and pulled out a Bananna. Then she swung the pack back over her shoulder and began peeling it.
I thought for a while, trying to figure out where the beginning was, and finally started my long explanation.
"Ok," I said, "You know that woman who was talking to me online? Well, I met her in person,"
"Go on," said Zhong. We both bent low to dodge an oncoming tree branch.
"See," I said, aware of how silly it was going to sound, "After Jason stole Harvey, I was attacked by a Vampire,"
As expected, she gave me a quizzical look. "I thought they were all extinct," She said.
"Me too," I answered, "But I know differently now. Anyway, I was saved by a draconic, who turned into a woman named Teresa..."
I went on to describe everything that had happened to me in the past couple of weeks. It felt good to be able to talk about it. Zhong listened, interjecting comments from time to time, and we glided along down the trail, deeper into the woods. The sun was starting to go down, but somehow I didn't really notice. When I finished, she started asking me questions - what I liked about it, how it felt - as if she was really interested in the whole thing. It felt like she really understood my situation - not the situation of being a draconic, nesscesarily, but the situation of not being able to tell anyone about a large chunk of your life. In time we moved on to other topics. It was starting to get quite dark when we realized we had no idea where we were.
Zhong looked at her watch - she had to be at the parking lot fifteen minutes ago. We had come to a fork in the path, however, and we weren't sure which route would take us home. We were deliberating it when we saw three figures approaching.
"Excuse me," I hailed them as they approached, "Would you happen to know the fastest way back to the-"
I stopped. It was then I realized that only one of them was walking. The other two were gliding speedily toward us. I cursed myself. I had let myself be out, alone, at night, and I hadn't even brought a wooden stake. Not only that, but I'd endangered Zhong. Grabbing her by the hand, I took off down the path away from them, hoping against all hope it was the right one.