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Never is a Long Time

Longer than you might think.

By L.C. SchäferPublished 13 days ago Updated 13 days ago 5 min read
Never is a Long Time
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The first time I saw her, I stalked her gently through the fresh produce.

I couldn't help it. I told myself it was because I wanted to, it was a whim, I was hungry. But I was lying to myself. Of course I wasn't going to hurt her. I could no more hurt her than I could stop following her.

There was a sort of scruffiness about her that was at odds with the deliberate way she moved each limb. This was not a woman who got dressed up just to leave the house. Yet her movements were spare and graceful - as if she were dancing, or as if each step were a spell she was weaving. There was nothing ostentatious about it - it was all completely unconsciously. I had never seen such self-possession before, so much unselfconsciousness poured into a bag of human skin and leaking out of its pores. A stalking cat, maybe - but not a person.

Oh! You should have seen the way her nose wrinkled when she was deep in thought over which grapefruit to put in her basket. It brought my attention to the delicious tone of her skin, and the freckles across it. Not a single gesture escaped me. I was transfixed by the way her eyebrows drew together when she examined this tin or that packet. Step. Step. Step. Select. Step.

I could not possibly let her get away. I might never see her again, and that thought brought a tremendous pang. Not least because for me, never is a longer time than you might think.

It played out wonderfully, as if it were scripted. I bumped into her, I tried a small glamour. The odd thing was, it didn't work. Not the way it was supposed to. Her eyes laughed at me, and I could see she wasn't in the least bit in thrall to me. But she was smiling at me and reaching out to touch my arm.

I was lost.

This was not supposed to happen.

Don't get me wrong, I have taken partners over the years. I even love them, in a way. It is lonely, being the only one of your kind, and to be so long-lived you are practically immortal. So I feel no guilt about these little forays into a mimicry of human romantic relationships. Sometimes, I take a man into my bed for a night or two, but for sturdier companionship, I prefer women. Eventually, one of us moves on. Sometimes after one year, sometimes five. Every so often, I move to a new town, change my name, and start over. Lately, it has become easier and easier to to change completely, to lose myself in a large city, to be a chameleon.

But this was, excuse me for sounding so pathetically romantic, different. How would I discard this one when the time came? Before she noticed how I remained unchanged for too long, before I had to watch her succumb to age or sickness?

That day, in Chilled Produce, I wasn't thinking of such far off troubles. I was swimming gleefully in her soft, dark eyes, hypnotised by the movement of her mouth.

It all unfolded so naturally. We were drawn to each other. We liked each other. Really liked each other. Sometimes I voiced agreement over paltry things, just to see her happy, and sometimes I saw the mirth sparkle in her eyes when she did the same to me. We fit. We were perfect. Each time I tried to plan my escape, she would be there with her laughing eyes, her addictive warmth and softness, and I would think, maybe tomorrow. Or next week. In a year. A year will be soon enough.

I left it too long, and one day, she was gone. I came home, the front door was open, and she was nowhere. No note. No message. I looked everywhere and asked everyone, and no had seen her. I hunted for her, feeling sure I would find her. I had never failed on a hunt before. Panicking, I reported her to the authorities as a missing person. And it really was panic, because I never - never - involved the authorities about anything. I hoped I was being silly, sure that I would turn the next corner and there she would be, her eyes laughing at me again.

I kept hunting, my anger growing. I wasn't even sure who I was angry at. I was angry at her for leaving, for hurting me, for eluding me. But if something had happened to her, if someone had taken her... Rage threatened to consume me, and battled with fear at the hideous thought that she might not be okay.

Slowly, it dawned on me that she was really gone. Really truly gone.

I howled.

The more years passed, the more firmly my window of opportunity to find her closed. I would have gently parted from her long since; I couldn't show my face to her now. Never stretched out in front of me ponderously. I railed hopelessly against the vast empty decades.

I mourned the loss of her, I mourned that she might have passed right out of the world (preposterous, that I should not know it), and eventually I mourned her again, when it was certain that age and time must have overta ken her.

That was two hundred years ago. Two full centuries ago, I woke and slept and breathed my pain over knowing that her heart had stopped its gooey beating and that worms had taken her eyes. That pain has never fully gone away. Each time I see a brown-skinned woman, doused in freckles and with gentle cloud of hair, I search her eyes for laughter before I can stop myself. Some broken thing inside me breaks a little more.

Yesterday, sitting outside a cafe with another young woman, I saw her. Her hair was clipped short to her scalp, her lips painted dark. Huge, garish hoops dangled from her ears and her golden arms bare, like they never would have been when she walked with me. But I would know those eyes anywhere. A chance turn of her head, and they stuttered over me in shocked recognition that mirrored my own.


What happens next?

- I go ove r to speak to her

- I avoid a confrontation and target her human companion


Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment so it's easy for me to reciprocate.

The story behind the story: I've had this idea for a long while: an immortal that falls in love with a human who turns out not to be human. How would you write this idea? If you write something, let me know what you come up with, leave me a link. I'd love to have a look.

Here's a micro of mine - very short, only 100 words:


About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Flexing the writing muscle.

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for "nudes".

I'm also Twitter if you'd like to connect elsewhere.

I value feedback, and reciprocate reads and comments.

Also writing under the name S.E. Holz

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (15)

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  • Alexander McEvoy9 days ago

    This was so very good! I loved the description of the torture of 'forever' as a concept that the POV has to deal with. It was unbelievably heart breaking! Just imaging the yawn of years, decades, centuries, stretching out before me without hope of change or reprieve. Knowing that there will always be tomorrow, knowing that unlike everyone around me, I'm running a race without a finish line. Wow, wow, and wow again! I have a plan, a story that your amazing work here has brought back to the front of my mind. Time to start planning

  • Linda Rivenbark10 days ago

    This story is captivating and imaginative. The kind I often go back and read again..

  • This story again gave me strong vibes of Joe Goldberg. Then I read the story behind the story and that explained the 200 years, lol. This is such an awesome concept!

  • Dana Stewart13 days ago

    Excellent storytelling, I am a fish on the hook with this one. I got a leStat vibe, when reading but you upped the game with the love interest being an immortal.

  • This was beautifully written. So eloquent and thoughtful. Yet sad and haunting. Excellent job!!!

  • Rebekah Brannan13 days ago

    Fascinating! Don't hate me for this, but I loved the slight echo of "Twilight" it had to it. I mean that entirely as a compliment! The moment when she appeared again was so exciting and chilling! Fascinating concept!

  • Hannah Moore13 days ago

    Now you both won't let it go. Such an engaging read.

  • You're not alone & you're not the last of your kind. Of course you go over to her. Even if forever is not meant to be for the two of you to be together as soulmates/spouses, you have to do your best to be a part of one another's lives.

  • Oh this was excellent! Had me hooked from the start. It was so interesting the whole way through and so well written, and all the while I was trying to guess who this person was. I was thinking it was going to be some animal or bug or an inanimate object at first but I loved that it turned out to be an immortal. This was such a unique idea. I love exploring the world of characters such as these. Great job!

  • Rachel Deeming13 days ago

    I like the re-encounter. Echoes of Addie LaRue, I thought.

  • Sian N. Clutton13 days ago

    That's a brilliant ending! I love how you write. You're one of my favourites. Any chance you would write us some more though? I want to know what happens!

  • River Joy13 days ago

    Wow this was so entrancing. I was drawn right in and was held the whole time. Beautifully done, storytelling at its best.

  • Mesmerizing! Unfolding so naturally to that last line, just like their romance. Your storytelling skills are simply superb.

  • Great writing! this reads really well, has a lot of emotion in it. Your explanation in the story behind the story, really brought it all together for me.

  • This was just stunning! Amazing job!

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