Carla laid on her back and watched him get dressed looking around for all the items he left scattered on her bedroom floor. This was the fifth man that she had slept with this week and the first and last time she would ever see this specific man again. She never really found peace in loving one man but in making love or at least making like with many men. Never too attached and never there when the sun comes up.
“This was fun; I’m hoping to see you again sometime?” She stared at him and smiled. She hadn’t even remembered his name much less saved his number and she was hoping that she wouldn’t have to explain that this was a one night stand. “See you around love.” She walked him to the door and shut it before he turned to kiss her goodbye. She walked back to her room, climbed into her bed and let the magic happen.
Her body began to sweat and her vision went out of focus. Her body began to shake while her blood was rushing loud in her ears and dripping from her left nostril. She smiled and then she was unconscious. A couple of hours later she woke up in a pool of sweat. She was already undressed so she jumped in the shower and washed off the hours before. Stepping out the shower she wiped the fog off the mirror and stared hard blinking her bright blue eyes and laughed. She looked great. Her skin was flawless and supple and there was a spring in every step. She left her towel at the door of the bathroom as she sauntered toward her bed and grabbed her phone. She opened her news app and searched for the breaking story: “NYC NATIVE’S EYES SUDDENLY BURN FROM HIS SOCKETS ON THE TRAIN HEADING TO QUEENS VILLAGE.”
She sighed in unison with her growling stomach and decided to head to the Thai place a few blocks down. While locking her door she heard keys jingling behind her. She looked up and saw Ernie fiddling with his door. “Hey Erns. How goes it?”
“Carla! Hey what’s u-WOAH! I never noticed you had blue eyes.”
She chuckled and batted her eyelashes. “Thanks. They’re new.” She strode off and could feel his eyes burn into her back. He always had a crush and she never had the heart to borrow from him.
That’s what she was: a borrower. Anything she lusted after from a person, whether it was their laugh, their nose, and in this case, their eyes, she could borrow at whim. The only thing is that the ‘donor’ sometimes had to go through an immense amount of physical or emotional pain in order for her to receive and she had a few hardships herself during the process. She learned that she could do this in fifth grade when her mother permed her hair causing it to break and eventually fall out. There was another girl, Jezzel, who had a curly jet black fro. She wanted it so bad and even cried for her mom to stop perming her hair, despite it being “unruly.”
One night she fell asleep and started to sweat. Her nose started to bleed and she ran a high fever. Her mother had rushed her to the hospital where they kept her overnight. The next day she woke up with tiny luscious curls poking through her scalp while her damaged hair lay in a halo around her pillow. The doctors ran a multitude of tests but they found nothing wrong. They told her mom the ‘hair thing’ was nothing less of a miracle and to just keep a watchful eye for anything else out of the ordinary. The next day, Jezzel wore a black skullcap and under it, her bald head shone brighter than a light bulb.
Over the years, the episodes started to get worse and her borrowing started to get more efficient. Instead of it taking weeks for the borrowed quality to fully bloom, it turned into days, then a few hours, then sometimes minutes. She practiced on teachers, friends, strangers on the subway, anybody she could really get her focus on. Eventually she got really good and learned that she could borrow not only from people from things. She was waiting in line at the ATM and a man in front of her had dropped his receipt and hurried out the door before she could let him know. With the abandoned receipt in hand she saw that he had over 50,000 dollars in his savings and she was barely making rent in her studio apartment. She took out her measly twenty dollars and sulked home.
That night, at this point she could tell when her episodes were coming and because she did not borrow anything today, she was confused on why she was feeling this way. She grew scared and called the ambulance despite not having insurance and knowing she couldn’t afford it. They brought her in as her body started convulsing and kept her overnight for observation. All the tests came back normal but the bill she got in the mail a few weeks later made her feel sick all over again. 4,712 dollars. She could not afford that. She had gotten paid that day but it was nowhere near half of that amount. She checked her bank account and nearly dropped her phone on the floor. Available balance: 52,135.41.There must’ve been some mistake; a miskey by a teller or something but this wasn’t her money.
The guy at the bank. These words echoed upon discovery of this saving grace. This was the answer to all her problems. No more making ends meet, skipping breakfast or canceling outings with friends. She only borrowed from what she considered wealthy people who wouldn’t notice too much was missing and eventually they would get it back. Hopefully. She actually wasn’t too sure and it wasn’t like she could ask anybody. She started reading newspapers, flyers, and company websites, anything with a dollar amount that she could funnel into a bank account. She borrowed in small increments and immediately transferred the money to a savings account so she wouldn’t draw suspicion.
It had been about two years since she first figured out that she could borrow like this and had upgraded her lifestyle tremendously since then. She moved to the Upper East Side in a two floor brownstone and was dating a business mogul’s youngest son. She kept tons of banking and money magazines by her bedside table and kept a close watch on the news to see if she was raising any suspicions. She even picked up an odd job and because she wasn’t too close with her parents, she would lie and say they were rich and wanderlusts.
Later on that day her fiancé kissed her forehead and left for some company meeting. She snuggled in bed due to being “off from work” today and began to doze off. There was a knock at the door. The cleaning lady wasn’t supposed to be by and she wasn’t expecting any company. “One minute.”
She threw on her robe and headed to the door. Looking in the peephole was a familiar but surprising face. “Erns, it’s a surprise seeing you here.”
“Carla.” He had this serious look on his face as he passed her and she immediately regretted opening the door. “I have been waiting you to come back Carla. You never came back.”
He was right. “I’m engaged now Erns, I had to move on.”
“You never called. You never wrote. I was waiting for you all this time Carla. Do you not care about me?” He began to move closer and she began to step away. “Do you not feel the same way I feel?” She began to panic.
“What do you mean?” He backed her into a wall and she could smell the sweat and restlessness steaming off him.
“I love you.” He stared directly into her eyes as he said the last words she would ever hear: “I want you.” In that moment she felt her chest constrict and she grabbed at her necklace. Her body started sweating and her heart started racing. She could not be borrowing in this moment; she had been lounging around all day. She could not be having a heart attack. She looked up and seen Ernie staring directly into her eyes, unfazed. “I wanted your heart.”
In that moment, his nose started bleeding and his fingers began to tremble. The pain in her chest got worse and she realized: she was being borrowed. He had wanted her heart so he was taking it and that was one thing that would not grow back.