Luke and LonaCreative Folk | October 1, 2021
By Isabella Chua
Lona Packer was dead-excited for her first date. Tucking her shaggy jet-black hair and hairy ears inside a beanie, the fifteen-going-on-sixteen year old inspected herself one last time in the full-length mirror. Her own outfit was adequate.
For her special evening, Lona decided to wear a mint-green sweater and black leggings; a far cry from the flannel shirt and ripped jeans ensemble she was notorious for wearing. On her feet, she had traded her muddy combat boots for a pair of sensible, slip-on sneakers. Finally satisfied with her appearance, Lona exited her bedroom and headed straight towards the dining room, where a jar of peanut butter and a plate of bone-shaped biscuits sat on the table. Lona licked her chops. A snack fit for a teenage werewolf. ‘I should’ve made you your favourite bagel and lox with an extra side of cream cheese, Lona,’ said her father, who had just sauntered into the kitchen.
‘It’s alright, Dad. These biscuits are enough.’
With a wistful look on his face, Mr. Packer leaned against the counter. ‘I can’t believe my little cub is going on her first date. He really is a nice boy, that Luke…’
Lona sighed alongside her father, blissfully recalling the first time she first met Luke Pierce. Nearly a decade ago, the two of them encountered each other on a monster playdate arranged by their parents, and had remained inseparable ever since. Throughout the years, their fondness for one other eventually grew into something more, and sometime during the past month, they simultaneously discovered that they liked each other more than friends. Additionally, not only were they childhood acquaintances, they were also next-door neighbours…literally. Just across the hall, Lona knew that her date was waiting patiently for her behind closed doors. After wolfing down her last peanut butter-coated biscuit, Lona stood up from her seat and trotted out the apartment door. ‘Got to go, Dad. See you!’
‘Say hi to Luke for me!’ he howled after her.
Shutting the door behind her, Lona made her way towards the closed room on the other side of the hall. Inhaling deeply, and with as much confidence as she could muster, she tapped on the wood. Almost instantly, a tall, lean teenage boy with ebony skin answered the door. At the sight of her, he beamed brightly, revealing dimples at the corners of his mouth and two pointed fangs that stood out from a row of pearly white teeth.
‘Hello, gorgeous. You look nice.’ Luke stepped aside so she could enter the threshold. He was already dressed in a grey long-sleeved tee and jeans, with a wool coat slung over his shoulder and a black knit-cap covering his head.
‘Thanks, so do you.’
‘Hi, Lona! It’s so nice to finally see you again!’ Pushing past her son, Luke’s mother stepped forward and embraced Lona with one arm. In the other, she held up a glass filled with thick, red liquid. ‘Would you like something to drink, dear? We’ve got AB-positive…’
‘Oh s-sorry, I…I still don’t take blood, Mrs. Pierce,’ Lona stammered, her pale olive skin turning paler at the sight of the glass. Even after years of visiting Luke’s place, his family’s vampiric diet never ceased to make her squeamish. Luke seemed to take note of her distress. ‘Um…I think we’ll be heading out now, Ma,’ he said, gently ushering a half-faint Lona towards the door. His mother nodded brightly, completely oblivious to the colour draining from Lona’s cheeks. ‘Okay, you kids have fun on your first date!’
When they finally exited the room, Lona heaved a huge sigh of relief and gratitude. ‘Thanks for saving me, Luke.’
He smiled. ‘Anything for my best friend,’ he said, warmly extending his hand. Returning Luke’s smile, Lona took it, and the two of them began making their descent along the apartment stairs. However, when they finally reached the bottom of the stairwell, their ecstatic grins abruptly turned into frowns of annoyance. There, standing near the apartment’s entrance, was a lanky, redhead boy with green, warty skin, twirling a crooked wand in his hand.
‘Well, if it isn’t Brewster, our favourite warlock neighbour.’
Upon hearing his name, the teenage warlock flashed Lona a lopsided grin that showed a few yellow, misshapen teeth. ‘The one and only. Going somewhere, werewolf girl?’
‘First date,’ Lona answered curtly. ‘None of your business.’
Brewster turned his head, focusing on Luke. ‘Huh, a vampire and a werewolf going out together. Who would’ve thought?’
Smirking, Brewster began addressing Luke. ‘I mean, I always knew you two were close, but I never thought a pretty vampire boy like you would fancy some-monster for the likes of her.’
Luke gave an uncharacteristic growl. ‘Watch it, Brewster…’
Lona rolled her eyes. ‘Hey, Brewster, why don’t you go cast a spell or something? Or better yet, get staked?!’
Shaking his head, the warlock merely chuckled, unperturbed by Lona’s sudden aggressiveness. ‘Touché. Well, have fun on your date, you two love-monsters. Cheerio!’
And with a swish of his cloak, Brewster vanished, leaving behind a puff of red billowing smoke.
Outside the confines of the apartment, the town of Gothville was already buzzing with evening activity. In the sundowning sky, witches and warlocks zoomed ahead, racing each other on broomsticks. A gill-man crawled out of a manhole, grumbling to himself about plumbing problems. Translucent ghosts roamed around dilapidated buildings, haunting anyone who dared to come across. As the pair approached the local theatre, Lona noticed a posse of vampire girls hanging around the alleyway, whispering amongst themselves whilst casting adoring looks at Luke. At the sight of Lona, they bared their fangs and hissed, before retreating into the shadows. She scowled back. It was made no secret that in school, Luke was considered one of the most popular students, renowned for his charming looks and friendliness. In a way, he stood out from the snobby, pasty-skinned, brooding vampires who hung around the school corridors. Lona, on the other hand, was regarded by their peers as nothing more than an unscrupulous “lone wolf”, with a penchant for biting sarcasm and a knack for scrappy-looking fashion. Indeed, unlike other werewolves, who stuck in packs, Lona preferred to follow the beat of her own drum, and to not defer to some bone-headed “alpha wolf”, despite insistence from their single-minded packmates. Presently, a chilly breeze wafted through the street, sending shivers down Lona’s spine. Sensing her discomfort, Luke slipped off his coat and gently draped it over her shoulders. ‘For you,’ he said, smiling tenderly at her. Holy smokes, he was too sweet for his own good, too kind, and too caring. Sometimes, Lona felt like she didn’t deserve Luke. But then she reminded herself that she deserved all things in life that made her happy. She deserved him. At that moment, Luke turned his attention towards the collection of posters that the cinema was offering.
‘So…what do you want to watch?’
Turning her head in his direction, Lona started scrutinizing the row of movie posters. Her eyes settled on a gory-looking one. ‘How about this film? Dad once said that one gave him day-mares.’
‘Actually, I was sort of hoping for that one,’ replied Luke, indicating towards a sappy-looking romance flick.
Lona shot him an incredulous look. ‘Really, Luke? On our first date?’
He shrugged, a bit hapless. ‘What do you propose, then?’
For a few minutes, the duo continued scanning the posters, looking for something that might capture their interest. Finally, they lifted their fingers in unison at the latest action movie, exchanging matching grins.
‘I’ll get the tickets,’ Luke said.
‘I’ll get the popcorn,’ Lona replied.
Exiting the cinema, Luke and Lona linked arms, their stomachs grumbling despite the large box of grub-flavoured popcorn they shared. It turned out the action flick was a good idea; it had a spooky villain for Lona to enjoy, and just the right amount of romance to give Luke the courage to throw his arm around Lona’s shoulder. She immediately snuggled against his side when he did so. For their first date, they chose to eat at a middle-class restaurant; one that was not too posh, but not too fast-jointy, either. Upon entering, the pair made a beeline for one of the least crowded tables in the restaurant, all the while avoiding dirty looks from the other monsters. After they both ordered rare steaks from the menu and waited for their ghost waiter to bring them, Lona faced Luke with a serious expression. ‘Luke, we need to talk.’
His brow furrowed with confusion. ‘About what?’
‘Us,’ she replied. ‘We’ve just started dating and we’re different species. That’s something to talk about.’
‘Is there anything wrong with that?’ Luke asked warily.
Lona smiled reassuringly. ‘No, of course not. But I’m just…worried.’
‘Worried?’ he echoed.
Lona’s ears drooped as she carefully debated her next words. ‘We’ve been best friends for a long time, Luke. I kind of don’t want to jeopardise it. But we’ve just started a relationship and we haven’t had a chance to see if we got what it takes to be a couple. What if it doesn’t work out? I mean, we both know that our parents are fine with it and all, but…the other monsters…’
‘Lona,’ Luke said delicately, reaching across the table and wrapping a warm hand around the werewolf’s cold, clawed fingers.
Lifting her head, Lona’s grey eyes were once again drawn to Luke’s green ones.
‘You act like we haven’t been together since preschool. And believe it or not, you are more than what those naysayers think. Just yesterday, you helped out a were-cat stuck up a tree, even though no-one gave you reason to. Sometimes, I wish I had that amount of compassion and bravery to do what you did that day.’
As she listened to Luke’s compliments, Lona blushed, and she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
‘But I do really like you, Lona, and I don’t plan on going anywhere,’ Luke continued, smiling at her. ‘And no matter what happens, it’s going to be fine, and in the likely circumstance it isn’t, we’ll get through it together. Okay?’
He spoke with such confidence that Lona couldn’t help but hang onto every word he said. She smiled, hoping that Luke was right. She wasn’t going to dwell on the could-bes right now. She was going to live in the moment and be happy that she finally found someone who liked her for who she is.
After dinner, Lona and Luke decided to head towards the local park, their stomachs full and their hands interlocked. There were still a few monsters lingering about the place; some on dates, some having an evening jog, some just wandering around aimlessly. As they settled down on a nearby bench, Lona rested her head on Luke’s shoulder. ‘I had fun,’ she remarked.
‘Yeah, me too. Dinner was great.’
‘Did you enjoy the film?’
‘Honestly,’ he said, voice edgy with embarrassment, ‘I wasn’t really paying attention.’
Lona blinked in surprise. ‘Why?’
‘Because I was too busy looking at you,’ Luke admitted with a flirting smile. ‘I think you look super cute when you’re really invested in stuff like movies.’
Lona giggled and moved her head off his shoulder. Despite telling herself otherwise, she actually enjoyed it when Luke said things that made her feel good about herself.
‘Oh, I almost forgot something!’
‘The one thing all monsters do during dates.’
And before Lona could speak, Luke slowly bent down and gently pressed a kiss to her lips. Pulling away from his face, Lona gazed at the vampire with an expression akin to surprise and amazement. ‘Luke…’
At the sound of her voice, Luke leaned closer to the werewolf, his nose brushing her muzzle, and his eyes both terrified and affectionate. ‘I’m…in love with you, Lona.’
His words were soft, hesitant, but certain. And before she even realised what she was doing, Lona cupped Luke’s face with her hands and tenderly pressed her lips against his. Without hesitation, he instantly returned her kiss, pulling her closer and caressing her cheek with his hand. When they finally broke apart, the vampire and the werewolf smiled lovingly at each other, eyes shining. After a few wordless seconds, Lona leaned forward to whisper into Luke’s ear. ‘I love you, too.’