We zig-zagged our way through the crowd, meeting our friend Ben at the bar. Friday night in Melbourne meant packed bars and busy streets as everyone flocked to cafes, bars and clubs, staying up until sunrise and sleeping all day Saturday.


Everyone, it seemed, except for me, Jo, Wyatt and Ben, who all had to get up bright and early the next morning to work at the diner. 


“You’re just in time, they just started their first set,” Ben yelled over the noise. Shorter than most guys, but taller than me and Jo, with olive skin and dark hair – always perfectly styled – Ben always captured the attention of women.
Ben and Jo ordered drinks while I glanced over towards the stage, looking for Wyatt.


Over the busy crowd, I could see him standing to the left of the stage, strumming his guitar as they started playing Sweet Home Alabama. The butterflies spun out of control in my stomach as I leaned on the bar to watch him.


Wyatt was very tall, with broad shoulders and masculine arms, but not over-the-top with muscles. With his light brown and always messy shoulder-length hair, bright green eyes and huge smile, I knew I was in trouble the second I saw him all those months ago.


My heart sank a little as my gaze shifted to the dozens of girls swooning over him just in front of the stage, each one vying for just a moment of his attention.
“Eva! Here…” Jo tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a beer.
“Thanks!” I said, turning back towards the stage.


My heart skipped a beat when I saw Wyatt in the distance, smiling at me.
Seeing my surprise, he waved in between riffs, causing all the girls at the front of the stage to turn around. I tried not to notice as their jaws drop at the sight of me, sitting at the bar in my singlet and boots, drinking beer straight from the bottle.


I’ve always loved who I am and would never change anything about myself to fit in, but I couldn’t help but feel a little self-conscious when I saw those girls glaring at me in disbelief.
“He’s got all those bleach blonde clones literally throwing themselves at him, prancing around right under his nose, and he’s only lookin’ at you, Eva,” Jo said into my ear, smiling broadly.
I glanced sideways to see Jo wink provocatively at me, and the corner of my mouth lifted in a half-smile. I hope she’s right, I thought as I waved back at Wyatt.

***

I sat at the bar, sketching on a napkin, while Jo and Ben rocked out to The Living End’s Prisoner Of Society on the dance floor.
“Another beer?” asked the bartender, taking away my empty bottle.
“Yeah, sure. Thanks.”
I looked up from my doodling, noticing the words Breaking News flashing up on the television screen behind him. I couldn’t hear it over the noise in the bar, but the caption sliding across the bottom of the screen read:


Fears grow in Sydney after an outbreak of the Halienza Virus at Trinity Hospital, leaving twenty dead and hundreds more infected.


On the screen, I saw footage of scientists in white lab coats and protective masks using droppers to place a red liquid into test tubes, followed by unsteady amateur footage that made me shudder. It looked like a war zone, with dozens of people bleeding and running frantically through the streets of Sydney. Another caption moved across the screen:


New reports of second Halienza outbreak in a Melbourne hospital.


“Hi there.”
I jumped, so immersed in the news report that the voice behind startled me.
“What're you drawing there?” Said the young man, taking a seat next to me as he gestured to the napkin. He was short, but cute, with blonde hair, blue eyes and a charming grin.
“Oh, just doodling, really.”
I reached over the bar to take the freshly opened beer the bartender was handing to me and placed it directly over my sketch.
Noticing I was trying to hide it, my new friend moved the bottle to take a closer look.


“It looks like a…” he furrowed his brows in confusion. “A face with a… bullet hole in it?”
My cheeks warmed into a blush. People often felt uncomfortable when they saw me drawing such violent looking images. I thought I should explain.
“Uh, yeah. I’m training to be a Special Effects Makeup Artist, like in the movies? So I’m just sketching a bit of a… flesh wound.”  
He looked at me blankly, seeming completely uninterested.
“Oh, so you like doing all the gory stuff, like blood and guts and…”
“And brains and burns and corpses… Yep.”


For a moment he didn’t say a word. I’d always received mixed reactions from people when I tell them my dream is to be a Special Effects Makeup Artist. I can’t say I blame them. In high school, while all the other girls proudly proclaimed their desires to be doctors, lawyers or psychologists, I was the only one dreaming about being on the set of Saw II, designing blood-soaked hacksaw lacerations. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly Miss Popularity.


“That’s new. Buy you a drink?” he gestured to the bartender while moving his bar stool closer to mine.
“Oh, no thanks,” I said as I held up my beer.
“Already got one.”
I smiled awkwardly, not wanting to be rude.
“You’re drinking beer? Come on,” he scoffed as he gestured for the bartender to come over again. “I’ll buy you something nicer. How ‘bout a cosmopolitan?”
I looked at him blankly, raising an eyebrow.
“Ah, no thanks. Beer’s fine. Not really a cosmo girl,” I said, going back to my sketch in an attempt to subtly get the message across that I wasn’t interested.
“Ha!” he laughed. “Every girl’s a cosmo girl! It’ll be my treat.”
He leaned over to the bartender to order the drink, when an arm pulled him back by the shoulder.
“The lady said no, thanks.”
It was Wyatt.


I watched as the man turned around to see Wyatt standing there, tall, dark and unimpressed. He looked at Wyatt, then looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and walked away, deciding to go try his luck somewhere else.


“You’re welcome,” Wyatt said as he sat down next to me and asked the bartender to bring him a bottle of water.
“Thanks, but I can handle myself, you know. I didn’t need you to save me,” I replied, trying not to sound so relieved.
Wyatt lifted his palms up in front of him apologetically.
“Sorry, I was just trying to help. I can go get Cosmo Boy and bring him back for you if you like?” He smirked.
“No thanks.”
“Didn’t think so,” he said, dropping his hands onto the bar with a smile.


My butterflies took flight again, and I tried to think of something to say.
“You on break?” I motioned to the stage.
“Yeah,” he replied, taking a swig of his water. “Gotta go back on in ten, but… Will you stay? After?”
I could see Jo and Ben pushing their way through the crowd as he spoke.
“I want to talk to you about something,” he said, looking at me intently, watching my reaction.
“Oh, yeah of course. I’ll be here,” I replied.


Just then, Ben came up behind Wyatt, wrapping his arm around him and kissing him on the cheek.
“You are rockin’ it up there, man!” he yelled, clearly drunk.
“Thanks, man,” Wyatt grinned, his eyes still on me.
I tried to match his gaze, but I felt very aware of Jo’s penetrating stare.
She looked at Wyatt, then at me, then back at Wyatt, and smiled so widely that I thought she would hurt herself. Ben and Wyatt started making their way back to the stage, while Jo propped herself up on the stool next to me.


“What was that?” she asked, still smiling.
“Oh that? Nothin’. Wyatt was just asking me to stay back after they finish… he wants to ‘talk’ to me about something,” I said as I drank my beer, trying to act casual.
“Hells yes!” Jo squealed as she slapped me on the thigh. “This is it, Eva! This is it! Your moment!”
I loved seeing her so happy for me, and I started to think she might be right. I smiled, hardly able to wait for the final song of the night.
Maybe this is my moment.

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