Sarah had the most lovely, glittering green eyes, and golden brown hair that looked wonderful no matter how she styled it. Everything about her face was cute, the button nose, the mousy ears, I even liked the buckteeth she flashed when I made her smile.

Good looking figure, pleasantly plump but not fat - the only thing that bothered me were the long turtlenecks and baggy pants.

She wore them all the time, even in the hottest weather.

I mean, it was cool to see her wearing a shirt with the Death Star on it, cargo pants with the Star Wars Rebel insignia, but c'mon, let's be reasonable and not wear it when it's a hundred degrees outside.

We met at a science fiction convention. She had the most amazing costume, this fuzzy space creature getup, enormous tail sticking out the back of some outlandish orange flight suit with a fan collar.

Me? I thought it would be funny to dress up like a canine version of Doctor Who.

We took some pictures together. She entered the costume contest, but didn't win. Got third place or something.

The girl got busy talking to people, and enjoying the convention. I didn't think much would come from our brief acquaintance until later that day.

If someone has the bright idea of setting you up in a two bedroom hotel room with a bunch of strangers, don't do it. There's never enough towels or keys to go around, and things can get awkward really fast.

This buddy of mine had some girl in his bed, and she was offering her bare boobs to be signed. To make matters worse, I had a gay guy in a furry costume playing with my stocking feet. I quickly left the room, reading a book in the first floor lobby.

A lot of the attendees, by this time, had either cleared out or gone off to one of the meeting rooms to watch movies, so I was alone by myself. Well, if you didn't count the check-in guy at the front desk or people rolling around brass luggage racks. Not much in the way of `cosplay' around there, just some ordinary business types that didn't have any connection to the `Con.

Thankfully they'd shut off the Muzak system, the fake jazz had been a constant irritant to me when I first came in. I read a chapter, tried to go back to the room, but someone had closed the door and I had no key. Nobody opened it up when I knocked, so back to the lobby I went.

As I delved further into my book, I heard the purr of someone settling into a posh leather chair. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something gray. "Narnia, huh?"

I looked up from my book, smiled when I recognized who it was. "Uh, yeah?"

"Guess that makes sense. Doctor Who fan."

"There's some nice religious metaphors in there too."

"True..."

I once again admired her attractive costume. "Doesn't that thing get hot after awhile?"

Her costume's tail piece batted the leaves of a plastic plant. "Nope. I am very comfortable. More than you, it looks like...That's a Fifth Doctor costume, isn't it?"

A cricketer uniform with a piece of celery on the lapel...I had begun to realize I didn't dig polyester. "Yep!"

"You should have chosen the fourth one. Tom Baker was the one with K-9."

"Oh, right."

"Want to get some coffee?"

They had a little cafe off the main entrance, sort of a pared down Starbucks. Wasn't sure about having caffeine that time of night, but oh well, I didn't relish sleeping on the floor in a room that smelled like cheese anyway. We took a table across from a dude in a Hellboy costume, and some girl who didn't have the shape for a Chun Li Street Fighter outfit.

Anyways, Sarah and I talked over a couple cappuccinos, discussing TV shows and movies that we both liked, decided to keep talking until it got very late, and then we were dating.

We agreed on a lot of things. We were both Christian, we both believed in keeping sexually pure until marriage...couldn't quite agree on any date involving water.

It turns out she was okay with roller coasters. Our last date together happened to be at Worlds of Adventure theme park, a Six Flags type of place themed after Around the World in Eighty Days.

We rode a wooden roller coaster, and a metal one that looped upside down, but her collar and pant legs didn't reveal anything that could explain why she wore such hot clothing in the summer heat.

Dark, heat soaking Star Trek turtleneck. I don't know where she bought all those pullovers from, probably some custom deal from Etsy. Loose fitting khaki cargo pants. It's not like it was a religious thing, she never covered her head.

Speaking of which, she had her hair done up in pigtails, probably because she knew it drove me crazy.

We stopped to get some shaved ice near a riverboat-in-a-moat. They had some fans set up nearby, with hoses to blow cool mist on you. The air was filled with the smells of hot dogs, funnel cakes and sun heated asphalt. The area had been set up to look like the Old West, country-fied facades all around, barrels, horse troughs and associated kitsch, in the distance you could hear the whistle of the little choo choo that took you to the other side of the park.

Some of the speakers played old timey bluegrass, but they also had a restaurant that spun out the sounds of golden oldies, the sounds of bumper car horns punctuating the tunage.

As we strolled up to the carny games, Sarah complained about the heat.

It had bothered me for months. Up until that day, I'd been very polite about the whole thing, biting my tongue, not saying a word about her attire, but now, after hearing her whine about something that obviously appeared to be her own damn fault, I had to say something. "Sarah, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"

She looked indifferent, seemed more interested in playing ring toss, but made a sound like she might answer me.

"Why do you wear such hot clothes? It's got to be over a hundred degrees right now, and you're still wearing that."

Sarah looked offended. "What, do you want me to strip naked? I didn't bring any other clothing."

I reddened. I confess I found the offer tempting. "That's just it. You never have any other clothing. I've never seen you in shorts, or even a T-shirt. You don't swim..."

"I can't swim," she corrected, dancing around the subject. "We talked about this."

"Right," I stammered. "But you don't even want to go on a raft ride."

"I'm scared."

"Scared of getting splashed? I could hold you, you know!" I've never been that bold before, but hey, I thought I'd offer.

"Those rafts look like they could flip over and drown me."

"In four feet of water. And yet you're okay with racing about a thousand feet in the air and shooting down a hill that looks incredibly unsafe."

She smirked at me, baring those cute little incisors. "See? We're both afraid of things."

"Yeah, but I actually went on the Space Rocket. Because of you. I think you're worth impressing. I don't see why you don't think I am."

Sarah took my hand. "I never said that."

I sighed. "Look. That's not even the point. What have you got? Psoriasis? Eczema? Warts? I used to work with this lady who had some nerve condition that made bumps grow all over her face and body. You can't be that bad looking."

"My skin's really sensitive to light. It burns easily."

"That doesn't explain why you also wear them after sundown."

Now she looked pained. "I don't want to talk about this now."

"When would be a good time to bring it up? After we're married? I thought open communication was critical to a solid relationship. Are you afraid I'd judge you?"

"No..."

"Then what?"

"Can we please not talk about this?"

"Fine," I sighed, and we started discussing the Mandolorian.

Sarah tried out that carny game where you knock down clown targets with a baseball. She did really good, but my aim needed some work.

I probably would have hit more targets, had I not suddenly noticed something wriggling up the back of my girlfriend's pant leg. "Sarah, I think you got a snake or something-" I pointed down.

She blushed. "I don't know what you're talking about. A...snake? In a theme park? Seriously, Matt!"

"You...don't...feel anything?"

"...No."

"Okay, never mind."

She wanted to try another ride, something called the Omegatron. You got in a white metal cage, and a mechanical arm whirled you upside down.

Unfortunately, when we got up there and stood in line, the sky grew dark, and we found ourselves in a torrential downpour. Rides like that tended to become lightning rods in a storm, so we got sent away.

The rain did more than dampen customers' spirits. It also made my girlfriend's turtleneck sag.

She had hair growing out of her neck, as thick as a dog's coat.

We never kissed before. Ever. We just hugged, and even that was done with some chasteness. But seeing what I saw, I knew I had to do something or I'd never get another opportunity like it again.

So, under the guise of providing her a nice `wing' to shield her from the rain, I wrapped an arm around her, and as we hurried to the shelter of a video arcade, I tugged down her collar a bit more.

The entryway to the arcade had air conditioners that blasted us with cold air. Brilliant florescents and lights from game machines permitted me to see what Sarah had been hiding all this time.

I gasped in sudden recognition. The sound of a skeeball hitting a target mirrored the noise my jaw should have made as it hit the floor.

The coloration of the hair looked identical to the alien costume she'd worn to the convention.

Still thinking it to be a costume (and possibly some psychological crutch) I tugged on a clump of fur, but she only yelped and slapped me in the face, pulling her collar back up.

I suddenly noticed tears rolling down her cheeks.

"That thing you wore to Comic Con? That was real?"

In response, she pulled out a space gun and shot me.

I don't know what happened after that, but I found myself waking up in front of one of those flashing coin pusher games, a security guy and an arcade attendant staring at me with concern. "Sir, are you all right?"

I groaned and got up, rubbing my head. "...Fine. Have you seen where my girlfriend went?"

Neither one of them seemed to know I even had a girlfriend.

I looked all around the park, but Sarah was nowhere to be found. I went home alone.

That was the last I saw of Sarah.


Note: I wrote this from a Reedsy prompt, so I legally have to mention the website here.