“You know, most men are frightened by my compound eyes.”

“Honestly, I think I like yours better than the normal kind,” He shrugged. “Those weird me out up close. The pupils look like holes through a person. It’s unsightly.”

“Well, that’s a breath of fresh air, I guess.” She speared a chunk of calamari with her fork, then dipped it in horseradish. In the restaurant’s dim light, her countless lenses blended together into uniform curves of indigo. “Try going to a job interview looking like this.”

“Well I, for one, think you look great. And it sounds like you’ve managed to find work, anyway.” He tilted his head. “What is it that you do again?”

“Online, I just list ‘performing arts.’ Really though, I’m a monster under some kid’s bed. The truth creeps some people out, so I don’t mention it too publicly.”

“A… monster?”

“Yeah. I’m one of those things that go bump in the night.” She finished chewing her squid. “Believe it or not, there are people who will pay serious money for this gig. Usually three-letter organizations, but sometimes the contracts come directly from the kids’ parents. They’re always in need of clever, acrobatic, and well, weird people like me to do it. I’ve never been too fond of the job, but when you have eyes like mine, it’s that or the circus.”

“That’s…” He paused, unsure of what to say. “How long have you been… monstering for?”

“Something like two-hundred years now.”

He coughed, narrowly avoiding choking on the appetizer. “Okay, this is a lot to swallow.”

“Clearly. Do you need some water?”

“No, I-“ he sighed, then coughed, then finished his sigh. “So let me get this straight. You’re telling me that not only are you at least two-hundred years old, but also that the monsters from my childhood were probably real? And that my parents might have paid them to mess with me?”

“Oh, that’s very, very possible.” She grinned. “You were so cute while you slept, back then.”

For a few moments, all he could do was stare at her as the pieces came together. His eyes widened, and he attempted to say something- anything at all, but his throat had gone rigid. 

Then she laughed. “Oh man, I had you going there for a second. Nah, we’ve never met before.”

He tried to laugh with her, but he could barely force a smile. “How do you know?”

“If we’d met all those years ago, then at this point in your life, you wouldn’t believe in me anymore. Even if you’d looked right at me, I wouldn’t have been there, and we’d have gone on with our lives as strangers.” 

“Well, you managed to scare the hell out of me.”

“I suppose so,” she grinned. “Scares that good don’t come cheap in my line of work. Cover the bill this time around, and we’ll call it even.”

Bloody Mary is the highest paid consultant in her field.

Compound eyes afford unexpected benefits to those who possess them.