A Little Pixie Face
Copyright © 2013 by Michael Litzky
“What?” Lavinia asked as Sally pulled out her phone. “You just went out like somebody turned a dimmer switch.” The low sun through the windshield gleamed on Lavinia’s hand; she let out a quiet “Whssshhh.”
“My sister,” Sally muttered miserably. “She tried to reach me while my phone’s been off.” She looked only at her phone as it started; she could feel Lavinia’s disapproval.
But when Lavinia spoke, her voice held none of the lecturing tone Sally hated. “I know you love her, baby. It’s just that it kills me to see what she does to you.” Lavinia gave a slight “hmph” which Sally knew meant she’d heard herself say “it kills me.”
Sally’s phone, four months more out of date (but she couldn’t afford to upgrade, her only income now was from subletting her apartment) labored through its startup routine. Lavinia did something the old Lavinia wouldn’t have done: said nothing and gave her space to sort out her feelings.
They drove under a brown overpass and the massive freeway miraculously become a massive city street, the kind of transition that usually happens only in a dream. Thinking about KerriAnne was like a fever dream, round and round with no center and no end.
No point in reading the texts and listening to all the messages. They’d just go shooting off all over the place. She’d learn sooner what KerriAnne wanted by just asking. With the usual knot in her stomach, she called her.
But the phone rang and rang and rang. Now fear stepped out from the confused mass. KerriAnne’s phone, even though it was just a simple cell phone, nothing fancy, would have announced Sally. The only time she ignored a call from Sally was when she didn’t need anything.
She looked up to see Lavinia darting quick, concerned glances as she navigated into one of three left turn lanes. As they waited at the stoplight, Lavinia stroked Sally’s cheek. Sally seized her hand, kissed the fingertips and settled, trembling, against Lavinia’s side. Months ago when she’d leaned adoringly against Lavinia, it had been something of a statement. Now she did it without thought, taking deep comfort from Lavinia’s strength.
She thumbed through the texts. They went from put out to wheedling to accusing to despairing, ending with “I hurt so much. Master of all masters, my only light, I can’t live in a world without you.” Sally felt squeezed by a vise. Her breath caught.
Lavinia made the big left turn but quickly turned onto a side street and parked. Tenderly she took Sally in her arms and stroked her as she was wracked with sobs. Sally had no thought that a vampire was holding her: it was just Lavinia, at once stronger and gentler than she used to be.
Lavinia’s tender quiet gave Sally room to understand at last that something was deeply wrong in her relationship with KerriAnne. She sat up, nuzzling her cheek like a cat against Lavinia’s face. For a moment, she ached with desire to hold Cinnamon again, to feel him throbbing against her chest. She’d been with Callista six or seven years ago. He’d be an old cat but he could still be alive.
“What are you now smiling about, you crazy person?” Lavinia asked affectionately.
“Thinking about a cat I once knew. Um, I guess my relationship with my sister is pretty fucked up, huh?”
“Thought never even crossed my mind,” Lavinia said solemnly but with such tenderness that there was no sting in her sarcasm. Sally tried on the strange thought: my sister is a grownup. She should take care of herself. I don’t have to do anything. Lavinia thinks so, and she’s a good person.
Lavinia waited quietly, eyes only occasionally flicking to the sun as it disappeared behind houses.
Tentatively, Sally spoke words aloud. “I don’t have to jump every time she calls? She really just uses me.” She waited for Lavinia to say scornfully, “I didn’t know you were thinking that.” But Lavinia carefully nodded encouragement.
“You should have seen her when she was a girl,” Sally said quickly, as if to make up for her disloyalty. “She was so sweet. I loved her so much. I don’t think we ever fought, she was like, I dressed her up and played with her like she was my special doll. Aw, that’s not good, huh?” Lavinia gave a neutral shrug.
“And when we were older, we played together all the time, I was the leader, I guess, I was always coming up with new games for us to play. And no, I never had sex with her,” she added, responding only now to a question Lavinia had snapped nastily at her during their horrible fight over KerriAnne a few months ago.
Then, with red face and hanging head, feeling like she would pass out from shame, she admitted, “Well, just once. Just, um, I’d, uh, tied her up, you see? And I, well, one thing led to, uh.” She could hardly breathe and she couldn’t look at Lavinia’s face. She still felt the rush of heat in her groin, still saw the completeness with which Carrie (as she’d been then) had submitted to her, still felt the nausea she’d felt one minute after.
With sudden, sharp self-accusation, she felt the horror and thrill as her little sister knelt before her, begging for them to play that game again. “Please, Master of all Masters,” she had said, using language Sally herself had taught her, “let your humble servant please you again.” She had actually been bending her head to kiss Sally’s foot when Sally jerked her foot away and snapped, “What are you doing? You’re sick.”
At the moment, she’d been proud of herself for resisting the bolt of arousal. Now she looked back and saw the hurt and confusion on Carrie’s 13-year-old pixie face with its frame of straight black hair (she hadn’t dyed her hair blonde yet).
“It was … just that once,” she finished voicelessly.
Her face was being stroked. Only when she saw the love on Lavinia’s face did she realize how big a part of her had expected Lavinia to shout, “You abomination! You shame your family!” But that was silly; Lavinia wouldn’t talk like that.
She dragged in a ragged breath, still feeling like she was going to faint. It was out, the secret of her life. She had spoken the words out loud.
Lavinia said, “Babe. You’re not responsible for the way your sister is. She’s made a lot of choices.” She held Sally’s face in her hand. Sally had liked that when she was surrendering to Lavinia. She didn’t like it now, didn’t like the flaring desire for Lavinia to punish her.
Lavinia’s eyes flicked toward the setting sun. “I hate to say it, babe, but we’re gonna be right here when the sun sets unless we start driving again. Course, we could do that. One place’s as good as another.” She let go of Sally.
Sally tried to shove her tormented relationship with KerriAnne back into storage. “We should head to that address. If he’s there, like I think he is, it’ll be a big help.” Then, trying on a glorious new thought: “Maybe she can take care of herself!”
She found herself looking hungrily for Lavinia’s approval.
Malcolm tossed a hearty “Good night, officers!” as the last of the police walked away and left him alone in the plaza. He heard one of them mutter, “You made your bed, ya fucking faggot.”
“Be the best you ever had,” Malcolm said under his breath, stomping back to the tent. The sun turned the slender Embarcadero Center buildings golden red, a set of encyclopedias. Three or four other stragglers hadn’t run for the safety of the indoors yet. “G’wan, get out of here!” he yelled at them with irritation.
They turned to face him and he saw four young men and a woman, all with deadly serious faces, black tee shirts and wooden stakes like rounds of bullets on their belts. A teenager with messy black hair and haunted eyes walked up and stood in front of him.
“There’s an even better way, sir,” he said.
Their tee shirts all bore a picture of a boot kicking a comically distressed vampire into space from a house made of continents and blue oceans. The caption read, “Think about it. The entire Earth is a home.”
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