Wherever We’re Together
Copyright © 2013 by Michael Litzky
“Babe?” Lavinia’s voice was edged with fear. “Tell ‘em, they gotta hear it from both of us!”
White hands pushed tentatively into the circle around the two women. Sally knew she had to declare that this space with Lavinia was their home.
But the harder she fought against the despair, the deeper it settled. She had molested her own sister, then she had abandoned her in a cold, lonely world where she couldn’t live. She didn’t deserve Lavinia, Lavinia would leave her once she truly understood.
Clutching her hands to her heart, she wept. Cold hands touched her arms, tickling at first, and then scratching, clawing away the very fabric of reality. Triumphant voices hissed in the empty dark.
And then a little fairy, about the size of a large cat or a small child, floated against the blackness. With deep compassion it regarded her, as Cinnamon had looked at her so long ago when he would purr solemnly on her chest.
The fairy’s blazing eyes were violet as the wine-dark sea. And they saw everything.
The rough sidewalk under her hands held a black blob of ancient bubble gum. Her skin felt suddenly warm where icy hands no longer clutched at her. She was on her knees with Lavinia and they seemed to be in a cave of hissing ice.
The “ice cave” was made of white faces, flattened and distorted as if they pressed against rippled glass. Teeth bared and snapped, fingers strained, voices whispered and threatened as always, but Sally and Lavinia’s little dome-shaped “home” held firm.
Lavinia’s voice trembled with wonder. “I saved you. Just like you rode in and rescued me this morning.”
Sally suddenly understood, but that didn’t stop Lavinia from explaining. “Whatever the fuck was messing with me when I slept was messing with you just now. It picked up on your mashugas about your sister and made it huge as the whole world.” She shook her head and rumpled Sally’s hair. “Fucking idiot, the one time you don’t got the emotional maturity of a 52 year old and it has to be now.”
Sally still felt dazed, but the hopeless burden of ancient guilt was lessened. Because when Lavinia had found her in the dark, she had seen exactly what Sally had done to little Carrie Yan. And here she was, still looking at Sally with exasperated affection.
I saw myself as a tiger when I came for her and she saw me as one of Odin’s ravens. Now I saw her as a fairy. I wonder how she saw herself.
Sally sat up on her haunches. The white walls roiled and lurched. She felt a stab of hope and joy far beyond what could be explained by the success of their experiment.
She put her hands on Lavinia’s shoulders. “We did it! We can make a home together, just by being together and in love, and we can make a home you can be in but other vampires can’t.”
“Yeah, no thanks to you,” said Lavinia, but though her words were hard, he eyes were not and a newly bouyant Sally kissed her without paying any attention.
Together they stood, the space around them ballooning to push the vampires aside. Sally realized that she was straining her muscles, as if she were pushing out on an invisible barrier. She nestled into Lavinia’s side, put her arm around her waist and relaxed. The space around them grew a little wider.
The house they sought was surely less than 100 feet down the hill from them.
Charity placed trembling hands on the window, the very window the Welcome Wagon had smashed. For once her breathing stayed steady as she thought of the rape. For one blessed day the sadness, which filled her even in her best times, had been at bay. She looked only at her hands.
She had always invested in quality: the replacement window was a good one which now slid up almost silently. Her long loneliness would be over in just a few moments.
She lifted her eyes.
First by the tens, then by the hundreds the vampires rimmed the edge of the plaza. The relentless cajoling, teasing and beckoning filled the background like a nagging cold. Malcolm sought the restful company of Sister Amanda where she sat in a folding lawn chair.
“Tell me about that kid, Jeremy,” he asked, seating himself on a concrete wall next to her. “The last time I saw eyes like that was that mine disaster.” A mine in Peru had collapsed. Enthusiastic vampires had dug the trapped miners out in the small hours while rescue workers waited helplessly for daylight. The freed miners, not knowing it was still night, had come pouring out of their “home” and been devoured. The few who had cowered in the black pits until daylight had had eyes like Jeremy’s.
Sister Amanda looked sadly at Jeremy and his three older companions as they walked the perimeter taking videos and talking. “It goes against my grain to bring someone so young into danger like this. But this is his passion. He brings such enthusiasm and intelligence to his “crusade,” if you’ll forgive the expression, that I must support him. And his parents…” Again that sadly disappointed look. “His parents are happy that he’s enthusiastic about this,” she concluded firmly. “And as for why he feels such a personal interest, I’m afraid I really ought to let him tell you, if he wants.”
“How did you get involved with him?”
She smiled a golden smile. “He was one of our most enthusiastic volunteers at the homeless shelter in the Haight.” Her lip curled and she looked disappointed in herself. “Forgive me,” she said, with a small hand gesture towards her heart (perhaps she wore a cross under her turtleneck?), “I shouldn’t say ‘homeless.’ It’s bad practice. The shelter is a home and the souls who stay there are safe for the night.”
The cracking teenaged voice drifted across the open space. “I’m facing the monsters,” he was saying into his phone, “in one of the most famous places on earth today. You can see them, standing there like statues. They’ve been driven out of this plaza but we need to drive them off the whole earth.”
“He’s making his daily vodcast,” the nun explained, and Malcolm was just thinking how odd it was to hear a nun say “vodcast” with such comfort, when a new sound started up. The vampires were saying something different. Like a disturbance in a swamp, it started at one place and spread until they were all chanting. Malcolm couldn’t make out what they were saying but Jeremy had stopped speaking and looked absolutely stricken.
“Cinder rout sin drought cinda rowt.” The chant refused to take shape for Malcolm. But Sister Amanda’s eyes widened. Her face became determined and she rose and walked swiftly toward her charges.
Jeremy’s knees buckled as if they had lost all power. His smartphone slid from his nerveless fingers and cracked against the ground. He fell to his knees with a painful smack. Words were blubbering from his mouth: “No, no, I, I’m sorry, I didn’t, I won’t—”
The other three men made a shield around Amanda as she arrived. “They’re not getting you, Sister,” declared the one with green hair and a paperclip through his left ear.
The chanting suddenly clicked into sense as Malcolm skidded to a halt. “Send her out. Send her out. Send her out to us and we will let you live. Push her out, you can’t keep us out forever…”
Jeremy, haunted eyes still seeing his little brother consumed to the last atom, continued to whimper, “No. No, no, I’m sorry, please, I’m so, so, so sorry…”
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