Copyright © 2014 by Michael Litzky
“C’mon, kid,” Lavinia demanded. “You’re chewing on something. I know that look. Cough it up!” Her voice had an unusual tremor and a pleading tenderness which offset the rough words.
Sally’s most precious gift was the ability to learn from repeated mistakes. Before the new knowledge could become a secret dread and swell in size until it was unspeakable – she spoke it. How many stories have I read where all the trouble would have been avoided if people just spoke the secret right from the start? “You were forced out because the, because we were fighting. I didn’t feel at home with you and the house magic forced you out.”
She saw worried understanding sweep across Lavinia’s face and went on, “It’s not right, it’s not good. As long as we’re in a house, I hold power I don’t want. I could order you to get out and you’d have to go.”
When she said the words “get out,” Lavinia tensed. But as Sally gasped, “Did I just–?” Lavinia shook her head, “Nothin’.” Sally shivered. Six months ago I was afraid of saying “welcome, come in” by accident.
They were still in the entryway of Lavinia’s apartment. Lavinia drew her in, sat on the sofa. Sally made a quick trip to the bathroom, then sat next to Lavinia and from the strong embrace, looked around the room where her life had changed several months ago. I stood behind that curtain and she came through that door. That’s where she stood when she swept the curtain aside and I saw her eyes for the first time. Then she sneezed because of six months accumulated dust.
Lavinia looked embarrassed. “I’m gonna say something I don’t say too much, and I was gonna say it even before what you just told me. I just wanna say I’m sorry. I’m fuckin’ sorry I was such an asshole back there.”
“Back where?” Sally was actually nonplussed. “Oh, in the van. I can’t even remember what we were arguing about.”
A smile flitted across Lavinia’s face. “Lucky I was listening, then. And I was listening, babe. It’s just, I’ve got so used to, every relationship I’ve ever had, to winning every argument by stonewalling. But when that force slammed into me, it was like somebody picked me up and shook me and yelled ‘hey asshole, this is what a stone wall feels like!’ I was working up to say sorry even before I learned I gotta suck up to you.”
Lavinia’s grin snapped off when Sally screamed, “I don’t want you to have to suck up to me!”
“I was just kidding –”
“Do me!” Sally faced Lavinia with fierce determination. “Do me now. I want to be with you, not –” She shook her head helplessly, confused by the ramifications of what she was asking. “I don’t want that power,” she finished.
She faced Lavinia, ready for the pain of the bite, vague in her mind about exactly what would happen after that but certain that a shining future flying in the sun with her beloved waited for her on the other side of it. Any doubts and fears she pushed down with an iron hand. She wanted this too much to even look at how questionable her immediate motive was. This excuse would do as well as any.
Lavinia was tempted, she could see it on her face. She put her hand on Sally’s right shoulder and her other hand on Sally’s waist. Sally breathed hard, suddenly repelled. She was sure she wanted what was on the other side but she didn’t want to go through with this. Lavinia closed her eyes and opened her mouth wide, displaying with intense suddenness the vicious set of puncturing fangs.
Her head snapped forward and she bit! She bit hard, right on the spot on Sally’s neck which had felt funny several times when she woke up with Lavinia. Sally suddenly struggled. The fangs pierced and ached and it was all wrong, this wasn’t supposed to be happening now, but it would be over in a few minutes and she would be a vampire minutes after that. That scream of despair swelled and filled her brain; that meant she was on the right path, didn’t it?
Or was it a shriek of triumph this time? Why did she feel like weeping for loss?
An instant later, Lavinia’s strong hands flung her away!
“I can’t do it, I can’t, sorry babe, I can’t,” she panted. Her voice was ragged but she looked embarrassed. “Blood tastes too awful to me now. I thought I could stand it but I can’t.”
Sally, feverish and dazed, cried out her first thought, “I have to stay human!” She’d meant it as a cry of despair but as her head cleared, she realized what she’d understood in that flash when she thought it was too late.
Lavinia took Sally’s hands, started to reassure Sally, “When the time comes, we’ll find some non-solar vampire to…” She calmed down enough to register the look on Sally’s face.
“I have to stay human,” Sally said more calmly. “What we’re going to do, there’s a reason I have to stay human. I don’t know what it is, but I know it. We came this close to wrecking our chance just now. Thank heaven blood doesn’t taste good to you anymore.”
Then she flung herself on her startled lover and they had some pretty hot sex right there on Lavinia’s dusty sofa, sneezing several times.
As she chopped onions for her dinner frittata (the gray-haired grandmother seemed to want to help her chop, but she wasn’t ready to hand a knife to a vampire) Charity was aware of big eyes on her from behind.
Tommy didn’t interact much with the other vampires who wandered like opium addicts from room to room, touching things. He stood holding his fire-engine blanket and watched her. He never sucked his thumb; she’d see his thumb starting for his mouth sometimes but he always looked at it, then dropped it to his side again.
She still remembered her surprised delight when he woke up able to move in the daylight. For the first several days she had stationed herself beside him when he woke up so she could greet him with a smile or a song or a tickle. The first week he had wakened zombie-like; the second week he had wakened shaking with terror from the “nasty talking man” of his dreams. But just the day before the rally where Lavinia had flown, he had sat up smiling, walked to the window, put his hand in the sun and said, “Yummy yummy, woo woo woo.”
It was time to try the idea which had made her hug herself earlier in the day. In a conversational tone, like she might have talked to her own grandmother if she had lived (and like she had never been able to talk to her mother), Charity said, “I’m going to take Tommy to a quiet place where he can practice flying tomorrow. I wish I knew just the right place, though.”
“Da zoo?” Tommy asked, out of the blue.
“Would you rather go to the zoo tomorrow, my lamb?” Charity asked hopefully.
“Kin I fwy dewe?”
“Eh, no, honey, if we go to the zoo, we’ll have to postpone flying for another day.”
“Mmm. Den wets do da zoo pose pone.” It took Charity a moment to correctly parse this sentence as “Then let’s postpone the zoo.”
“Alright. You see, we want to fly somewhere where there are no other people.” She didn’t want to scare him by talking about other people hurting or shooting at him. “We don’t want to make anybody jealous. But it must be a place with lots of sunshine. An open outdoor place with lots of sunshine that doesn’t get many visitors, even on a Saturday. But I don’t quite know where to go. I just have to think. Where would be a good place?”
“Whyn’t ya try Annadel State Park?” said a new voice. “Secret back entrance don’t nobody hardly ever use.”
Charity’s heart sang. It had worked! Simply by asking for help, she had found a way to awaken one of the others!
Eyes tearing from the onions, she chopped too fast as she said, “So you know a secret back entrance – yaaahhh!”
Sharp pain sliced across her left index finger just as Tommy sang “Sequet entwance, sequet entwance!” and the male voice said, “Yeah, can’t remember the turnoff but I could find it for you.”
As blood trickled down her finger, a hiss ran through every corner of her apartment.
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