Copyright © 2013 by Michael Litzky
She could make me a vampire, Sally thought. The ultimate act of submission, surrender.
And then: they could be together? They would lie in the sun every day sharing hours of screaming orgasm? They would glide through the nights, forever outside but always together? Could two vampires make a home together?
And on days when there was no sun? Would they revert to evil animals?
The words she would answer came to her at last, and she looked at their shape. But it was too complex to explain. She said simply, “…no.”
It seemed like they would never move again. But at long last, Lavinia whispered, “I’m glad.”
The moon glow was gone. Only the tiniest gleam revealed her lover’s eyes. She could kill me now and I couldn’t stop her. The intense highs and lows of the past twenty-four hours, the sudden rush of violence, the deep silence now, all pulled Sally drifting out of consciousness. A voice, which was also a book she held in her hands, whispered, “Iraq being the way it is, most people there have lives ending in R.” She saw the big blood-red R and knew how many people there were killed every day.
She was on a cobblestone path in a walled garden, far more splendid than the small yard behind her childhood home had actually been. This garden was shared with the houses on either side, while theirs had been intensely private. Behind the house next door was a live Christmas tree, bright with holiday lights, behind a gilded lamppost. Behind her own house, in the middle of her mother’s little vegetable garden, graced now with lilies on stems of music, was piled high a feast for Chūnjié. She reached eagerly for one of the gooey glistening sticky-rice Niángāo, knowing she needed the good luck, but came away with a red packet of money.
She knew the red packet in her hands contained thirty coins. Thirty was an odd number (because it started with an odd number) and odd numbers of coins were given only at funerals, never at a New Year’s feast. With dawning terror she looked up to see the door of her bedroom slowly drift open. A white head slipped in sideways and grinned at her.
But she was safe, she was safe because the house was guarded. Like in a movie, the camera panned up through the ceiling into the attic. She was watching the movie while holding hands with Lavinia, whose name was Moonin’ in the dream, and they both went “aaaahhhh,” as they saw the little fairy woman with gossamer wings flitting around the attic.
She was saying something but movie music made her speech a mystery. What was she saying? She fluttered closer to the viewpoint of the camera and the music hushed expectantly. But instead of speaking, she looked at Sally with great green eyes, then settled purring on her chest and licked the tip of her nose.
Sally came awake, still in Lavinia’s arms, still feeling the dream. Did little fairies protect homes? Was that really why vampires couldn’t enter?
She could see that Lavinia was silently watching her. “Did you hypnotize me?” she asked.
She felt the slight motion as Lavinia shook her head. “Dunno. I may have. I just wanted you to get some sleep so you could be awake when I sleep.”
Sally had been in one position for too long. Reluctantly she sat up, tilting her head left and right to unkink her neck, and slithered around so she was pressed against Lavinia’s side. “Are you feeling sleepy?” she asked, snaking her arms around her.
The face which turned to her was difficult to see. “I’m not sleepy, no. I been sitting here most of the night loving you up. Wondering why you would ever want…” She stopped herself, but Sally guessed what she’d been about to say: either “why you’d ever want a vampire,” or “why you’d ever want someone 25 years older.” She was sure Lavinia had seen that last question on Sally’s own face in the early days. She wished she could tell Lavinia that she didn’t feel that way anymore.
Then in a trembling whisper, Lavinia said, “I been trying to hold on to me. I feel it slipping, whatever makes me me. Maybe I’m just imagining.” But she sounded frightened.
Alarmed, Sally stroked her face, wishing she could see better. There was a small flashlight in the glove compartment, along with a dilapidated Michelin Guide to Paris and some ancient, crumbling chewing gum. But to shine a light on her face right now would be to feed those doubts she guessed Lavinia had.
As an act of faith, she kissed Lavinia’s lips instead and affirmed, “I’m here. I’ll love you through every path you have to walk.”
Then, moved perhaps by inspiration from a cat-sized fairy with gossamer wings, she breathed into her lover’s mouth.
Again. A deep sigh, in and out.
Their mingled breath seemed loud in the stillness.
Sobbing as quietly as she could, Lavinia said, “What’d I do to deserve you, tiger? I feel all me again. You, you called me back?” She shook her head, her nose brushing Sally’s. “This gonna turn into something ‘bout the healing power of love?”
This time Sally didn’t push the thought away so fast. “Maybe,” she said cautiously. Then, more surely: “Why not?”
With her limber body, she straddled Lavinia’s lap. “Next time you sleep,” she affirmed, “I’ll stay by your side, loving you and knowing who you are. When you wake up, my eyes will be the first thing you see. I’ll say your name.” Her voice shook. “I’ll call you wife.” Her loins throbbed at that. She felt fiercely happy.
But Lavinia said, “What about Sleepy, Dopey and the gang back there?” The first hints of morning light made her pale face appear, ghostlike.
Sally had forgotten about them. Reluctantly she said, “I guess we better tell them what’s up.” She reached for the curtain.
Lavinia caught her hand. “One more minute, baby.” Sally gladly let her hand drop. Lavinia brought her own hand, rough and feeling very human, up to Sally’s face.
Lavinia suddenly looked almost shy. “You’ve said it, I haven’t yet. But I’ll say it now.” Sally’s eyebrows lifted and she knew that whatever Lavinia was about to say would make her happy. But she still wasn’t prepared for the rush of joy and passion she felt when Lavinia looked into her eyes and said, “My wife.”
“Oh-oh-ohhh!” Sally, with her wordless cries, her eyes wide in wonderment and her mouth in a trembling O, looked softer than she had ever looked. Lavinia with her earthy smile of joy looked like a Madonna or like wiccan paintings Sally had seen of the Goddess. Lavinia’s mouth opened like she was going to say something more, but then she blushed (only the faintest hint, and barely visible in the growing light) and instead pulled Sally to her for a kiss. Sally, who had been going to say more herself, instead gave in to the kiss.
When their hungry mouths could let the kiss end, the light had grown to where Sally could see Lavinia’s eyes as violet and not just grey. Sally’s body was a trilling like a chime and her hands treasured Lavinia’s face.
At last, reluctantly, Lavinia murmured, “We gotta.” Sally pulled the green curtain.
The crowded vampires were awake. The expressions on their varied faces as they looked around at the small home were a copy of the wonderment on the faces of the two lovers a moment ago. The copy was almost comical, almost obscene, but there was a poignancy and genuineness to it that made it tragic instead.
They looked like lovers who know they will soon lose each other. Sally put her arm tightly around Lavinia.
Hundreds of miles away, Carrie Yan (who had been KerriAnne since she moved out on her own and away from everything in her childhood) knew her sister didn’t love her anymore. Big sister Sally who had always made everything right, the one lifeline she knew in her world of pain, who had rescued her again and again. Bold, beautiful SalliAnne, so strong, always there, always pulling her back from the abyss, was gone.
When Sally didn’t answer her phone, she had gone to Sally’s apartment to get her help and someone else was living there. “She’s traveling, that’s all I know,” the cold bastard had said heartlessly. “I’m not sure when she’ll be back.” Oh dear Jesus how that hurt. “She wouldn’t do that to me,” she’d informed the cold bastard but her world was already crumbling. Her hero, her princess on a shining white horse had ridden away from her grasping, empty white hands, had disappeared into the light that always shone around her, and now Carrie was so very lost.
“My sister always took care of me,” she whispered into the uncaring dark, thinking again about the pills she’d collected. She loved me when nobody else loved me. I had someone who loved me. Once. Once I was loved.
From the medicine chest they gleamed in her thoughts, white and pure. They would taste bitter as her body welcomed them in.