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When dad returned, just before supper, I told him I needed to take a walk. He agreed that some fresh air would be good for me, and let me go without question.

I had never been to the Bridgeport cemtery before, but I knew that was where I had to go.

It was dark, and a fog was rolling in. It gave me the shivers, but I bravely stepped through the gate and began to search the grounds.

It didn’t take me long. I found them. Two perfect, mature, ready to pick deathflower bushes.

I hurriedly picked the flowers. The bushes wilted and died. I felt sorry for them, growing so long only to die like this. I found some of the seeds the plant had shed, and pushed them into the dirt. With any luck, they would grow and replace the dead bushes.

Now what, though? I had the flowers, but where was the figure I was supposed to give them to? Then I remembered.

My wrists, gushing blood.

I had to be dead, I thought. I felt in my pocket, and pulled out the kitchen knife I’d shoved in there. It was small but sharp.

With trembling hands, I set the blade against my wrist, and hoped it wouldn’t hurt too much. I squeezed my eyes shut.

___

When I chanced to peek, I didn’t notice too much.

Except, my body laying on the ground.

And behind me, the hooded figure, bundled up in his cloak.

Holy crap, I’d actually done it!

The figure held out his hand, beckoning to me. I held out the flowers.

“One for me, and one for my mom,” I said.”Give her back.”

The figure seemed taken aback.

“I know you can do it. Just take the flowers, and give her back!”

I couldn’t tell what was going on under that hood, but the figure seemed to be contemplating the offering.

“It is done,” it said at last, in an echoing voice, taking the flowers.

It was suddenly gone, and I was picking myself off the ground.

There was no sign of any injury to myself, and I was amazed.

I looked around, hopefully, but there was no sign of my mom, anywhere.

“You cheat!” I screamed.

___

It was dark.

I stumbled home, crying. Had it all been for nothing? I couldn’t bear it. I felt as though my heart had been ripped in two.

When I arrived home, dad all but pounced on me.

“Where did you go?” he yelled.”You’ve been gone for hours!”

I opened my mouth, knowing I had no answer, but he cut me off, impatiently.

“Something…incredible has happened!’ he yelped, and I could see he was crying, but they were tears of joy.”Layla! Layla is-!”

My expression was shocked. it had actually worked!

My mom was alive, and she’d be okay.

___

They still didn’t know what I’d done. I wasn’t going to tell. But mom knew, I think. When I went to see her in the hospital, and I saw her face, I could see it in her eyes.

And I knew she wouldn’t tell, either.

Dad was overjoyed and thankful, alternating between hovering over mom and praying his thanks for the return of his other half, no matter how it had happened or what she was now.

She was tired and weak. And, strangely, very human.

I guess maybe when she was returned to the living, she was returned in her original condition.

She even looked as young as she had been the day she’d been changed, just 31 years old.

Dad was adamant that she remain so this time. He was even thinking of becoming human himself. I thought he was being a little hasty, and so did mom. He would probably change his mind once the fuss had died down.

Soon, though, I would have to return to school. I still wasn’t feeling well. I had a nasty chill that the warmest clothes and blankets couldn’t chase away.

I was sleeping more and eating less.  I couldn’t stomach anything but plasma fruits now. And I was becoming stronger. I bent a spoon during dinner without realizing it, and lucky dad was at the hospital with mom and didn’t see it happen. I’d never hear the end of it.

Maybe I should have told him. I didn’t realize what was happening. I still didn’t know much about vampires, or even being one. I might be book smart, but I wasn’t exactly life smart.

___

I returned to school the night mom was released from the hospital.

Mandy and Rory were happy to see me, and thrilled that mom was alright.

I explained it away as a simple mistake, that they had thought mom was dying, and someone mistakenly sent word she had died.

Mandy knew the truth, of course. Aunt Camryn had told her what had happened (as much as she knew, that is) but kept it secret, knowing it was better to be discreet around Rory.

I had a lot of work to make up in the classes I’d missed, but I was allowed extra time to do it in. To my surprise, Rory had finished his portrait of me, even though I wasn’t there.

“I didn’t need to have you here. I have every part of you memorized. I could never forget anyone like you,” he explained.

It was…beautiful. I thought it looked nothing like me, I wasn’t that pretty. Mandy assured me I was.

“Maybe now you can tell me what you wanted to last time?” I said, half teasing.

“Sure,” Rory beamed at me.”But not here, not now. Later, after classes. I’ll meet you at the dorm.”

“Okay,” I said, disappointed.

____

I floated through the rest of the day, not even caring that I was starving. I happily sketched, painted and sculpted, looking forward to seeing Rory after classes had ended. I didn’t have much else in my thoughts, and it showed.

Mandy laughed at my fluffy-headedness, and left to research art history of the 18th century for one of her classes, and I was at last free to meet Rory.

But something was wrong, I thought, when I made it back to the dorm. Something just wasn’t right. It was eerily silent, and there was a strange scent in the air.

I knew what it was, and to my horror, I began to salivate.

Blood.

And somehow, I knew it was Rory’s.

I rushed down the corridor, and into his room.

He lay on the floor, propped against the wall, unconscious, his neck bloody. And standing over him, licking her lips, was…

“Dana!” I hissed furiously.

She smirked, and bared her teeth at me.

I know I had sensed something off about her, but I had never suspected she was vampiric, not even once. But it all made sense. The pieces fit. And because I had been too dense to see it, Rory had paid the price.

A strange feeling was well up in me. It was hot, it was painful, and it was forceful. I growled, deep and long.

“Get away from him!” I snarled, eyes flashing. My lip curled, exposing my own sharp teeth.

She seemed momentarily taken aback, but then took a step towards me.

“So the little baby vampire is finally showing her feral side?” she mocked.”All this time I thought you were totally gutless. This is a surprise!”

“How did you know?” I snapped. Dana sneered at me.

“Anyone with eyes could see it, stupid. Those eyes, those teeth. But humans are incredibly stupid, and they don’t notice anything they don’t want to, even if it’s right under their nose the whole time,” she laughed.

“How is it you’ve hidden so long?”

“I, unlike you, know how to hide in plain sight. A little makeup, a spray on tan, and some coloured contacts. It never occurred to anyone that under a few dollars worth of foundation and powder, a vampire was hiding.

“And when I saw you, little baby, the day you came to this school, I knew what you were. I would have left you be, except that I hate you so much.”

“What did I ever do to you?” I exclaimed. Dana’s face twisted into an ugly snarl of fury.

“I hate you because your father killed mine,” she hissed.

I felt as though someone had doused me with ice water. A convulsive shiver ran down my spine.

“Your…your dad was Drake,” I whispered, horrified.

“Yes, and your precious daddy took him away from me,” she snarled.

“But…but he killed innocent people!” I cried.”He tried to kill my mom!”

“Shut up!” she shrieked, and suddenly belted me across the face. I fell to the floor, half stunned.

“Your father is too strong and too well protected,” she continued, as though I’d never spoken.”I couldn’t get to him, so I would strike at you. I’ve been toying with you this whole time, you stupid little baby. I should have taken you out right away, but it’s been so fun, even if it was petty to take or destroy what you love best.”

She stepped closer as I struggled to my feet.

“But here I am, and here you are, and I’m older, and stronger, and faster than you. And there’s no one around to help you, little baby. Daddy can’t save you.”

I wasn’t scared. I could feel that hotness, pure rage, rising in me again, overcoming the cold chill. Days of grief and anger had done their job, undermining what was left of my humanity. Strength rushed through my limbs, and I sprang at her.

She wasn’t expecting it. Before her eyes, I’d obtained my maturity. I was 100% vampire, and I was furious.

I don’t remember much of what happened during the fight, but when it was over, Dana was on the ground, and I was victorious.

From dad and Drake, to me and Dana, everything had come full circle.

It was then that I realized that Rory was awake, and he’d seen and heard the whole thing. He knew. And  I just knew he’d never want to spend another moment with me again.

I knelt down and touched his neck, quivering. Perhaps I was stronger than I thought. Deep down, I knew Rory wasn’t food, and I had no desire to drink his blood at all.

I didn’t care what it would do to my clothes. I sat down in the blood and cradled him on my lap. His eyes closed slowly.

“It’s okay,” I whispered.”It won’t hurt for long.”

I gave him a pained look, and went to summon help.

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