STOP: This is a continuation from Do Vampires Sparkle?
If Vampires Don't Sparkle
by Lisa McCourt Hollar
My eyes hurt when I opened them. The light outside filtered into my room, slipping past blinds that were drawn to allow for uninterrupted sleep. I had bought them when I first moved in. I liked to sleep past noon.
“Oy, did someone get the license of the truck that hit me?” I wasn’t expecting an answer, I was in my bedroom for Pete’s sake. No one should be there. So I nearly jumped out of my skin when someone did answer.
“Try not to move to fast. You might be a little dizzy.”
“What the hell… Joseph?”
He smiled at me from the entrance to the room. I could hear the television in the living room now and realized he must have been here while I was sleeping. The image of him carrying me… shimmering… came back to me and I winced. My throat hurt. Bad. I reached up to touch it, expecting to find bandages and was surprised to find my neck as smooth and whole as normal, no gaping wound.
“Was it just a dream?” I asked. Sitting up, I stood and took a tentative step. The floor stayed where it was meant to stay and I took another.
“Take it easy,” Joseph said again. Ignoring him, I crossed the room to open the curtains only to find that Joseph was there, blocking me.
“How did you…” I looked from the door where he had just been standing and then back to the window where he now stood.
“You don’t want to open the blinds. Not without some sunglasses to protect your eyes. Here.”
He handed me a pair of pink shades. I shuddered. They reminded me of something Deb would wear.
“I know, but I didn’t have time to get you something in a darker color. Deb says if you break them, you owe her sixty dollars.
I stepped away from the window, putting space between me and Joseph. I thought about running for the door, but knowing how quickly he’d moved across the room, I doubted I would make it… if his intentions were to harm me. So instead I asked, “How did you know what I was thinking?”
“I didn’t. From the look on your face and your preference for black, I took a guess. You hate pink. That’s why Deb wears it, to annoy you.”
“I thought she wore it because she was a mindless zombie.” I meant it as a joke. Joseph however frowned and shook his head.
“Zombies aren’t as mindless as you think. And they would probably never wear pink.”
“Now werewolves, they like pink. Don’t ask me why, I haven’t been able to figure that out.”
“You’re joking,” I said. I moved away from the curtain and slowly worked my way across the room. Joseph took my elbow, intending to help me but I jerked away. For all I knew he had slipped something into my cocoa the night before. Nothing made any sense.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, but he kept his hands to himself and let me walk into the living room on my own power. The television was tuned to the local news and a reporter was standing in the park while the camera filmed her. Behind her was a strip of police tape. She was saying something about an animal attack that had ripped open the throat of a jogger the night before. I touched my own throat, the memory of sharp teeth tearing into the flesh. I still wasn’t sure if my memory was real, but the news broadcast hit a nerve. My knees sagged and I moved to sit on the couch… only my couch wasn’t empty. Carl was sleeping on it.
“Here.” Joseph took my elbow again and guided me towards the seat next to the couch. It was my grandmother’s chair and the most uncomfortable thing, but I sat in it, grateful that I hadn’t landed on the floor.
“Joseph, what’s going on?”
“What do you remember from last night?”
I told him, the man that had come into the store, how he had been waiting for me on the way home. His arms around me… kissing me. Teeth… pain. And then him lifting me.
“You sparkled,” I said.
Joseph blushed. “I don’t like that word. It sounds too much like a certain popular vampire series.” He shuddered.
“Are you a vampire?”
The sound that came out of Joseph was so startling that Carl sat up on the couch and looked around, his eyes wide. It took me a moment to realize he was laughing.
“Me, a vampire?” he barked, “No. I’m an angel.”
“This is where I probably should have called the police. Most people would have. “There’s a crazy man in my apartment that claims he’s an angel. Oh and by the way, I had a vampire rip open my throat last night, can you bring a white jacket for me as well.”
My grandmother had believed in the paranormal and had passed some of that on to me. When I was little and the Polly Anna that lived next door to us called my grandmother a witch, I put a hex on her. Not a real one, I didn’t know how to do that, but when she fell ill the next day I went running to my grandmother.
“What’s the matter,” she had asked.
“I hexed Sissy Susan.”
“We don’t call people names. Now why did you hex, Susan.”
“She called you a witch.”
“And how does that hurt me?”
“Because,” I sobbed. “Witches are old hags with warts on their noses.
“Do I have a wart on my nose?” She looked in the mirror then and squinted at her nose. “Well look there, no one bothered to tell me I was supposed to have a wart.”
“You’re not a witch,” I laughed.
“I’m not? Are you so sure of that, child? Then how can you have hexed Susan.”
“I guess… I don’t know. But she’s sick now.”
“Probably the stomach flu. I’ll make her some chicken noodle soup and take it over to her.”
“There’s creatures all around us,” she said as she made the soup. “We can’t always see them, but they watch us. Sometimes they listen to what we say. Now if they are good, they won’t do anything to hurt us, but some are mischievous. If they hear you put a hex on someone, they could act on that and cause that person all kinds of pain. Now I’m sure that’s not what happened to Susan but a little magic can’t hurt.”
“What do you mean, Grandma?”
She just winked at me and blew into the soup. I didn’t see anything magical happen, but Susan got better and went back to tormenting me a few days later.
So now I looked at Joseph telling me he was an angel… and I believed him.