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I glanced around nervously as I perched precariously on the wooden chair. I was nervous, and the anxiety now gripping me was absolutely unbearable. I wasn’t sure why I was nervous, but maybe it was because of my rapidly approaching seventeenth birthday and what would happen when it arrived. It wasn’t a definite thing that would happen, but I knew it would be bad. Very, very bad. Though perhaps bad wasn’t exactly the right word. Maybe ghastly, horrific, appalling, dire, dreadful, and abysmal were much better words to describe the ominous feeling in my gut. And as much as I tried to fight it, I knew the event was imminent. It was etched in my face so deeply it looked like I would be anxious and nervous for the rest of my life.
Yes, that included the afterlife I knew I would never “live”.
I was outside on the terrace, and as I glanced around nervously, a movement in the corner of my eye snatched my attention. As I looked on with my unnaturally natural bright turquoise eyes, I found that the movement I’d seen was purely Peter making his way over from his house by cutting through our neighbor’s yard and then through some trees.
“Hey, Al!” he called, waving his hand at me. I smiled. Well, no, I actually grimaced, but it was close enough for was Peter could see. I knew Peter would know that something was wrong as soon as he got close enough to see my anti-smile. He would want to iron out the crease between my eyes with words, trying to get me to tell him what was wrong. Get me to talk about it. He’d crack some jokes, or do something to make me laugh, and badda-bing badda-boom, the crease would be gone and my marble skin would be smooth and unwrinkled as ever.
“Hey, Pete!” I called back, rising from my wooden perch. It was windy and I shivered slightly as I ran my fingers through my short, spiky, dark brown hair. Its natural disarray made me look like a pixie, and I didn’t care if anyone liked it or not. Finally Peter reached me. The anxiety writ on my face had an instantaneous effect on Peter.
“What’s up?” he asked, not even giving my eyes a second glance. He was so used to the color and their sporadic changes in color – as he very well should be, having been my best friend since birth. When I was angry, my eyes flashed scarlet momentarily, so it was like it was imagined, which I was sure Peter thought that was what he was doing every time I was angry enough for that to happen.
Shaking my head, I answered with a simple, “ Nothing,” before stuffing my hands in my sweatshirt pocket. The distressed look didn’t leave Peter’s face even though I’d answered him. I’d failed to pick up on the fact that he asked what was up rather than what was wrong.
Peter combed his fingers down through his ginger bangs that reached the very top of his eye socket. “What’s wrong, Al?” he asked, and I, again, failed to grasp the subtle difference between the two questions. I had interpreted them both as the same thing: What’s wrong?
“Nothing,” I repeated flatly as I noticed Peter’s emerald eyes searching my own turquoise ones. Searching, but not finding. It was disconcerting. He chewed the inside of his cheek as he gazed intently into my eyes.
A strong, chilling burst of wind sent chills to my bones. Since when had October been so windy? I was used to the crisp, autumn air, but that was different from this biting wind.
Almost as soon as I’d answered, I knew Peter still wasn’t convinced, but he let it go with a sigh and a roll of his eyes. “Alison!” he groaned impatiently when he knew I wouldn’t relent. But it was impossible to have a conversation with this great anxiety-causing shadow looming over my head. Like a rain cloud just over me and no one else. No one knew how I felt now. No one ever would unless they were like me. Not even Peter. I couldn’t believe I was even in this situation where Peter was expecting me to tell him what was wrong and it all led to me being a vampire. He knew I barely ever told him what was wrong. He knew it. But he asked anyway, just to be polite.
“Look, I’m telling you, nothing’s wrong or up or whatever. I’m fine,” I lied, my eyes widening and my hands opening palm up at shoulder height as I tried to get Peter to understand that I was fine, even though I wasn’t. His green eyes continued to search mine, but he would never find anything except an honesty that was truly a lie. But to him, it wasn’t a fake honesty like it actually was. All Peter saw was the candor that colored my voice.
“Okay, fine. If you do not tell me, I will not be your friend anymore,” Peter bluffed, but I saw right through it. Peter only spoke without contractions when he was lying, and I don’t think he realized it. After a few moments of him staring expectantly into my lying eyes, he turned and started walking away, awfully slowly. “Fine, Al. I guess we are not friends anymore,” he said loudly over shoulder as he walked. Peter expected me to run after him and beg for him to be my friend again. Standing there with my hands on my hips, I looked at my watch and watched the seconds tick by, counting each infinitesimal bit of time in between each second as Peter walked away, slowing more and more with each foot he got away from me. It took about twenty slow, agonizing seconds before Peter spun and walked quickly back to me.
“I thought you weren’t my friend anymore,” I told Peter, raising my eyebrows, waiting for him to cave under my unbreakable gaze. I blinked, just to seem human, and I realized I never blinked enough. But if I blinked too much, Peter might notice. So once every six seconds, I blinked. Every second, on the second.
Peter looked absolutely defeated. His arms hung limp and he slumped forwards, the look echoed on his freckled face. “Okay, I lied. I admit it. But there is definitely something wrong and it is killing me! I just want to know if I can do anything to help!” Peter said, his voice even reflecting his body language and facial expression. Yeah, like I didn’t already know that he was lying.
“Well, you can’t,” I said, trying my hardest not to laugh. I rolled my lips inside my mouth, trying not to break my smooth façade. The crease between my eyes went into a tiny arch from the inside of one fine eyebrow to the other. I was laughing at how he reacted when I told him that nothing was wrong the second time. The groan, and then his lie. And then when he returned and wanted to know if he could help. Oh, yeah. He could so help me not be such a wanted vampire. Wanted as in there was pretty much a reward for the first vampire to get me to do what I had to do before my birthday. Halloween. It was just over a month away, because today was Saturday, September twenty-seventh. I had just over a month until my untimely death. At least that was what everyone who wasn’t a vampire would think. What would really happen was that I would turn into a bloodthirsty monster that had to live in a hole. A very deep hole. And that’s symbolism for me living far, far away from any type of civilization. Even that wouldn’t stop me from getting myself out and killing thousands of people. Millions even if I could even get that far. My skin with become thinner, but stronger. Whiter, but sicklier. My eyes would become scarlet, savage-looking. My hands would get thinner, but stronger, able to crush a stone to powder without exerting much energy. They would be bony, frail looking, claw-like. My canine teeth would be sharp, glistening fangs so big, they protruded from my mouth. I would be stronger than ever. I’d even be more beautiful than ever, if you had a macabre sense of what was beautiful. Running would be more like flying the speed I would be able to run. Zero to five hundred in a matter of a half a second. Zero to five hundred. In half a second. Yes, feel free to whistle in amazement. Of course I would be able to run much, much faster, but that would take a bit longer to go that fast. Like half a second longer. I would be a killing machine.
“What?” Peter asked, seemingly offended at me trying not to laugh. Obviously he’d picked up on the difference in my facial expression. It wasn’t too hard, but still. How often did I roll my lips back over my teeth and an arch crease appear in my forehead? Not very often, trust me on that.
“When you walked away, it made me laugh. Er, almost laugh, the way you come back and you’re like, ‘Ugh, fine, I lied.’ Peter, I know when you lie. It’s always when you don’t use contractions,” I said, finally letting loose on some of the laughter. I let it filter through my voice, making it sound giddy, and then it just sounded like peals of a bell. Soon, both Peter and I were laughing, but he was a bit confused about how I knew that he was lying.
He showed that with a confused look on his face as he laughed, not quite as hard as I was laughing, but enough that it made me laugh harder. “What do you mean, I don’t use contractions when I’m lying?” he repeated incredulously, the question reiterated in his facial expression and body language, yet again. Peter was my open book, incredibly easy to read. I don’t think he realized that either.
“Peter, whenever you lie, you never use contractions. Like don’t, or won’t, or aren’t. After that you always come back and admit that you lied. Well, almost always. Other times you just lie and leave it at that, clearly thinking you’re the best liar in the world,” I explained, surfacing from my laughter. There was nothing funny about him seriously not knowing what I meant.
“Oh. I never realized that,” Peter said simply, and brushed his ginger hair from his freckled face. I copied his action – to an effect – and just ran my fingers through my dark hair, making it a tad spikier as I gave him a look that told him it was obvious he hadn’t realized that. It was okay, everyone did things they weren’t conscious of. Everyone, everyone, everyone.
“What d’you want to do now? Go for a walk or something?” I asked Peter, leaning against the low stonewall surrounding the terrace that the chair I was just sitting in was on. The heels of my hands leaned against the wall, and I leaned my backside against them, feeling the cool denim rub against my skin, soft and rough at the same time. Crossing my ankles, I tilted my head to the side, curious about what Peter’s answer might be.
Peter considered my suggestion for a little bit, biting his tongue lightly and looking up as he mulled it over. “I dunno. Maybe go for a walk,” he said. Just then, a sudden burst of wind ruffled the trees and caused Peter and I to shiver. “On second thought…we could go inside and have some lunch or something,” he suggested.
“Yeah, sounds good to me. I don’t really want to be outside in this wind,” I said, uncrossing my ankles and standing up straight, I led the way inside, closing the door carefully behind Peter. “So...what do you want for lunch?” I asked once we were in the kitchen. Peter knew his way around my house pretty much, so we could make our own meals at the same time and he wouldn’t need my help. It was the same with me at his house. No one really cared, as long as we cleaned up and didn’t break anything.
Again, Peter pondered this, stroking his chin dramatically. “Mind if I make a grilled cheese?” he asked, stopping the stroking of his chin and looking me right in the eye. It was weird, even though he’d been scrutinizing my eyes before, searching for something we both knew he’d never find. Before it hadn’t been weird in the slightest, but now, it just was. I don’t know why and I don’t think I’ll ever know why.
“No. But I think I’ll make one, too,” I said. “I’ll make them.” I took out two frying pans and turned the stove on, turning the heat to just the right temperature. As the pans heated up, I took the butter out of the fridge and put exactly the right amount of butter in each, the exact same amount, too. Peter could never fathom how I did this, but I just told him I had good judgment. I put the slices of bread in, then the cheese on, and then the other slice of bread, flipping them when I could smell that each side was ready. Before long, I shoveled the sandwiches onto plates and gave one to Peter. In all truth, I couldn’t eat this repulsing meal. It smelled disgusting, and nothing would taste better than going hunting right about now, but Peter couldn’t know about that, now could he?
“Thanks,” he said as I handed him a knife to cut his in half. When he was finished, he handed the knife to me and I cut my sandwich in half. Why didn’t I make some stupid excuse so I wouldn’t have to pretend to eat this? I took a huge bite, trying to prolong the time between sitting down and actually biting it. I chewed slowly, forcing the flap of skin at the back of my throat to stay sealed. The venom in my mouth dissolved the human food, and I just swallowed every so often to make it seem like I was really eating. Ugh, grilled cheese was disgusting. Why did Peter have to like it so much? “Mm, how do you make these so well? It’s delicious!” Peter exclaimed after swallowing.
Shrugging, I said, “Lots of practice, I guess.” Peter nodded in agreement and took another bite. When we were finished, Peter mentioned an English assignment.
“Oh, I finished that. Last night. I’m guessing you haven’t finished it yet?” I informed him, taking our plates and putting them in the dishwasher to wash later. I put the pans in the sink and filled them with water as I watched Peter shake his head slowly. I looked back at the pans and when they were full, I turned the water off. I’d clean them later after they had been soaking for a while. “Don’t worry; it was easy. You’ll finish it in no time. Did you bring it with you?” I asked as I eyed the backpack that he’d hung on the back of the chair.
“Yeah,” he answered. “Oh, did you get question eight on the Chemistry homework?”
“Okay, good. Yeah, I don’t remember what it was though. C’mon, we can work on it in my room.” Of, course I remembered what the answer was, but then it would be freaky if I remembered the exact words and such. We went up to my room and I flopped down on my bed, allowing Peter to sit at my desk. I lay down on my stomach and bent my legs up at the knees, propping myself up with my elbows, and pulled my homework out of my backpack that was sitting on the floor next to my bed. Surprising me, Peter sat down on one of the huge beanbag chairs and leaned on his Chemistry textbook to write down the homework. I handed him my sheet and he copied the answer for number eight neatly down on his paper. He thanked me and handed it back.
“I just wish it wasn’t so windy. Otherwise we could have gone for a walk. Ugh, homework stinks,” Peter said, checking for any other assignments he could have missed.
I nodded. “I know what you mean. I was such a nice day until it got windy. I’m glad you came over though. I don’t even know why I was sitting outside in the first place. I must be insane or something. But of course we already knew that…” My voice trailed off as I spotted something out the window, coming closer and closer. Was it a cloud? No, it couldn’t be. Why was it making such a strange noise? As it drew closer, I could tell that it certainly was not a cloud, and what the supposed cloud was out to get. Me!
It was bats. Hundreds and thousands of bats.
“Below! Below!” they squeaked as they fluttered and swirled high above me, appearing to be a storm cloud. My worst fears were realized. It doesn’t seem like much, but the whole bat-vampire cliché was one of the only vampire clichés there was. At first, I didn’t notice Peter looking at me strangely.
“Al, what are you looking at?” he asked, and followed my gaze. When he saw the bats, he exclaimed, “Holy crow! I didn’t know there was a storm coming! I guess I should probably get home. Before it hits, you know.” He started gathering up all his books and stuffing them into his backpack. But I wasn’t paying attention to him. I had jumped deftly from my bed and had walked closer to get a better look. I opened the window and poked my head out. “Al, what are you doing?” Peter asked me. Again, I didn’t pay attention to him. I saw a funnel of bats shooting down from the swarm, right towards me. I was too slow to get the window shut in time, but, at least I got away from the window. I finally noticed Peter watching me strangely, but he jumped up and tried shielding me from the bats that had just flown in the window and started attacking me, shrieking angrily as they bit and scratched me while beating me with their wings. Throwing my arms over my head, I flung myself facedown on the floor.
“Close the window!” I screamed to Peter as the bats attacked me. There was nothing else he could do. I heard the window slam shut and heavy breathing. “Broom! Broom! Get a broom!” I yelled to Peter. He understood why a broom was needed and sprinted out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him. I waited there, on the floor, for what seemed like a torturously long amount of time, the bats never relenting. Finally, Peter returned, panting heavily.
“I got it!” he panted. I looked up slightly to see Peter swinging the broom hard, and then to feel it connect with the side of my head. Everything went black.
I was lying on something extremely soft, and I was comfortably warm. This wasn’t right. I was unconscious, wasn’t I? I felt as though I could open my eyes, so I did. I was in a brightly lit room. It was such a contrast to the comfortable darkness I’d experienced a nanosecond before, so I closed my eyes tightly again. Rubbing my closed eyes, I heard, “Oh, look. She’s waking up.” It was my mother’s voice. Her voice was smooth and each word slid into each other perfectly. I opened my eyes again and saw my parents, Peter’s parents, and a nervous-looking Peter sulking in the background as my eyes adjusted to the new light. I was in my bedroom. No surprise there. That was where Peter conked me out with the broom.
“How long?” I asked, knowing they all knew what I meant.
“Only a day. Peter thought he’d killed you, poor thing.” It was Peter’s mother, Susan who answered. Peter moaned embarrassedly. There were tiny scratches covering his face and neck, most definitely from the bats. I gave him an empathetic look.
“What happened to them? Where’d they go?” I asked my parents.
“The ones who attacked you were exterminated. No use having bats who attack people around,” my father answered smoothly. I smiled weakly.
“I’m so sorry!” Peter piped up. I grinned before speaking. Peter thought I was mad at him. Well, heck no! Peter didn’t mean to knock me out, did he?
“Don’t worry about it, Petey. I forgive you,” I said, hoping to help him feel better. Obviously, I was wrong. He still looked distraught, a skeptical pout on his face. Finally I was aware of throbbing pins and needles on the left side of my face. My hand flew up and felt a large lump on the side of my head. “Remind me again why you don’t play baseball,” I told Peter. Everyone laughed, even Peter.
“All right, all right, let’s leave them be!” Susan said, getting up and ushering my parents and Peter’s father out of the room. Peter seemed relieved that they left, and the second the door closed, he spoke.
“Why did those bats attack you?” he asked, rolling forward on a desk chair I identified as my own. As if that was a normal question to ask someone. Did anyone really know why animals attacked them if they were just standing there? Well, I did. This was it. The whole truth I was hiding now had to be out into the open. I sat up in my bed. But maybe I could get away with a lie. Peter wouldn’t believe the truth anyway, so it was better just to lie until he was ready to know. Even though he was my best friend and everything, he just wouldn’t understand.
At least not at first.
“I don’t know,” I lied. Of course I knew the exact reason those bats attacked me, but was I going to tell Peter that? NOT A CHANCE! “Maybe they’re bloodthirsty monsters out to kill me,” I said. This was partially true. Actually, they were bloodthirsty monsters out to kill me, so, so much for the lie to cover up the truth. Tacking a “maybe” at the beginning may have just saved my butt. Otherwise, Peter would be paranoid whenever he saw something flying, even if it was just a cute little bird. But it was better than telling him the truth outright. Like – and I’m just throwing ideas out there – say someone tells their best friend in the whole world that they’re pretty much a bloodsucking monster and that other bloodthirsty monsters are out to the kill them, then the friend is going to freak out. Just a bit. Or laugh. And then they’d be exposed to the entire vampire world. Afterwards, they’d jump screaming from the window, all usual manliness forgotten. That’s a very – ahem – “hypothetical” situation right there.
Thank goodness my eyes don’t change colors when I’m lying, otherwise Peter would have known what I was years ago and we wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation. “Yeah,” he said with a nervous laugh, “maybe.” He glanced away quickly and I knew what he was thinking that we might have rabies because the bats had bitten and scratched us. It was clear to Peter that the bats were rabid; otherwise they wouldn’t have attacked us. I don’t know how I knew what Peter was thinking, but it was just a general idea. Something you just know. Like one plus one equals two. Dare I say anything in case he got slightly more freaked out by my general idea of what he was thinking…Finally, Peter looked back at me.
“Rabies shots?” he asked. Uh-oh. Now what do I say? What do I do? Do I tell him the full story or just go along with it so no more suspicion is raised?
Nodding, I answered, “Yeah, that’d probably be a good idea.” It was unnecessary for me of course, because I was totally immune to the disease. Peter need not know anything about this, and why I was immune to the disease in the first place. Would you tell your best friend if you were a vampire? Ha ha. I think not. Peter nodded, too. Almost – now, how was he nodding? – eagerly. What? So he actually wanted to get a series of painful shots? Then again, who was I to stop him from doing that? I knew those bats didn’t have rabies, but if thinking that they did made Peter happy, I wouldn’t stand in the way of his decision to get rabies shots. His parents probably should have taken him as soon as it happened, so it also wasn’t my fault that he wanted to get them now. He really didn’t need to know the truth. He wasn’t prepared for it.
Why did I ever mention that?” Peter wondered aloud to me when our rabies shots were finished being administered. We were at my house, like usual. In answer to his question, I shrugged. I’d done my best to feign pain and tenderness, but I don’t think I was doing a very good job of it. I didn’t actually know what pain felt like, except once when I’d burned my finger.
That was the most painful experience I’d ever had. It was the only painful experience I’d ever had. Even breaking my arm in fifth grade wasn’t painful. Anything other than burns felt like seriously unpleasant pins and needles. “I dunno,” I said blandly, but grimacing to add emphasis. The unpleasant tingling was enough to make my grimace more convincing than if there was no tingling. “Well, now you’re rabies free. Happy?”
Peter scowled teasingly. “Yes. Actually I am,” he answered, his playful frown morphing into a grin.
The next day at school was a nightmare. First of all, Peter must have told someone the bat story, because I kept hearing bits and pieces of it, along with anxious looks my way. Second, people I didn’t even know were flocking to me in the halls to hear the story from my perspective. Not even to ask if I was okay. Oh, and did I mention that it was Monday? No, I guess I must have forgotten to mention that minor detail. The story must have spread around during the first few periods of the days, and it was worse during lunch. I interrogated Peter then.
“How’d they find out?” I asked after setting my lunch tray down next to his at the circular lunch table. Two other people besides Peter and myself were already there. They were Jay and Charlotte – or Charlie as everyone called her. My voice hinted at anger, and my eyes darkened – literally – threatening to flash red at any second.
Peter shrugged as I stared him down.
“C’mon, they had to find out somehow. How’d they find out?” I repeated in a dangerously low voice. Jay and Charlie were watching us interestedly, their food untouched until our tiff was over. Though as I spoke, I saw a strange look appear on Jay’s face.
“Sorry to rat you out, Peter, but Al’s got to know,” Jay began, looking sympathetically at Peter. Jay was average looking. Brown hair, brown eyes, and average height. Not really one of those boys a girl would date for appearance. He was more like one of those boys a girl would actually have to know to date him. I turned in my seat to face Jay, my face expectant. “Well, Petey told Sean – who you know is a big gossip. Sean told everybody else he talked to, and he made a point to talk to a lot of people,” Jay explained, squirming uncomfortably under my unrelenting, piercing glare. He was also used to my eye color, though we had been friends since the second grade. Charlie had only been my friend since ninth grade.
I smiled a smile that didn’t reach my eyes. “Thank you, Jay, for telling me the truth. Something Peter here seems incapable of,” I said, emphasizing Jay’s name to make Peter even more upset than he already was. I then picked up my tray and walked around the table, not setting down my tray until I reached the chair next to Jay. As I sat down, I smiled stiffly across the table and took a bite of the burger that was the lunch of the day. It dissolved in my mouth easily, and once it did, I pretended to swallow. Quite disgusting, but I’ve had worse. Much, much worse.
Right after I moved seats, Madison and Leilah arrived. They were talking animatedly to each other about something or other. They both set down their trays between Charlie and Peter. David joined shortly after, and he filled the last seat, which was between Peter and me. I greeted them kindly, and they didn’t take a second glance at Peter’s and my separation. Obviously they knew I’d be upset when I found out about what Peter had done. When I thought the table couldn’t get any fuller, Sean pulled over a chair in the space between my chair and David’s. I moved closer to Jay, who just gave me a knowing and understanding look before moving over himself to allow me more room to move away from Sean. It was only common knowledge that I wasn’t a huge fan of David or Sean. Though David I could deal with. Sean was another and complete different story. For one thing, he had extremely loose lips, much to my dismay. Venom swirled around my teeth, making me wanting to spit it out, or put it to good use. As the venom swirled, I felt my canines with my tongue. They were elongating and sharpening. Oh, boy. This was going to be quite an eventful lunch period.
“I – uh – heard about your little, shall we say, incident from good ole Petey here,” Sean said loudly, leaning in close and baring his teeth in a sneer. Then he leaned over David – who leaned back as far as he could – and punched Peter in the arm like they were old friends. Peter was looking about ten times more uncomfortable than he’d been when Jay was telling me what he’d done. He was chewing the inside of his cheek. Before I could get up and leave with some excuse about having to go to the bathroom or something, Sean’s arm was around me again, his breath in my ear. “I hope those mean bats didn’t hurt you too bad,” he breathed, squeezing my briefly. With his other hand, he took a French fry from my tray and popped it into his mouth, baring his teeth in another disgusting leer as he chewed.
“Leave me alone, Sean,” I said, my tone low, but Peter and everyone else knew what I said anyway, and I needed to bite, to drink. My thirst heightened. Sean was in serious trouble. I know I sound like a savage beast, but I’m really not.
“Oh, why should I, when you know you love this attention?” he said, his voice filled with malice. He squeezed my shoulders again.
“Sean, she told you to leave her alone,” Peter said calmly. Even though his voice was calm, his expression was not. It was cold and hostile, making everyone else feel the same. It crept slightly into his voice. I guess it was good everyone else was feeling the same because then Maddy and Leilah jumped in on the ‘Sean, Leave Al Alone’ thing. Everyone else at the table glowered at Sean as Maddy spoke, Leilah agreeing.
“Sean. Leave her alone,” Maddy exclaimed angrily, jumping to her feet. Leilah just sat there, looking daggers at Sean as she spoke.
“Exactly. We don’t come harass you. Now get lost. Al doesn’t need you hitting on her,” Leilah defended, her tone frosty and unwelcoming. She didn’t even try to hide it like Peter had. Well, he was good at it. I wasn’t sure how good Leilah was at hiding cold, hostile, vicious intonations if she even tried.
The remaining three shook their heads disapprovingly, venomous glares being shot towards Sean. Sean paid no mind to all of their glares and defenses. I made a note to myself to thank my friends later.
“Now her boyfriend is sticking up for her? And all her girlfriends?” Sean said malevolently. I slammed the flat of my hands down on the table and pushed myself up.
“He is not my boyfriend!” I snapped. “Now lea-!” I was interrupted by Sean’s chair being thrown backwards, Sean still in it. Peter was now punching every single inch of Sean’s body as hard as he could, yelling at him all the while.
“YOU LEAVE HER ALONE!” Peter roared, bloodying Sean’s nose with a punch. They tussled on the floor as Sean struggled to get Peter off of him. Struggling didn’t make much of a difference, because the adrenaline rush Peter had just gotten was making him unbelievably strong. The venom was becoming such a nuisance, but I couldn’t swallow it. Maybe I could get away with spitting on Sean…
I was too thunderstruck to do anything but just sit there, eyes wide, mouth agape. Fortunately, Jay and David thought quickly enough and leaped forward and grabbed Peter’s upper arms. They each suffered a strike as Peter flailed around, trying to escape their grasp. Sean scrambled to his feet, wiping blood from under his nose, a venomous glint in his eyes as he watched Peter flailing around, adrenaline rush exhausted.
“LET! ME! AT! HIM!" Peter bellowed, oblivious to the group of people congregated around our table. Peter’s right arm escaped from Jay’s hold long enough to punch Sean in the face again. When Jay had a hold of his arm again, I’d fully registered what had happened as Sean stood there, cupping his hands over his left eye. Then he lunged for Peter, but was stopped by two crowd members.
“What is the meaning of this?” an authoritative voice demanded. I looked up and saw the principal standing across from me, watching the two flailing boys. “Shaw, get Mr. Meyer and Mr. Burke. Immediately,” Mr. Tannenbaum ordered Benjamin Shaw, who nodded and rushed off. Ben was a rather reliable student who Mr. Tannenbaum trusted with tasks such as fetching teachers. Or in this case, two. Mr. Burke and Mr. Meyer were our PE teachers. Not too long after Shaw left, he returned with the two teachers. During his absence, all we could do was watch Peter and Sean flail at each other. Once or twice Sean did escape from his captors’ holds long enough to punch Peter and vice versa. But Peter already had the upper hand by having already pummeled Sean to a pulp, and everyone knew that Peter had won, even Sean. He just kept trying to prove himself. Unsuccessfully.
Jay and David relinquished their grip on Peter to Mr. Meyer while Mr. Burke restrained Sean. The two came and sat back down at the table. Meanwhile, Mr. Tannenbaum spoke. “Who started this?” Mr. Tannenbaum demanded to know. The room fell silent even though Peter and Sean were still trying to hit each other. Mr. Meyer seemed to be struggling to hold Peter back. That was no surprise because I knew that Peter would not give up until he had significantly hurt Sean for hitting on me like he had been. I rushed forward to help and held Peter steady, locking his arms at his sides. Meyer stepped back, bewildered that a junior in high school could hold Peter better than a fit thirty-year-old man.
No one answered the principal for several moments. He stood there, looking around at everyone expectantly, but angrily. Then someone did pipe up. Someone next to me. It was Jay. I glared at him, my expression telling him not to say anything. He shrugged indifferently, obviously disregarding my warning look. Jay is awesome, but he has this constant urge to tell everyone the truth, no matter whom it hurt.
“Sir,” he began politely, “it was Sean who stared this.” I was completely and utterly shocked, and my every feature showed it. My eyes went wide, my mouth fell open, and I didn’t even try to close it, even though I knew my canine teeth were long and sharp. Fangs. No one looked at me, because they were all watching Peter, Sean, or Mr. Tannenbaum. I, on the other hand, was staring at Jay.
“Very well,” Mr. Tannenbaum sighed, “both of you, come with me.” He started walking, while Peter and Sean followed, Mr. Burke releasing Sean reluctantly, a cynical look on his face. Peter still tried to fight my grip, but luckily I wasn’t holding him with my full strength. Any move would shatter his bones. Sean flounced ahead of Peter, acting the principal’s pet as he followed obediently sort of next to Mr. Tannenbaum, trying to reason with the man. It was a fruitless attempt. Mr. Tannenbaum’s mind was set, and his face showed it. His mouth was set in a hard line and his eyes were narrowed, eyebrows angled inward in a scowl. “Oh, and Miss Dupree, I don’t think we'll be needing you present for this,” Mr. Tannenbaum told me, looking over his shoulder at me as we walked behind him.
Before I could respond, Peter murmured out of the corner of his mouth so only I could hear, “And close that mouth before you let some flies in.” I released his arms and a mock offended look contorted my face into a small pout. “You’re so cute when you pout.” I rolled my eyes and he rubbed his arms where I’d gripped them. “Jeez, Al. When did you get so strong?” he asked, just as quietly. I knew it was a rhetorical question, so I didn’t answer.
“Alison, I thought I told you that you weren’t needed,” Mr. Tannenbaum said curtly, after stopping abruptly and turning around. Sean almost walked headlong into him.
“I – um – sorry, Mr. Tannenbaum,” I apologized and bowed my head. Peter found my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze before letting go. I left quickly, not wanting Mr. Tannenbaum to yell at me again, which was reasonable. I liked being a good and well-liked student, and I didn’t want to be on anyone’s bad side. Especially not Mr. Tannenbaum’s. I looked back just in time to see Peter disappearing into a room on the left side of the hall. I willed him to have good fortune, but knew it wouldn’t happen, because even though I didn’t like it, Mr. Tannenbaum was strict but fair, and since Peter would own up to what he did, he’d get suspended. For anyone else who wasn’t my friend, I didn’t care, but since Peter was my best friend, I didn’t like Mr. Tannenbaum’s strict-but-fair policy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about it, and all I could do was go back to the cafeteria, “finish” my lunch, and talk to Charlotte, Madison, Jay and David about the previous event. Particularly Jay. As I turned, I realized I hadn’t spat at Sean like I was planning to, and headed to the bathroom. Once there, I spat the venom in my mouth out into the sink and then got a drink from the water fountain, feeling my teeth shrink into normal human teeth again. I rinsed my face with water; glad I could contain my thirst at lunch. Then I headed back to the cafeteria.
“Jay, why’d you lie to Mr. Tannenbaum?” I asked Jay, sitting down at my seat next to him. The crowd had dispersed and everyone was talking to their friends animatedly. Some were even acting out the fight. Minus the actually hitting. A few were filling in a friend who had just come back from the bathroom and was looking quite confused by the whole thing. But I didn’t care about them. I just had one concern, and that was getting the answer to my question out of Jay.
“I didn’t,” came his simple reply as he took a potato chip from the bag on his tray and popped it into his mouth, chewing as if what I was asking was nothing.
“Yes, you did. You know as well as anyone else in this room that it was Peter who started the fight, not Sean. Unless you totally mixed Peter and Sean up,” I explained slowly to Jay, talking to him as if he were a small child. He finished chewing his chip and swallowed.
“The fight started long before that, when he pulled his chair over next to you. Peter was too angry to do anything until he actually lunged at Sean,” Jay argued back nonchalantly. He ate another potato chip, but what he said made sense now.
I knew there was something else on his face other than an uncomfortable expression. It was pure rage. It had kept him frozen until it had made his blood boil. “Oh,” I said, my understanding answer short and effective. “I was too preoccupied with Sean’s arm around my shoulder and his breath in my ear.” I shrugged.
Madison piped up. “That was sweet of him to risk suspension for you, Al. He was protecting you,” Madison said. I gave her a skeptical look.
“Maddy, he’s practically my brother. He wouldn’t be protecting me for the reason you’re thinking. Peter doesn’t like me like a girlfriend,” I answered distrustfully and confidently. Maddy and Leilah looked at each other, laughed, and looked at me, still laughing.
“Look, Al. It’s cute that you still think you and Pete are like brother and sister, but we knew that isn’t the case. It’s obvious he likes you. As a girlfriend,” Leilah said, dragging out the word. I hated to admit it, but she was right. It was obvious Peter liked me as more than a friend. But even though I sort of liked him as more than a friend, too, I couldn’t accept it.
Peter wasn’t in any of the classes we shared later on in the day. I was beginning to think our rotten principal had chucked him into SAP. I stayed after school to wait for Peter to come to his locker. We usually walked home together because we didn’t like taking the school bus.
After ten minutes of waiting, Peter finally showed up, looking relieved. “Al! Thank you for waiting. I didn’t think you would. That old goat kept us to lecture us. Tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, I have out-of-school suspension. Friday, I have SAP,” Peter explained as he took his books out of his locker and put them into his backpack.
“Sounds horrible,” I said, nodding in agreement with myself.
“Not only that, but I have to use those three days to write a three page essay on why fighting is bad. It’ll be so much fun!” Peter said, the last sentence soaked with disdain. Slamming his locker shut, we walked from the school, side by side.
“Is Sean’s punishment the same?” I asked hopefully, looking at Peter and kicking a pebble.
“Yeah. Awesome, right?” Peter exclaimed, adjusting the backpack strap on his shoulder, kicking the same pebble. It shot forwards, and I thought it would keep going straight, but then it careened into the bushes on the side of the road. A car whooshed passed us, ruffling the leaves at our feet. I just nodded. Peter didn’t seem to realize my silence and went on talking. “Except I have to spend all day on Friday in the same room as him. They’re not even separating us! Which would make mucho sense. Maybe they’re trying to make it more of a punishment,” he complained. I gave him a sympathetic look.
“Well, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too,” I said wisely, raising my eyebrows at him. The leaves at out feet rustled as another car went by. I liked the fact that there were finally sidewalks in out town.
“Yeah, I guess,” he agreed dejectedly, looking down at his feet. I also looked down at my feet. Looking up again, he asked me, “What’s wrong this time? Last time it was ‘nothing’, so don’t lie to me. I know you were lying to me last time, but I won’t push an answer. I don’t need confirmation for that one.” He put air quotes around “nothing” as he spoke.
I looked at him and stopped walking. A couple of more cars zipped passed us, unsettling the dried, crinkled, dead leaves at our feet. The leaves were a variety of warm shades, from brown to bright yellow, with all the shades of orange, red and brown in between. “Do you like me?” I asked finally.
Peter gave me a strange look as he turned to face me. He kicked his foot in the leaves, scraping his toe back and forth on the pavement. “Of course. We’re friends, aren’t we?” His emerald eyes concealed something not even I could sense.
My expression remained unchanged as I responded to Peter’s answer. “No, that wasn’t how I meant it,” I said, scrutinizing his face for anything that might give his thoughts away. Anything that might give away exactly what he was feeling. “Do you like me?”
His eyes lit up for a second in understanding, but then his gaze faltered. His face glowed red, and his ears followed suit. “Who told you? Was it Jay? David? I’m going to get them!” he exclaimed, jumping to conclusions.
“Well…not exactly…they were there, but didn’t say anything. It was…Maddy and Leilah who told me. Charlie was somehow not there. She probably went to the ba-,” I answered, but Peter interrupted. He was certainly Mr. Mood Swing today.
“I don’t care where Charlie was. I’m going to get Maddy and Leilah. They have no right telling you information that they overheard me confiding in Jay very confidently. But yes, ‘tis true,” he said, his face going from strange excited anger to embarrassed in a matter of seconds.
“What are you embarrassed about? We’re going out now, aren’t we? I thought it was implied,” I said, slipping my hand into his as we turned to continue our walk home. Peter had a noticeable spring in his step now. We walked in silence; our first walk together as a couple. As we walked, I kicked deep trenches through the leaves at our feet. Peter and I laughed together when we did this and kicked leaves at each other.
“Hey! Lovebirds!” I heard from behind me, making both Peter and I jump. It was Sean yelling. I rolled my eyes and looked at Peter. He gave a barely perceptible shake of his head, from side to side. He didn’t want me looking back. “Who’s not your boyfriend, Al?” he teased maliciously. Peter shook his head again and slipped his hand out of mine. He stuffed it into his pocket.
“You’re letting it get to you, something you just told me not to do,” I cautioned quietly, under my breath. Reluctantly, he slid his hand out of his pocket and into my hand. I could feel his pulse race through my fingertips. Or was that me? My heart or his heart pounded, echoing in my ears. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t distinguish the difference between our hearts now.
“Why is he following us?” Peter asked hastily and softly. His breathing rushed.
I just shrugged. Before I could say anything, Sean’s voice came from right behind us. I didn’t jump, because I had heard Sean’s quick, uneven footsteps coming. I just hadn’t told Peter, but he stayed calm.
“I said, ‘Who’s not your boyfriend?’” Sean repeated. A growl formed in my throat and was caught there.
“Let it go,” Peter said to me, his voice inaudible to Sean.
“No,” I hissed angrily. Now I was letting it get to me. What a hypocrite I was! I spun around to face Sean. “You’re not my boyfriend, Sean,” I answered. It was a brilliantly snazzy reply, in my humble and very modest opinion.
I saw Peter roll his eyes out of the corner of my eyes and I knew he was upset with me. “Really. That can be…arranged,” Sean answered, moving his disgusting self forward so he was insanely close. I felt his hand settle on the small of my back. His scent was disorienting, disgusting, like someone’s dirty clothes hamper. His breath smelled even worse, like cigarettes and moldy, used cat litter. I could even respond because he was dizzying me. I wanted to vomit right then. But I couldn’t. Where was Peter?
Sean’s face descended to mine, almost in slow motion. I couldn’t even respond to what was going on. Why wasn’t Peter giving Sean the old one-two?
Before I knew it, Sean’s mouth was on mine. His disgusting mouth. I was finally completely aware of what was going on and I scrambled to get Sean away and put as much space between me and him at the same time. It only took seconds to get him away because I brushed him off like he was a pesky mosquito. Which he was, in my opinion. But my mouth was filled with venom, and no matter how disgusting he smelled, I still was thirsty. I snapped at him, my teeth sharpening dangerously. Sean stumbled back, wiping his mouth, a smirk on his face. “So…has my position changed any?” he asked snidely, stepping forward again. Luckily Peter woke up and stepped between Sean and I.
“It’s time for you to leave us alone, Sean,” Peter said gruffly. Sean backed up a bit. It was the first time I’d seen him back off like that, looking like a deer in a pair of headlights, knowing it was bout to get hit, but too scared that it froze up.
“Whoa, take it easy, dude,” Sean said, holding his hands up defensively and leaning back a bit. I sniggered quietly. He shot me a venomous look and snapped, “Got something to say, girlfriend?”
I stepped forward threateningly, snapping at him again, but Peter held me back. Aw, darn it. Scowling, I stepped back very, very reluctantly.
“Don’t call me ‘dude’ like I’m your best friend or something, because we both know that will never happen,” Peter warned, his voice low and spike with venom. I almost cringed back at those words myself. It was almost a threat, and if Sean couldn’t see that, I didn’t know what we were doing having this conversation. Oh, and Sean was more of an idiot than I thought. “C’mon, Al,” he said, staring Sean down for another moment before he turned and took my hand at the same time. Sean just stood there, looking like he was trying to grow a brain. Breathing a deep sigh of relief, I turned my face towards Peter’s. He seemed to sense my look and caught my gaze with his green one. He looked at me with questioning eyes.
“You were great back there,” I said proudly, spitting on the ground. The venom was disgusting and it was a pretty good excuse to spit it out. “Wish I could say the same for myself. He smelled like cigarettes and used cat litter!” When I first spoke, I couldn’t help but notice Peter’s chest puff out a little, and his back straighten. I smiled at him. “Thanks.”
“That’s what boyfriends are for,” he said modestly, smiling back at me. I rolled my bright eyes playfully and looked back ahead, kicking leaves as I went.
The previous events had my blood at its boiling point, but I wouldn’t let it show, no, I wouldn’t. The rest of Peter’s and mine walk home together was in silence. A tension hung between us like a heavy fog. Several times, Peter looked at me and opened his mouth. He even took a breath like he was going to speak but he just closed his mouth and looked back in front of us. I wasn’t going to ask what he was going to say because there was probably a reason he wasn’t saying it. He’d tell me at the right time. At least when he thought it was the right time.
Walking me to the door of my house, Peter smiled weakly and bade me farewell. “See you soon, and…sorry,” he said, his tone and expression forlorn.
“Don’t worry about it. It would have gotten out somehow. You know that,” I answered, to be quite frank. I smiled an honest smile at Peter and tweaked his earlobe gently as I spoke. He reddened. “Now I have to go. See ya.” Before I could turn to go inside, Peter leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I smiled again and turned as I put my hand on the doorknob, twisting it and pushing the door open. As I stepped inside, I turned slightly and waved goodbye to Peter via a fluttering of my fingers. I closed the door as he turned to leave and ran up the stairs to my room, taking them two at a time. I swung my backpack off of my shoulder and onto my bed in one easy, fluid motion. It flopped delicately onto my bed and I then unzipped it and located my Chemistry homework in another smooth motion. I closed the door and sat I my desk chair, which I then rolled over to my desk and set down my homework. The paper and ink smelled strongly of Mr. Milano. I nearly gagged. It was one thing to have everyone’s scent mixed together at school, but another to have a shock of that smell in my own home. Wrinkling my nose in disgust, I wrote my name in my neat, simple print.
Even as I wrote and tried to concentrate on Chemistry for the ten seconds it took me to do the homework, I couldn’t concentrate or do it properly. The answers were all accurate, but my handwriting wasn’t as neat as it usually was. There were some places where it was almost illegible. For me, anyway. For Mr. Milano, it would still be the neatest in the class. I was thinking about Peter. Even though he’d just given me a small kiss on my cheek, I couldn’t stop thinking about him leaning in, his face scarlet as his hair, his dazzling, emerald green eyes covered by his pale, cream-colored, smooth eyelids, his long-fingered, sinewy hands clasped awkwardly behind his back, his smooth lips puckered slightly…Oh, boy…I was going to have a tough time explaining this to my parents if ever my father heard what I thought of Peter. Or maybe not such a tough time since my father was telepathic and could hear my each and every thought if he listened. But at the moment, I didn’t care. I think I was slowly falling in love with Peter, letting his ginger hair, green eyes, pale, freckled skin and long-fingered, sinewy hands control what I thought of him.
When I finally got to my math homework, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it well and old Mrs. Williams wouldn’t be the happiest with me. I was her best student. I was the best student and no one even tried to compete with me. They knew they wouldn’t get better grades than me, and they couldn’t fathom how I got straight A-plusses and finished the tests we received with amazing speed. And then got an A-plus on it. Not even Peter knew and he always begged for my secret. He had an A-minus average, not that that was bad, but he always wanted to be as good as me. Ah, Peter…
I found myself fantasizing about Peter again. What it would take for him to finally find out what I truly was. What it would take for me to bring myself to transform him. To sink my teeth into his pale, freckled, smooth, soft neck. To help him get through the pain of the venom traveling through his veins. To see him as a vampire. To have him finally know what I was. To finally be on the same page, rather than me ten chapters ahead of him. But not even I could know what the future would be. I wished I knew, but I didn’t. I wished I could find out if I would ever tell Peter what I truly was. I didn’t want to fall in love with him. It wouldn’t be right! I was a vampire, and he was a human. I was the predator; he was the prey. I was the one destined to kill him. Even if I didn’t do it directly, he’d probably throw himself off a cliff to get away from me. But he wouldn’t anticipate me saving him even though he would be inches from death. So I’d bite him, and help him through the pain as the venom surged through his veins. Then coached him as he tried to stamp out his thirst, as I knew was impossible. I knew one day I’d snap from so much Peter…So much green eyes, pale, freckled skin, long-fingered, sinewy hands, tantalizing scent, smooth lips…He was the perfect person to be transformed into a vampire. But not yet. Not when we were just sixteen. We’d have to wait longer. Until we were seventeen, or eighteen. I would also age until I transformed my true love. Even if it took me until I was one hundred and fifty seven years old. But I didn’t need to wait that long. I just needed to wait a couple of more years.
No, I had to stop thinking of two years in advance. I had to keep thinking in the present. Peter wasn’t right for me, even though I fantasized about him all the time. Kissing me again, begging me to turn him into a vampire…or maybe I wasn’t right for him. I think maybe if I was a human, we’d be perfect for each other, and he’d be just right for me. Or if we were both vampires. No, stop! We wouldn’t be vampires together at all. It was just my imagination getting away from me. To help clear my head, I went to the bathroom and splashed some cold water on my face. Sighing heavily, I headed back to my room, running my mostly dry hands through my short hair. I fell back onto my bed, my homework now complete. I inhaled; glad that Peter’s scent was no longer intoxicating me. I could feel the minute drops of water slide down my scalp, tickling me. I could smell the cotton of my clothes; feel each individual thread against my smooth, alabaster skin. Where it touched, where it didn’t. The frame of my bed smelled of the metal it was. Bittersweet, stinging my nostrils out with the smell. Every bump and blemish on the white paint on the ceiling stood out, casting a miniature shadow towards my left in the minimal light. I could hear electricity traveling through the wires, the sound of the water pump going on as my mother turned on the washing machine. Her steady, sure, delicate, quiet footsteps and thumps and flips of the clothes in the washing machine calmed me down. It wasn’t long before I fell asleep, but it wasn’t a real sleep. It was a vampire sleep. One where I just closed my eyes and zoned out, ignoring everything. Everything else besides my dreams…
A crimson stain blossomed on the white fabric, awakening my senses, and my thirst in particular. It was dark all around, but I knew the white cloth was a shirt. It looked familiar, but it was generic. It could be anyone’s. But, there was Peter’s scent, hanging in the air, enticing me. His blood smelled like the most amazing thing in the world, and I was thirsty, oh so thirsty. It smelled metallic, bitter, delicious. Nothing could keep me away from that cinnamon smell. I lunged and Peter looked up. For a second, there was a pained look on his face, but then it was full of longing as he crouched there, clutching the blossoming stain on his chest.
“I’m going to die, Al…Save me…” he cried weakly, not fearing my lunging and my thirst, but only the death. Oh, I wanted to save him…but I also wanted to kill him.
Sitting bolt upright in my bed, I felt nauseous. How could I even have dreamed that? Peter was my boyfriend, my best friend. Just because he was the prey and I was the predator. But he just didn’t know it yet. Oh, what was I thinking? Peter could never know. He would never find out. He could never find out, except when I was ready to transform him in a year or two’s time. The memory of his smell, the perpetual scent of his blood was imprinted in my nostrils, scorching them. It smelled like cinnamon, lemon, tangy, tart, sweet, bitter, metallic, soft, sharp, salty. It stung my nostrils, but it hurt so good.
I surfaced from my nightmare memory. My body trembled from the excitement of what had just happened. Bad excitement, but my instincts forced me to find it exciting. I still gasped for breath, like when I burst from water after keeping myself from breathing for inhumanly long periods of time.
But did I ever imagine myself killing – no, slaughtering – my best friend? My boyfriend? How could I now? There was no difference in my mental state from the last time I saw Peter, was there? Not that I knew of.
The name floated around my consciousness, being bounced around by my complex thought processes. My father padded gently up the stairs, and then towards my room. For an instant, I thought he’d walk by without a second glance, but my thoughts were dashed when he hesitated outside my door. His hand gripped the doorknob and he turned it. As he turned it, he slid the door open in one lithe motion. He closed the door.
My dad’s clean, cologny scent invaded my nose. It wasn’t a sickening cologny smell, musty or thick. It was a light, airy smell, one that invigorated rather sickened. “How are you doing, dear?” he asked, sitting on the bed and putting a hand on my shoulder consolingly.
I turned my cool, marble-skinned face towards him. “I don’t know. I just had-,” I began, but my father interjected. Not rudely. His tone was kind, velvety and smooth as ever and the words fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.
“I know, I know, Al. That’s why I came up here in the first place. But you’ll be all right. Peter will be all right. Trust me. I know these things,” my father cooed softly. That was what I loved about my dad. He always knew when and how to make me feel better because he was telepathic. He could hear my mother’s and my thoughts from anywhere on the planet. For other people, it depended on how familiar they were. Not only could he hear people’s thoughts, but also he could project his thoughts into others’ heads. It was wicked awesome and dead useful.
“Thanks, Dad,” I said, leaning over and giving him a hug. He hugged me back and kissed the top of my head. His touch was caring, fatherly.
“Any time,” he answered, smiling compassionately. With that, he stood and left. Slowly, like a human. He meandered out of my room gracefully. I smiled a heartening smile to myself. My dad was right; Peter and I were both going to be find. My father was nearly always right, even when he was just being a reassurance. Telling me things that just made me feel better was his specialty. I’d learned to build an immense trust in him through the face-to-face talks we had. My mother and I weren’t as close, though I did speak to her if my father wasn’t around or if I didn’t really require my father’s assurance. My mother was definitely not as helpful as my father because she didn’t know exactly what was going through my head so I didn’t have to explain it to her.
Again, I thought of Peter. His cinnamon smell, his ginger hair, his sparkling emerald eyes. Of course I was dazzled. But by a mere human. That wasn’t right. It should be the other way around! What was more was his amazing personality. Even though he had kind of a short temper, but hey, we all do sometimes. I’m my own worst hypocrite at the best of times and the worst of times, so I couldn’t really point out Peter’s imperfections and not get called for it.
It was late, just around midnight. I, however, sat awake. Needless to say, I sat awake, contemplating the meaning of Peter and I together. Bringing my knuckles to my forehead, I kneaded the skin, trying to relieve the splitting headache I was suffering through as I tried to figure out whether Peter was right for me or not. There was also the question of whether or not I was suitable for him. If he knew what I was, he wouldn’t stick up for me, or slip his hand into my snow white marble one as we walked, side-by-side, to and from school. I wondered if he sometimes caught me when I was about to slip up, venom swirling about my teeth, my canines lengthening and sharpening to a lethal point. But it was my voracious, relentless thirst that was more fatal than any venom or sharp teeth.
Four weeks until my birthday. Four weeks until the inevitable, horrific event that would be the very worst thing not only for me, but also for Peter. If I could have cried, I would have. But, as a vampire, I seem to lack the tear ducts required to produce tears to cry like normal human beings. I wish I was a human. As useful and cool as my minimal telepathy, incredible speed and other abilities were, it was a nuisance hiding such a secret. Especially when there was someone I liked who I couldn’t tell. Exhibit A: Peter. I would give anything to be like everyone else. Every other human on the planet. Without the thirst for blood. Without everything, just so I could be completely honest with Peter for the first time in my life. Just so I wouldn’t have to almost kill Peter to get him to be on the same page as I was. Let alone in the same book. I was eons ahead of him, with every single tidbit of knowledge a normal one-hundred-year-old would have built in to my brain. Peter had only the knowledge of maybe an average eighteen-year-old. He didn’t believe in vampires, or any of that supernatural stuff, as he’d voiced to me many times while watching some of the many vampire movies. Dracula was one of them that I remember particularly…
“I think that all that vampire stuff is a load of crap. Honestly, if there were bloodsuckers among us, I think we would know it,” Peter had said skeptically, right over what Count Dracula was saying. He stood up and pantomimed having a cape on and marched zombie-like right in front of me. “I vont to suck your blood…” he imitated horribly, just like a Class A Skeptic. I had tried not to blurt out my secret right then, trying to keep my temper.
Unfortunately, I ended up making fun of myself. “Yeah, sure. I’m a vampire. I suck people’s blood. I sleep in a coffin during the day and turn into a bat at night. I burn in the sun and don’t show up in reflections or pictures. Hey, hey Peter. I think I really do want to suck your blood,” I said jokingly, trying my hardest to keep myself from seriously jumping up and sucking Peter’s blood. We were fifteen at the time, only having been fifteen for a few months.
“Oh, no! I’m so scared,” Peter said dryly, his voice more sarcastic than ever. He cowered mockingly as I marched zombie-like over to him, too. We collapsed in fits of laughter before I could even pretend that I was actually sucking his blood. With my luck, my parents would walk in and flip out, thinking I was actually killing Peter. Not exactly my ideal way to spend the rest of eternity. Under my parents’ watchful eye, I mean.
The next few days passed without consequence. With Peter and Sean in suspension, lunch was a quiet affair with the exception of Leilah, Maddy and Charlotte trying to get details out of me after I told them Peter and I were going out. I refused to tell them anymore than necessary, only answering with a couple of words when I felt the asked a reasonable question. Before long each day, the would give up, only to start up again the next day.
Early into the lunch period, I snapped. Not in the whole venom-fangs-thirst way, but in the temper-storming out way.
“Did you kiss yet?” Charlie asked in a hushed, gossipy tone. She looked at Maddy and Leilah and they were caught in fits of giggles. Unbelievable. My face went from emotionless to angry in an instant.
“Leave me alone! It’s none of your business!” I exclaimed. Heads turned at neighboring tables, but I didn’t care. I picked up my tray of untouched food and chucked it into the garbage can that was ten feet away from me. Mouths fell open, but I ignored that, too. I stood up angrily, snatched up my books and stormed out of the cafeteria. I didn’t want to hear anymore of their giggling, their gossiping tones. Gossip was not my cup of tea, and they knew it.
As I stomped out of the lunch room, I just waited for someone to stop me. Someone tried but I shot them a venomous glance, at which they cringed away. I looked back ahead of me and went to my locker. Shoving my books inside my locker, I slammed the lockers shut and leaned my forehead against the cool metal and cleared my head. The small amount of venom that had come into my mouth made my