Dancing on the Beach
As told by Dr. Shawna Greene
For three days we watched the human like form sitting motionless near the beach. We decided if it was human it was probably dead because no human could sit for so long in the heat and the cold and the wind the way this one did. More than likely it was garbage someone had dumped. A few people had traveled through over the past few weeks, near the abandoned mining town near the isolated stretches of desert and beach where we’d set up our summer research station in Patagonia.
We’d come to look for dinosaurs (with success, finding eggs and giant bones).
Dave, Blane and I trekked an hour down the hill to the spot where the mysterious lump sat. It was indeed human, wrapped in a blanket, large brimmed hat, dark sunglasses and a scarf covering the face. It almost looked like a modern mummy. The, without notice it moved.
“¿Estás bien?” Dave asked the stranger.
The man unwrapped the scarf from his face and removed his sunglasses. “I’m fine. I speak English too. But thanks for asking.”
He was tall with long chestnut colored hair and sparkling hazel eyes. Of course I noticed. I couldn’t help it after being out in the wilds for a month with my fellow researchers. My two college aged kids were in summer internships, my ex-husband was off on a honeymoon with a woman 10 years younger than me and I was doing something I loved – discovering the past.
But today, we discovered something quite different and unexpected. His name was Andrew. He was tall (I figured 6’2″) with a quick smile and a musical voice that captured the attention of all when he spoke.
Andrew said he’d been researching folk music, writing songs, savoring the local flavor and hinted at getting over a broken heart. A kindred spirit I thought. Well, I have to admit, my heart had mostly healed after my husband left two years ago – the day after our youngest child graduated from high school.
Had it been anyone else, we would have let him stay, but Andrew was so delightful and charming, and helpful that we let him stay on. His knowledge of just about everything was astounding. In the evenings he would sing songs ranging from Argentinian folk songs to Italian Opera. Everyone on the team did better with Andrew around.
The younger women, especially the graduate students Courtney and Kaitlin were enchanted by Andrew. No surprise there. He’d dote on them without being a predator. Then again the men were enchanted by him to. We all were.
Sometimes Andrew and I would share a glass of wine under the stars and talk of everything under the stars. He didn’t give away much of his personal life. He’d been living in New York and London, but thought of moving back to California where his family was. His first love was Opera, but he was taking notes on a book about how music takes the mind and soul to new places. He was more interested in finding out about us than telling us about himself.
I felt a bond with this appealing and mysterious man. He was so mysterious but I was so comfortable with him, like I’d known him forever.
One evening we walked the beach after dinner, just the two of us. We talked about time and space and he opened up in an unexpected burst.
“Time travel,” Andrew began, “will be possible, a reality, but it will be squandered by idiots who don’t appreciate the past or the possibilities of the future. They will be selfish short-sighted buffoons only interested in entertaining their own shallow minded pursuits and never seeing the power of the invention of the time machine.
And think about this…we are here on Earth with no knowledge of ANY life on other planets, yet we spend time and brain power on theories of what is out there and life in the universe and how the universe started and… what if nobody else is out there.
Or what if someone else is out there and they’ve figured it all out and we’re wrong, or we’ve figured it out and they are wrong. But we don’t know, because while you look for your giant dinosaur bones which seem like they’re from another planet, we ponder if there is life on other planets. And why is it all so random. You might disagree because of your scientific mind and experience with creatures of the past and because of the sheer amount of wonder in your soul…but…oh Shawna, we’re so different you and I.”
I didn’t know what to say. Andrew held out his hands. “Dance with me Shawna. Dance with me under the stars.”
Taking his cool hands in my own I found myself suddenly transfixed, dancing in the dark, with a long haired stranger who indeed was so different from me.
“Close your eyes,” he whispered in my ear. And against all better judgment I closed my eyes only to find myself transported into a ball room, wearing a silk gown the color of roses and sunsets, dancing with a handsome hazel eyed man in tails and white tie. And then I opened my eyes to find myself in cargo shorts and a fleece jacket on a desolate beach on the bottom of the earth.
“What are you?” I asked him that surprised that I didn’t ask who but what.
He laughed and I caught something different in his smile. His teeth. He looked like he had fangs. “I am a genetic wonder and mystery. I am the Velociraptor of the human subspecies.” Then he looked serious. “Shawna, don’t be afraid of what I tell you for I would never harm you. I am a Vampire.”
“Like in the movies?” I stupidly asked.
“No, like the guy standing next to you. Like the guy who came down to the ends of the earth to heal a broken heart and soul, to give up, to write songs and wallow in my misery only to find you.”
“You have fangs.” I had to say it. I just had to.
Andrew gently brushed my face with the back of his hand. “Yes, and I use them. I drink the blood of Regular Humans. I live for a long long long time. I have relatives who are over 1,000 years old. I was born in the 19th century, before the Civil War, during the California Gold Rush. But, I am just part of the natural order of the world, of the universe, and I hope of our two souls.”
“I have to admit you’re scaring me Andrew.”
“And the thought of you being afraid scares me more than anything Shawna. I’ve trusted you enough to tell you what I am. Now let me trust that you will not be afraid or reject my offer of friendship.”
“Will you turn me into a Vampire?” It was fear in my voice now, not hope that he would.
“Only if you want me to. Maybe. It isn’t anything I take lightly. But, but, Shawna, that isn’t what is important here. It is evolution, the very thing you’ve spent years studying, the difference in species and life forms and life forces and life and…” He ran his hands through his hair and closed his eyes then opened them looking right into mine. “And love. It all comes down to love and of course passion. You have that passion. I can see it when you speak of your work, your life, your children. You have what so many can only dream of.”
“You’re a Vampire.” I couldn’t get that out of my head, despite his remarkable words and way of speaking.
“Yes, and I’m cool with it. Are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you want my blood?”
“I would never harm you Shawna.”
“Have you taken blood from any of the others here?” I thought of my fellow scientists and grad students.
“Yes, but…why do you think they’re so happy all the sudden? Sure I took something from them that I needed but I gave them what they needed. Do you understand? Can you attempt to understand. I mean, really, it isn’t any different than finding a new dinosaur. Isn’t it?”
Then we just looked at each other for the longest time. It was a time that ended up in his cabin on the hill, in the creaky iron bed with the colorful quilts, with his cold body wrapped around my hot human one.
It was still dark when I awoke, brushing my hair out of my eyes. Next to the bed, sitting on a wooden crate was a woman. Her chestnut hair the exact same rich color as Andrew’s.
“I didn’t know he had company but…there is something about you Shawna that makes me glad he bonded with you. He is charming but my son can be exhausting and so emotional at times.”
I had to say I was in shock seeing this beautiful woman who didn’t look more than twenty six years old. “I’ve come to take him home, not away from you, but…what I’m trying to say is that you touched Andrew’s heart and maybe…”
Andrew opened his eyes. “Mom. Have you met Shawna?”
Well, this was awkward. They packed up and left, but not before they both left me with their contact information. This was weird. Vampires leaving contact information. Then again, it would have been weird for Andrew to just leave without a word. Of course my ex-husband left without so much as a word, but that is another story.
But before he left, he kissed me one more time then whispered in my ear, “I love you.”
The summer and our time in the desert is almost over. I still savor my short time with Andrew and the memory of his voice and his touch.
Will I contact him when I return? I don’t know. We both live in California where there are plenty of beaches to dance on and where the stars shine bright on the night.
Then again…he is a Vampire, or maybe that shouldn’t matter.
And don’t forget – every Sunday brings a new short story, plus news of a new WPaD Fantasy anthology (proceeds go to MS research)
Juliette aka Vampire Maman