Short Story Sunday: Spreading It Thick

While the rest of the country was freezing Ramona was digging up her raised beds in Long Beach. She and her brother swore they’d never leave California. That is just about the only thing she agreed on with him.

Caleb had been visiting the night before. As usual he’d brought back a slew of bad memories in an attempt to get her to feel like a failure. Gaslighting Remona was his favorite activity as far as Ramona’s husband was concerned. Fortunately, her husband Mac was out of town fishing with their son. Ramona couldn’t have handled another Mac and Caleb knock down drag out.

She opened the bag and spread the manure thick, just like Caleb spread his BS thick. The tomatoes would thrive better than Ramona did before she got out of her brother’s grip and realized what a snake he was.

Replaying the conversation from the night before she stuck the spade with all of the violent force she could muster. Then she tied her gray hair back into a ponytail.

“Mac can’t like that gray hair,” Caleb told her with his usual tone of superiority.

“I’m tired of coloring my hair,” Ramona told him. “Mac likes it.”

“I doubt that. I bet he’s off with another woman right now. I wouldn’t blame him.”

“Why do you say things like that Caleb?”

“Like what? Open your eyes Ramona.”

She replayed the lies and remembered how he had told her parents she’d faked a pregnancy. He’d befriended the woman who broke up her first marriage. He told almost every ex-boyfriend of her that she was either a slut or a psychopathological liar. 

When she and Mac didn’t get the bid on their dream house, she’d found out Caleb had told a wealthy friend about it. That wealthy friend had bid way over the asking price. Over the years Caleb had called potential employers and told them Ramona was crazy. Caleb had lied to their elderly parents and almost cleared out their bank account. She caught him trying to steal their dog. The list went on and on. 

Unfortunately, she didn’t even know about most of what he’d done until years later. Then when she did find out it stung even worse than when it happened.

Finally the last straw was when Caleb had convinced her then 17 year old son Sam that he was Sam’s father. Ramona remembered how Sam had become withdrawn and angry. Finally after a week of frustration she found him crying in their back yard and found out what had happened. Sam was now twenty two, and she’d stopped talking to Caleb. At least until last night.

Ramona knew she shouldn’t have let Caleb in her house. He sat down in her living room and bragged about his new young wife. He said he was going to sue her for a long list of unbelievable shit. Then he started to spout off about her husband Mac and how he must be cheating on her. Now the text from a friend of hers made sense. She wondered why anyone would be concerned about what Mac was doing when he wasn’t at home. 

As Ramona dug and leveled out the raised garden beds she smiled knowing her tomatoes, peppers, and exotic melons would thrive. The lettuce would be the be green perfection. Her pumpkins would grow to enormous size. And oh how the artichokes would virtually sing.

There was enough bull shit in her raised beds now to last for years. She dug one last home and dropped in Caleb’s wallet. She knew his car would be towed away in a few days. She’d re-parked it two miles away and walked home. It felt good to stretch her legs. 

Maybe later she’d take her dogs Wally and Tess down to the beach. She deserved some fun. Her work was done. It was a good day. 

~ end

Letters to my brother…or don’t be sorry that your family isn’t “normal”

From June 2013

letters

Dear Aaron,

I no longer wish to be a Vampire. Please be a dear and do some research for me.

Love,

Your brother Andrew

 

 

Dear Andrew,

You don’t have to remind me that you’re my brother. And are you freaking crazy? You are a Vampire and there is no undoing it. You were born that way. Even if you weren’t there is no undoing it. End of story. So get over it and any girl you’ve recently broken up with.

Aaron

 

 

Dear Aaron,

Your cruel and unfortunate comment hit me to the core.

Andrew

 

 

Andy,

Mom and Dad are on their way down to see you, like they really need to come bail you out again. My wife wasn’t always a Vampire and she said being a regular human is no piece of cake either. Take a deep breath. You’re only 163. You’re young and we all make mistakes.

Aaron

I saw this typical exchange between my brothers. Typical Birth Order study in action. Max is the over achieving golden child eldest, next comes the incredibly phenomenally talented Andrew, in the middle is Aaron who is steady and smart and always has his act together. The last two are my brother Val and me. We’re smart too but we’re fun and, well, we’re fun.

But for some reason Aaron seems to be the one everyone expects to fix things. Somber and serious, but only because he feels he has been forced into it. The happy fun of a large family.

I told my children “marry an only child and make sure you marry and orphan too.” And don’t send me hate mail, I’m just kidding (sort of).

While Aaron was ready to growl, I got on the phone and called Andrew. Mind you he is in Patagonia so it is very long distance with questionable connections but I finally got through, sort of.

First someone answered in Spanish. I told them I wanted to speak to Andrew. Then someone speaking German got on the line. It was German with an odd accent. German with a British accent. It was James, Andrew’s old friend from way back.

“Jewels!” He literally sang my nick name  (in English now) into the crackling phone line. “Are you still with Teddy? If not you know I’m available. Come one down to Argentina and we’ll dance under the Southern stars and make wild love on the deserted beaches…”

“James, I need to speak to Andy.” I told him that while taking a deep internal breath and trying to erase way too many visuals and memories the sound of his voice brought up.

Dear lovely James who can drive the most patient saint crazy. James who has never met a woman who didn’t end up hating him. James who is so sweet and charming that you hate yourself for all the times you want to kill him. James who is once wooed me with such abandon and aggression that I called him a stalker and told him I’d rip out his heart with my bare hands if he didn’t leave me alone. He left me alone and we’ve come to an understanding. We friends, with conditions. But when you’re dealing with a Vampire brother in trouble crazy James is the one to trust. Did I mention that he is also a successful clinical psychologist and marriage counselor? He is. Just thought I’d mention that. Oh right, and he is a Vampire too – just like the rest of us.

Andy’s voice came on the line. His is one of those clean, clear, magical voices of unbelievable tone and beauty that makes a person just want to sit and listen forever no matter what my brothers is saying. Unfortunately he never has much to say that is worth listening to. I love my brother, I really do, but sometimes his lack of everything makes me think I’m talking to a 10-year-old.

“Remember when we were in Paris in 1927 and the entire city seemed to belong to us? I was singing at the Opera house and it was the first time I felt human, like the masses.”

“You shared your gift.” I told my brother quietly. He has such a gift.

“They loved me. They adored my baby sister. Do you remember?”

I remembered but not quite the way Andy did. “How are you Andy?”

“Remember the French girl, the lovely one with the sky blue eyes. She had Lymphoma. I could taste it. I let her go. I helped her until she passed. Jewels we’ll never know. We’ll never know.”

“Nadine. She was lovely. I remember.” I remember he’d been hopelessly in love with her.

“I knew she was sick before she died.”

“I know Andy.”

“Why can’t we help people?”

“We can, but, Andy, you know how it is.”

“That’s why I don’t want to be one of us anymore. I don’t want to be  Vampire.”

“Andy, we can’t change what we were born into. We can’t change our DNA.”

“What about Teddy and Verity? They were born as Regular Humans. They didn’t start as Vampires.”

But they are now and they can’t go back. Teddy (my husband) and Verity (Aaron’s wife) had their own demons to deal with but they resisted the “what if” urge. Acceptance was their key to their survival. And for goodness sake I hope their children and my brother Aaron and I could keep them in the NOW and POSITIVE about their lives.

“Andrew, Teddy and Verity are fine. They’re happy as I want you to be. Oh Andrew, if I had your heart and soul and talent I would be the happiest woman on earth.”

“Vampire woman.”

“Any kind of woman.”

“What if I came home, to you. Could I crash at your place?”

“Of course. Clara is playing the guitar. With her talent she’ll be playing in the Warped Tour in a few years. You could teach her about music and you could sing together and write music together. She knows all about how to make Youtube videos and all of that stuff. It would be wonderful for the both of you.”

“I miss the kids, yours and Aaron’s.”

“Then come home Andy…”

The conversation went on a rambling mess, but by the end the tears and angst had stopped. I knew my parents would be with him in a few hours. I knew he’d be fine, at least for now.

I went into my family room to find Verity asleep with her head on Teddy’s shoulder. They’d married into my crazy family. They also had once been something that my brothers and I never were. They knew what it was like to face death over and over and to fear it and more to accept it. And they knew more than any of us how to face loss of all kinds, and again to accept it. It wasn’t just a waiting game with them as it can become with us. It is always the here and now. It is always NOW.

Aaron had gone upstairs where our kids where, his two home for a summer vacation from college and my two teens.

Family is an odd thing. There is no normal. So never, no matter what you are, be sorry that your family isn’t normal. Maybe on the surface, but never in the deep down soul. We’re all unique – unique alone or unique in a group.

But even if you can’t stand them that weird connection that we can never explain is there, deep within that makes us family and connected and parts of a whole. Even if it is a whole lot of crazy. But for the most part it is a whole lot of love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman (aka Jewels)

 

 Vampires write love letters too

Note: This was one of the first appearances of my brother Andy and his friend James. How some things have changed. OK maybe not. James is still a jerk.

Maxed Out #4: Vampire House Warming

Today I’m hosting a marathon featuring my brother Max. As you’ll see today, if you don’t already know, he has all kinds of interesting adventures with women, demons, and just about everything else.

I have made an attempt to put the Maxed Out posts in the order in which they first appeared. I’m re-running this today from 2013. A lot has changed since then – especially with Max and Andy. I’ll catch you up later or you can look for it yourself.   

Vampire House Warming

We all have those turning points in our life. Some we choose and some we don’t. Some we’re nudged in the right or more often wrong direction.

And there are those times when we try to read between the lines too much about the lives of others. It is usually far more complicated or else far less complicated than we think it is.

My brother Andrew (second of 5 siblings) recently moved back to California after several years in London and other parts of the globe and purchased a home in San Francisco. I hear he paid a million and a half for the place in St. Francis Woods, but he could afford it. I hold my breath to think what my brother Max’s home or my parent’s homes with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge would go for. Anyway…this isn’t about real estate.

It is about a lovely housewarming party my brother Andrew hosted. The place was packed with both Vampires and Regular Humans. There were of course musicians (Andy is a singer) and dancers. There were artists and college professors and writers and high tech geeks and all sorts of interesting people with every profession and opinion imaginable. What made this remarkable, as parties and gatherings go, was that Andy’s Regular Human friends know about Vampire. They’re friends with us and don’t have a problem with it.

OK there was one exception. Andy invited his “girlfriend.” Shawna had come up from Southern California where she is a university professor. She is not a Vampire. She is still in that state of wonder and a little bit of disbelief about Vampires and our world (which isn’t all that different than hers, usually.)

Andy is head over heels in love with this divorced mother of two college kids. The story is that she came home from a research trip to find her husband had put her things in storage and moved a new trophy wife into their home. Their youngest child had just gone off to college so it was his opportunity to also make a change. Shocked, she found a small house on a quiet tree lined street and made a new life with her cats and dogs (she wouldn’t leave them behind.)

Shawna was strong and smart and I had no idea what she was doing with my scatter-brained brother. But it was ok. They were cute together and, well, you know all that sort of early romance cute stuff.

I looked out the window to the backyard to see my brother Max kissing his “friend.” This was more than just a friend. I’d heard rumors but this was proof that there was something more than he’d admit to. Funny that she backed out of his arms and went inside alone leaving him to pace a bit then follow her back inside.

In the kitchen I found Shawna. She was cutting up limes.

“I told Andy to have this catered.” I said this trying to be friendly. I could sense a tiny bit of discomfort behind her warm friendly fang-less smile.

“It’s ok, this will just take a second.” She cut into a lime then her hand slipped, of course, in a house full of Vampires, and cut a deep gash in her thumb.

I grabbed her hand and put it in my mouth to stop the bleeding and sealed the wound. I could have left it but it would have required stitches, not to mention drawn a lot of unwanted attention.

I let go and she pulled away with a little bit of horror and disbelief.

“It’s OK Shawna. I sealed the cut. It will heal now without stitches. You’re A positive.” I smiled. “Don’t worry.  I’m not going to drink your blood or bite you or anything. Just basic first aid. We don’t want anyone else smelling blood.”

I suddenly realized that Andy had never bitten her or exposed her to his natural Vampire ways. He was such a gentleman.  He was also a dick when it came to women. He was always falling for anything that wasn’t a Vampire and when it was a Vampire it was usually always someone who was totally wrong for him. He always had to have everything in life more complicated than it had to be.

“Isn’t this sweet,” I heard a smooth male voice say behind me. I turned to see James, one of Andy’s best friends. James who had always watched out for Andrew but who was also one of the most absolutely annoying Vampires in the known universe.

“You know, Juliette and her brother Valentine are two of the best when it comes to Human to Vampire conversions. Almost a 100% success rate, mot to mention a great follow up and support system.”

“Shut up James,” I snapped. Poor Shawna looked horrified. Why was it that everything James said sounded vulgar? Oh right, I know, because he is a flipping pig.

Shawna looked horrified. I was about say something else nasty to James when a very angry Vampire (showing her fangs no less) suddenly slammed him into the wall. “You’re making me sick James. Get out of here before I rip your throat out.”

He held up his hands and backed off. With a smile he said, “Later ladies, I’ll leave you to your tea party.”

Max’s friend Mehitabel  (the one he kissed in the backyard) stood there in a sleek black dress and some great sky high patent leather Mary Janes. She washed her hands saying something under her breath about getting the stink left by James off of them.

Mehitabel was the pretty woman who could either stand out in a crowd, or more likely not be noticed by anyone. That worked well in her professional life. She could stand unnoticed and watch and wait. As for her personal life, I have no idea. I don’t know her that well. I really don’t

I found her entertaining and funny. Sure she was a little distant as well, an odd combination.

Earlier I’d asked her what she was doing for Memorial Day. She was going to spend it with close friends. They always spent holidays together.  Why did I assume she wouldn’t have anyplace to go? Gossip and rumors can build into false biographies that paint a harsh sad picture of someone who is anything but harsh or sad.

She didn’t ask questions about my brother Max, the object of her affections – not like most women do.  She wasn’t talking to anyone about Max. She’d come to the party because they had mutual friends – nothing more. She was staying at Max’s house but no details of fluttery “wink wink” was forthcoming.

She had known Max for a long long time.  Over the years they’d been in and out of dangerous situations together, even saved each other’s lives. They were considered Vampire elite, thought she didn’t act like it.

So, anyway, I’m standing in the kitchen with two women who for better or worse were involved with two of my brothers. At this point I doubted if anyone was going to come in and rescue me.

“Don’t bother with James,” I said to Shawna.  “I think he was snorting too much dragon dust or something.”

“More likely out feeding on meth heads and heroine junkies,” said Mehitabel in disgust. The she softened her look and approached Shawna.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.  We’re not like that. Andy isn’t like that. He is one of the most gentle souls I’ve ever met, Regular Human or Vampire, and he adores you. He’d never ever let anyone harm you. The same goes for Juliette and me, and everyone here. Even James, even thought he is an asshole.”

I knew there were those would harm Shawna, but then again, I suppose nobody could have hurt her more than her ex-husband, the one who traded her in for a younger model.

After a few minutes and a few cocktails, we forgot about the party and my brothers. We talked of other things, things we all could relate to. We talked about movies and books and shoes and our work.

I suppose there is no point or moral to this story. No usual twist. It is always just odd and I’m glad my kids were in another part of the house, I’m sure being exposed to all sorts of other weirdness.

Just random thoughts about last weekend…

But all in all, I like both of these women my brothers have brought around. Now if my brothers could just behave… And if they don’t behave, I might still just keep these two around.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

(this post first published here 11/13)

_____________________________

and before i could argue him

out of his philosophy

he went and immolated himself

on a patent cigar lighter

i do not agree with him

myself i would rather have

half the happiness and twice

the longevity

 

but at the same time i wish

there was something i wanted

as badly as he wanted to fry himself”

Don Marquis, archy and mehitabel

____________________________________

More on Shawna and Andy (click here.)

More on Max and Mehitabel (click here.)

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Community

Community

Alexis was fortunate to have the acceptance and support from her family and community.

She was much taller than most women. She’d had laser hair removal and surgery to soften her face. To soften her voice she’d taken voice lessons, including music lessons from a well known opera coach. She’d taken ballet lessons to help her become more graceful. Since her feet were exceptionally large she had custom made flip flops that she wore rain or shine.

Life was good for Alexis who’d become a best selling romance author, and outdoor wilderness guide.

Today she drove up I-5 towards her small home community in California’s remote Trinity Alps. The Escalade was packed with hard to obtain supplies: a solar generator, books, pens, paper, Simple Green, apples, silver polish, matches, half a dozen burner phones, and fifty tooth brushes among other things.

Her Uncle Dave had been the first to leave the community. A few others followed. It was never easy but the rewards were great for those who no longer wanted to live remotely in the mountains.

She’d be bringing her young cousin Trent back with her. He’d been accepted to UC Irvine in the fall. Trent would live with her first for a few months and learn how to live among those who were so different from them. She’d transform him into a hip and modern young man.

After a thirty mile drive down a rough dirt road Alexis stopped and got out of her car. She stretched her legs and took a deep breath of the clean cold mountain air. Then she let out a long mournful howl.

First she could smell them then out into the clearing they came. It was good to see so many of her family and friends.

No matter where she went she knew she’d always be at home with her Bigfoot family.

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire House Warming

Note: My brain is full so I’m re-running this today from 2013. A lot has changed since then – especially with Max and Andy. I’ll catch you up later or you can look for it yourself.  So have fun. I’ll have new thoughts on parenting young adults, having an empty nest, Vlad’s Vampire Diary, Short Story Sunday (Tangled Tales), random surveys, bad poetry, and other assorted Vampires, Ghosts, and my usual jaded opinions. If you’re new here read Dancing on the Beach, Gasoline and Tiger Maple, Perfection, and Morning at the Vineyard. 

 

Vampire House Warming

We all have those turning points in our life. Some we choose and some we don’t. Some we’re nudged in the right or more often wrong direction.

And there are those times when we try to read between the lines too much about the lives of others. It is usually far more complicated or else far less complicated than we think it is.

My brother Andrew (second of 5 siblings) recently moved back to California after several years in London and other parts of the globe and purchased a home in San Francisco. I hear he paid a million and a half for the place in St. Francis Woods, but he could afford it. I hold my breath to think what my brother Max’s home or my parent’s homes with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge would go for. Anyway…this isn’t about real estate.

It is about a lovely housewarming party my brother Andrew hosted. The place was packed with both Vampires and Regular Humans. There were of course musicians (Andy is a singer) and dancers. There were artists and college professors and writers and high tech geeks and all sorts of interesting people with every profession and opinion imaginable. What made this remarkable, as parties and gatherings go, was that Andy’s Regular Human friends know about Vampire. They’re friends with us and don’t have a problem with it.

OK there was one exception. Andy invited his “girlfriend.” Shawna had come up from Southern California where she is a university professor. She is not a Vampire. She is still in that state of wonder and a little bit of disbelief about Vampires and our world (which isn’t all that different than hers, usually.)

Andy is head over heels in love with this divorced mother of two college kids. The story is that she came home from a research trip to find her husband had put her things in storage and moved a new trophy wife into their home. Their youngest child had just gone off to college so it was his opportunity to also make a change. Shocked, she found a small house on a quiet tree lined street and made a new life with her cats and dogs (she wouldn’t leave them behind.)

Shawna was strong and smart and I had no idea what she was doing with my scatter-brained brother. But it was ok. They were cute together and, well, you know all that sort of early romance cute stuff.

I looked out the window to the backyard to see my brother Max kissing his “friend.” This was more than just a friend. I’d heard rumors but this was proof that there was something more than he’d admit to. Funny that she backed out of his arms and went inside alone leaving him to pace a bit then follow her back inside.

In the kitchen I found Shawna. She was cutting up limes.

“I told Andy to have this catered.” I said this trying to be friendly. I could sense a tiny bit of discomfort behind her warm friendly fang-less smile.

“It’s ok, this will just take a second.” She cut into a lime then her hand slipped, of course, in a house full of Vampires, and cut a deep gash in her thumb.

I grabbed her hand and put it in my mouth to stop the bleeding and sealed the wound. I could have left it but it would have required stitches, not to mention drawn a lot of unwanted attention.

I let go and she pulled away with a little bit of horror and disbelief.

“It’s OK Shawna. I sealed the cut. It will heal now without stitches. You’re A positive.” I smiled. “Don’t worry.  I’m not going to drink your blood or bite you or anything. Just basic first aid. We don’t want anyone else smelling blood.”

I suddenly realized that Andy had never bitten her or exposed her to his natural Vampire ways. He was such a gentleman.  He was also a dick when it came to women. He was always falling for anything that wasn’t a Vampire and when it was a Vampire it was usually always someone who was totally wrong for him. He always had to have everything in life more complicated than it had to be.

“Isn’t this sweet,” I heard a smooth male voice say behind me. I turned to see James, one of Andy’s best friends. James who had always watched out for Andrew but who was also one of the most absolutely annoying Vampires in the known universe.

“You know, Juliette and her brother Valentine are two of the best when it comes to Human to Vampire conversions. Almost a 100% success rate, mot to mention a great follow up and support system.”

“Shut up James,” I snapped. Poor Shawna looked horrified. Why was it that everything James said sounded vulgar? Oh right, I know, because he is a flipping pig.

Shawna looked horrified. I was about say something else nasty to James when a very angry Vampire (showing her fangs no less) suddenly slammed him into the wall. “You’re making me sick James. Get out of here before I rip your throat out.”

He held up his hands and backed off. With a smile he said, “Later ladies, I’ll leave you to your tea party.”

Max’s friend Mehitabel  (the one he kissed in the backyard) stood there in a sleek black dress and some great sky high patent leather Mary Janes. She washed her hands saying something under her breath about getting the stink left by James off of them.

Mehitabel was the pretty woman who could either stand out in a crowd, or more likely not be noticed by anyone. That worked well in her professional life. She could stand unnoticed and watch and wait. As for her personal life, I have no idea. I don’t know her that well. I really don’t

I found her entertaining and funny. Sure she was a little distant as well, an odd combination.

Earlier I’d asked her what she was doing for Memorial Day. She was going to spend it with close friends. They always spent holidays together.  Why did I assume she wouldn’t have anyplace to go? Gossip and rumors can build into false biographies that paint a harsh sad picture of someone who is anything but harsh or sad.

She didn’t ask questions about my brother Max, the object of her affections – not like most women do.  She wasn’t talking to anyone about Max. She’d come to the party because they had mutual friends – nothing more. She was staying at Max’s house but no details of fluttery “wink wink” was forthcoming.

She had known Max for a long long time.  Over the years they’d been in and out of dangerous situations together, even saved each other’s lives. They were considered Vampire elite, thought she didn’t act like it.

So, anyway, I’m standing in the kitchen with two women who for better or worse were involved with two of my brothers. At this point I doubted if anyone was going to come in and rescue me.

“Don’t bother with James,” I said to Shawna.  “I think he was snorting too much dragon dust or something.”

“More likely out feeding on meth heads and heroine junkies,” said Mehitabel in disgust. The she softened her look and approached Shawna.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.  We’re not like that. Andy isn’t like that. He is one of the most gentle souls I’ve ever met, Regular Human or Vampire, and he adores you. He’d never ever let anyone harm you. The same goes for Juliette and me, and everyone here. Even James, even thought he is an asshole.”

I knew there were those would harm Shawna, but then again, I suppose nobody could have hurt her more than her ex-husband, the one who traded her in for a younger model.

After a few minutes and a few cocktails, we forgot about the party and my brothers. We talked of other things, things we all could relate to. We talked about movies and books and shoes and our work.

I suppose there is no point or moral to this story. No usual twist. It is always just odd and I’m glad my kids were in another part of the house, I’m sure being exposed to all sorts of other weirdness.

Just random thoughts about last weekend…

But all in all, I like both of these women my brothers have brought around. Now if my brothers could just behave… And if they don’t behave, I might still just keep these two around.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

(this post first published here 11/13)

_____________________________

and before i could argue him

out of his philosophy

he went and immolated himself

on a patent cigar lighter

i do not agree with him

myself i would rather have

half the happiness and twice

the longevity

 

but at the same time i wish

there was something i wanted

as badly as he wanted to fry himself”

Don Marquis, archy and mehitabel

____________________________________

More on Shawna and Andy (click here.)

More on Max and Mehitabel (click here.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Your life of truth and lies

As my kids got older they asked about people I’ve known, and of choices made, or not made. They’ve asked about what was the real truth and what is not. Sometimes people live in a place in-between the truth and the lies.

Ever since I was a tiny child I have collected stories. I listened in silence as adults talked. I’d fill in the blanks between the spaces that didn’t make sense, or more often or not were missing.

I can piece together parts of a life and figure out anything. There are no secrets. All is revealed.

Most people are horrible liars. Their stories change over the years. Photos and documents don’t add up. Confusion layered with bull crap. I can figure it out. What really happens in the real world. Truth is stranger than fiction, but even strange truth has some real truth to it.

The statement “He died at sea,” in reality means “he had another family in another country and went back to them. That is why he is gone. That is why they know nothing of me or our child. That is why I say I am a widow rather than an unwed mother.”

Or the reason someone moves across the country to take a great job, but leaves a more prestigious job. He never wanted to be there. He never wanted to be with her. It was a mistake. Then there was a divorce. No children. He’d made a mistake and now he was going to lead his own life the way he wanted to – finally. There were a few other clues in there but in reality I never spoke with the person in question. I just knew. I was right. I’ve speculated on everything here and I’m right.

The young man joined the army because he was immature and needed to become a man. That is what his parents said. They said it would prepare him for college. He jointed the army because he knocked a girl up and his parents didn’t want him burdened with a family so they sent him away. If their son went away the girl would go away. So the young man learned to run away from his problems. The girl learned not to trust anyone.

She didn’t know why he was so mad. He was an idiot.  But she never got over him. He hated her or so he said. In reality he always loved her. The man she said was just a friend was really a lover who later jilted her.  He loved is second wife but when he couldn’t sleep at night, almost every night, he thought of his first wife – he did this for over 60 years. He died two days after she did.

He never left her because he wanted to prove his family and friends were wrong. She never left him because she wanted to punish him for ruining her life and because he was the only thing in her life she had absolute control over.

Uncle Jack did not die of natural causes. Neither did he die alone.

He still thinks of her all the time but it is too late. Years too late. She married someone else. He lost his chance. She thinks of him but he had his chance. She thinks he never knew that she loved him once. She was wrong about that but is doesn’t matter. Now she loves someone who deserves her – she loves him with a passion.

He never married because he was afraid of being controlled.

She never married because she had fantasies of being controlled.

You dated a man who claimed he killed people for a living and then you went to church on Sunday and everyone thought you were a saint. They never knew your daughter hated you. You never knew what she did at night after she moved away.

He always had a feeling she wasn’t dead but he never told anyone about it. He should have asked to see her body.

She said she was kidnapped as a child. In reality she was abandoned by her mother who was chasing after a cheating husband who had no use for children.

He always thought the wonderful man he grew up with and loved was his father. In reality his biological father was the man in photographs hidden between the pages of a well-worn copy of Ulysses.

They said it was a miracle that she survived the accident. Over and over the story of her car going off of the cliff was told. A slick road, an out of control truck, her small red Mustang, and the long drop into the Pacific Ocean. She told everyone it was by the grace of God and prayer. In reality it was because she cheated at cards. He was so impressed with her skills in deception that he gave her another 50 years.

When life give you lemons plant the seeds and tell everyone you have a rare fruit of kings.  But sooner or later someone might find out they’re really lemons. But don’t worry about it, we’ll make pie.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman