Empty Nest

At the end of my street is a bald eagle nest. The babies hatched this spring have learned to fly a few weeks ago and have now left the nest. We might see them around occasionally during the rest of the summer, but they’re more or less gone. This is the third year we’ve had eagle babies. This is the third year we’ve gone out to the nest and watched new hatchlings grow and leave mom and dad.

The nest is now empty.

Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents may feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own or to attend a college or university. It is not a clinical condition.

My daughter just turned twenty. She’ll be moving out in September to attend a prestigious university on the coast of Southern California. I am over the moon proud of her.

I have kept a safe and sound nest for my birdies. They have learned how to fly.

I’ve prepared my children to be adults. They have far exceeded my expectations. I am so proud. I think I said that already, but I am. I always will be.

I prepared my chicks but I didn’t think that I’d be so unprepared.

It isn’t as if I’m unprepared. It isn’t as if I don’t have anything to do. It isn’t as if I don’t have a dog who needs ALL of my attention, elders to take care of (that is another story that breaks my heart), cats to heard, and a husband who is going through his own transitions.

It has been years since I have felt my heart breaking like this. I had no idea.

Yet, I am filled with joy and excitement because my kids are adults and they’re going to make all kinds of awful mistakes, and have wonderful adventures, and be amazing, and successful, and they’ll change the world for the better. I know for a fact that they’ll change the world for the better. When I think about that I am less likely to start crying.

When you have a baby you know that in 18 or 20 years that… your baby will be an adult.

But you know what? Your babies will always be your babies.

Having kids is the best thing, the hardest thing, and the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. At least it has been like that for me.

I finally found something I was good at. REALLY good at. Better than most at. The BEST at. And now I have to do something else that I can be the best at.

Just between us I’ll still be the best mom ever.

And if you’re reading this you can still be the best mom, or dad, ever too.

Just keep saying to yourself, “Don’t panic. They all grow up.”

You’ll be OK.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Charged Technology, and The Ancient Folks We Love

“Juliette, I am so glad to see you. Were you in the neighborhood?” Tellias took my face in his cool white hands and kissed my forehead.

“No,” I said. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for three days. Your phones go straight to voice mail. You never check your voice mail. You never check to see if your phones are charged. I was worried about you.”

Tellias said nothing about the phones, took my hand, and said, “Let’s go see Eleora. She’ll be glad to see you. She fell in a drainage ditch out in the pear orchard yesterday. I had to call John next door to come help me get her out.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

Tellias gave me that annoyed look one gives children with annoying questions. “We got her out.”

He stood in front of me, his blue eyes looking brighter than usual, his white blonde hair hanging to his shoulders. Today he wore a Hawaiian shirt with big blue hibiscus flowers, and ancient worn out orange plaid Bermuda shorts, and his yellow flip flops.

Tellias and Eleora are old. They’re ancient old. Tellias is well over 2,000 and nobody really knows how old Eleora is. They looks as if they’re about twenty years old, but act like they’re in their nineties. For readers new here, I must explain that they’re Vampires. We all are. I’m the one who checks in on them, just as many of you check in on your elderly, or other family members with special needs and concerns.

Tellias and Eleora live on a farm along the Sacramento River, an hour drive from my home. I grew up running through their orchards, then new, and going to lavish parties at their home. The first house burned down, and was replaced with a lavish Queen Anne style Victorian mansion. But that is neither here nor there right now. They won’t plug charge their phones.

In fact when I saw Eleora, lounging on a couch, in a polka dotted white and navy sun dress, with a pink pilled up sweater over it, she looked at me with sad eyes. Did she mention her fall? No.

She asked me, “Why don’t your brothers or your parents ever call me?”

“Because your phone is never charged and you don’t check your messages, and you don’t even use email anymore,” I said, trying to keep from yelling. “What were you doing out in the pear orchard, by the drainage ditch?”

“I was checking to see if there were any bums out there. They used to camp out there during the depression and they’re still camping along the river. Homeless.”

“What if you had found someone? What if they’d hurt you?” I asked.

“I’m a Vampire Juliette. I would have eaten them and torn their heads off.” Then she and Tellias laughed and then he took her hand and they danced around the room.

“She would have eaten them,” said Tellias.

“Every one of them,” said Eleora.

“Every one of them,” said Tellias.

“And torn their heads off,” said Eleora.

“She found a rake I’d lost about thirty years ago,” said Tellias.

“I told you I’d find it,” said Eleora.

“Glad you did,” I said. I really was. Eleora had been asking about the rake for the past thirty years, non-stop.

“It was rusted out,” said Eleora.

“I figured as much,” I said.

“Rusted out,” said Eleora.

“Has anyone seen my truck keys?” Asked Tellias.

“They’re hanging on the hook in the hallway,” I said.

“Oh. I swore I’d lost them,” said Tellias.

“Swore he’d lost them,” said Eleora.

“Lost them,” said Tellias.

I turned to see both of my kids, and my son’s best friend Randy, standing in the doorway with boxes from the car.

Tellias and Eleora ran over to Clara, Garrett and, Randy covering their faces with kisses and hugging them.

“She found the rake,” I said.

“Oh good,” said Garrett, trying not to laugh.

We fixed iced tea, and cold blood over ice garnished with mint and sage leaves. Eleora showed off her quickly healing bruises and scratches.

Their neighbor John, a handsome man in his 60’s stopped by to say hello and fill in the blanks to the ditch story.

“You should have called me,” I told John.

Of course John said he’d call me next time. There have been dozens of next times he has promised to call me about but never followed through on.

Randy, who as usual, was wearing a vintage shirt from the 70’s with a panoramic scene across the front and back. He and Tellias talked fashion, or whatever it is they think they’re wearing. The more heinous the better is the rule with them. Randy is only twenty three so dressing like a mismatched old man looks cool on him. Sometimes I half expect to see him in sandals and dress socks, or worse red socks and sandals.

Almost twenty year old Clara sat with Eleora and held her hand as they talked about Clara’s transfer to the big university in Southern California that will happen in September.

Garrett and John helped me unpack bottles of Poet’s blood, cans of cat food (for the cat, not for the elders) and various other things I brought over. Tellias, who does most of the shopping often forgets to get things like cat food, and soap, and basic things we all need. When the elders want food they’ve taken to calling deliver services for food (Fill in the blanks. Nice warm blooded folks come to the door…) I have already told them not to call 911 to deliver handsome young sheriff officers for dinner.

I have to tell the elders not to do a lot of things. They never listen to me. Heads are nodded. I love you is said over and over. They smile with a coy hint of fang.

Eleora told Clara and me three more times that my brothers and parents never call her.

Before we left I checked the phone cords and made sure the chargers were put in outlets that hadn’t been switched off. I made sure everything was plugged in all the way and charging.

I reminded Tellias where his truck keys were, and where the other car keys were. I also reminded him to write down a list when he went out, and to even write down where he was going so he wouldn’t forget and drive half way to Timbuktu before he realized he was going to the hardware store for nails or a sprinkler part.

As we drove away, the three young adults and I, we waved to the elders, John, and the cat who all stood on the grand front porch of the beautiful Victorian home.

I was glad everyone was more or less alright, but couldn’t help but feel a little sad, and a little depressed. I always feel a little sad and a little depressed when I leave them. I feel the same way when I leave my house to go there. I feel that way whenever I think about them.

I can’t help it. I guess that is what happens when you love someone so much.

In a day or two I’ll call back. I know the phones won’t be charged. I’ll text John who will tell me he’ll check on it for me, but I know he’ll go over there and they’ll tell him their phones are charged. John will believe them and go home.

One more thought before I go. Summer is here. If you know someone who is elderly or needs extra help, make sure they have their air conditioning on when days reach triple digits. Make sure they’re ok, even if you have to drive that extra five or ten, or twenty miles when they don’t answer their phones. Tell them that you love them. Hold their hands and listen to them repeat the same stories over and over.

Be there.

Because they might be gone one day, even if they’re Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

When in doubt wear a dress

“I’m not going to crawl under a building again. It is going to be a hundred degrees out today. That is bad enough if you’re a regular person but we’re Vampires. Remember? Aaron?”

I have four siblings – all male. I am the youngest of the brood. Aaron is smack in the middle.

When I arrived at his downtown law office I was greeted by Aaron and our brother Val (short for Valentine). Val is between Aaron and me. I’d brought my daughter Clara with me.

“Wear a dress,” I told her.

“Why?”, she had to ask. They always have to ask.

“So your Uncle Aaron won’t ask you to do anything. So he won’t ask you to crawl under a building or into an attic crawl space, or between a wall or into a sewer. You know how he is.”

When we were small, young Vampires in the American West, my brother’s had great fun sending their tiny little sister into small spaces. Be it a hole in a tree or a hole in the side of a building, in I’d go.

Consequently we ended up knowing everything about everyone in the growing city in which we lived. We also knew where all the creepers were, and we had a lot of scary fun tormenting them.

The Creepers, as we called them, were a type of, or more of a Vampire of a certain culture (not ours.) Shadow Creepers were Vampires who were content being ghouls who lurk in the shadows and get all overly happy about finding blood. They’re like those socially awkward kids or the intense annoying kids my daughter goes to school with. They aren’t what we call Modern Vampires. They’re disgusting.

And since they tended to be nasty but awkward we took it upon ourselves to annoy them.

While we slept in real houses and in real beds, the Shadow Creepers tended to search out basements, attics, crypts and holes in the riverbank or in the bottom of ;rage paddle boats. We’d search them out and start our childish torments.

One of our favorite activities would be to go into their lairs and make loud sucking noises. Shadow Creepers have such disgusting eating habits. When they’d wake we’d hiss and scream at them. Of course we’d do other things to them. Mean things. Then again, we knew most of them didn’t even have souls. Plus they’re the ones, in our opinion, who give Vampires a bad name.

Even now the few who remain hate us with a passion. Oh well. They could change, and some of them have, but most of them choose to be nasty horrible beings.

Oh, I forgot, and the absolutely worst is running into a Creeper I used to know back in another century. Ugh. Talk about uncomfortable.

Which takes us to present day when one of them shows up occasionally after being found asleep or awakened from a hundred year sleep.

Over the past few years I’ve been asked to go check them out. Aaron is an attorney so for some reason people come to him when they find these unsavory creatures.

I end up covered with dirt and in the face of some dried up husk of an animated corpse of a Vampire. No self-respecting Vampire would ever ever end up like that on purpose. Plus they always act like it is still the nineteenth century. Wake up assholes, that isn’t cute anymore. It doesn’t make you look smart or mysterious. It just makes you look stupid and creepy.

It is always an unpleasant experience finding Shadow Creepers and I’d just rather call a Vampire Hunter to take them out. You know, like when you call someone to get rid of the wasp next under your front porch.

My brothers were both in a good mood. They just wanted to go for lunch and to the art museum. Thank goodness. It was a lovely diversion. The dresses worked out just fine.

Wishing you all a week of pleasant diversions and remember your sun screen.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted here in June 2015

Short Story Sunday: The Changeling (Happy Mother’s Day)

 

The Changeling

I’ll always remember what my preschool teacher said at lunch and snack times. “You get what you get and you don’tthrow a fit.” My parents lived by that. I’m surprised they didn’tboth tattoo it on theirforeheads.

Sometimes parents will notice their lovely happy babies will suddenly seem to change. Well they have changed. Your baby has been replaced by a crying, unhappy, grouchy, nasty, Goblin Changeling. Congratulations.

Sometimes the horrible Changelings are left to die on the doorsteps of churches, or locked in attics. Usually the real babies are brought back to their loving parents. Fairies and others help out. More often than not ransoms are paid. A mother might pay with her beauty. A father might pay with his strength. It could be anything depending on the mood of theGoblins.

In my case the Goblins dropped me into the home of someone who seemed oblivious to mynastiness. They actually kept me.

I spend my entire childhood treating my parents like crap and tormenting my little brother Trevor. My brother hated me, but he should have loved me. Without me Trevor would have been one of those sensitive pantywaist boys who allows people walk all over him. I made him tough. I made him stand up for himself. He should have thanked me forit.

I have no idea why my parents put up with me. The only reason I wasn’t expelled from every school I attended isbecause I always made straight A’s. Sure I caused a lot of tears but I kept the schoolyard in line. My minions kept close while Idoled out punishments fitting crimes of weakness. As for lies… I was the number one princess of lies, and adults never knew what was goingon.They believedme.

Sure there were more times I could count that I had my mom in tears, but hey, that is what you get for accepting a Goblin Changeling. She could have dumped me in foster care or sent me off to some farm of a distant relative. People suggested boarding schools, drugs and shock treatments. She just toldthem that they could never understand how I was different andunique in ways that nobody could ever understand.

At one time my parents sent me to counseling. I told Dr. Cray everything she wanted to hear. The good doctor said I was a well-adjusted and brilliant child. She said I was mature for my age hence others not understanding me. Boy did I have it pulled over her eyes.

Anyway, Trevor and I grew up and went out on our own. I met a few other Changelings and even married one.

We’re one of those successful power couples. He’s the CEO of a billion dollar tech company. I’m an attorney, the biggest asshole out there, and proud of it. Beauty and brains plus no morals what so ever. Justice for all.

As soon as I found out my future husband Blake was an over the top arrogant, self-centered SOB I fell in love with him. He loved me back as only a Goblin Changeling can love another Goblin Changeling.

I remember a day when a woman approached me. This should have been one of those turning points where I changed my heart and became a good person. I recognized her because I’d gone to school with her.

She said, “You were a bully. A mean horrible bully. You ruined lives.”

I just smiled and told her, “You should have learned from your bad experience. Instead you made the choice to be a loser.”

I’m like that. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. I don’t care if they said I mean to my parents and twice as horrible to my brother. Tell me something I don’t know.

So on Mother’s Day I showed up at my parents with my husband. The hubby joined my dad in the back at the grill. Trevor and his wife Emily were in the kitchen with my mom. I put the vase of yellow roses I’d brought for my mom down on breakfast nook table and gave my mother a rarekiss.

Trevor glared at me. Emily looked uncomfortable.

“I have good news Katie,” said my mom. “Trevor and Emily are going to have a baby.”

“How about that Trevor, you aren’t dickless after all. Well congratulations.”

“Why did you have to say that Katie? Why are you so horrible all the time?” Asked the lovely Emily.

“I’m just like that Em. Well dear family, I also have news. I’m pregnant too,” I said.

Trevor got right into my face. “You always have to try to upstage me Katie. I don’t care if you are having a baby. Your child will NEVER be allowed to be with mine. NEVER.”

I laughed out loud, a cold bitter laugh. “You know baby brother, if it wasn’t for me you’d never be with Emily. Why do you think all of those other bitch girlfriends of yours dumped you before you ended up with Em? I was looking out for you asshole. I was also the reason you have your dream job. So screw you Trevor. I hope your kid is uglyand stupid.”

My mom should have looked shocked, then again she was used to me saying horrible things to my brother Trevor. I was pissed and went into the living room. Mom followed.

She put her hand on my arm, then took it off as I tensed up. “Are you happy about your baby Katie?”

“Sure. It will be fun.” Then I looked into her blue eyes and suddenly I wanted to cry. I mean, like, my eyes started to sting and water up. “You’re amazing mom. Why in the world did you keep me?”

“My own baby had passed on. My little angel had never been right. She didn’t last more than a week. The Goblinshad scheduled a drop off not knowing there was no baby for them to take home. They just left you. Even Goblins don’t want their Changelings. What was your dad and I supposed to do?”

“Oh Mom, you knew?”

“Always.”

“So why’d you put up with me all these years?”

“Remember that horrible cat Billy we used to have?”

I remembered Billy. He was worse than I was. He’d hiss at everyone. He’d growl when you’d feed him. No act of kindness was rewarded. Billy was nuts. Damn, he was the Devil’s own cat.

My mom continued. “We kept Billy because if we’d given him up he would have died. Nobody else would have understood. He would have been put down. It was the same with you.”

“I loved that cat,” I told my mom.

“I know you did Katie,” said mymom.

She put her arm around my shoulder. “Let’s go back to the others Katie. Do me a favor sweetie. Try to be nice to Trevor. Just for today.”

“Sure. I love you mom.”

“Love you too Katie. More than you’ll ever know.”

I kissed her cheek. “When I’m a mom I want to be just like you.”

A hint of tears glistened in my mother’s eyes. That made me happy in a weird sort of uncomfortable way.

We joined the rest of the family around the grill, all smiles and making nice. All the while I was thinking of ways to torture my brother and get even on the rest of the universe.

Life is good. Well, at least it is for me.

 

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Love in the dark, and in the light that always shines

Love in the dark, and in the light that always shines

Eleora couldn’t remember what she did yesterday, but she could tell stories of her childhood in excruciating detail. My daughter and niece sat next to her, holding her small hands in theirs. They looked like three young women about the same age. My Clara is 16, Lauren is 21 and Eleora is, well, nobody knows how old she is. We know Eleora is over 2,000 years old but no exact number has ever come out.

The girls heard stories their parents and grandparents had never heard. These were ancient lost tales that she’d hoarded until she found the right audience.

Tellias, her husband, told the girls to watch if they went outside. Eleora might wander off on her own and not find her way back.

He watched the woman he loved, his eyes filled with pain. Sometimes I’d see a rare bit of anger. Of course there is always love, but with that more often than not pain and frustration.

This was Sunday. We’d all gathered at my brother Aaron’s for our mother’s birthday. All four of my brothers were there (Max, Andy, Aaron and Val), as well as the elders Tellias and Eleora, Aaron’s grown children Logan and Lauren, Great-great-great-great Grandmama Lola and her friend Cody, and our friend Pierce. My husband Teddy and Aaron’s wife Verity were there playing host and hostess as they sometimes do. And of course our parents Jeremy and Samantha.

More friends were to come later at this gathering at Aaron and Verity’s home. Of course we’re all Vampires. It would seem weird to bring anyone else in.

This isn’t like the movies and horror stories where we bring in virgins and babies to feast on. Of course there is blood, but we have it in wine glasses (not big red cups.)

I stood outside under the stars with Tellias and my brother Max.

Max put his hand on the elder Vampire’s shoulder. “Eleora isn’t all there anymore is she?”

“I believe she is there. She just is a bit disorganized. You know, when you can’t find the mates to your shoes and you are walking on a bed of nails so you just hop on one foot and hope you don’t fall. But if you fall it will be into a burning pit of lava. Then you look down and notice your pants are gone and your socks don’t match,” said Tellias. “You need to come by and see us more often Max.”

“I know,” said my brother.

“Nobody knows how long Vampires live. Most of us don’t make it this far given the dangerous nature of our existence. Don’t take your chances. Your day could be tomorrow. Eleora’s could be tomorrow. We never know. But no need to get depressed, none of us are going anywhere for a while. We’ll be around for plenty of birthdays to come. But the more you and Juliette and the rest of you come around the easier it will be for Eleora to straighten out the mess in her mind.”

The three of us stood there for a few seconds. Then Max gave Tellias a hug and walked down into the yard under some trees. I watched him as he took out his phone and made a call.

“He is calling her, isn’t he? He should have made that call fifty years ago,” said Tellias. “The boy never seemed to understand love, even at his age he still can’t.”

I had to smile. Even at the age of one hundred and sixty-six Max still is just starting to understand that ships that pass in the night sometimes never pass each other again.

Tellias took my hand and gave it a squeeze. “I appreciate everything you do for us.”

“I know.” I said. I looked into his crystal blue eyes, in a face that looked no older than nineteen. To think that he had lived in ancient time didn’t seem all that strange most of the time. He’d kept up. They both had. That is what kept Tellias and Eleora young. Nobody would ever have expected them to dry up in a crypt or become ghouls living in shadows. Then again, they gave so much love that the cold dark places the put fear in men’s hearts didn’t touch them.

So stay young. It is easy if you love and let love in. Even if you’re a Vampire. And even if you’re not.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

(First posted in 2015 – the message remains the same.)

 

VM_Tellias and Eleora

True love keeps you young forever!

 

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