Short Story Sunday: For the Kids

“Ironic isn’t it that my mom named me Tristan?”

“I’m not following you.”

“In the Celtic legend, Tristan stole another man’s bride.”

Bryan cracked another beer and gave it to his exwife’s son. “That isn’t why she named you that. There was a BBC show she liked. It was about a couple of veterinarians. Your mother loved that name. One of them was named Tristan. He was tall and blond like your dad. That is why she named you Tristan.”

“Yeah, I know. Listen, Bryan, I’m sorry. I’m being a dick.”

“Apology accepted.”

“When I was a kid I was always jealous of Hannah because she had two dads. I only had one dad. It didn’t seem fair. I’d always want to go with her when she went home with you. One of the best times of my life was when my dad was in that car accident and you took Sabrina and me for a couple of weeks. Why’d you do that? My parents tore your life apart.”

“It wasn’t about me, or them. It was about three kids who loved each.”

“Why’d you and my mom break up? What was the real reason. I mean, why’d she go to my dad?”

“It wasn’t your dad. Our minds were somewhere else. We never hated each other. Maybe she might have hated me a bit, but she wanted,” Bryan paused. “she wanted something else with someone else.” said Bryan. “Then I hated her for a few years, but realized it was just hurting me. Hate takes too much energy, especially when you have kids. One day you’ll know.”

Bryan still hated his ex-wife on more than one level but he’d never tell her twenty-three year old son. He liked the kid. Tristan was a smart ass but Bryan couldn’t imagine not having him around. Life was funny like that. It didn’t always make sense but that was OK.

 

~ end

 

 

 

 

 

Playing the Game – Can’t leave anything to Chance

Playing the Game – Can’t leave anything to Chance

Some say life is a game. I don’t believe that is a good message for teens but sometimes, on those stupid frustrating adult days when everything seems to go wrong it seems like some stupid horrible game. You know those days when you think “I must have been a really horrible person in a past life.” 

One of the frustrations about being young (in your teens and twenties) is that Chance and Fate are unfair forces that seem bound and determined to keep us down.

Chance isn’t logical or fair. He picks favorites. He excludes those who work hard. He surprises us with delights. He breaks our hearts and smashes our delicate egos. He devastates. He rescues. He is our best friend and our worst enemy. That said, try explaining that to your teen or college aged kid. Try explaining it to anyone?

And what about Chance’s fickle girlfriend Fate. Fate is lovely to behold but can be a real bitch. She likes to make us think she is on top of things, but in reality Fate has very little to do with anything. Fate is a poser. She is full of empty promises. Fate takes credit for things she did not do. Because in my opinion Fate does nothing if she can find someone else to do the work for her (and she is very good at getting Chance and others to do the work).

Then there is their friend Noel Reason. He is a secretive guy who has his hands into everything but doesn’t take credit for anything. In fact he shouldn’t take credit for anything. Sometimes things just happen for Noel Reason. But you never want to tell your teen THAT.

The unpopular kids are Logic and Reason. Nobody wants to listen to them. They are usually polite and never scream. They aren’t popular. But people who do get to know Logic and Reason love them. Their lives get better. The world makes sense. But it is so frustrating having Logic and Reason for friends because so many people hate and fear them (for no reason – chalk up one more for the gossip mill). You can depend on these two.

Ignorance seems to be the most popular guy around these days. He acts tough. He is the “bad boy”. He gets friends by spreading the message of fear and hate. His most famous saying is “We’ve always done things that way. If it was good enough for my dad it’s good enough for me.” Ignorance hates people who think freely and is glad to get his bullies to take care of it for him.

The perfect union

There is a rumor that Art and Science don’t like each other. In reality they are a couple – and a successful couple at that. Take my word on it. Plus they are two that your teens and twenty somethings need to get to know (and know well). As with Logic and Reason you can also depend on these two.

Hope stand by herself never knowing what to do. She has great power. She brings comfort but she also brings disappointment. Keep Hope as a friend but don’t make her your best friend (and she often is caught flirting with Chance which pisses Fate off to no end). Hope can do a lot for you and those you care about but she can’t solve the World’s problems.

Faith is Hope’s twin sister. You have to get to know Faith. She isn’t overly religious as some people believe. But she embodies all that is good and kind. She teaches us that all things are possible and to believe in ourselves and others. She teaches us to believe in what is good. She teaches us trust. But don’t keep her in the dark or cover her eyes or you’ll have blind Faith – and that combined with our pal Ignorance can be a very bad thing indeed.

Most of all teach your children that they should not depend on the friends above for what they  need or want. They need to depend on their own talents, drive and follow their own hearts. They must lead, not follow, not wait.

~ 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, Vampires, Ghosts, and all kinds of stuff soon.

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

Bloom

Even Vampires get the blues, but nothing so bad that some flowers won’t fix it. I dare say I don’t live in a black house with dead plants in the yard. OK I’ll admit that everything in the yard used to be dead but not anymore. I’ve spent the past three years digging in the river rocks rolled in a light dusting of dirt and managed to make something of it. The key has been to plant so that something is always blooming.

These are my flowers. The gray one is Oscar the cat.

 

 

But one can never have too many flowers in their world.

A few weekends ago I took the old ones Eleora and Tellias out to see the world. I had to get them out of their old musty house and into a bright spot. We went to the Sacramento Orchid Show.

Eleora wore satin red shoes. These were old shoes that she’d used years ago for ballroom dancing. She’d tied silk orchid flowers to the straps. She matched it with a red skirt decorated with appliqué poinsettia and snowflakes. With that she wore a yellow lace blouse. I asked her about her choice of a Christmas skirt.

Eleora looked at me with almost an eye roll and said, “Flowers. We are going to a flower show. This is a flower skirt.”

I didn’t argue. Tellias wore his usual yellow flip-flops, black dress pants, and a white tuxedo shirt with rolled up sleeves. He’d trimmed his pale blonde hair from just below his shoulders to collar length. It had kind of a wave in it now that I hadn’t seen since the 1960’s.

Lola, my great great great great great grandmama also came along. She is quite a bit younger than Eleora and Tellias, but still ancient in her own right. She wasn’t wearing anything unusual, just jeans and a pretty shirt like just about everyone else at the orchid show.

But all in all we looked like a group of nice young people. Tellias and Eleora appear to be in their late teens or maybe twenty or twenty-one. Lola looks forever twenty-five, and I look just slightly older, even thought I’m the youngest of the group at a mere 158.

I watched as Eleora and Tellias went off by themselves, huddled over each orchid plant in awe of the beauty of the unusual blooms. They talked over each other, hummed, sang a few songs, held hands, and occasionally gave each other a quick kiss. I kept a sideways eye on them just to make sure they wouldn’t do anything too odd. They were indeed a beautiful and strange pair who positively glowed over the sight of the orchids. If anyone did look at the couple they’d usually smile. How could they help but smile at those two.

Lola and I walked behind them admiring the plants and catching up with each other. She mentioned her ex-husband, her first, was alive. She thought he was dead. Of course she hadn’t seen him in about five hundred years, give or take a few. She had no intention on seeing him ever again. I asked if he had an Internet presence and she told me no. That isn’t unusual for Vampires. A lot of them go on the Dark Web for obvious reasons, or they’re like me and don’t give a crap what people think. Nobody believes any of this shit anyway, but there is an element of truth in it all – more than an element. But back to Lola…

“You need to let go of him,” I told her.

She took my arm in hers and led me to a giant yellow orchid. “That is so beautiful. I need get one of those. I’ve been trying to keep up the greenhouse. It keeps Eleora and Tellias active. They can putter around and sing little ditties to the flowers to make them bloom.” She led me over to a grouping of pink orchids. “These too. Eleora loves pink. We’re growing herbs too. Back when I was married to him we grew oranges and lemons in a greenhouse. It was too cold to grow them outside.”

“Why’d you leave him?”

“Not why you’d think. He wasn’t cheating on me or cruel to me. He was just such an asshole. So full of himself. And he was violent even for a Vampire. I didn’t like his friends either. The passion was there but… always the passion, but I got tired of fighting and making up all the time. I got so tired of all of the drama. When I met Thomas, my next husband it was like a glowing ray of moonlight. He was so kind and gentle, and he was funny. He made me laugh. And there was also great passion like every Vampire woman dreams of. Then… I just don’t understand. Thomas was burned alive as a witch, and that asshole still lives on.”

She has told me this story over and over and over, for my entire existence. We all have friends and family members like that. And as they get older they tell the stories more often. I try to keep Lola, Eleora, and Tellias involved so that they have new stories to tell.

Than again Lola’s current boyfriend is thirty nine years old. You wouldn’t think it would work but it does. I wouldn’t want my son or daughter to get involved with a much older Vampire, but Lola and Cody went in without one taking advantage of the other. Plus Lola has always been diligent about keeping up with the modern world.

As a parent I’ve always kept up with current culture. There is nothing worse for a young adult to have a mom or dad who is still living in 1984.  Parents owe it to their kids to keep up with everything from music to fashion to movies and everything else that is going on. If your kid is politically involved you need to be too. Share your music – new and old. You’ll be surprised how many things you both like. Keep an open mind. It will keep you young.

Despite their age (well over 2,000 years) I’ve always believed keeping an open mind is one of the things that has kept Eleora and Tellias young. Nobody wants to be a musty dank old Shadow Creeper and sit around in rotting Victorian clothing drinking thick days old blood in chipped old china cups. That isn’t just good advice for Vampires. It is good advice for everyone.

Tellias and Eleora bought twelve new orchids for their greenhouse. Lola texted Cody and told him to meet us later for wine on the back deck. I called my husband Teddy to do the same.

No matter who you are, or what you are, make it a goal to keep growing and blooming. And have fun, no matter what your age.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Creative ideas with or without belching

You never know where creative ideas are going to come from. I’m around teens a lot. Teens belch. Write what you know (so I write about teens and Vampires) but sometimes we can be inspired to write something new. Maybe some more Science Fiction. So on the drive home from the post office yesterday I thought of a story and told my 18-year-old daughter and sounding board Clara.

My idea:

There is a planet with two different forms of life. The first form of life belches a lot. They belch out gas that the second form of life need to live.

Clara looked at me and said “Mom that isn’t one of your best efforts.” Then in a deep strong Southern accent she says, “Bob come over here and belch in my face so I can keep living.”

“I was thinking they were more like toads or something.”

“Mom, that is so lame.”

Later I told my husband who respond with “That is really bad.”

So much for being the next Philip K. Dick. Maybe on a good day I might get close to H.G. Wells. That would be a really great day.

On the other hand, I seem to have written about gassy planets and the like before.

Monday morning could have been out of a science fiction story…

Being with the elderly is always interesting. A little bit of time travel, a little bit of wisdom, a little bit of “I’m too old to give a shit about what anyone thinks” attitude. The attitude is what makes being really old so delightful.

I stopped by to see the Elders. They’re ancient Vampires. Nobody is quiet sure how old. They look like they’re around 19 or 20 but they’ve been around since before the birth of Christ. It is my job, now with the help of my brother Val, to look in on them and make sure they’re ok.

When I arrived they fluttered around me, giving kisses and hugs. They sang a song to me Irving Berlin’s “I Love to Have the Boys Around Me.” Yes, they’re pretty random, but also exceptionally sweet.

Eleora had her long reddish-brown curls up in a loose bun and a most interesting outfit. She’d taken one of those old lady track suits. You know the kind I’m talking about – velourish fabric pants and top, always matching, usually in bright colors. Always monochromatic. Eleora rarely wears trousers (what she calls all pants.) But she wanted that track suit. So she made the pants into a skirt. Remember those skirts in the 1970’s made out of jeans? The legs were split and usually patchwork fabric (yes, like a quilt) was a large triangle in the front making a swell skirt. Well, Eleora had done that with her track pants. It was a riot of colors and patterns all in reds. She was so happy dancing around for me.

So maybe I don’t need science fiction to be weird. Sometime I just need my own life, which is always weird and astounding and fantastic and full of astonishing things I could never imagine.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

WPAD SciFi

Short Story Sunday: The Changeling

Goblins are known to steal sweet babies of Humans and replace them with Changelings.

Lovely happy babies will suddenly seem to change. Well they have. Your baby has been replaced by a crying, unhappy, grouchy, nasty, Goblin Changeling.

Sometimes the horrible Changelings are left to die on the doorsteps of churches or locked in attics. Usually the real babies are brought back. Fairies and others help out. More often or 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 the Goblins.

In my case the Goblins took the baby and dropped me into the crib of someone who seemed oblivious to my nastiness.

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 milk-sap boys who lets people walk all over him. I made him tough. I made him stand up for himself. He should have thanked me for it.

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

Sure there were more times I could count that my mom was 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 and drugs and shock treatments. She just told them that they could never understand that I was different and unique 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. She 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 were one of those successful power couples. He was the CEO of a billion dollar software company. I was an attorney and the biggest asshole out there and proud of it. Beauty and brains and no morals what-so-ever. Justice for all.

My husband Blake was an arrogant, self-centered, SOB and I loved him. He loved me to 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. I’d gone to school with her.

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

I just glared at her and said, “You’re so fucking weak. 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 rare kiss.

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. Well congratulations.”

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

“I’m just like that Em. Well, I have news too. 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.”

“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 her. I was looking out for you asshole. I was also the reason you have your dream job. So fuck you Trevor. I hope your kid is ugly and stupid.”

My mom should have looked shocked but she was used to me. I was pissed and went into the living room. Mom followed.

“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, my eyes started to sting and water up. “You’re amazing mom. Why did you put up with me all these years?”

“Because I knew nobody else would take you. My own baby had passed on. My little angel had never been right. The Goblins had 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 Changlings. What was your dad and I to do?”

“But mom, you knew?”

“Always.”

“So why’d you keep me?”

“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 my mom.

She put her arm around me. “Let’s go back to the others Katie. And do me a favor. Try to be nice. Just for today.”

“Sure. I love you mom.”

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

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

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.

Tangled Tales

 ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman