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!

 

Books of the Dead

“What is this place?” I asked my brother’s friend Florence. He’d taken me to an old building she owned in the downtown area.

“My library, sort of,” she said with a delighted smile. She was a thin woman with a black bob, pale skin, and bright blue eyes lined in black.  “The oldest is from the 1760’s, but most are from the 19th and 20th Centuries. I have a fair amount from the 21st Century too. I got my first one in 1819. Two hundred years ago.

“Are they manuscripts? First editions?” I asked.

I collect books that have never been read or published. Take that back, I’m not sure if anyone has read them or not. I doubt it. Some of them are quite brilliant. Fantastically brilliant. Oh my goodness I am in complete awe of some of these writers.

Even the ones that aren’t finished are pretty interesting. We’re trying to piece them together and fill in the blanks. It is a puzzle. Quite the mystery on some.

The manuscripts come from the estates of people who have passed away. Their families don’t know what to do with the stuff. Or I find them in piles of papers, usually mixed with photos and other personal office ephemera. I’ve even found manuscripts at flea markets, and left in abandoned buildings.

Someone put their heart and soul into these. It would be a shame to see these stories gone forever.

I suppose some were meant to be published. I believe some people just wrote because they had to. Sort of personal therapy. You know how that is.

I’ve got a group of college students and a few others working on reading and editing. Maybe, eventually we’ll get some of them published, you know, out in the world.

Take a look around. Feel free to take a few home to read, if you promise to bring them back.”

I walked around the stacks, surprised not to see any ghosts.

“Florence, this is amazing,” said my brother.

“Thanks. You know how it is being a Vampire. One needs a hobby. I feel it is my job to be the keeper of memories that aren’t mine. Dreams that aren’t ready to die. That too,” she said.

“Thank you Florence,” I said.

She smiled and kissed my cheek with her cold lips. “You’re welcome. I’ll let you know when I start publishing some of them. You’ll have to leave good reviews.”

For the rest of the day we looked through the manuscripts and talked quietly about books, and writers, and stories of our own.

Once a story is told it will always have a life of it’s own – even if nobody ever reads it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Memories

As yet another graduation day approaches I thought about memories. So many memories are being made this week. So many will be made this summer.

Our memories of ourselves are rarely the same memories that others have about us. Others rarely remember us for what we think is important. They rarely remember us for anything that we’d ever think of. It isn’t that history isn’t unkind. Personal history is more a flash of emotion. It is a connection made. It is unexpected bits and pieces that are filed away.

I have memories of times that are like they happened today. I can run them in my head like movies. But if I share those with those who were there with me will they remember?

I run into those who knew me long ago. They don’t remember so many things and events, and even talents that I identify with my own self image of who I am.

What they do remember is my voice. My voice. They remember how I talked and how calm I was. They remember my sweet, calm, soothing voice. That is what everyone except my closest friends remember. I never knew that.

Even without our own families we remember things as if we weren’t related at all, and grew up miles apart.

As I write, a new tale based loosely on a brief time in my life, and those involved, I think of how we remember each other. My memories will be woven with fiction, but I seriously doubt if anyone would ever know they’re mine. Then again, isn’t a lot of what we write, feel, and how we react based on our own memories and experiences, even those locked away in secret places of our minds and hearts.

What I wish for the young adults in my life is that they have many wonderful shared memories that will continue to amaze and entertain, and bring joy for years to come. Even if that is just the memory of the sound of a voice, or the chance viewing of a falling star late at night. Your memories are yours and yours alone. To keep, or to share.

Wishing you good ones.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Cleopatra

“Come quick, come quick,” whispered the voice on my phone.

“What is it? Tell me,” I said trying to get information.

“I can’t find her. Come quick.” The caller hung up.

I was in the park, walking an unruly 12 month old German Shepard. The dog was pulling all over the place. My big pouch of a purse was flipped in front of me making me feel like a contestant on Naked and Afraid (except with clothes.) While my 85 pound girl-dog pup took every opportunity to cover herself with mud, I juggled my phone, the leash, my coffee, and my sanity.

I had texts from my 20-year-old son about his anger over environmental issues. Another text came from my 17-year-old daughter asking if I’d throw some stuff in the wash for her.

When I arrived home the dog walked to the middle of the street and waited? For what? A white van came down the street (a narrow private road with seven houses.) I gently guided Alice the dog to the driveway. The van was from Apple Maps. So next time anyone looks up my street they’ll see a large black German Shepard standing in the middle of the road. Sigh.

After gathering together a few things I drove to the farm by the river where Tellias and Eleora, the ancient ones live. Tellias was waiting for me on the front porch of the Queen Ann style mansion. He wore overalls, a white old fashioned tuxedo shirt, and had put his pale blonde hair up in a man-bun held in place with a couple of No. 2 pencils. As always he wore yellow flip flops.

Tellias took my hands and kissed my cheeks and forehead. His pretty face looks all of nineteen but Tellias is over 2,000 years old. He only looks young.

“I’ve lost her Juliette. I looked all over and I can’t find her,” he told me.

“When did you last see her?” I asked.

“I fell asleep, and when I woke she was gone. Her favorite bag is still here so I know she didn’t run off with another man.”

“Eleora would never run off with another man. Think where she could be. Did she take the car?”

“The cars and truck are here. But he could have picked her up…”

“Stop,” I told him. “No more crazy talk about imaginary lovers. Did you check the basement and all of the out buildings?”

He scowled. “Of course I did. But… she talked about going swimming. The river…”

I drove the truck along the levee as Tellias called out for Eleora.

The song Cleopatra by the Lumineers was on the radio.

Tellias hummed along, then he stopped and just listened. When it was over he looked at me as if he was going to cry. “Juliette,” he said, “that is the saddest song I’ve ever heard.”

“Do you want me to turn it off?” I asked. He didn’t answer and called out the window again.

I saw egrets and hawks fly over the water. My stomach started to cramp up with the thought of Eleora being trapped somewhere in the currents.

“I knew her,” said Tellias.

“Knew who?” I asked.

“Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. I knew her when I was young. I mean young in the same way that you’re young.”

“You knew Cleopatra?”

“Yes, I just said that. It was when I was traveling with Mark Antony, not the singer, but the Roman General. Mark told her that I couldn’t die. She wanted him to prove it. He refused. It was all rather odd, but after that we were great friends, or so they thought,” Tellias told me. “Cleopatra was lovely in a strange sort of way, but I was done with it. It was at that point where I was tired of being the magical pretty boy with skin like ice, and the power to drain a man of his blood, or whatever. I was tired of reading minds and being shown off. She thought if I drank her blood it would give her mystical powers. I told her no. I was tired of it. Tired in sort of the same way I’m tired now. Where is she? There’s a turn around by the old slough, remember you used to go there when you were a child with your brothers. You would play pretend adventures for hours.”

I kept driving and Tellias kept talking.

“I went back to Britain where I’d left Eleora. We were both alone, children of the shadows who danced in both light and dark, without parents, or allegiance to anyone. There were groups of Vampires with Kings, and masters, but Eleora’s spirit was too free to be part of some Vampire court. She wasn’t one to follow rules or bow down to anyone. Some tried over the years but nobody could capture her spirit. We were the first Modern Vampires before the word modern even existed. We were the first. Now we’re just a couple of old fools.”

“You’re not an old fool,” I said.

He rolled his eyes at me. Then he said, “Turn left. I see her.”

Eleora sat on a log overlooking a pond, in a foggy field that was what remained of a long dead pear orchard. She turned and waved. She looked like any other young woman in a short leather skirt, tights, and a black lace bra. Her wet hair fell in loose curls down her back.

Tellias ran to her and held her in his arms, and covered her with kisses.

She’d gone for a walk and left her phone at home. Then she went for a swim and forgot to put her shirt back on. Then she sat and thought about everything she’d done over the centuries. She tried to remember her parents but nothing came into her head. She didn’t remember her brothers or sisters, but she thought she might have some. She wondered if they were still alive. She thought about the days when she and Tellias had great parties at their now silent home. She sat and thought about things and forgot that six hours had passed.

We took her home. Tellias got her cleaned up while I made warm mulled blood with wine and orange peel.

“We’re very old. Very very old,” said Tellias as he walked me to the door.

“Then I will love you all the more,” I said. “You’re not going anywhere. Not you. Not Eleora.”

“I don’t plan on it,” he said and gave me a kiss, and an ice cold hug. Then I drove through the fog, back to my own house, and my large black dog.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Cleopatra by Waterhouse

Cleopatra
by Waterhouse

 

An alternate universe of memories

Even Vampires have members of “the sandwich generation.” We are those who take care of both our young and the ancient members of our families.

We go between cultures and centuries, trying to keep up with the needs of all. It can be both exhausting and rewarding. The biggest reward is watching the very young and very old together. They seem to have a connection that is unencumbered by the world around us.

This weekend Eleora is with us. Tellias has gone with my brother Val to visit old friends. She can’t stay alone anymore or she’ll wander off, or call 911 just to get good looking young men in uniforms out to her farm, or sit alone without motion for the entire weekend.

Nobody knows how old Eleora is. She looks like a twenty year old, but she is ancient, born before the Roman Empire came to Britain. She is older than any languages we speak today. She is older than dirt (I just said that to be funny.)

We sit over goblets of wine and blood talking about funny things we did on road trips over the years.

Memories are different for Eleora, as if the pages of a book have been torn out then put back in random order. Places, people, and dates are mixed up, making for an alternate universe of memories.

I hold my hand up to my husband Teddy to let him know not to correct Eleora. Just let her talk. We remember all three of the stories, but now they are one story. That’s ok.

Last weekend seventeen year old Clara and I took Eleora to a flower show. I wondered around by myself looking at plants, while the teen and the elder took their time, discussing each plant, and what plants they have at home (African Violets.) They looked at the plants, heads close together, with Clara holding Eleora’s hand and making sure she saw everything.

I over heard someone smile and say the words “special needs.” No, she is just old. But they wouldn’t know that seeing what looked like two lovely young women, perhaps sisters, with the younger helping the slightly slow older girl.

Sometimes when I’m with Eleora I don’t know if I’m in a Harold Pinter play, or just skipping through Oz.

No matter where we are, I’m going to take a deep breath, put away my horrible impatience, and enjoy the unique point of view. And no matter what I think at first, I can still learn from that point of view.

Don’t forget the elders in your life, those who are different, and those who need extra help. We can learn from them, and together our lives will be richer, with far far more interesting memories.

Have a good weekend everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/together/

A Visit from The Ghost (or I never knew there were really Vampires until I died)

This morning, before the sun came up, I was thinking about a friend of mine from years ago. I wasn’t thinking about anything specific except about the way we keep memories of those who are gone. He had blonde hair and green eyes and a smile that wouldn’t quit. He left no dark ghost of fear except the one I used to keep in my heart for a while. Then I thought of someone I lost this week last year – another blonde and an angel on earth who should still be here. It is too soon to think otherwise. So I count the years and think of things we wanted to say. At first we ask questions and wonder what if, then we stop wondering. I turned to the sound of a voice.

“I died today. Weird.”

It would have seemed weird coming from most people but this was from a Ghost. The Ghost (Nigel) who lurks around my house and now most places in my life. It isn’t that odd of a statement for those of us who live in the shadows, sometimes between life and death and other places.

He stood next to the fireplace in my home wearing black slacks, and a white shirt with a black skinny tie.  No jacket today. He ran his fingers through his longish black hair and held my eye in his usual intense way.

“I didn’t even know where I was buried until I’d been dead almost a year.” he told me. “People go to my grave. They leave flowers. They leave glasses of wine and whiskey. I’ve gotten love letters and women have written poems to me. Someone even put up an easel for a weekend and people came by and waited for me to paint from beyond the grave. Creepy.”

“Did you paint?” I had to ask.

“No. I don’t want that. I could have, but I don’t want to be brought back. I mean, I’m already back but I don’t want to be known as a ghost. I want to be known as the artist I was…the man I was…I am. Twenty eight years. I’ve been dead for longer than I was alive. So much has happened since then. December 3, 1986. Damn. This morning she was there at my grave. I don’t remember who she is but I know she was important. She talks to me and has a glass of wine and pours one on my grave. Then she talks for a long time to my friend buried next to me.”

“Nigel, isn’t so much that December 3rd was the day you died – it was the last day you lived. What did you do that day.”

He gave me a bitter smile. “I slept with my best friend’s wife then I went to his funeral. Wait, Juliette, the woman at my grave. That’s her. That is… oh my God. I was in my car. Your Wildest Dreams was on the radio. I hated that song. I missed Enter the Sandman – that didn’t come out until what, about 5 years after I died. Damn. The Cold War ended. I should have been there.”

“What kind of car did you have?”

“Porsche 944. 1985. Black on black. Right before he died, my friend, I remember we went to Yosemite. I can’t believe how fast I drove. He died there, I know that much but…that part of my life, the part just before I left is so foggy.”

“How strange that you only remember bits and pieces.”

“It is strange that I’m a ghost sitting here talking to a Vampire chick trying to remember my life before I died. Did you know the Internet wasn’t even out yet? What am I saying? Electricity wasn’t even out when you were born. I’m a Ghost talking to a Vampire.”

“I never had a ghost for a friend until I met you.”

“I never knew there were really Vampires until I died. I missed out on so much. So much. I should be 55. I should have a family and… damn, I missed my own funeral. I wasn’t even there. I had no idea.”

A quiet voice with a strong old fashioned accent spoke out. “Nobody goes to their own funeral. Funerals are for the living.”

Mary materialized next to us. “I’ve been a ghost for a long time. Nigel, I never knew love until I met you.”

She was a small delicate ghost, almost like a fairy with her long red-brown hair flowing down her back, wearing a green mini skirt and white sweater and fuzzy scarf and over the knee black stiletto heeled boots. She died around 1600 but she still kept up with fashion.

Nigel smiled – not his usually snarky or sarcastic smile but one that was genuine.

I told them to go and have a lovely day in their own ghostly fashion. There are more stories of those two and the funny things they do. But today I’ll be content to keep in my own thoughts and watch the rare rain storm we’re having.

I will also make sure to spend the extra effort with those who are physically here, no matter who or what they are.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Sacramento Old Cemetery