Short Story Sunday: Beauty

“I only picked a rose. Just one rose, and now I must be his,” said Papa as he packed his bags.

“Wait, why, what? The beast we hear of in the forest wants you? For a flower? What a douche. Why were you there picking flowers?” Beauty was flustered by her Papa’s story.

“I wanted a flower for your sister Joy. It is her birthday and she has been so depressed since her baby was born,” said Papa.

Poor Joy had tried to be happy but she was tired and sad. Her husband was caring and tried to give her the joy she was named after.

Joy stood in the doorway, her baby in her arms. “It is my fault dear Papa. I will take your place.”

Beauty looked at her sister. Joy should have been named Beauty. She glowed with goodness and love. She was also beautiful beyond measure.

“No, it is my price to pay,” said Papa.

“Nonsense, I will go,” said Beauty.

“No, you will die. There is nobody in the castle of the Beast except the beast,” said Joy.

“Dear sister, do not worry about me. I’m already dead. Seriously, nobody around here likes me anyway. They all think I’m weird,” said Beauty.

“You are not weird,” said Papa.

Beauty laughed and hugged her Papa and her sister. She kissed the sweet baby, packed her bags, and left for the castle in the great forest.

In the middle of the night, Beauty, a pretty young woman with dark blonde hair, and big brown eyes arrived at the castle in the woods. She knocked on the door.

Nobody answered.

“Oh come on. Let me in. I came for my Papa. What do you want with an old man anyway. He just picked a rose for his daughter with postpartum depression. One rose. One freaking rose. You have thousands of roses in the garden here. What’s your problem?” Yelled Beauty.

The great door was opened by an unseen hand. Beauty entered. The place was beautiful but empty.

“Hello?”

She looked around and saw cameras in the corners of the room. Shit. I should have known this would be weird, she thought.

“I know you’re there. I see the cameras. You might as well come out. I will find you.”

Walking down the hallway she noticed that the eyes in the pictures followed her. The furniture shifted as if it was alive.

Then she heard a noice. A low growl. She tried the door in front of her. It was locked. Out of her hair she pulled a bobby pin and picked the lock.

Inside was a beast, a man who looked like the cross between a wolf and a lion, sitting in front of a bank of screens.

“You’re the Beast? What are you? A Werewolf or something?”

The Beast who was wearing a black AC/DC Tee shirt spoke. “I am not a Werewolf.”

“OK. So tell me. What are you?”

“Why are you here. I expected your Papa, or your sister Joy.”

“Joy is married and has two children. How do you know about Joy?”

“Joy is the most beautiful woman in the land. Everyone knows of Joy.”

“Whatever. I’m Beauty, the sister nobody ever sees. You know, Beast, or whatever your name is, this is really messed up. What are you? Some sort of weird geek who can’t get a girl. Do you have everyone because you’re different?”

Beast looked sad. “I am different. People fear me.”

“Welcome to the club Beast,” said Beauty.

“I am a prisoner of my own stupidity and selfishness.”

“Tell me about it.”

The beast held out his hand. “Let’s dance. There is a closet full of beautiful dresses. Go change.”

“I’m not going to be part of your weird fantasy. How’d you get here. You didn’t start out as a wolf man did you?”

“I was selfish. I was mean. I was everything a man should not be?”

“A politician.” said Beauty.

The Beast smiled, showing great white teeth. “No, not a politician. Anyway, to make a long story short, I was enchanted by a woman, a witch, I’d been dating. I’d been vain. I’d cheated on her. I lied to her in more than one way. She turned me into this.”

“I understand how bitter you are. Seriously, I went through something like that but then I accepted the fact that I was different. Just because you were a douch doesn’t mean you can’t change. It sounds to me like you have changed, at least a bit.”

“I have. Could you ever love me?”

“Seriously dude, I’m a Vampire. That’s why I left. I was glad to leave. I love my family and all but I don’t belong there. But I’m not sure I belong here either. The castle is nice and all but you know, this isn’t the Bachelor. I’m not waiting around for a rose from a guy I hardly know.”

“I get it. I’m sorry I was such a jerk. Tell your dad and sister that I’m sorry.”

And suddenly the room filled with magical sparks that didn’t burn and colored smoke, and when it cleared a good looking young man stood before Beauty.

“Wow, Beast. You’re hot. My only advice would be to stay cool. Be good. Keep your karma good.”

Beauty was suddenly hungry and sank her fangs into his arm. When she was done she kissed him, packed her bags, and left.

After a few minutes, she pulled over her car to the side of the road to send a text. “Papa. I’m ok. Don’t worry about the Beast. I’m taking off. Maybe to the beach. I’ll call you soon. xoxo.”

She didn’t know where the road leading out of the other side of the forest would lead, but she knew it couldn’t be as weird as where she had come from.

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

Thank you for reading this tangled tale. These stories are written on Sunday mornings while I drink my coffee, listen to the birds and my old calico cat purring. I never know what I will write about. Sometimes the stories I write are brilliant, sometimes not so much. If you write I encourage you to write every Sunday. It is sort of like going to church – a place where you can find your own inner whatever and find what is good, or funny, or just yours. I’m also listening to NPR. There is a great interview of Jack White talking about The Raconteurs. It has nothing to do with this story but it made me happy.

So read stories, write stories, listen to music, hug someone you love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Binge Watch

Sometimes even Vampires get bored on rainy Sunday afternoons. Andy knew that well, so he invited his friends over to binge watch. He’d gone out for snacks and come back to find everyone lounging around drinking wine and talking about other things.

“We tried to watch some Vampire shows but they were all so gloomy,” said Jayne.

“Don’t forget bad dubbing. There is nothing as bad as a mouth that doesn’t match up with the words,” said James.

“I dated a guy like that once,” said Elizabeth as she scratched Andy’s cat under it’s chin.

A swirl of color blasted through the air, then landed on the back of the couch. Six tiny fairies in pastel colored sat with crossed arms. “The Notebook. We want to watch The Notebook.

“No,” said Andy. “You’ve watched that at least fifty times. Let’s go upstairs. I’ll put on Bridesmaids, or Enchanted, or something else you haven’t seen yet.” He looked back at his friends as the fairies swirled around his head and pulled at his arms. “I’ll be right back.”

“We’re not watching Moonlight again,” yelled Jayne at Andy as he went up the stairs. “Alex O’Loughlin is absolutely gorgeous, but we’ve seen every episode five time at least.”

Andy settled the fairies in front of the upstairs TV in his office to watch Rebecca, then 27 Dresses.

Downstairs again he poured nuts in bowls, cut up some apples, and uncorked a few bottles of blood. “How about the movie Moonlight?”

“I’ve heard it is really good,” said James.

Elizabeth had seen it but said she’d gladly see it again. As a whole Vampires are pretty agreeable.

The four friends hunkered down to watch the movie.

They knew nobody would ever make an honest movie about people like them.  Then again, who said movies had to be honest. It was just entertainment.

After the movie Andy went into the kitchen to make dinner. Vampires never ate in movies. Tonight he’d fix rare tri-tip and a dark leafy salad. None of them felt like going out in the thunder storm for fresh blood. In the movies the weather was always bad, and everyone always wore leather. He thought about his sister who wrote stories about Vampires. Nobody else knew they were based on real life. She wasn’t about to give away the fact she wasn’t like her readers.

He could hear familiar music. His friends had found something else to watch. Twilight Zone. Go figure. Andy smiled and continued to make the salad. Nothing like friends and an afternoon of binge watching.

~ end

 

 

 

 

A Story With Demons and Ancient Vampires and Latin and Love

“There is nothing so wonderful as an attractive man in a historic costume.”

Austin thought about it for a minute. He’d wished he could take his entire group of graduate students to see Hamilton when the show came to San Francisco, but it would be a small fortune. Actually, it would be more than a small fortune.

His sister Chelsea had met her husband at the Dicken’s Christmas Faire, in full Victorian dress no less. Their wedding had also been a full Victorian dress event. Now Austin’s bother Dakota was getting married soon in a Wild West theme wedding.

The parents of the three Durant siblings had met at a Renaissance Faire and of course had a Renaissance themed wedding. No wonder Austin was a history professor.

“I’m married. Dak is getting married. When are you and Elizabeth getting serious?”

“Never.”

“I thought you were in love.”

“It is…”

“Don’t tell me it’s complicated. How complicated can it be?”

“She isn’t like most girls?”

“What? She used to be a man? She has a criminal past? She belongs to a cult?”

“No, none of that.” Austin took a deep breath and changed the subject back to Dak’s wedding.

Austin Durant, history professor, contractor specializing in historic buildings, and Vampire hunter, thought about his girlfriend Elizabeth. Sure he loved her, but she scared the Hell out of him.

Then Chelsea asked, “Have you found any Vampires lately?”

Austin almost spit out his coffee. “No. Jeeze, Chelsea, I told you not to talk about that.”

“Every time you work on a building it seems like you find bodies under the floorboards.”

“Not every time. Just most of the time.” Then he kissed his sister on the cheek and told her he’d see her soon.

He had planned on heading home but decided to stop by his girlfriend Elizabeth’s house. Well, he thought she was his girlfriend. For over a year… he didn’t know what to think. It drove him crazy. It pissed him off. It amused him. It terrified him.

The front door was cracked so he let himself. That was odd. He called her name. No answer.

Austin found Elizabeth in her bedroom. He’d found her in her bed, wearing just a tee shirt and underwear. Long, dark, blackish red scratch wounds were on the left side of her face, going down her arm, then across her ribs, and on down to her left thigh.

She lay there cold, not breathing, with no sign of a heart beat.

“Elizabeth. Wake up.”

She cracked her eyes. They were black. No bruised black but black iris, black pupils, no whites. She gave a whispered hiss and showed her fangs.

“What the Hell Liz?”

She let out a small gasp. “Demons. I ran…into…Demons.” Then she closed her eyes and put her right hand over her face.

Austin said her name again but she wouldn’t respond. He could see the edges of the scratches on her arm and face turning black.

Now what? He wasn’t a Vampire. He just knew how to kill them, not how to heal them. If he called 911 or took her to the hospital they’d ask too many questions, and she was already dead. Sort of dead. Shit, he didn’t quite know how exactly to explain it.

He called his lawyer Aaron Todd, who just happened to be a Vampire too. After Austin explained what he found there was a long pause on Aaron’s end.

Then the Vampire said, “Whatever happens don’t let her bite you. I’ll send help. Hold tight.” Then he hung up. No explanations. Typical Vampire.

Austin sat next to Elizabeth as she lay with her fangs showing and black eyes staring at nothing. He half expected Peter Cushing to come out of the closet and offer him a cross and a wooden stake.

“Hey, you must be Austin.”

Austin looked up. A well dressed hispterish looking man stood in the doorway.

The man held out his hand. “I’m Val, Aaron’s brother. He said you needed help.”

Austin took Val’s hand. It was icy cold. Of course Val was a Vampire.

Val put his hand on Elizabeth’s forehead. “Hey, sweetheart. Shhhhhh. It will be alright.” Then he looked at Austin. “The Demons have been bad lately. She must have let her guard down. They’re drawn to distraction.”

“Distraction? Like what?” Austin didn’t understand what Val was getting at.

“Like you.” Then Val smiled, a sweet charming smile, that made Austin’s stomach flip. This guy could kill him and eat him in fifteen seconds, and nobody would ever know. He brushed that thought out of his mind. He heard a car stop in the driveway, then voices and steps coming up the stairs to the bedroom.

Into the room came two teenagers. One had white blonde hair in a man-bun on top of his head. His face was almost as pretty as Elizabeth’s. His blue eyes sparkled, almost like water in the sunshine. He was wearing black tuxedo pants, a blue and purple Hawaiian shirt and yellow flip flops. The girl had long red brown curls and wore an ugly brown plaid skirt and a worn sweater with buttons shaped like cat heads. She was absolutely stunning, with cupid bow lips and large hazel eyes. They both smiled, showing fangs.

“Thank goodness you’re here,” said Val.

“Of course we’re here. Wouldn’t miss it for the World,” said the boy.

“Not for the World,” said the girl.

“We love our Elizabeth,” said the boy.

“Love her,” said the girl.

Then they both looked at Austin and just stared for a moment, then the girl sat next to Austin on the edge of the bed and took his hand in her icy hand, as the boy put his hand on Elizabeth’s face wounds.

The girl started to sing a song and stroked Austin’s hair. Val mouthed the words “Don’t say anything.”

If you’re callin’ ’bout my heart
It’s still yours
I should’ve listened to it a little more
Then it wouldn’t have taken me so long to know where I belong
And by the way, boy, this is no machine you’re talkin’ to
Can’t you tell, this is Austin, and I still love you.

She’d finished then she smiled and kissed his cheek.

The young man with the white blonde hair glanced at Austin. “Val, you didn’t introduce us. I’m going to assume you’re Austin. I am Tellias. The beautiful woman next to you is Eleora. Give us a minute with Val. You stay here with Elizabeth. Whatever you do don’t let her bite you.”

Austin could hear them speaking quietly in the hallway. It took a few seconds but he noticed they were speaking Latin. The two younger Vampires were speaking in an odd accent, an older version. He knew a little Latin, but this was odd, like old texts he’d seen while studying ancient religious documents.

Elizabeth lay as still as death with her eyes closed. Austin held her hand.

The three Vampires came back into the room.

“Can you help her?” Asked Austin.

“I will need your help young man,” said the one called Tellias. “You think I am a boy, perhaps one of your college students just out of high school. I traveled with the Roman Army before Christ as born. I met Eleora during the building of Hadrian’s Wall. We were both already old by then. We’re much older now. So we know things. We also know things about you Austin.”

Eleora sat and took Austin’s hand again. Val stood at the foot of the bed looking too serious for comfort.

“Austin,” said Tellias, “put your hand on Elizabeth’s face over the wounds. Don’t let go of Eleora’s hand. Eleora take my hand with in yours.” Then he reached out and took Val’s hand in his.

Then Tellias said words in a language Austin couldn’t understand. They were odd words in a magical tone that made his blood run cold. He was freezing, his lungs felt heavy, he couldn’t move.

“Don’t be afraid,” whispered Eleora.

“Don’t be afraid, don’t move, don’t fear, for this will pass,” said Tellias.

Then Austin felt as if an electrical fire surged though his body. Then Eleora shuttered, Tellias squeezed his eyes shut, and Val held his hand out as blue smoke came off of his fingers and the room filled with the smell of sulphur.

The black edges of Elizabeth’s wounds turned white, and the darkness of the wounds turned pink and closed, leaving dark pink red lines, rather than open wounds.

“Well, that was fun,” said Eleora.

“I think we should go swimming now,” said Tellias.

“Yes, swimming. Swim, swim, swim, swim,” said Eleora.

“We will be back,” said Tellias.

“We’re going to swim,” said Eleora.

Then they ran down the stairs, clothes flying as they went. Austin could hear a splash in the pool in Elizabeth’s backyard.

“Don’t take those two lightly,” said Val. “They might be old, but…”

“I know, they could kill me in the blink of an eye. That is what you were going to say, isn’t it?”

“No, I was going to say, they might be old, but they still know how to have fun. I have to go. Stay with Elizabeth until she wakes, which shouldn’t be long. She’ll be tired for a few hours. She’ll be shaken up for a few days, but she’ll be fine. You know what they say, Demons happen. But do me a favor and tell her to stay away from them. Please.”

“You know I’d do anything…”

“I know Austin. You’re a good man. Just be careful. Be very careful.”

Val left. Austin listened to the sound of Eleora and Tellias playing in the pool under the stars. Elizabeth opened her golden brown eyes and smiled without fangs.

“Austin, you’re here.”

“Always,” he said. “Get some rest. You need to sleep.”

As she dozed off Austin thought long and hard about Vampires, Demons, and his brother Dakota’s wedding. He didn’t want to be involved with Vampires. It wasn’t his plan. But one day several years ago he’d pulled up the floorboards of an old house and found two dried up Vampires. He killed them without a second thought. Then his attorney showed up and thanked him for taking out what he called soul-less undesirables.  And that is how he became a Vampire Hunter. The Vampires here were an entirely different thing. They were something he couldn’t even start to explain. His head seemed to spin. He had the wedding, his classes, his latest building project, and now Elizabeth. What would he do with Elizabeth? What sort of future could they possibly have?

He heard someone running up the stairs and saw Eleora standing there, wrapped in a towel with her hair dripping around her shoulders.

“You’ve come to the end of your rope,” she said. “Do you know what that means?”

“No. What does it mean, Eleora?”

“It means it is time for a new rope.”  Then she smiled and ran out of the room dropping the towel behind her. Austin heard a splash and the sound of the two Vampires laughing in the pool outside of Elizabeth’s bedroom window.

He knew that she didn’t mean for him to hang himself with it either.

 

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~ End of Part 17 of the Austin and Elizabeth (The Hunter) stories.

 

Click here for the entire series of Austin and Elizabeth Stories.

Click here for more on Demons.

Or here too.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Curse of Bloke Island

They were all such guys. Really. They expected her to do all the work while they farted around and shared all of their bull shit sexist stories. It wasn’t as if she had an opinion. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t a valued member of the team. It wasn’t as if they even knew she was there until they needed something.

Mehitabel walked up the path to the top of the hill. She could see in the dark moonless night with no problem. That was never a problem. The only dark that bothered her was the dense void of her male counterparts.

At the top of the hill she raised her hands to the level of her shoulders than put her palms up. Her feet raised up off of the ground. She could levitate. Most of the males at the camp couldn’t even imagine doing anything like that. They were all Vampires, sure, they were, but none of them could harness the powers of darkness like she could. Sure they were larger and stronger physically, but they were such jerks.

And she always beat them at Risk. Every. Single. Time. The girl beat them at Risk.

Putting her feet back on the ground she listened to the surf break on the beach below.

He’d be there in a minute. She always knew. He always knew that she knew. He was the sender. She was the receiver. That was it. He was such a guy.

Mehitabel turned around. There stood he stood, the ultimate in alpha Vampire guys. Dark hair, amused eyes, and handsome as hell.

“Max,” she said, “I knew you’d be here.”

“You always do. We have that connection,” said the man who had also told her that he could never love her. What an asshole. What a guy.

He put his arm around her, and with his hand on the small of her back he pulled her close and kissed her.

She kissed back then pulled away. “What do you want Max?”

“You know what I want.”

Such a guy.

“Hey Max,” she said. “After we get rid of the Vampire Hunter headquarters on the island, get the treasure back, and clean up the mess, do you want to go see the new Star Wars movie with me?”

He smiled. “Sure, that would be fun. It’s a date.” Then he kissed her again.

He was such a guy.

 

~ End

 

 

 

Blogging and Vampireing and Parenting

Summer has been quiet this year. Yes, school is out. Kids are home. My kids are busy but they are older and more independent now that they’re older. They ask me to make coffee for them too. They sleep a lot. They spend time with friends. They study. They come up to me when I’m working and give me hugs. In a few days we will all be going to the Van’s Warped Tour. Oh boy.

We’re busy. Super busy. Yet it is quiet. Low key. Calm.

I keep my children close this summer. I trust them and let them do their own thing, but I keep a close eye. I trust them, but I keep watch, of others, of other things.

They are not followers, my children, so I don’t have to worry about them being twisted and turned in directions they shouldn’t go. Their young judgment is sound, or at least, I feel, more sound than others their age.

This morning, while my children sleep, I was out giving a rare drink to my drought stricken trees. Burrs and fox tails stuck to my shoes and pants as I hauled the hose down the hill to the orange and lemon trees. Not a green blade of grass was to be found. Leaves curled up due to lack of water and love. It reminded me of a story – something a friend recently told me.

Last night I was talking to my friend Ben. I Benjamin and I have been friends for a long time. He is also the father of my son’s best friend Randy. Anyway, he told me a story I’d never heard before. I knew he was a homesteader at one time but this is what I learned.

In the 1870’s Ben traveled to the Western plains to become a homesteader. He’d gone with his friend John, John’s wife Alma, his cousin Will and Alma’s sister Mary.

Life was hard and dirty. Bugs, mainly flies and lice infested their house. Everything was covered with dirt that could never be cleaned off. The human company proved to be no better than the insects. Will appointed himself in charge. In the isolation of the prairie he demanded obedience body and soul of the rest of the party.

There was no place to go. They rarely saw others. Life was harsh – not the new beginning Ben had thought it would be.

A year into the homesteading experiment, a visitor came to their sad farm.

Two men and a young girl stopped by and asked if they could stay for the night. One of the men, a Mr. Kent was a poet. He read to them by the light of an outdoor fire. Ben felt alive for the first time in months. The strangers spoke of news of the cities in the rest of the country. They brought books. They gave bars of rose scented soap to the women.

When the strangers were ready to leave they asked Ben if he would like to go with them. Of course the answer was yes. Ben begged Mary to come with them. He’d assumed they’d be married, but she said she would be Will’s husband.

Ben told her that she’d have a life of hardship under Will’s brutal hand, but she stayed.

When Ben arrived in Sacramento he asked Mr. Kent to turn him into a Vampire. Later he heard that his friend John had killed Will during a blizzard and left with the women. They went back east and Ben never heard what happened to them after that.

So while I picked stickers off of my shoes with one hand, a hose in the other hand, I thought of Ben’s story.

Where I stood, gold miners came to seek their fortunes in the 1850’s. The land went back to oak forests. A hundred and fifty years later houses were build. I moved in. Holy crap, I could never be a homesteader in a sod house.

Ben and I talked of our children and the adventures that they would have. Their adventures will take them many places, but I think, I hope those adventures will be all good.

“Are you still glad you became a Vampire?” I asked Ben.

“Of course,” he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

In the quiet busy summer I’m trying to be inspired but trying too much. My blogging mind sometimes feels as dry as this drought.

It is funny how something like dragging a hose over a dry hill will bring stories to my mind. Or how a story from a friend will beg to be shared.

I hear movement from upstairs. I hear a cat running up and down the hallway. I hear my children laughing. Summer is here, but rather than dry, it is rich and blooming.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rat Girl

I remember one morning my mother was out with all of us – her entire brood. Max was fifteen at the time, followed by Andrew aged thirteen, Aaron at nine, Valentine aged six and I was only five.

My brother Aaron was squeezing my hand too tight so I started to pull at my mother’s huge skirts. She lifted me up so I could settle on her hip. Max put Val up on his shoulders. My mother’s helper Grace walked with Max and Andrew. My teenage brothers were already turning heads and Grace kept the owners of those heads from making any suggestions or passing messages of any kind.

I remember looking over my mother’s shoulder at Grace and smiling. She smiled back in her funny closed mouth way so she wouldn’t show her teeth. A man outside of the bank hissed, “Rat girl,” under her breath as Grace passed by. My mother whipped around, ribbons flying on her hat and took  the man by his shoulder.

“Never do that again,” she said low and deliberate. “Apologize to the lady.”

The man wanted to resist but I suppose the increasing pain in his head and chest and the tightening of his throat made him take my mother’s suggestion serious.

“I beg your pardon Miss. I didn’t mean to offend you,” the man gasped out.

“But you DID mean of offend her,” said my mother. Then an odd thing happened. The man staggered back a few steps and fell onto the ground, blood coming from his nose.

“Max, Andrew, Aaron, Valentine, walk ahead,” she ordered my brothers. Max tried to protest but he received the dreaded icy dagger look.

With me still on her hip and Grace’s hand in hers, Mother stepped aside into the doorway of a leather goods shop. I craned my neck to see the commotion in front of the bank. An icy hand turned my small face back away from the scene. “Juliette, do not stare. Look away child.”

At that point I was looking straight at Grace. I liked her odd face and quiet ways. Grace was the perfect name for the girl.

My mother told her, “Forget men like him. He is nothing but dirt under your feet. Stand proud girl. Stand proud.”

I’ll always remember the first night Grace came into our lives. My father brought her home from a trip in San Francisco. It was 1865 so of course everything was right in them middle of everything. Anyway, he brought a young woman home. There was some sort of story about how he couldn’t leave her. I heard the words disgrace and sad and unfortunate whispered between my parents and our head housekeeper Mrs. Morgan.

I’d been playing with my dolls under a table and froze as quiet as death to see who this slight figure my father brought home was.

Her face was long and narrow, almost weasel like with a tiny mouth, long teeth, a little nose and small dark eyes. Even her hair was a mousey ash color. A slight flush of pink on her nose was the only color on her pale white face.  The ashen hair was scraped back into a tight bun on the back of her neck. Cracked spectacles sat on the bridge of her nose. The dress she wore was nothing more than a long sack with a belt high on her waist. What an odd creature she was, especially for a girl. I’d seen plain women without decoration or charm but she was beyond that. She was like a dust rag or a fur ball the cat had choked up.

“You can’t be called Ratty or Rat. That is a degradation of both your character as a woman and a Vampire. What is your given name?”

“Given name?”

“The name your parents gave you.”

“Rat. I’ve always been called Rat.”

Rat didn’t have a last name either. So my mother told her that she’d answer to Grace.

“Is Grace like us?” I whispered that loudly in my mother’s ear.

“Yes Juliette, Grace is like us.”

I found out later that the former Rat had been abandoned as a small child and passed around, bought and sold, worked too hard and hardly educated. Still she kept her wits and spirit all the while pretending to be an idiot. When she was barely in her teens she became like us – a Vampire. Unfortunately she wasn’t with Vampires like us, at least not until about six months before my mother renamed her.

Grace stayed with us for several years. The girl who looked like a rat leaned how to fix her mousey hair and how to make magic with the right color and the cut of a gown.

“All women are beautiful,” my mother said. “It is just a matter of knowing what to do to make it happen.”

Once I heard Grace say, “Nobody loved me because I was ugly.” That was the saddest thing I’d ever heard. Later that night I curled up next to her and said, “I love you Grace.”

And I really did.

Today she is considered one of the most unique and fashionable women in the country. I won’t divulge her name. To me she’ll always be Grace.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman 

rat girl