Spring is the time of year for new beginnings or Fall when school starts or even January 1st… so they say. I think it is the beginning of summer. That is when school is out and we all take a deep great and regroup.
It is also the time when kids graduate from high school. Then they aren’t kids anymore. They suddenly become adults.
Last night we gathered for my son Garrett’s graduation from High School. I was so proud and at the same time choked up. I’d known so many of these kids since they were teeny tiny little things. I knew them before they knew how to read or that the world was anything but a wonderful happy place. Now they were moving on to college and other adventures. I was so proud but at the same time uneasy knowing what is ahead for them. I know that sounds weird, but I love so many of those kids so much.
After the celebrations we (our entire family, uncles, grandparents and assorted others plus friends) went out to the farm belonging to the Elders. They’d agreed to host a party for the Vampire kids in their barn. The rest of us “adults” gathered in the house.
In the old days parties might have included some Regular Humans to provide refreshment (come on you know what I’m talking about) but tonight we provided blood from bottles. This was a celebration for our own kids, the 16 of them from the area who graduated this year plus a few friends who’d graduated last year or would graduate in the next few years.
I left my teenage son and his younger sister to their own friends and took my brother Val for a walk in the pear orchard.
We’d run through these orchards as teens, trying to get as far away from our older brothers and parents as possible. Our conversation centered on Garrett and his friends and college. We compared notes on summer plans and what the future would bring for the new graduates. Small bats fluttered around our heads and crickets chirped in the grass, just like when we were young so long ago. So much for musings, Then we started to talk about things we’d done when we were young.
That was in 1877. I was 18 and Val was 19. We were young Vampires ready to take on the world. Our parents found a college that would accept the both of us (not because we were Vampires but because I was female.) It would be a continuation of our childhood adventures. We spent a lot of our time and energy hiding what we did. We smiled at the fact that my kids and our brother Aaron’s kids (now in college and law school) tell us everything. How times have changed.
The girls in the barn at the party were all in shorts. Back then I was in a long dress with a corset and on special occasions a train on that dress. It was all ruffles and bows for me and I loved it. Val laughed at how I’d always be tripping when my heels would get caught in my skirts.
As we laughed and giggled, walking along like two drunks bumping into each other, a figure appeared in front of us. Transparent with a slight glow she stopped in front of us and held out her arms to us as if pleading.
“Holy crap. Damn ghosts,” whispered my brother in an almost harsh growl. His fangs came out.
“Hush,” I hissed. Then I realized this was not just any ghost. It was a childhood friend. Suddenly guilt grabbed me and I froze.
It was Ada, the first girl Val ever kissed. She was also the first girl he bit on the neck. He’d been in love with her as only a teenage boy can fall in love.
Ada was a lovely flirt and a beautiful silly girl. Her dance card was always filled and her future was bright. Later she was seduced by a charming man who married another woman. Then pregnant, she married another man. He was handsome and rich – it was all good on paper. The child died and her marriage turned abusive. Our brother Aaron offered to turn her into a Vampire. He thought it would help her escape. Valentine offered to take her away to start a new life. In the end she sewed rocks into the hem of her skirt and walked into the river.
My parents were livid about what my brothers had done. At the time I didn’t think they did anything wrong, but now I know they shouldn’t have interfered. They should have been a friend but not exposed themselves for what they really were.
Val also realized who this beautiful and sad apparition was. “Ada,” he said to her. “Why are you here?”
She just look at us and said nothing.
“Darling Ada, it is time to move on.”
Ada moved a little closer. We could feel the air get cold, like someone had opened a freezer. “I did everything wrong.”
“No,” I said, “you loved your child. You loved. Ada, please, it is time to move on. Stop torturing yourself.”
She shook her head. “I had the chance to become one of you, the undead. Now I’m in a ghostly Hell of my own making. I’m damned forever.”
We stood, not knowing what to say. Then behind us came a voice. A very familiar voice. It was another ghost – a ghost I know very well. A ghost, dear readers, you know well.
Val and I turned around to find The Ghost, Nigel standing behind us. He wore his black suit as usual but tonight he had a white rose in his lapel. He wasn’t taking to us. Nigel was here for Ada.
For those who don’t know, Nigel is a big pain in the neck. He lives at my house, or more so at my neighbor’s house but hangs out with me most of the time. Between insulting me, flipping me off and hiding my keys, we’ve sort of become friends. When I’ve had to deal with loss he has been there for me. In turn I’ve been there for him, as much as one can be there for a ghost. He died 100 years after Ada and was obviously dealing the ghost thing a lot better than she had been. Anyway…
Nigel spoke to Ada in a calm loving voice. “It is time to move on my love. You are innocent of all wrong. Your time here is done. You’re free to go and be with your child.”
He moved close to the other ghost and embraced her. In a flash of blue and pink light there was only one ghost left.
Nigel turned and looked at us. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the two most irresponsible Vampires of the 19th Century.”
I could have been insulted but he sort of had a point.
“Is she gone?” My brother asked as he took my hand.
“Yes.” Nigel didn’t elaborate. He just stood there and glared at us.
“Thank you,” said Val.
Then Nigel came close and looked me in the eye. He blasted me with an ice cold wind. “Don’t even think of asking me why I can move poor Ada on and still be stuck here myself. You Vampires think you rule the world but you don’t know the half of it. You don’t know anything.”
We stood eyes locked. My mind went blank. I had no idea what to say.
Then he smiled a wicked smile and said, “I have to congratulate you on what a good job you’ve done raising your own children. Too bad they’re Vampires.” Then he vanished.
Valentine and I walked back to the house. We decided not to tell anyone else, except maybe Aaron, about Ada.
I suppose I could say we’re all haunted by the ghosts of our pasts, but come on, this was weird and sad even for Val and me.
Back at the party everyone was having a good time. I was greeted at the back door by my husband Teddy who had a kiss waiting and a glass of wine. I could hear the music blaring from the barn. Everyone was happy and getting along. Life is good, even if you’re undead. And I plan on keeping it that way.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman