Short Story Sunday #2: 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 Alexa 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 Stanford University 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 Alexa 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

Musings on Quiet Time in a Public Place (with Coffee, Rain, Math and Vampires)

Saturday means coffee, and math. My seventeen year old daughter Clara meets with a friend at a local coffee place to figure out math. I write and wait for things to happen.

It is Saturday so I check other blogs like Evil Squirrels Nest (Saturday Squirrel), The Secret Keeper (Vincent Van Gough), and J Mounts Written In Blood (Saturday Short Film). Every Saturday. Every single Saturday. Hey, even unscheduled scattered Vampires like me have our routines.

It is a place where they roast their own coffee. My daughter was able to smell the ground beans before her drinks was made. Two men sit at a table next to me. One is working a crossword on his iPad, the other is doing the crossword on paper. They’re talking like old friends do.

The Coffee Works is a block from my husband’s business, and not far from my brother Aaron’s house. Even in the pouring rain people come in and out. They gather here for warm drinks and good karma.

A few minutes ago I saw Austin Durant, Aaron’s friend. I guess I could say he is my friend too. He is a Vampire Hunter, but not of my kind. He rids buildings of the dried up creatures who sleep under floorboards and between walls. They’re the dusty husks of people who have since moved on into the light, with only their confused and hungry bodies remaining. Anyway, Austin also teaches history the local university, and restores old buildings.

I saw Austin in line and waved. He gave me a smile and headed over to my table after he got coffee.

“A lot of Vampires are out today,” he said, looking around. There were about five of us in the place, but nobody but the Vampires, Austin and I knew it. “How are you Juliette?”

“Good. Clara is meeting with a friend. They’re doing math stuff. I’m just writing. You know Vampires and coffee.”

We chatted a bit more, you know, the usual small talk. Then when he said he had to go I said, “be careful out there.” He knew I wasn’t just talking about the traffic.

But traffic is bad. I live in a place where it hardly rains. Now it is pouring and will pour for the next week. Since we’ve had a drought forever nobody knows how to drive in the rain. Still, I love the rain. I love sitting next to a window and reading or writing.

As I was rummaging through my computer bag my brother Aaron pulled up a chair next to me at my table.

It was great to see him. He is usually so formal and serious, but today he was in jeans, with a flannel shirt, and his hair sort of messed up with the wind and rain. He invited me over for Christmas evening festivities. We made no jokes about him being both a Vampire and an attorney. We didn’t even talk about being Vampires, just like we didn’t talk about a lot of things that would interest others if they imagined Vampire siblings talking over coffee on a Saturday morning. We just talked about our families, Christmas lights, our dogs, and books. Aaron and I always get to books.

After Aaron left, Clara was still working on the math. I find myself, no, take that back – I allow myself to think of what I will write next, and what I will draw next. There are so many things I need to tie up, that get in the way of what I need to do.

I wonder about my husband Teddy down in the Delta today selling a yellow Porsche from the late 50’s. It is a beautiful car but it is time to find it a new home. I watch as two guys roll a recycle bin down the sidewalk. There are fewer cars than normal, and almost nobody on the usual busy sidewalks. I hear the people at the table behind me. There is another woman named Juliette. I wonder what her blood type is. Hey, I’m a Vampire. I think about those things. I can’t help it.

On the way here Clara and I talked in the car about how toddlers are like dogs. They try to understand but they just don’t always get it. We laughed about how toddlers will go stiff as a board if they are put somewhere they don’t want to sit, or are picked up when they don’t want to be picked up.

It is those random thoughts and memories that are sometimes more important than the big things going on in the outside world.

I told Clara that people keep asking me, “What will you do when she goes off to college. You’re so close. How will you manage?” They never ask is Clara will manage, because everyone knows she’ll do great.

Clara said, “It isn’t like I’m going to suddenly not want to be around you or Dad.”

We’ll always be close. We’ll call. We’ll text. We’ll know that we are always part of each other.

I’m now sharing my table with a senior couple who came in for coffee. They just left, but I’m glad to share. Someone else took one of the chairs. I’m glad to share. I’m glad to see so many people in this place who are part of each other. They’re also part of the community we all belong in. There is a small old man with a Santa beard. There are students and study groups (not just my child), there are young and old people together. After over an hour the old guys are still working on their puzzles and talking by the window.

Hey, I see my friend Adam, photographer, and Werewolf coming in. I motion for him to come sit with me. Alright. Have a good Saturday everyone. Adam and I will have more coffee and I’ll treat him to a berry scone. Hey, Werewolves like scones. My dog likes scones.

I’ll be posting a few Christmas stories later today. Have fun and keep checking back.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My Mom Blogs About Vampires

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On Friday I received a little notice from WordPress reminding me that I’ve been blogging for four years. Thank you WordPress.

As far as I know I’m the only Vampire/Parenting blogger out there.

The first few months of blogging brought out a few “experts” who wanted to question my Vampire facts. I have to point out that they’d been reading way too much fiction on the subject.

Nobody got after me about the parenting part because, you know, I know what I’m doing.

I’ve grown over the past four years as a parent, a writer, and a Vampire.

Thank you to all of my readers. To those who are new, and to those of you who have been following me all along.

I never knew about, or even imagined the community I’d come to belong to when I started Vampire Maman and West Coast Review. I thought I was out there in the universe like planet Earth, wondering if anyone would ever find me. I was found the first day out.

Anyway, thank you all from me, from my brothers Max, Andy, Aaron and Val, from Eleora and Tellias, from Vlad and his cat, from Nathaniel Chase, and from my husband Teddy, and from my kids Clara and Garrett, and from Nigel The Ghost. And from anyone else I might have missed.



~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman





False Starts, Lost Dreams, Finding Love and an Ancient Tabby

As a child Bronagh would get up each morning and go to school. There she’d figure out ways to escape through day dreams and long lone walks around the school ball field. In her more lucid and social moments she’d be trying to ignore the nonstop bullying from the group of smirking thugs who ruled the school. Having a different name in a universe full of Debbies and Nancys and Susans made one stand out. It made one get picked on along with being small, plain and quiet. Her family was also considered weird.

Her father was a large loud Irishman with a thick accent and her mother was a small pale elf like German woman who’d lost her family in the war, then ended up in a group home for lost children. The Irishman and the German girl met in a bar, got married, moved to America and had too many children and didn’t do things like other families. They’d sit up all night and play cards and smoke and drink too much. Then they’d tell stories of ghosts and werewolves and violent relatives who didn’t come to America. They’d sing loud songs and walk around their backyard in their underwear. Sometimes the intensity of the couple frightened the other families of their normal middle class community.

Bronagh was never mistreated at home but she never felt too connected to her family either. She loved them but she didn’t want to live with them or be like them.

She struggled in school but in her secret world she was smart and would one day be beautiful and successful. Nightmare sessions in front of the class unable to do a math problem while other children jeered made her imagine a different life. At that point she started to keep secrets.

Nobody ever knew what she was feeling or thinking. She gave away nothing by her expression or words. She lived in two worlds – one on the outside and her own world inside.

She grew up, went on to high school, made friends, grew into a beautiful young woman, made straight A’s and never looked back.

Then she went to college and found herself on too many long walks alone, but that was OK. She was used to that. Friends came and went. There were always good times to be had but she never stayed close to anyone. She graduated and had plans but her life seemed to be one big black hole that sucked the life out of every idea, every relationship and every job prospect. All of her choices sucked. It was as if everything she touched turned to garbage. It was garbage that couldn’t even be recycled. It was toxic waste.

Time passed and roadblocks grew higher and doors slammed in her face. She found herself with a college degree, a shelf full of books, a stray one-eyed tabby cat she named Toulouse, and nothing else.

One day she decided that one of two things needed to happen. She either needed to die or fall in love. Nobody would ever love her she decided, so she set a date to end it all, that is if nothing happened.

She grew numb.

One day she forced herself to go the large university library to research jobs and graduate schools.

On the first floor she ran into an old party friend Cindy. Beautiful lucky Cindy was going off to her dream job in Los Angeles. A huge engagement ring sat on Cindy’s finger. Cindy’s clothes were beautiful and obviously expensive. Joy radiated out of her, not for material reasons but because she was just where she wanted to be. Then again Cindy had been born where every girl wanted to be.  Cindy was that kind of girl. Bronagh gave Cindy a hug and wished her the best.

Then she saw a guy she’d had a one night stand with talking to a biology professor she’d had. Ditching them she went up the stairwell to the second floor to take refuge with some art books.

On the second floor, as she left the art section, she ran into a man she’d been in love with. He was glad to see her. He was glad to tell her that he was getting married – to somebody else.  He asked her if she still had the cat. She thought he thought she was an idiot. She lied and said she had a boyfriend and great job prospects. Someone she really liked had dumped her the week before. She’d been fired from a job she’d held for a week. It didn’t matter. He’d cheated on her anyway. Being young and miserable with no prospects is no fun even when you don’t feel bad about telling lies.

Feeling numb she looked at college catalogs, made notes about graduate school requirements then go up to walk and distract herself. It was time to look up poisons or just sit down and die and turn into a mummy that someone would find in 50 years or so behind a stack of books nobody ever read.

In the deep darkness of the ancient basement stacks she accidentally tripped and fell into the arms of a young man. It wasn’t that kind of fall into your arms. It was more of the kind of “I noticed you were looking up poisons,” kind of falling to his arms. He noticed in a big way. Poisons were not the kind of things pretty girls, or anyone not doing medical research or writing crime novels usually looked up. She said she was writing a story. He knew she was telling a lie but he let it pass.

She had iced herbal tea with him in an earthy crunchy little coffee shop and they talked about all sorts of things. His name was Val, yes, that Val, my brother. His friend Alonzo joined them.

That was 32 years ago. She still remembered the purple skirt and white lace top she was wearing. On her feet were gray flats. Val was wearing jeans and a black tee. Alonzo wore a red vest and a white button down shirt. His dark hair curled around his ears. It was weird how she remembered the details. She clicked with Val and Alonzo. They didn’t judge her. But they were not like the predators she’d met who wanted to lure her into schemes and religions and cults and plans that she didn’t want to be part of.

They became friends and she became one of them – one of us. A Vampire.

I know it sounds weird but she tells such a glum story. Bronagh is the funniest Vampire I’ve ever met. Yes, we have a sense of humor. You can’t live as long as we do and not.

Bronagh thinks about things too much – old things, things that happened, the guy in the library, the guy who dumped her, people who had been to her, a friend who died when they were young. But then not really, not lately. She used to sometimes wonder what life might have been like had she not become a Vampire.

Becoming a Vampire wasn’t what solved her problems. Having some support and encouragement and sheer tenacity is what got her out of her gloom. Long story. Hard work. Creative thinking. Love. Humor. She shrugs it off.

She’ll laugh and talk about how handsome Alonzo is but that she married him for his sense of humor. She’ll tell you about how he proposed to her while they walked under the stars on a windy beach. She won’t tell you about the times she was so unhappy and lost. Those dark times were such a small portion of everything but still, it makes a mark.

Alonzo had a past so full of nightmares that he was glad to become a Vampire and live in a world of calm control and find some measure of peace. I’m just glad to have them in my life. Maybe I’ll talk Alonzo into telling me a few stories.

Halloween is almost here and all kinds of ghosts are coming out of the woodwork. Let’s just keep most of them tucked away. We don’t need to deal with them or let them bother us.

Alonzo just shrugs and laughs off anything from his past. Bronagh does the same for the most part. They’re just like any other couple, only they’re Vampires. They believe that what they is due to divine intervention and it happened for a reason. Maybe. Maybe not. I’d like to think it was meant to be. OK it was meant to be.

And the odd thing about this story is that the old one-eyed tabby cat Toulouse is still alive at 39 years old. Of course, cats aren’t supposed to live that long but sometimes, well, all Vampires know that there are things we’ll never be able to explain.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

So tonight we shall toast…

The air is getting colder as it gets closer to Thanksgiving. We still have sunshine and humming birds around unlike other parts where everything is covered in snow and ice.

When the night falls I will light candles and welcome friends.

Somethings can be fleeting, like the overly wrought emotions of family relations, especially this time of year. It makes one grow weary of the pointlessness of it all. The way people hold grudges and hate – and hold fast to traditions that only make one feel controlled and not loved.

So we gather with friends, those who wish to be with us for no other reason than that they enjoy our company – and we theirs. Family can be like that as well, if they allow it. If they dare.

In the Vampire world we tend not to keep grudges for they last far too long and do far too much damage. No need to fight when the sun comes up each and every single day and gives us a new opportunity to take a deep breath and let go. And in the night we see our light, the beautiful stars that will last on for a billion years after we’re all gone. And it humbles us and makes us realize what really matters is our love and our companionship and our memories – that is the good memories. The others, the bad memories, should be banished from our lives.

So tonight we shall toast our glasses filled full and laugh until our sides hurt. We’ll listen to the stories and funny jokes from the young ones and we will celebrate all that we are truly thankful for.

Including our Regular Human friends.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

redwine and candles