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Hey, my name's rebecca, but you know me mostly by my screen name, thedemonbloodalc. In my page, you'll note a lot of creative work (done by none other) lol, and you'll realize I am hopelessly in love with nature. I love my friends (yes, you ilovekagura!) and would do, although it sounds corny, anything for them. My mind often wanders, and is filled with vivid, blossoming colors, so if I don't get back to you right away, don't fret! Eventually, my mind emerges from the depths of the cave of my creativity. Well, for now that's all you need to know!
Ooohh, and you might want to come back often. I almost always have new creative posts!

Monday, August 13, 2007

(> <)
(")(")This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your profile!!! Help him in his quest to dominate the world!!!!!!

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   eh, Eh, EH??? Tuesday? I have cross country on Tuesday...and practically on every other day...ah well, I'll MAKE TIME.
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What Is Your Primary Anime Day?

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   Weight Watchers
Ok, let me say this, I am not overweight. I am not even close to being overweight. I way a little more than 100 pounds. However, I do run cross country, and you have to eat properly to run at your best. So, I decided, "Why not try weightwatchers? Low in fat, a good source of calcium and protein..." I get some at the store take it home, and what do I find? A little plastic think of noodles in some sauce. W-O-W. *ecastic (kidding)* Having to suffer the consequences of my misplaced hopes, I heat it up. Ew. Ew. Ew. The sauce is...disgusting, and I have to put tons, and I mean tons of cheese on it to get it down. How can you screw up noodles? HOW??? >< Never again, my friends, never again. Although, Paninis or however you spell it, are quite delectable. ^^
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What Anime Emoticon Are You?

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

   I really do...LMAO
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What Color Are Your Anime Eyes?

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we're destined...
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Fruits Basket Destiny Quiz

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Who Is Your Inuyasha Mystery Date?

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What’s Your Bleach Fun-ness Level?

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   Story I had to do for school...
I tapped my fingers on the edge of the glass table. I glanced towards the window opposing mine. People dressed in suits and skirt combinations flashed across my eyes. Ok, this meant one of two things. One, the news channel was on. Often, I judge time by the news. Although I know it sounds a bit eccentric, I can’t say I agree with you. See, most people would stare at me with a slack jawed expression as if to tell me, “Hey, girl, do you realize that there are such creations as watches. Oh, and how about cell phones? They’re portable, and more convenient all around than looking at a TV! I mean, what if there is no TV nearby and you have to acknowledge the time with no cell phone or watch. What happens then, huh?”
I have a simple answer to that question. I lug around a sun dial. Do you see that I have problems with logical thinking? I hope so. Anyway, the reason the news was of any importance to me was because of the small box on the far-left bottom of the screen. Above this box blinked the time; 11:10AM.
I sighed, exasperated and thought glumly, I believe this is the fifteenth time that Burt has stood me up for his precious job. Even though we have been friends since we were children, a gap has been prying at the seams of our relationship ever since he has received that job. It feels very similar to watching a candle light flicker and sway in the whispering breeze. It sputters, and coughs, and emanates its sweet fragrance, so long that it seems like it is invulnerable. You bask in its light. How can all that happiness fade away? How can it go out now after holding on for a prolonged period of time? How can it happen so quickly, it takes a few moments for your mind to, huffing and heaving, catch up?
But; it can. It happens too often. I lolled my head forward, and thumped it against the table. I was expecting a sharp pain, but it was dulled by paper. With effort, I reared my head back and noticed it was the newspaper. The anniversary of George Washington’s death is today, I noted. Although I was somewhat interested at first; I realized it only discussed possible solutions to the question of: What caused George Washington’s death?
Disgusted, I pushed it away and leaned back, staring up at the cold, clear blue December sky. I could not believe that I traveled from Michigan to Washington D.C. just to see Burt. I thought he wanted to talk to me, like we used to, I thought sullenly. “Christmas is coming up.” However, inside my head, I finished; and I won’t be there in time to spend it with my younger sisters who haven’t seen me since I packed my bags and headed for college to major in psychology. Four years have passed since I’ve been in my mother’s arms. Four years since my dad gave me a firm handshake after achieving a goal. I remembered wryly how he would pretend to act as if it was “ok” when really, in the corners of his eyes, his eyes shone with pride. It’s been four years since I have felt my sisters on my back, trying to ride me as I bucked wildly in their game of horses. Four…long…years.

I suppose my memories got the best of me, because I heard a slight echo ringing in my ears. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve been thinking way to hard…and deep. I thought, musing over such an issue. Then, as I became more aware of what was taking place around me, I found that the sound was not because of my presumption, but because someone was calling my name in a loud yell to be heard over the noise of clattering potholes, racing cars, and the belching of industries.
I blinked…once…twice and saw Burt. “Hey, Martha!” he called.
A joyful smile broke out on my face. I should be more careful; one part of me warned, cautious. I don’t know whether he’s here for good or if he’s going to burden me, and then rush back to work. I don’t want to be hurt anymore. Still, the other part dismissed this thought, and caused me to jump up to my feet.
“Burt!” I cried. It is indescribable to express how great it was to see him since we both parted for college or work. He had grown, obviously, but there was so much of him that was so mind bogglingly similar since the days when we stayed out until dusk, playing our games of cops and robbers and other assortments. He still had the same slow smile, the same vulnerability to deceit, the same quiet inner voice that doesn’t quite want to be heard just yet. Such a quiet voice… it whimpers and cries in such a low tone, no one hears it but me. So many woes he has endured, so much pain, so much mistrust… such cruelty. He has never really been the same since his mother’s death at the tender age of three. He was so young; he simply did not understand the tragedy.
His father spat that it was his fault, he was to blame. Hate was so abundant between them, that every time I stepped into his house, the silence was ominous, an uneasy treaty, a treaty balancing its relationship on a knife, and one single movement could send the whole agreement toppling. It was so tangible that I might as well be walking through thick, cascading vines in the Amazon.
Burt would come running out to greet me, desperate for an escape, and as he pulled my hand and I trotted after him, I heard the shrill wailing of his father behind him.
Love has always had a twisted, warped way on Burt. He has never received it truly since that fateful day, and when one comes offering it as a gift of friendship, he retreats, and he fears it.
Imagine, living your life in solitude, always fearing, never trusting, blockading yourself from the outside world. You don’t want to know how the world is changing; to you it must only be changing for the worst.
But, nevertheless, he is growing. He is changing. He is coming to terms with his past. He has realized that he cannot always hide in fear, bracing himself for something that has a chance of not coming. That is why he has taken his post. It is somewhat of a security blanket to him, and he is becoming social with people. Slowly, he is learning to love again.
I should be grateful, really, I should, but it is pulling him further and further away from friends he has had since his youth. He wants to cut those last bonds to his past, he wants to cut everything away from him that is painful, but, alas, he is finding it difficult. I am putting up a fight.

It took me a few minutes to come to comprehension that a younger man, maybe a few years younger than Burt, was standing awkwardly by his side.
One thing I have come to learn while studying psychology is how to read a person’s eyes. More than any other internal or even external body part, the eyes tend to tell all. I have learned how to figure if a person is someone to be wary of, or not. If they are friend, or foe, and in some circumstances, have a glimpse of their thoughts by combining the looks they hold, and their body postures.
I was well attuned to Burt’s eyes, and how to understand what he might mean by the position of his body, but this stranger, I was interested. I cocked my head, and gazed at his eyes.
Many people do not even notice what I am doing, if they do, they laugh and ask me what I am doing. Some feel uncomfortable, and dart their eyes away. He did neither. He returned my gaze with such boldness and scrutiny that I began to feel a bit nervous.
He possessed strength, and sharp wit that I had a notion he could and would use in a tight situation, and a temper…a fierce temper that could release a wrath if he was nudged the wrong way. An image flashed across my eyes, he bellowed at a man who was sprawled over grassy landscape, and all the while, the golden leaves shook in the brilliant sunlight.
Overall, the image gave me chills. I allowed my eyes to fall over his body. Blue, white, and brass buttons, obviously a soldier’s uniform. Taking a guess, I had to think it was of the 1700 through 1800 period. It seemed authentic. His hair was tied back, and a deep brown. Now, mostly men wore their hair short, so this was uncommon.
“Martha, this is…” he paused, uncertain, and then said slowly, “a man I believe to be George Washington.”

Chapter 2
I raised my eyebrows, slightly incredulous. Was this the man I knew who only believed that history could not come to life? Was this a joke? Burt sighed.
“Do you not believe me?”
“Oh, is it that obvious?” I grumbled.
“It is. We have to talk, Martha. Come on, grab your things and then let’s go.” He ordered.
“No! Do you recall that you promised, promised, that you would take me to lunch and we could talk. I have come all the way from Michigan for you, so don’t you dare stand me up!” I ranted.
Burt rolled his eyes. “Martha, this is important. I have to leave soon, too. I’m only off for a few more minutes. Just enough to somewhat explain what is happening.”
“Hold on, you’re going to push this guy into my responsibility, and then go running off to your job? That doesn’t seem fair,” I snarled.
Without a word, Burt took my hand, reached over, and grabbed my purse from the chair.
“Let me go! This isn’t fair! It isn’t even right, get off of me!” I hollered. He paid me no heed, and pulled me into a deserted coffee shop, Washington observing mutely.
“Listen, I know this is a bit… odd but, Martha, you have to listen.” I tugged at his hand, annoyed and had no intention of listening. He carried on, however. “He’s come back. I can’t tell you why, but he has. He needs a guide, he knew my name, and to be honest, it’s creepy but like I said, duty calls and I just don’t have the time to show him around. Please, Martha, do this for me and I swear I’ll meet you for dinner, ok? Here, I’ll give you some money for travel and food… it’s really all I can do, and I’m sorry but….” His voice trailed off.
“It’s ok,” I mumbled, “but I’m holding you to your word.” Burt smiled, and thanked me. He saluted the supposedly, “first president” and sauntered off. And this is how my part of the story begins.
I ran my fingers through my hair, and glanced over at George Washington. He stared back. “Are you really George Washington?” I asked, curious. He replied, haltingly at first, “Yes, I am, but I have never quite had a woman I am not much of an acquaintance with speak to me so bluntly.”
“Sorry, but that’s how people speak now. We just approach each other and start a conversation. Everyone is free to speak when spoken to. “I stretched my arms over my head and squinted in the bright sunlight as we meandered aimlessly around Washington D.C. “Interesting.” He murmured, twirling around to get a full view of everything surrounding us.
“Burt… the man I was sent here to find, are you close acquaintances?” I laughed at the question. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but we just say “friends”. You’re really going to stand out when you talk like that, “I told him loosely.
“My… bubble? What are you talking about?” he asked, thoroughly confused. I shook my head.
“Your personal space. I believe you’re hopeless, Mr. Washington.”
“What? Why am I hopeless? Wait, milady, what are you talking about?” His voice stretched over the broad expanse of land I ran across. I called back, gleefully, “Less questions! You’ll get your answers soon enough, besides, I was left to show you around the United States, and I plan to do just that! The world has changed since you were here Mr. Washington!”
He scoffed at those words, “do you believe I do not know my own country?” But, he took up a jog, and followed me, the breeze whipping the national flag on its pole.
Chapter 3

“Where are you taking me? Secondly, why have your people abandoned horseback? I believe it was more efficient than those automobiles. They were a lot quieter, too.” Washington was wheezing by the time we reached the bus station.
I purchased two tickets, and shrugged. “George, firstly, you can call me Martha, because that is my name, secondly, I am taking you to Independence Hall, more specifically to see the Liberty Bell. Third, I can’t quite tell you why we abandoned horseback, and I agree with you about horses being quieter and absolutely more environmentally efficient, but I suppose people wanted a change.”
His eyes widened. “Independence Hall, you say? Well, I remember that building. It was originally constructed as the Pennsylvania colony’s statehouse in 1732. In fact, the hall, as I recall, was the scene of the proclamation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776.” I shook my head, bewildered. I could not believe he remembered such things after at least 301 years while he was in the grave. His eyes searched mine, and he said ever so softly, “but why are you taking me to a place I have been, I have seen?”
I swallowed; his voice seemed to gently chide me. At that moment, I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream. I honestly was just overwhelmed by emotions. I took a step forward, and poked him in the chest. I was embarrassed, and, still fighting back tears, choked out, “When a person takes a picture and later in time puts it in a scrapbook, as a memorandum, they usually do it to feel the joy, the happiness of that moment. When that person in the picture passes away, the taker can only feel grievance, and pain at looking at the picture after years and years of contemplating whether they would dare to look, or not. Because honestly, you can look at a picture, but you will never feel the same amount of joy, because it erodes, it is forgotten, it can’t be relived, it will never be the same. But…if you never go back, memories are lost. Is it not better to feel pain, than nothing?”
That outburst was horribly random, but it made me remember of a time when Burt was almost ready to graduate high school. I remember it so well…

“Burt, you have to go back to your house. I know it’s painful, and I know you feel hatred towards it…”
“It’s not the house I feel hatred towards, Martha, it’s my father.”
“But, Burt, your father no longer lives there. He has passed away; the house is up for sale. Listen, you do detest the house, it is where all your misfortune occurred. But to truly get a grasp on life and begin to take steps forward, you have got to face what you have feared to go home to for so many years.”
I put a hand on his knee, and smiled a sad smile, “besides, you are strong, you can do it.”
“Martha, no, I don’t want to remember, I don’t want to feel the pain, I’ve been there for so many years, I’ve seen it for so many days, I just want to escape. I want to be free.” With that, he stood up, and walked out of the room, shadows flickering over his frame.

When George said that, it came rushing back to me. I suppose it was silly to give him a clue about my thoughts, about what they centered on but I could not help it. It sounded like he was giving up, like he was tired of it all. Like he had been everywhere and seen everything, and he did not quite see the point anymore. “But, why are you taking me to a place I have been, I have seen?”
“I do not know,” I whispered softly. “Maybe it is because I cannot let things go.” George sneezed beside me, and groaned. He shifted positions restlessly. We were on a bus to Philadelphia, and obviously he was having trouble finding comfort.
I was sympathetic, he had never been on a bus before, and I suppose he did not find it agreeable. Then again, he slept for a long period of time in the freezing cold on hard, frostbitten ground.
When the bus finally halted near our destination, I nudged him. He jumped up, bewildered, and then relaxed when he remembered where he was and where we had been going. People were giving him strange looks, most likely because of how he was dressed. Annoyance flickered over his face, and I led him off the bus, thanking the driver as I hopped off.
“I do not know why they were staring, but this uniform was common in my age, in fact, I made this one myself, and here they are staring and me with such disrespect.” I linked my arm through his. “Perhaps, if you will let me make a suggestion, we buy you new clothes?” I proposed.
“New clothes, like breeches, and the propaganda and the like you people wear?” I nodded.
“If I must.” He sighed.
“It will be a lot easier to take you around,” I assured him.
Chapter 4

“Wow, you actually look like one of us!” I exclaimed as he walked out of Gap wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and a leather jacket.
“Do I, “he asked, trying to get a better look at himself.
“Definitely, but your hair is a bit unusual. However, I think you will pass for normal.” I told him, grinning.
“My hair is not, absolutely not, being chopped off, do you understand Miss Martha?” George was still refusing to call me just Martha, and although it was getting annoying, I dealt with it the best I could. Ignoring him, I looked at street names, thinking, and then called, “it is this way!”
When we reached the hall, a group of elementary students, not quite off for winter break yet, were being guided about it, the woman leading the expedition rattled on about the history. I tuned in for a bit, “…and not only was it the site of the proclamation of 1776, it was the meeting place of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. The Constitutional Convention was held in 1787 in which the meeting of the delegates from 12 states wrote the United States Constitution. “
George listened, although I knew he acknowledged these facts already. I tilted my head and nodded towards the separate pavilion near the hall, clearly visible. George caught on, and gave a quick nod, and we escaped outside. He was quiet, and the silence was eerie. I coughed. “What are you thinking about?” He paused, and then said, “Life, death, the difference between the two. I played an important role in life, I started the French and Indian War, the start of my true career, I am thinking about how I died, I am thinking about how I am here now. I have acted on the stage of life, and I have played my part, and now it seems my role is not finished. I am acting on the brink of life, and death.”
The pavilion was quiet, and a welcomed silence. I read the plaque which gave information. A strong breeze pushed against me, and I shuddered, but not from the cold. I read, “The Liberty Bell was cast in England in 1752 for the Pennsylvania Statehouse. It was recast in Philadelphia in 1753. If you look closely, you can see the words, ‘Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.’ This bell was rung on July 8, 1776, for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. It was re-placed here in 1778 after being hidden in Allentown during British occupation. The bell cracked on July 8, 1835, while tolling the death of Chief Justice John Marshall.”
“That is a bit unnerving.” I told him. “Yes, strange… death works in strange ways.” His gaze was glazed, and distant, staring out at what seemed to be nothing in particular. His emotion chilled me, and I decided we both need to cheer up.
“You like to ride horses, right?” This distracted him, and it took him a few moments to reply. “Yes, I do, why?”
“Come on,” I said, and pulled him towards Somerset Farms Inc.
I nearly was bouncing out of my seat on the bus as we neared the farms. I loved horseback riding myself, and had prior experience with horses, I had actually made many bonds with multiple horses in the past from riding at stables with my mother’s encouragement. George was similar in emotion. I felt the eagerness emanating from him. Before the bus fully stopped, we jumped up and ran out, the bus driver yelling at us to stay in our seats until the bus was completely stopped. The owners were very friendly, and helped choose horses based on our preferences.
When we had finally chosen, we tacked them and mounted. “Are you ready Mr. Washington? I would love to see if you are really the acclaimed rider you are said to be.” He grinned wickedly, “We will see, Miss Martha, but are you ready?”
We shot off, galloping over dry, brown grass, kicking up mud and debris, jumping over fallen logs. He won, I admit, and he was not graceful about it either. “Ha-ha! I told you!” He boasted. I panted, and stuck my tongue out at him. But, I had enjoyed myself greatly, and it felt good. It was something that I had wanted to do for a long, long time.
Chapter 5
“Where to go next,” I asked George as we wearily and reluctantly returned to the coughing bus. He shook his head, “I am not quite sure. You are my guide.” So, this was my decision. Hmmm… what would be of any interest to him? I wondered. In a moment, I knew where we were going. “I have acted on the stage of life, and I have played my part, and now it seems my role is not finished. I am acting on the brink of life, and death.”
When I was younger, perhaps in 9th grade, I was in History class and reading a chapter in my history book, when I became dedicated to helping Burt.
Arlington National Cemetery occupies 612 acres in Virginia on the Potomac River, directly opposite Washington. This land was part of the estate of John Parke Custis, Martha Washington’s son. His son, George Washington Parke Custis, built the mansion which later became the home of Robert E. Lee. In 1864, Arlington became a military cemetery.
“Martha, psttttt, Martha!”
“What?” I snapped, “I’m reading!”
“I think Burt is, um, having a few thoughts.” With that, the boy passed me a note, and, fingers trembling, unfolded the paper. Written on it, in shaky hand writing was:
Here Rests In
Honored Glory
An American
Known But To God

I gasped, and clasped my hand over my mouth.
Chapter 6

“Many, many people are buried here George.” I told him. We were standing at a respectful distance away from the graves of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. “I mean, some even include presidents such as William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy; there are a number of Supreme Court justices and a mystery writer Dashiell Hammett. If you can see from here, you’ll notice that Civil War “contrabands” are buried here, their headstones engraved only with ‘Civilian’ or ‘Citizen’. It’s a bit sad.”
I turned towards George. “It is,” he repeated. Eyes filled with sorrow. ”So many people are dead… sleeping an eternal sleep in their graves.” He leaned against a tree. “Then why am I not dead with them, Martha, why am I not sleeping with my comrades?”
“I could not tell you that, because I do not even know.” We peered out and I said brightly, “but, on the bright side an Unknown Serviceman of Vietnam buried here on May 28, 1984 was identified as First Lt. Michael Blassie. So that was good for his family, they no longer had to suffer over their son or father that never came home. Perhaps technology will prevent another “unknown” from being buried.”
He glanced at me. “You are so passionate about giving someone a reason to keep going in life, and even death I find.” I nodded. “It is all I can really do.” Shadows played over his face, and his eyes were guarded. He leaned forward, without a word, and kissed my cheek. The wind ran through my hair, invisible fingers and, as I was so shocked, I found I could not move.
He pulled away and I touched my cheek, eyes wide. He began to take long steps away from me, and called behind him, “Let us move along.”
The day was dwindling down to sunset, the sky already becoming golden and streaked with reds and pinks. It gave off the impression of an artist’s palette, when he has labored to make a masterpiece, but has little care for the condition of the palette. I wanted to show him one last thing before the day became night. “George,” I whispered. “I want you to see this.”
“It is a garden, what is so special about it?” I shook my head, disapproving.
“No, George, this garden is life. It even…” I say, trailing off, kneeling at a stone wall and cupped a brown stalk in my hand. “It even possesses Maryland’s official state flower, although I am sure other state flowers are abundant here.” He knelt beside me.
“When I was little, I used to take one of these flowers, and pick off the golden petals, quietly whispering, ‘he loves me, he loves me not…’ and when the last few petals were remaining, I closed my eyes and plucked off the few remaining petals and hoped that the last petal would reveal to me the one thing every girl hopes for… he loves me!” I laughed. “It seems silly now, but it was something I loved to do on a summer afternoon when it was too warm to do anything else. “
George smiled, and then laughed. “I can imagine.” And we laughed, surrounded by sleeping flowers and bare trees, but we were happy, and that was all that really mattered.
Chapter 7
“Well, it has been a joy, I assure you, Miss Martha, but I find I must leave you. It seems that at the fall of night, I am due to walk through a pathway and remain quiet, and then I will return on this very day for an unknown reason.” He smiled a lonely smile. “Must you?” I cried.
“Yes, but, although my life, my age, is over, yours is not. You are still on the stage, and your role cannot be filled by anyone but you. So keep acting, and the path you choose I am sure will lead you to the happy ending of your play. It is not over yet, Martha.”
With that, as the sun hid beneath the hills, a gateway became visible, glowing golden in the dark. It solidified, and opened showing a bright light. He waved, and ducked through.
Whoa. I wonder if Burt is going to believe this.

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   My buddy!
I'll always be there for you,
When people are cruel,
When all seems blue,
I'll always be there for you.

***Just a little ditty for my friend, who I'd do anything for!!! ^^

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   And another
The story I am about to tell you is one very much similar to a fairytale you would tell to young children to wean them off sugar and settle into bed. There is the shallow, fairly simple plotline. In which, there is the villain, the heroine or hero, and all the small characters that can either be extremely helpful or in forces with the villain. Then, there are the characters that do not have a classification, the “no namers”; the outcasts. They are lonely, they are looked down upon by each and every clique and do not have a place where they are welcomed. How can they ever find a home if they do not belong? How can they ever be loved?
And that is where this story begins.
Most people introduce others with a, “This is so-and-so, he/she is….” No, I am not going to fall into the leagues of “most” people, because I am not like “most” people. I will reveal my name once you have heard my story, as I want you to hear it, and I do not want you blurting out little fragments of fiction which you believe are facts about me; all because you know my name. So, without further ado, I present to you the story about a pair of shoes, a common girl, a father who drinks so much that he rarely remembers where he is, and a cardboard box.

When I was fourteen, I knew that I was different than other girls. I went to a public school, unlike most of them which attended an expensive private school, only by begging their mother and father that, “my friend is going to this school, and Mum, it is so not fair, because it’s better than mine!” They would jut out their bottom lips, pouting, and all the while the parents would exchange glances, reminiscing about their daughter’s friend, whose parents were indeed horrible enemies with then, and they would come to a consensus that to prove they were better than their family, they would send their daughter to a “better school.” Of course, most of the schools they eventually went to were not better than another girl’s, they just cost a great deal more. I would always think:
Those schools must be rich.
Nevertheless, even when all the rude, snobby girls would head off to a private education, I would still differ than the girls at public school. I would bring a lunch in a brown paper bag, and they would bring theirs in a lunch box or an oversized decorated shoulder bag. They would sit at their table, I would sit at mine. I did not quite understand why I was so untouchable; it was not like I had leprosy. On that topic, no boy wanted me, either. It did not matter if they were geek or jock; they shunned me all the same. No verbally, but as if I was not there. At home, my life was different, I guessed, than the average teen. I was an only child, and although that sounds like a blessing, it was not. I often found myself wishing I did have siblings, so I had someone to talk to and play with. The reason I felt that way was because my father acted as both parents, but I think that is glorifying him too much. No, he did not act even like one parent. My mother left when I was three, or so he tells me. My father soon began drinking, wallowing in his despair, and he was not a violent drunk, just the kind where he loses all contact with the real world. So mostly, I was alone in the large, violent downtown city of Baltimore, on a street called Hope. Odd, how things always are the complete opposite of what you think they should be.

One day, a few hours after school, I stood in the mirror, twisting this way and that. I critiqued myself occasionally, tried to cheer myself up about the things I felt proud of. The reflection that stared back at me was at best average. If I wanted to exaggerate, I was fairly pretty. I had long, strawberry blonde hair to my waist, freckles sprinkled carelessly over my nose, and brown eyes. Stepping back, I realized I was short. Five foot, one inch. Pathetic. I felt my feet were too large for my body, my legs too thin, my clothes too threadbare. And yet, I knew that on the inside, I was beautiful. I would always mutter, “That matters the most, right?” And I would answer my question: “yes”. On that day, I was pondering whether or not to go to a dance being hosted by my school, Greenwood’s Public Learning. Of course, I chided myself, why should I? I would only be gawked and gossiped about. Still, I wanted to go. I decided within a matter of seconds. I would go, because I deserved a break and a chance to have fun too. A small voice in the back of my head reminded me that I would not have fun, being as self-conscious as I was. Dismissing the voice, I grabbed my jacket, and rushed out the kitchen door. Behind me, I heard the familiar, “sss” as it slowly closed. I prowled the sidewalks of town, trying to block out the loud, brutal noises of the world. I had to think, where would I go to get affordable, nice clothes, and a pair of shoes? I entered a small store that smelled of must, and the bell above the door alerted my presence. An elderly man came out from behind a thick purple cloth in the back, and he smiled a crinkly smile. “Can I help you?” I replied with a, “no, just browsing.” I paced along rows of clothes, pausing, shaking my head, and then continuing. I stopped, kneeled, and gave a quick glance at the row of shoes on the floor. My eyes locked on a plain cardboard box. It was so different; it was not splashed in color or decorated with the designer’s label. I pulled it out with trembling fingers, and opened the lid, and gasped. In the box, folded in simple white paper was a pair of silver sandals. It was my size; seven and a half, and they were encrusted with cross-shaped crystal beading over the straps. The shoes looked fairly new; there were few wrinkles on the sole, and the bands were not stretched. The heel of the shoe was not horribly worn down; the silver coloring was not faded. I loved them, as they seemed to have been made for me. Yes, it looked plain from outside, but inside everything was sparkling and pristine, and stunning. I took the price tag, and gasped. They cost five dollars. My budget was three. I jumped up, found the man reading a book, and said, “Can you please lower the price?” He shook his head, explaining that they were on clearance, and if I wanted, I could wait and come back. I pleaded, until he lowered the price and I bought them. He grumbled as I left, but I paid him no heed. Sure, they had taken up all my money, but they were worth it. They made me realize something: I was worth it, too.

I raced home, flew in threw the front door, and in a rare moment of affection, kissed my father on his bald head. For once, he was sober. He blinked and looked up, staring at me warily. “Are you my daughter,” he said in a cracked voice. He tried to smile, which made me smile, because he was trying, and trying made all the difference. I just grinned at him, and rushed to my room, threw my jacket onto my bed, and plopped down on the floor. I slipped my feet into them and gave myself an appraising glance in the mirror. For once, I felt beautiful on the outside as well as in. I twirled around my room, not caring that I was in sweat pants and an old T-shirt. My father was resting heavily against my door frame. He chuckled, did not question my motives, and drifted away. The night of the dance was later that evening, around seven. I ransacked my closet, and frustrated, stamped out of my room, searching for something to wear. The door to the attic was ajar, and I trotted up the stairs. I headed for the trunk which held my mother’s clothes. I rustled through, and my fingers brushed against a silky fabric. I pulled it up, and hugged it to my chest. It matched the shoes perfectly. The dress was long, pink, and utterly beautiful. Later that night, I prepared. I prepared not much differently than I usually did, except for tonight I would wear something a bit different. I brushed my hair, pulled it back and up in a bun, and sat on the couch in the living room, waiting for the moment to leave. My dad sat next to me and sighed.
“You look like your mother tonight.”
I smiled at him, squeezed his hand, and took a question book for moments of being idle.

What are your personality traits?
I have many, but for the most part I am optimistic, friendly, and thoughtful

What do you do in your spare time?
Homework, for the most part, but sometimes I watch a movie or play games. I also think.

What is your favorite food?
Mac and Cheese, of course.

What is your favorite book?
A Northern Light- it is so inspiring.

What is one bad habit you possess?
At times I despise myself, and always pick on myself. Not the best habit.

Name an accomplishment you have achieved that few people know about you.
I have learned, I think, to love myself and the family I do have; to appreciate everything in life, all because a pair of shoes.

The aftermath of this story is mainly that I did go to the dance, and people did, for once, acknowledge my presence. I danced with a very sweet boy, who revealed to me his thoughts about private schools, and that he actually did acknowledge me, but he never had the courage to say anything. I made a few girl friends that were also people, who did not have a group, and together we formed a clique of our own; the Unloved revolutionizes into the Loved. My father made finally decided to change the direction of his life, and he became permanently sober. He started a full time job, and is learning to be part of my life again. He is also dating a woman who I am very fond of, and believe it or not, was his therapist. I emphasize on the word “was”. She decided to put aside her job, as patients could not very well date their caregivers. My world is no longer upside-down, it is turning right side up again. More than anything, I think my shoes had something to do with it. I still have them to this very day, and occasionally I will wear them, but I will always love them. They taught me to love myself, to love my family, and to take chances, and look in unexpected places, because you never know what you might find. Who knows, it may change your life. My name is Alexandra Nicole Redwood, I live on the street “Hope,” and for once it does not sound cheesy. It sounds like a reminder, and I do not plan to forget it.

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   Um. Another one!
The edges of the picture in my mind are fuzzy, as if, after years and years, the thick parchment of the picture’s edges had been frayed. They are uneven, dark, but my eyes continue to stare at those missing pieces. I do not want to glance at the center; I know what will be there. My eyes are still drawn to the memorandum, though.
In the picture, there is a windmill, a sprawling line of crops, and a few towering trees, signaling the beginnings of a forest.
I want to tear my gaze away from the seemingly serene setting, but I cannot.
Maybe I look in hope, hope that the outcome will be altered somehow.
Pictures, events that occurred in the past can never change. The decisions have been made, the path the people had taken cannot be deterred, as they have already followed that path, and are forever destined to walk that path until the next sign shoots up, offering a choice: this way or that way. Figuratively speaking, the path they take is set in stone; they cannot turn back once they begin walking.
The picture that was at first a faded blur becomes more defined, and the colors darken into vibrant shades of blue, purple, brown, and green.
The picture is slowly coming to life.
So many colors, so bright after the pale cream and black of an old photo that I cannot begin to grasp them, and it takes a few moments for my eyes to adjust.
I have to watch, I know I do. But how, why, is this linked to me?
Out of the inky blackness of night, a woman of about seventeen or eighteen runs. Her feet kick up clumps of grass and soil, and with plops and thuds they solidly hit the ground behind her. Her mouth is spread into a wide “O”, a scream. Tears flow freely down her face, and she bolts through an orderly row of cornstalks, swiping them away from her face.
She collapses against the wide tree trunk of a tree, clawing at the uneven texture of the bark. It was as if she was in a life boat, rearing waves on either side of her, and she grasps it tightly, hoping to God it will save her, and knowing, with melancholy, that it will not.
Her breath comes in ragged gasps, and a wound on her left thigh drips scarlet blood. A knife wound, perhaps?
But then, his voice, a voice that is a purr of seduction, a voice that slays all resistance with one letter in a word. It is soft, so velvety soft. His voice mostly masks ugly secrets he hides, although every move his mouth makes, somewhat reveals them.
“Emily,” he whispers. His voice is warm, comforting.
“No,” she chokes out. “You’re a monster, a beast! I hate you, despise you!” Then, very softly, she says meekly, “I thought you cared for me. You told me you loved me.” Tears drip down her nose and beneath the collar of her shirt. “But now, I know you only wanted me to satisfy…” she does not finish.
In one step, he grabs her wrist, and yanks her to her feet.
“Do not say it,” he hisses menacingly. His lips graze the hollow beneath her ear, and she shudders. “Now,” he says, taking her elbow and crushing her to him, “let us take a moonlit walk, like we always do, or shall I say did, because this time, you will not return.” His voice is low, and softens until it is almost inaudible.
She fights his grip, tears at his arm, and knees him in the groin. He cries out in pain, and loosens his hold just enough that she can pry free. She whips through the forest. Branches of low hanging trees scratch at her body, and she halts in a clearing. His steps, frantic behind her, cause her to choose a direction, and flee. She twists this way and that, trying to bewilder him.
Her foot hits a rock, and it skitters along the leaf foliage that litters the forest floor, and pitches itself into a deep ravine.
She does not hear it. She does not see it.
She cocks her head, searching for a flicker of movement behind her, and steps on thin air.
She plunges head first into the deep abyss.
I woke up, panting, my heart racing in my chest and sweat slicking my body. My nightgown was plastered to my skin, and my legs trembled as my feet hit the hard wooden floors in my new home, its placement in the quiet town of New Falls, Montana.
My gaze traveled the length and width of my small room, searching for any unknown identities lurking in the shadows. Each dark image on the walls seemed more menacing and more exaggerated then the real object. The purple paint seemed like a nagging reminder of my dream. Have to paint over those, I thought. The four-poster bed seemed too large for the room, and gave me a sense of claustrophobia.
I let out a shaky breath and padded through the narrow, neutral-colored hallway into the kitchen. I threw open the refrigerator, grabbed the jug of milk, and poured myself a glass. I put it in the microwave, and lounged against the counter, watching the digital red numbers count down the time.
My mum, bleary eyed, stumbled into the kitchen, and blinked, as if trying to remember who I was. Agitated, I reminded her, “Mum, it is your daughter, Gemma.”
“Gemma,” she repeated slowly, and then her eyes lightened up with recognition and darkened when she realized what time it was. “Gemma, what are you doing up so late?” One appraising study of me revealed the answer.
“Bad dream,” she questioned.
I nodded mutely.
“Murder-mystery again,” she asked half-jokingly.
Once again, I nodded. The clock bleated the preparation of my warm milk was complete. I pulled open the door, and banged it shut with my hip. Cradling my glass in my hands, I sipped it slowly.
“You know,” my mum began cautiously, “I’ve been thinking, you’re seventeen, old enough that you don’t need an old woman like me tagging along, and I think that moving from Britain has taken a toll on you, love. Adjusting must be harder, and it’s a Saturday. So I was thinking, how about you go out with some friends today?”
“Mum, I don’t have many friends, right now.” I gazed at her coolly.
“Sweets, you have ah, what’s his name, Thomas Breeve, right?”
Thomas Breeve. Thomas had been my friend since I was young, and often we would play together until sundown, creating made-up adventures. However, when he was about to enter ninth grade, his father had to move the family to the United States for his job. Three years following his departure, I followed suit.
The Thomas I knew then was very energetic, very friendly, but beneath it all, he was perpetually disturbed. His mother had recently died, and since then, his father had a hard time maintaining jobs because of drinking problems.
I was not sure how he would be, how he had changed, after three years, but I acknowledged that, yes, I would very much indeed enjoy seeing him again.
I looked his number in the local phonebook, and dialed. The dull tone of an operator informed me to wait until the fourth ring, and if he did not answer by then, that he was out or sleeping and that I should hang up.
I counted the monotone beep each time. 1…beep…2…beep…. Anxiously, I paced in the hallway, and finally, on the third beep, he answered.
“‘Ello,” a groggy voice greeted me.
“Hi, Tom, this is Gemma, remember me?”
“Oh, Gemma! Hi, it has been so long since I have seen you. Are you in town; is this a visit, have you moved here?” He asked me, each question trampling the previous.
“Well, yes, I am in town, this is not a visit, and yes, I have moved here.” I struggled to answer each question that burbled up from him.
“Great, we should talk more, but I have got to go to the loo and etc. etcetera, so, I have a proposal to you. In about half an hour, I will pick you up, and we will go into town and eat something, what do you say?”
I mulled it over silently. Then, deciding, answered, “I will be ready.”
“Perfect, what is your address?”
I gave my address to him, and he sighed joyfully. “This is perfect… anyway, see you soon!”
I placed the phone on its receiver, and pounded up the stairs. My mum looked up the stairs at me. “Who was that, on the phone?”
“Thomas,” I answered simply.
“Thomas…” she said suspiciously.
“Oh, come on mum, you told me about him last night, to call him. Do not tell me you have forgotten already?”
“No, no, it’s just, I’ve heard some rather unpleasant things about him recently, seems he’s turned into quite the bad boy, according to some of the women in town today.” Here, she touched her nose. “Best to step carefully around him, gossip is based on some fact.”
I touched my nose, too. “But it is also based mainly on fiction.” I rolled my eyes, and slammed my door shut to my room.
At 5 o’clock, I was reading a magazine, my cat, Alexandra, in my lap, purring contentedly. A knock on the door caused my heart to jump into a maniacal frenzy, and Alex jumped off my lap, the hair on her back on end.
My mum answered it. The door creaked as she swung it back, and visible behind the glass front door was Thomas. As I began to stand up, I brushed off my skirt, and eavesdropped into the conversation.
“Oh, Thomas, what a pleasant surprise, “her voice was filled with contempt. Thomas answered pleasantly back,
“Mrs. Algernon, you are looking lovely today,” his voice trailed off and he peered behind her shoulder, eyes locked on me. His eyes were pleading, and my mum, catching on, whirled to give me the full force of her green eyes, and what she was saying with them was, “Be careful.”
The tension was almost tangible, and, stiff-legged, I walked to the front door, past my mother, her eyes like lasers in my back, and grabbed onto Thomas’ arm, pulling him out the door.
My body was embraced in black leather as I sat in the passenger seat of Thomas’ Mustang convertible. He made small talk with me as he one-handedly steered the car along the deserted roads. “So, how do you like Montana so far?”
“It is nice, very scenic, but to be honest, I am a bit home-sick.”
He glanced at me with sympathy, “It takes awhile to adjust. Soon, it will be better.”
I studied him. “What about you, how are you doing? I have not seen you for three years, and I would like to know all that I have missed recently.”
“Where do I begin,” he laughed, “well, I will graduate from high school this year, I have a job as a farmer’s assistant, and, hmmm. Today, I was able to see my best friend.” He smiled at me.
I smiled back.
“But, that is only the beginning, those are just the basics. Ah, Countryside Inn,” Thomas was instantly distracted by a neon yellow sign proclaiming the inn’s presence, and he pulled into a parking lot.
The first thing I noticed when I entered with him, and he asked the waitress for two menus was his physical appearance. He was now a gangly, tall young man, his shoulders were broad, and his mouth was wide. His hair was dyed light blonde, compared to his once chestnut-colored hair, and to be honest, I was disappointed. I thought his red hair had made him look remarkably cute.
His clothing was also different. Three years ago, he would not have come near a cashmere sweater. Now, he was wearing a light blue one. I was curious as to how he had gained enough money to buy the fine things he now obtained. His father, when I knew him, only managed to earn enough to just barely scrape by, and if that was the same, there was just no possible way he could have earned these merely through an assistant farmer.
I followed him to a booth, where I slid onto one side, he, the other. I flipped through the menu absently, glancing through the glass wall into the bar section of the restaurant.
Staring back at me was a man of my age or a bit more, his face slightly covered by shadows, and his black hair covering his eyes. He pushed it away…
And there was the man from my dreams.
I jerked my head away, and then kicked Thomas in the shin under the table. His eyes sought mine. “What was that for,” he asked, annoyed.
“That man, over there, sitting in the shadows, who is he?” My heart was pumping faster and faster with each passing second, and I swore I was going to have a heart attack. I waited impatiently for my answer.
Slowly, Thomas replied, “That MAN, if you would like to be polite in terms, is… not much is known about him. He always is hanging around bars, searching. He is never in the same bar twice. Some people call him Ghost, because he is there one minute, gone the next.” His eyes darted over to Ghost. “The only thing I can tell you about him is that he was in jail once or twice. You do not want to be with him alone.”
We were crouched over the table, silently staring at each other when the waitress walked over.
“Would you like…” Thomas silenced her with a dismissal with a wave of his hand. However, the waitress refused to go away. Thomas puffed out his chest, about to blow her off, when the waitress said amiably, “Miss, in the bar, there is a man who requests your company.” To Thomas, she said, “Deflate your chest, and stop acting arrogant.”
Thomas stared at her, flabbergasted, on his face a cross between pure surprise and anger. This was most likely the first time he was reprimanded by a waitress.
The waitress turned her attention back to me. “Miss, he’s waiting.”
I walked, past laughing people, past waitresses and waiters with trays loaded with food, and into the cloudy smoke of the bar. I looked this way and that, searching the shadows for him. I was about to turn back when he appeared in front of me, out of a seemingly nowhere.
His eyes were dark, almost black, like coals. He was taller than Thomas, and not as gangly. It looked as if I made a misapprehension. He looked older than me. Maybe in his twenties. His voice was deep, and had the faintest tinge of an accent, probably French or Romanian.
He had an aurora of power around him, and he was frightening. He studied me. Then, he spoke. “Are you frightened, Gemma?”
“Yes,” I said softly. In my mind, I was bewildered. How did he know my bloody name?!
“Don’t be.” He took my hand, and peered around, his eyes catching Thomas and the waitress, bickering. He pulled me out the doors, and into a blue car, an older one.
I yanked my hand away, and scowled at him. The car was cold, and it was not just the cold giving me shudders throughout my body. “Who are you,” I asked. “What do you want with me?” It took him a few moments to reply. He played around with the buttons of his jean jacket, and he looked up at me, and held his gaze steady with mine.
“I am Vincent Comera, and what I want with you, is to help you.”
“You sound like a guardian angel. Honestly, though, I do not need help, but thanks anyway.” I smiled wryly.
He held my arm in an iron grasp and I grimaced in pain. “I’m not a guardian angel, far from it, I’m a vampire.”
“Ha ha, Vincent, you do not think I am that gullible, do you? Listen, I stopped believing in ghost stories when I realized the real chilling tales were dreams. And that was at age five.”
“You’ve had strange dreams? Gemma, you don’t understand. I sent you those dreams, it wasn’t something your mind just created, it really happened.”
“You are right, I do not understand. Who are you really? Thomas told me that you went to jail two times.”
“I was hungry,” he said miserably.
“What?” Blood flowed in my ears, and my heart was erratic. My fingertips felt numb.
“I couldn’t help myself, she was so near, and she smelled so sweet. I hadn’t eaten for months; I was busy tracking down a killer… “
“Wait,” I halted him, “you are a vampire, and you are not the killer?”
“Yes, like I told you.”
Still unbelieving, I asked, “Where are your fangs, Vincent?”
He smiled a sad, lonely smile. “They only are unsheathed with the promise of blood.”
“Show me,” I challenged him. He shrugged, and leaned forward. Although my primitive instincts told me to run, I held my ground, and felt his lips on my neck. His lips were cold, and I marveled at how odd the sensation was when I felt a sharp searing pain on my neck. When my eyes looked towards the restaurant entrance, I saw Thomas staring right at us.
“Ok, I now know that you are a vampire,” we were still in the car, and I was rubbing my neck, pulling my hand away occasionally to see if it had stopped bleeding. “But, what did you mean when you said that you sent me those dreams?”
Vincent sighed. “What I meant, was the person, the woman, I knew her. She was my sister. Or I should say she is my sister. I found out about the accident, or supposed murder when she didn’t come home that one evening.”
“Wait,” I said, shocked, “She fell into a ravine, there was no way she could have survived that. “
“She’s a vampire, like me, she can survive. Unfortunately, though, she did suffer some brain damage, and she is in a mental hospital right now for some depression. It happens every few hundred years, a vampire falls in love with a mortal, and the mortal ends up dying or hurting the vampire…that’s why most vampires avoid humans, humanity is a desirable trait for the undead. So desirable that some vampires try to obtain it, although they realize they can’t become human once again, it’s refreshing. Being cold all the time, never eating human food, never being able to bear children, we live lonely, long lives. We’re pretty much stripped of the joys of human life. The only way we can become warm is feeding on a human, and that is temporary, to reproduce, a human has to share blood with a vampire. Honestly, though, there is nothing that I wouldn’t do to become a human again.”
I touched his arm. “There is no turning back, right? It is like when I was little. I would always phrase moments that were bad as, “being in a forest” and when something good happened; I would describe it as “being out of the forest.” But no matter if it was a good or bad moment, I was still on a path, it was different, each path led a different place if I chose another option when I was faced with it, but you know what? When I chose wisely, I was “out of the forest” and in the sunshine. You just have to remember to think about things and remember to think about the pros and cons and always try to choose the pros, and you will always be in the sunshine. Basically, like Helen Keller said, ‘Keep your face to the sunshine, and you will never see the shadows.’”
He nodded slowly. “I think I understand.”
I laughed. “I hope you do, because I cannot explain it any better. So, can we go visit your sister? I think she may be able to help us find out who hurt her.”
The mental hospital was a large, white brick building with ivy crawling up the walls and pleasant little gardens labeled “vegetables” or “fruit”. When we entered through the solid wood doors, Vincent headed immediately to the desk and talked with the receptionist. She nodded, and then once shook her head, and then laughed.
Vincent beckoned me to the desk, and the receptionist asked me to sign my name in the guest list. When we began to tread down white hallways, I asked him what he had told her.
“I told her you were my fiancée.” He said simply.
I punched his arm, and, to humor me, he pretended it hurt.
Vincent blocked the doorway with his body, and then faced me. “She speaks in poems and riddles now, so you may have some trouble understanding her,” he said softly.
I nodded, and brushed past him into the room. It was small, with a window that was locked and a tranquil waterfall scene painted on the walls. There were no objects or magazines that she could play or read, as they were especially concerned about depressed patients, because they tended to act irrationally.
There, feeble in the large bed, was Vincent’s sister. She smiled a smile that seemed to me to be hiding something. Vincent hugged her, and she stiffened.
“Emily, this is Gemma. Gemma, this is Emily,” he made the introductions.
Emily squinted at me. She seemed to once have been a pretty girl; her black hair was tied back in a red ribbon, her eyes were dark, her lips had little dimples near them, suggesting she smiled a lot, and she was petite. However, she was very fragile looking, like she would break if I touched her.
“Beware the man you think is true,
Beware the man, who knows you well,
Beware the broken spirit,
Beware his deceiving words.”
She lapsed into silence, and would not say another word. I glanced at Vincent, and puzzled, he shrugged.
Vincent kissed her cheek, and I squeezed her hand and left her a piece of paper and a pen as a nurse bustled in, ushering us out, telling us our visit was, “tiring the patient out.”
When he dropped me off at my house, I paraded up the stairs, dropped myself onto my bed, and pulled out a piece of a napkin where I had written Emily’s words.
I tore a piece of notebook paper from my notebook, and began to write. My list had Vincent’s name on one side, Thomas’ on the other. I wrote key points about each. Vincent was a vampire, and he told me Emily was his sister, however, why would Emily stiffen when Vincent was her brother?
He had a blue car, and blue cars were known to be a common choice of people who had to escape scenes often, because there were many blue cars and they blended in with others.
He told me he killed two people, or at least one, because he was “hungry.”
He knew my name.
He told me he lived a lonely life.
He hid in bars, never seeking direct daylight.
Thomas had mysteriously obtained items that were more expensive then he could afford, and he was also an assistant to a farmer, and Emily’s injury occurred near a farm.
He had/has family problems.
My mum had warned me about him.
My list had multiple clues scrawled off, and scribbling under the names. I tapped my pencil against my teeth. Both men knew me fairly well, both either had or were pretending to have broken spirits, both, to me, were trying to steer me away from the true criminal. So… the real question was, who did I think was true?
As I wearily stepped down the stairs, rubbing my eyes, I glanced over to my mum, who was talking on the phone with one of her girlfriends.
“I know, Betty, I’m very proud of Thomas’ father, it seems he really has decided to move on with his life.”
Pause. My body was tense, I felt like I was going to fall into a million pieces.
“Yes, I know! His son is very well-mannered, he works for a farmer now, you know? I don’t know why those women would ever call him a bad boy. Maybe at one time he was, but he certainly isn’t now. He took my daughter on a date you know? Betty, I’m just very surprised that Thomas’ father decided to take a job as a doctor, it seemed so unlikely, but I guess it’s reasonable to try to save people when you couldn’t even save your own wife.”
I raced up the stairs, and wrote quickly, Thomas’ father got job as doctor, explains cashmere etc. Mum does NOT believe he is a bad boy, just local gossip.
This meant only one thing.
There was a rap on my window. I spun around, fearing that someone was there, but it was only a tree branch scraping there. I sighed with relief, but then, there it was again.
I trembled, and pushed my blonde hair away from my face. Lightning shot across the sky, and lit up a figure in the tree near my window. I was about to scream when the silhouette shot through my closed window, and grabbed me around the waist, pulling me towards him and clapping a hand over my mouth.
“Do not, scream, Gemma,” a frantic voice whispered. My eyes widened, Thomas? He continued, “I saw you in the car with him, and I was not sure what to do to help you, so I decided to do some research on him. When I said he went to jail two times, I was not kidding. He killed two women, murdered them, slit their throats. Emily? Not his sister, she was his fiancée and he tried to kill her. Luckily, because she grabbed onto a branch somewhat down the way in the ravine, she survived. She was not a vampire, like him. He seduces them, promises them things, and kills them. He draws power from their desires and weaknesses. I came here because, I saw his car, and it was heading in this direction. We have to call the police, Gemma.”
Blinding red and blue lights and sirens poured down the roads into or near our house. Vincent had arrived a few minutes after we called, and was intent on harming me. Thomas, however, intervened with the threat of exposing him to fire, and guarded him until the police came.
As he was ducked into the police car, he hissed at Thomas, revealing sharp fangs, and then smiled alluringly at me. His words felt like ice dripping down my spine. “I’m always cold, Gemma, always cold. Blood is the only thing that warms me. I will have yours.”
Thomas silenced him with a fearsome snarl. Addressing the nearest police officer, he said, “Please, at any time, shut him up.”

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Friday, August 10, 2007

My Grandfather, Paul, sat by the fire, he was cradling a cup of hot tea in his brown, wrinkled hands. I was fascinated with his hands. I don’t know why, so I suggest you don’t ask me, but there was something about the way he glanced down at them, a look of affection and shock in his eyes.
I watched him from a distance, in a shadowy corner of the jungle that my family called the living room. I was wedged uncomfortably between the loveseat and a coffee table, and my eyes were two tiny slits that I was trying, with all my might, to keep open. It was far past my bedtime, and yet, I couldn’t sleep, I had to know.
I had to know why Grandpa was just staring at his hands, at his tea, with such a desolate gaze. I was awaiting my chance; awaiting the moment that Mama, or Papa, or even my older sister, Emily, would bring the subject up.
Everyone had to realize something wasn’t right; my grandpa is a man who practically booms when he whispers, and when he laughs I imagine the world is shaking.
But tonight, he is quiet. His posture is almost fragile, more like a woman’s than a man’s, and the shadows flickering on his jaw and forehead make him appear years younger, almost childish. His hands tremble, ever so slightly, and there is a ghost of a wry smile on his lips. His feet shuffle about on the floor, but he seems unaware. I stifle a gasp, as he drops he cup and saucer, and they go clattering on the wood floor.
In the smoky haze emanating from the fire, the tea that is splashing out looks almost red, like wine. Paul jerks his head, and clasps his hand together, “oh, I am dreadfully sorry, Linda, I am sorry, dear; I don’t know what has come over me tonight.”
My mother pounces on the now dripping tea with a handkerchief, fretting over the broken china and stained wood floor. As she dabs it up, and sweeps away the broken glass, it seems as if a face has now taken shape in the ridges and small, miniscule valleys in the wood floors.
I cock my head, and stretch out my neck as far as it will permit me to go so I can ascertain the details of this head my grandfather’s accident has created.
It is of a woman, I can tell because of the delicate bone structure of the face; the high cheek bones and sharp jaw that is rimmed with skin and a thin layer of fat that makes it appear softer; more feminine. The figure’s nose is not describable, as there is a leaf-a leaf? - Slightly risen where a nose should be. Instead of hair, there are long trails of vines, branching off to more slender stems, which finally branch off to a small but sturdy stalk which hold an abundance of grapes.
Her eyes are blank, but there is something very intense about them, as if they are staring into you, smugly boasting that she knows very well about how you work, and while you are trying to discern what she is all about, she can easily say that she is a stain, and nothing more, and there is no way you can ever understand her.
Grandfather stares at the face, his lips parted slightly and his eyes so wide that I know he is shocked, and yet he reaches down, ever so slowly, and brushes his fingertips against the silhouette of the face. He draws back his hand and brushes away tears from his eyes, and, regaining his composure, says gruffly, “You’ll have to excuse me.”
As soon as he passes through the doorway leading to the staircase, I take a deep breath, hold it, and bolt towards the same door. I inhale deep breaths as I try to steady my racing heart. Finally, when I feel somewhat calm, I cautiously crawl up the stairs and into my Grandfather’s room.
His back is to me, and he sits on the edge of his bed, staring out the window into the night. My grandfather is blind in one eye, and he has the advantage of being able to appear as if he is directing his gaze in one direction when he really is looking in another. He called it, “people watching.” He beckons me with his right index finger to come in.
Startled, I jump a little, and then, step by careful step, I creep into his presence. “I am sorry, Natalie, if I scared you tonight. My behavior has been quite odd, I realize, and I’ve cause much distress to your mother.” With this, his eyes roll down to meet mine, and I stare boldly back at him.
I scramble into his lap, and turn my head so I can keep an eye on him. “Grandpa, why were you so odd tonight?” He mulls over my question, and I study his eyes. They are the palest ice blue, and the dark pupils contrast with such extremity to the irises, that the difference is breath-taking. I can see my reflection within them, and, reflected in my eyes, I see almost fear, fear to know what caused my grandfather to be in a trance, of a sort, tonight.
My grandfather opens his mouth, licks his lips, and then begins haltingly: “Natalie, my princess, you know your grandfather is an explorer, he never really thinks he is too old to travel the world. Well, many years ago. When I was a strapping young lad of eighteen, from early fall until late spring, I went on an epic journey to Italy. It was my first time visiting a foreign country by myself, without being accompanied by an older person. I was excited, nervous, of course, but excited to no boundary….”
“I had just checked in to a hotel known as “Prima Donna,” but keep in mind, my dear, that when I was young, all the high-tech propaganda you have today was not in existence. Back then, the world was much wilder; much more uncivilized. Cities were not like they are today; they were young and just beginning to gain their legs in the world. At the time, people relied more on farming than machines, and one of the best businesses was the making of wine.
I, at the time, was in strong favor of wine at celebrations and for relaxation, so I was interested in how wine was made; how did they create white wine from red, how did some red wines taste sweeter than ones that had keys of pungent undertones? Well, Natalie, one of the first things I did was ask for a tour, or at least an educational briefing. A connoisseur eagerly decided to take it upon himself. He was young, like myself, and was trying to prove himself to the elders. A connoisseur, Natalie, is a personage that has the skilled ability to have a refined taste in drink, food, or other articles requiring the ability to judge.
Now, his name was Pablo, and he was a very polite, but rambunctious man. He led me through vineyards, and rattled on about the process of how wine was made. Although I found this very interesting, I was even more intrigued when I learned about Pablo’s secret belief in a god, or rather goddess, which was looked up to for a good harvest, a good season. Her name was Vieira.
The pope did not allow the belief in multiple gods, and so therefore Pablo begged, pleaded for me to keep his secret, and I agreed. Now, although I was very interested in the goddess, I knew that she was a person based off of myth and legends. I did not think much of her, after I returned to my hotel and ate a hearty bowl of soup. I was in my bedroom and was about to drift off when there was a soft tapping on my window. Tap-tap-tap-screeeee. It sounded as if someone had just unlocked and, trying to be stealthy, gently pushed the glass away.
I scrambled out of bed, ran towards the window, and peered out, eyes searching. Confused, I decided I would figure this mystery out. I crawled out of the window, down the intricate twisting stems of a climbing plant, and tumbled to the ground, popped back up, and ran towards the vineyards. I just had this odd, nagging feeling that the person had gone in this direction.
Well, wheezing, I held my knees, looked around, and was about to turn back, when there was a rustling in the vines. I stalked around the area, and then pushed away the thick nest of leaves and grapes. Someone grabbed my shirt, and I collapsed on the ground. She was there, pale legs crossed, fingers twisting a lock of, well, vine. She smiled. And I knew. It was Vieira.
‘You did a very good thing, today, Paul. Pablo is a good man, and it would have been devastating to the world had you let his secret slip, even if it were an accident. As a reward, Italy will be granted a good harvest. And you…’ Her voice trailed off.
‘You will be blessed with good fortune. May all of Italy know your name and respect it. You will become a pope, a pope of Italy. You are of good judgments and have a trustworthy soul. Italy can count on you, and I can count on you, too.’ She kissed me on the cheek, and stood up, bounding off like a gazelle through the vineyards, touching and stroking grapes and vines as she went, whispering sweet words that made them blossom. I think I fell in love that day, and I can’t help but remember her. Later, I was proved right, as Pablo became a poet whose works were widely accepted, and I became the pope.
That is my story. Natalie?”
My head on my grandfather’s chest, I dream. I dream of vineyards basked in the white glow of the moon, and Vieira, sitting on the moon, clapping. “What a wonderful story, Paul. But Natalie, yours has just begun.”

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