The moment when you decide to sell yourself and find no one is willing to buy what you have to offer
we died as ghosts until
we learned how to live
we lived as ghosts until
an exorcism set us free
I’ve been tracing circles on my skin
Looking for the part that itches
And keeps me up at night.
There’s a gash in my side,
It looks a bit like you.
I think it’s healing now;
Or it would
If I could keep my fingers out of it.
October 16. 2104: the last of the pain merchants is put out of business as the nuvacore no-pain newtech system is distributed for free across the transglobal networks, putting an end to doctors and to physical pain. (The psychiatric services see a commensurate boost in clientele.)
This isn’t a love letter. All I desire is that when you smile at me your eyes are a shade less hollow.
“I’m scared. Of my future, of my past, of –.” Boy shook his head. “I might like that. Letting go of being me. I might.”
“Reynard Fox is afraid as well.” Malki stated it as though it was as simple as the sky being blue, and let out a low laugh as Boy tripped over his own feet in response. “All living things fear, Boy. We fear what we are, and place our hopes in our progeny in the hope that they will fear less or at least things other than what we fear.”
“You have children?”
“In those who came after me, yes. Coyote. Crow. Other tricksters, in their many shapes and forms. And some foxes, of course, hither and thither down through the years. All were hopes; not all were disappointments.”
“I went into the Wasting.”
“But perhaps were not a disappointment.”
“I came back out of it.”
“There are worse things than being a disappointment.”
Boy giggled at the bland words and relaxed a little. “I think I fell a little into my head.”
“Crows will do that to you. It is always a cruel thing to ask questions to someone that they cannot answer, to leave behind wounds that will not heal.”
“You don’t do that?” Boy said, but grinned as Malki drew himself up sternly in response.
“I am much more clever about it. A wound that someone never notices is far more effective than one they can bandage.”
Club 333 has no signs, beyond a ‘no minors’ one on the front door. The bouncer at the door is taller than the door and almost as wide. He takes my resume, scans it with a grunt, then informs me of two typos before handing it back. Sometimes the universe offers us clues; most of the time we don’t listen. I go in past him in my third-best jeans and fifth-best shirt; the bartender isn’t tall. She isn’t short either. Brown hair and eyes, possibly some makeup on. Ordinary. Not as an insult like we use at school, but like a fact.
She looks over my resume, hands it back. “Who recommended you?”
“No one applies here without a referral.”
“Because I’m a half-vampire, and I wanted to learn more about it. That. All of it.”
“It’s a bit important,” I snap.
“Accidents of birth seldom are. And we are all that. You may go.”
“I said you may go.”
“I am here to meet a vampire.” I throw it like a challenge.
She doesn’t even blink. “And you are.” And she – I don’t have words for it. A shrug that isn’t a shrug, a twist of lips into something like a smile. It’s all of that, more. It’s the body as a weapon, movements perfect like a song note. I want her, I want to be her, and the moment is gone as quickly as it comes.
Sara doesn’t laugh at all, just pours a glass of water and hands it to me. “Vampires can live forever. Therefore, we hide and we learn to do it well in order that we can live forever. We protect our territory as we protect our own.”
“But Jake –.”
“Shifters help keep the children in line. That is their function in this city.”
“Hopefully to never bother me again.” She pours herself a drink, slow and calm. It smells of fruit, from a bottle without a label. “If you were anything – in the way your friend Jake is something – it would have manifested before now. You can resist us to an extent. You can probably unnerve humans, bite their throats out with words if you must.” She has a sip of her drink. “A great deal of your kind have radio shows. Beyond that, you are not important. If you try to be, we will remove you.”
“So I’m a threat.”
“No. You could rock the boat; we would remove you before that might happen. We do not desire to let the boat – this city – be rocked by anyone because the waves do not discriminate.” Sara gestures to the door. “You may go.”
I almost make a joke about Blade and hunting vampires, but the bouncer is a solid wall behind me and I don’t want to think about what else Sara could do with a smile. If you can charm, you probably know enough to terrify. I’d like to think I grew up with that thought.
I walk out, I leave. I stay friends with Jake, though we don’t talk much about his shifting. I am boring, and I leave it that way because boredom lives when everything else might not.
My name is Lil, and I am a half-vampire and my story isn’t anything at all.
Grit caught in the corner of one’s eye is magic trying to get inside.
We are the quicksand we each are drowning in.
Quicksand went the way of Westerns, simpler
stories for simple times, but no – you can drown
and come up for air, sink deeper again – & repeat.
We can pull each other our, drag each other under.
We are dancing on how coals, easier than it looks,
we are exchanging vows, butterflies as warnings
inside us we’re choked by desperation; all we can do
is call it love, all we are is pretending not to drown.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Bluebeard with a secret room he forbade his wife-to-be to enter. Upon entering it she found his laptop but never guessed his password so they lived together happily ever after.
We are a silence before anything other.
There are poems hiding on
pages I never written, a multitude
of empty sins whispering for life
I cannot believe in muses yet if I did
mine would be hiding where the dead
dare not go (perhaps never smiling)
and there are the blank pages
and there are words without magic
and so I write and so I write and
so hoping repetition will supply a magic
all its own.
Our lives are a series of retcons
the things you believe no longer
what I remember as truth
we are ourselves, together,
domestic becoming disturbance