Note: this is the start of a new segment. As a few of you are aware, I’m never really alone. There are people in my head, a few former victims. It’s punishment or at the very least a curse. To my mind, this is another reason vampires prefer to have people around, because we hear voices when we’re alone and see their faces staring back in reflections everywhere. Still thinking of becoming a vampire as a career goal?
I have a taste for cinnamon sugar. In my tea, my hot chocolate…even a dash in milk. As with everything not my preferred drink (copious amounts of the red stuff), I can only tolerate people foods in tiny amounts. For solids, no more than a finger-swipe across the rim of a jar. For liquids, barely a thimble full.
“I hate English toffee,” Daniel said as I sipped a new favorite.
Vampires can’t prepare thimble-sized portions of anything; I’ve tried and it never tastes right. I can try to make as little as possible and take an occasional sip, but unless I have someone there with me who can consume my leftovers, I end up throwing most of any real food or drink out.
My Gramma’s kitchen is my proving ground for new concoctions, but unless someone else is around, I only have the opinion of ghosts. While the limit of their experience is the same as mine, we don’t always share the same opinion.
I sat on the other side of the kitchen table with the warm coffee mug cupped in my hands. “What don’t you like about it?”
“It tastes like burnt sugar.”
I smiled. “That’s what I like about it.”
My mom used to make peanut butter cookies, but I discovered by accident that they taste better slightly singed (which wasn’t my dad’s favorite). If I set the cooking timer three or so minutes longer, I got the whole batch to myself.
Daniel was making that face again when I looked back up at him, a combination of longing and disappointment. Before he died, he’d perfected that expression, like a neglected puppy tolerating being ignored just before he started howling. I also figured out since then that it was really just his way of getting whatever he wanted, and I let that work more times than I should have. To his credit, it was hard to ignore that boyish face of his.
I keep a few bottles of Diet Coke around, the smallest ones I can find that still have a twist top. I took a fresh one out, opened it, and sipped. A sly satisfying grin appeared on Daniel’s face.
“That’s the stuff,” he said.
“With a nasty aftertaste.”
“You get used to it.”
I twisted the cap back on tightly and put it back. “Ick.”
We looked into each other’s eyes for a moment, the way we used to when we could still touch one another. In an instant, my mind was filled with the memory of his hands in my hair, warm lips pressed to mine, holding my breath as he pulled on my hips, his bloodied throat-torn corpse inside the cellar…damn it.
“Well, that was fun while it lasted,” he said.
“To your credit,” I consoled, “you usually lasted longer than that.”
“I was never good to you. Not really.”
“You were young and inexperienced. I kept pulling you back in just when you’d worked up the courage to leave. If I’d given you up then, maybe you would…”
“Stop it,” he whispered.
I caught myself staring at the cellar door at the end of the kitchen. It was where I slept during the day. It was where I was murdered. It was where I murdered Daniel. And for no good reason I could think of, I didn’t hate that chilly little room half-buried in the hillside.
I sipped my English toffee coffee again. I let the pleasure of it replace my darker thoughts.
Daniel’s hand touched mine. I imagined I could feel it. “I’m glad I remind you of your humanity.”
“Me, too. Don’t ever stop doing that.”