Excerpt from “Bethany”

I started writing this story two years ago.  Even though the “age” of the Vampire story may be waning, I’m still moving forward with working to have Bethany’s story published.  In the meantime, if you like vampire stories, then here is a little something to whet your appetite.   ;) – CAG

I watched my daughter from a few hundred yards away.  The deepening wrinkles were permanently etched on her face no matter how much of the expensive anti-wrinkle creams she used.  Some of her wispy gray hair had escaped the scarf she had tied around her head to protect it from the misty rain that never seemed to stop coming down here in the hills.  Goosebumps danced on her skin despite the wool coat she wore as well as the sweater she wore underneath that.  The same mountain breeze tugged a tendril of hair from behind my ear and it danced in the wind as if it were a snake being charmed.  I deftly grabbed it and tucked the long curly midnight black strands back into place. 

A tear ran down her cheek as I watched her put flowers, white gardenias, on the hump of grass and dirt, leaning them up against the black marble headstone.  My red tears mimicked her salty ones.  I closed my eyes and yearned for the days long gone by when she was young, vibrantly full of life and not standing as she was before me now, her life waning like the moon just before sunrise. 

Miranda….her name filled my mind, slipped past my cold lips and flittered into the air like a moth.  I know that she couldn’t have heard me but we must still share that harmless mother-daughter bond, because she looked up, startled out of her melancholy filled reverie and searched the woods that lay beyond the cemetery. Whether by chance or choice, her feeble eyes looked in vain for whatever it was she thought that had disturbed her.  I stood in plain sight, knowing she would only see wood trunk and shadow and not the pale ghostly specter that I had become.  So be it…all for the greater good I thought.  But my heart wanted better. 

After searching a few moments and not seeing anything (and I am sure that in her heart she did not truly want to see what it was that had disturbed her) she turned around slowly and began walking with caution.  Using her cane to brace her steps on the uneven ground, she finally made it to the paved pathway that led back to the limousine that waited for her.  Every Sunday after church my Miranda repeated this sad ritual; every Sunday since the day I died nearly thirty years ago and was buried underneath that hump of grass and dirt. And each Sunday, I have stood in these woods beyond the cemetery to watch her and mourn our loss together in secret.

I watched as the driver pulled out slowly onto the main road, gained speed as he entered onto the streets and finally accessed the highway; moving on until even my bewitched eyes could no longer see it.  I headed back to my little home that lay deep in the darkened woods.  The sky was thick with clouds and the overhead canopy of the woods  would allow me to come and see my precious daughter so long as I kept to the deep shadows.  I would weaken but I wouldn’t burn and I didn’t need to sleep as legend would have one believe of my kind. I didn’t need to drink blood every day but after submitting myself to the strongly filtered rays of daylight I did need to feed in order to regain all my strength.  

My transformation into one of the infamous undead was not without the need of a continuous sacrifice; a sacrifice that I effortlessly took from lesser, weaker beings.  It was a necessary evil that I visited upon unsuspecting people; most of them deserved the death that I gave them…most of them.  I was still young enough to care about who I killed. I know that it will not always be this way for me, so while sometimes I agonize over what I have to do to survive I also cherish it just the same. 

It was a small price to pay in exchange to have the strength to exact my revenge on those that slaughtered my family over eighty years ago.  I have long since ended my blood feud and now live in peace; if peace is what you call it when you occasionally wind up hiding in a cave hidden deep in the woods because staying in your home and coming out to feed proved unwise.  Sometimes feeding meant traveling long distances to big cities, going to various bars or clubs to mingle among the human race that I once belonged to and culling out the wicked for food.  At times, I’m taken over by a bit of melancholy and I hum an old hymn into the wound of the innocent while I feed.  I am not savage unless it’s warranted. 

While I didn’t exactly choose this life, I’ve become grateful for it.  This dark gift, as it is sometimes called, was given to me by one who was much older than I.  I can only guess that she felt pity on me or perhaps it was because she longed for a companion; a sister to walk the night with.  But after helping me to dispatch half of the blood lustful gang that killed most of my family, she disappeared leaving me to find my own way on this path to I don’t know where. 

I know she still walks the night, somehow I believe that I would have felt it if she had died.  I harbor no ill will towards her for abandoning me.  In fact, I’m grateful to be on my own and not have to share my continued existence with her.  I knew enough about what I had become to survive.  Cassandra was quiet, kept pretty much to herself unless it was time to hunt.  We spoke very little about her past; mostly she listened to me about mine. I am still in awe of her; her savagery was indisputable, she could be ruthless when it was warranted and for her it always seemed to be warranted.  She was cunning and a little insane I think.  I learned a lot from Cassandra; we hunted well together. But I always was leery of her, not knowing what was going on in her head.  I think she was like that on purpose. I don’t know if I will ever see her again and in the back of my mind I am not sure that I really want to.

All was well until this very day, when I could smell the mark of death on my Miranda.  A rage that I had not felt in a long while rose and consumed me.  I wanted her to join me and fight death’s approach but my Miranda was a devout Christian and would only see me as an abomination, I knew that and so I never revealed the truth to her.  It might unhinge her delicate mind to know that I was not truly dead; to figure out what I’ve become…I could not do that to her.  The truth of that stung me like lemon juice stings when poured into a wound.  I could do nothing but wait until the pain went away.  After all that’s what I had…an abundance of time, didn’t I?

The day came when my beloved Miranda went home to glory, as we used to say inFaithTabernacleChurch.  She went home to be with her Jesus and I raged at the idiocy of a good woman like her passing away.  I watched as her angelic spirit slipped free of its human bondage.  Before it loosed itself to the breeze that wafted from the heavenly realm, her spirit form turned and looked right at me and smiled. 

That one act, that final farewell did more for healing my hardened mind than anything else in the world.  I watched as her sons and daughter, my grandchildren, buried her next to her husband.  I watched as they spoke the words and shed the tears and cried the laments of the mournful.  I watched as they walked away to their cars and drove off down the highway to rejoin the pace of the living. I stood alone in the shadows and felt happy that at least she would find solace in heaven. I was just a bit jealous of that….just a little.

That Sunday, I came again to visit the cemetery and stood at my burial mound.  Only this time it was night and the moon was full, it’s bright beams falling on the ground lighting up the dew drops on the leaves and grass giving the ground a kiss of light so that it looked as if a million tea candles sat nestled in the dark earth.  I stood there in front of my tombstone and mourned my passing.  I cried for my lost soul and I cried for my Miranda who was no longer lost but found just as the old hymn says. 

Long before she could see me, I heard the approach of my granddaughter, Melody.  I knew it was her since she always smelled of gardenias and fresh cut grass; her love of horticulture wrapped its essence in her skin. I remembered how she used to work with her mother in the garden just as I used to work with Miranda before that fateful day.  The scent of the garden lingers on those who love to work in the soil. But just beneath the lovely scent that lay on Melody’s skin, there was an odor of illness; the tell tale sign of a foul sickness raging within her.  Its lethal presence was invisible to the observer but it was there none the less, I could smell its stench.  On the outside, she would appear to be in perfect health.  But soon the disease would overtake her and the healthy glow would disappear quickly. 

As I searched her mind, I became aware that she understood this.  I was surprised at how well she seemed to adjust to this devastating news. But more surprising, was that fact that she was searching for me; not for my grave…but for me.  It seemed that my granddaughter knew many things including who and what I was.

– an excerpt from “Bethany” by C. A. Griffin

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