Breathe

Steady gaze; eyes like the horizon; Jeremiah counted to eight there before the woman he had once loved with abandon. Terribly frightened, Adeline’s chest was tight and her heart beat heavy.

“Don’t look away from me,” he demanded. Of all the people she knew—all the ones who had been by her side for years—he was the only one who could help her during an attack. The only person who could bring her ease.

Long and slow, she inhaled as her hands shook inside his. Deep and careful, she exhaled. It was never simple and it was never quick. Much like the tension she felt for him.

Like many times before, it had been the night air that brought her discomfort. It started as a tickle, an ignorable trait that she should have paid attention to. Her mind had been full, though; the park abounded with the music of twenty or more symphony players. They went on for two hours to benefit the family of a man who had drowned weeks ago.

As discreet as possible, Jeremiah counted to Adeline again and again near a tree in partial darkness. The scent of the lawn, freshly cut that morning, lingered in the atmosphere, particles threatening Adeline’s very life.

“Here, baby,” an older man came running quickly with an inhaler in his hands. Adeline took hold and breathed in the medicine. In seconds, she could feel relief. Continue reading “Breathe”

Breathe

A Thousand Stars

Something about the theater had always gifted Mary with a sense of fullness. Now, almost a week after opening night, the auditorium was dark and empty; the lighting dim. She stood on stage left without the courage to walk across the stage. In her mind, she counted; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight; eight rows back. Once more she counted; one, two, three, four; fourth seat in from the left. This was his seat. At every opening and final show, he was there.

She walked through a thin door on the right of the stage and entered a hall, and about twenty feet down was a black door. Mary turned the handle and walked in eyeing the glowing yellow light on the far wall. It did not smell of vanilla as it had before the accident.

She collected her tape measure, put a pencil over her ear and adjusted her thick, black-rimmed glasses. She grabbed her notebook from the desk and then noticed a white tulip lying there near her things.

Mary inhaled.

She took the tulip in hand and twirled the green stem in her delicate fingers—ones pierced by needles and sore from endless costume repairs. She held the tulip close to her face and could smell the pureness of the petals. It was her favorite flower, but how did anyone know? She had only ever received flowers once in her life; when she first arrived at the theater two years ago. She had graduated school and made the move, and her father was never happier.

To my princess, the card said. Twenty white tulips on her first opening night; delivered just before the show for everyone to see.

She took in the memory, and then tossed the flower into the garbage along with the others. Continue reading “A Thousand Stars”

A Thousand Stars

The Humanity of the Vampire #8

ONYX

The morning sun filtered in over Lou as she lay in Jack’s arms. It was unusually cool for September, but still it was Lou’s favorite time of year. The park was in her mind then, and even though she knew she’d have to wear something warm, the day would be beautiful.

“Why doesn’t the sun bother you?” she asked the vampire.

With a moan, the man nestled in tighter to her body and kissed her bare shoulder. “It does, but only when I’m starved.” Lou gazed out the window and watched wispy clouds flow under the cerulean sky. “I’m not a monster from the devil’s mind. And the sun isn’t a weapon of god.”

Lou glanced to the ring on her finger and smiled. “Do you have a ring?”

“It’s in the top drawer,” he spoke. Lou couldn’t see his eyes from where she lay, but he was looking to the dresser.

“Is it like mine?”

“Exactly.”

The vampire kissed his mortal’s shoulder again, trailing down her upper arm. She closed her eyes and reached up to feel his hair in her hand. “I know there’s things you won’t tell me,” she whispered. Jack lifted his lips from her body and watched as she rolled to face him. “I want you to know that it’s okay.”

Jack’s eyes lifted to the wall and then he rolled to his back. The silence ate away Lou. She pulled the sheet over her chest and leaned onto him.

“I didn’t mean to—”

“I hurt you,” he whispered. Lou’s eyes searched his face for answers, but he was still. “You won’t ever remember it.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t let you feel that pain again. I won’t.” Continue reading “The Humanity of the Vampire #8”

The Humanity of the Vampire #8