Short Story: Discrete Young Ladies
Summary: A vampire has a craving to explain the facts of life to anyone who'll listen.
Disclaimer: I don't need no stinkin' disclaimer, it's original! I claim, I claim!
Discrete Young Ladies
"What's your name," Mrs. Piotrowski snapped her fingers a couple of times, but the name didn't come. "You in the middle, you're not supposed to wear a hood in class."
"Come on, it's December, you think you'd know her name by now," someone called.
"Clara Morales," she muttered, shaking the lavender hood off.
"Sorry Clara," the Algebra teacher said before writing a set of equations on the board underneath the words "Find the point of intersection." Clara's eyes swept room with a slight smile. There weren't any windows.
The boy who had asked the teacher why she didn't know Clara's name yet waved at her and smiled widely. he had dimples.
When the bell rang to let class out, Clara left her hood down and slunk into the orangy florescent light of the hallway to dump her books in her locker and collapse at a lunch table, alone, and tried to remember why she went to class anyway. It wasn't as if anyone but Karen would notice if she never went back, and Karen wouldn't care. If anyone bothered to look, they'd find out that Clara Morales had been dead and buried since before any of the other students had been born. Karen propped Clara's coffin up in her bedroom closet when they moved to the new apartment with little herb scented packets full of soil from the cemetery she had first been laid to rest in stuffed between the cushions. But no one would look. The living didn't like to remember the dead girls that they talked to, even when they didn't know those girls were dead.
Well she wasn't at school to sit alone at a lunch table. She picked up her lunchbox and threaded her way through the tables until she saw the boy that had spoken up in class and smiled at the boys around him. "Can I sit here?"
Startled, the boys scooted down to make room for her as the boy she'd come over to see bit his lip and the other boys whistled and jeered. "Yeah, sure."
She opened her thermos and sipped the red stuff inside, "Tomato soup," she said, and their eyes slid over it.
"So what's your name?"
"What's your name?"
"Saul," he replied, stretching his legs out under the table until another boy kicked him.
"Clara." This was nice, she told herself, they might forget her the second she walked away, but right now it was nice.
The moon had just started to wane, so Clara walked into the apartment to see a three year old sitting on the kitchen table licking envelopes and pressing them shut. "And you ask me why I never bring any friends home."
Karen crossed her stubby arms and snorted. "You can keep track of the moon as well as I can," she said in her garbled babyish voice.
"I was teasing you, and you know it."
"Bad day at school?" the blond, pasty-faced little girl asked.
"No." Not really, "But I had a lousy walk home." She held up her wet umbrella, "because we're in Florida, where it's eighty degrees in December, and sometimes it rains while the sun's still shining."
"Soon as the housing market turns around, we'll move somewhere else, and you can complain about that."
"Everybody looks at me like a freak because I even own a jacket with a hood."
“Not long, dear." The chubby paper cut hand patted her shoulder.
"We could go back to Southern California," she shot back, "I liked it there, I wouldn't complain about that."
"I got you pig's blood this time, is that enough instead?"
"Hey, Saul," she said cheerfully, "Remember me? I'm Clara from Algebra."
"Yeah," he lied, his eyebrows meeting in the middle.
"Mind if I eat lunch with you? I'm new here."
"No, but you'll be a nerd forever if you do." They walked to her locker and then to his before they stepped into the cavernous cafeteria. "God, I hate this school, no windows," he muttered.
Her fingers played with her hood, "They thought it was a good idea in the seventies, saved energy or something."
"Yeah," She swung her legs over the bench and slid to the middle.
"So who's this?" asked one of the boys she'd seen the day before.
"Clara," she said, unclipping the top of her lunch box and pulling out her thermos, sipping while he strode off to buy his lunch.
The boys poured over a video game magazine with glossy pictures of a computer generated man with thin eyes and blond spiky hair surrounded by trees and clouds, and Japanese letters. "You like video games?" one of the boys asked, and sent the magazine sliding across the table to her when she nodded.
"I beat this one last month," she said, pointing.
"Lucky," he groaned, "I'm still saving up for it, can I borrow it?"
She shook her head, "Still working on the side-quests."
When Saul sat back down beside her, he picked up her thermos, taking a sip. "That is not soup," he insisted, spitting everything left in his mouth onto the table.
"Pig's blood," she whispered so that only he could hear. What kind of person drank someone else’ lunch without permission anyway?
"Oh my God." He shot to his feet, glancing around for a teacher, but Clara caught his hand.
"I have to show you something," she mumbled, dragging him out of the cafeteria and down the hall to crayon green double doors. He tried to pull away, but she had played every sport she could, and he hadn't had his big growth spurt yet. Banging through the double doors, Clara tossed back the hood. The sun shimmered down through the humid haze and he stared at the place her head and hands had been. He could feel her hand around his wrist still, but he couldn't see it in the sunlight.
"Wh-what are you?" he shouted yanking his wrist away from her. When she let go, he staggered back into the building wall. She stepped next to him, into the shade of the overhanging roof. He stepped away from her, out into the sun and pulled her arm up to stare at her invisible hand. His lip quivered and he gulped before he peered down her sleeve into the shadows to see her arm there, the bones, muscle, and blood vessels like a medical book cut away. "What the hell are you?"
"Vampire," she whispered, "dead thing."
"How-" he stuttered.
"I don't know, okay?" she yelled. "All I know is, I got hit by some idiot in a stupid sports car, and then I was banging on the top of my coffin and Karen was digging me out, twenty two years ago."
"Karen?" he asked.
"Huh," he whispered hollowly, "I should have guessed."
"We live together. I take care of her when she's little, and she lets me stay. It's nice, she has an inheritance, so all she has to do is manage her investments and play the housing market." Karen was going to have to pretend to die soon and make herself her heir, so that no one would wonder why she was living so long.
"Little?” he stared, and she shrugged. "And you go to school?"
"Not always," she sank to the sidewalk, hands around her knees, "but it's just me and Karen all the time, and there's never anyone else to talk to, because it's hard to make friends when you're a few years older each day or no one remembers you as soon as your out of the room."
"Why do they forget you that way?" he asked, shaken.
"I'm dead, it happens."
"So you drink pig's blood."
"I worked at a grocery store in the meat department for a while, but they kept forgetting to give me my paycheck."
"I'm glad I don't keep kosher," he gasped flippantly, eyes crossed.
Clara relaxed. "Yeah."
"You're not what I pictured a vampire would be," Saul laughed, "You're not," pale? she wondered, "I mean, you have acne."
"Yeah, but it's always the same acne," she poked a pimple on the side of her nose, "no surprises."
"Well, that's nice I guess."
"So, why does everyone forget you?" he asked again, forlorn.
"I'm dead. The dead are discrete."
"So you keep secrets?" he said blankly.
"No, separate, distinct from the living. It's not spelled the same."
"I'll remember you," he assured her.
"No you won't." she chuckled, "I might not go to school anymore anyway. I'm sick of it."
"Hey, no kidding, me too." She snorted. "Have you ever, you know, talked to me this way before?"
"Not you," she murmured standing and slipping back inside the school, "others though." She let the door close.
Saul looked around him, bewildered, trying to remember why he was outside. If he stayed out much longer, someone would come by and he'd get detention.
Author's Note: I wrote this right around the time that Twilight, and by extention vampire romances, were becoming really popular. Some of you might know my feelings about Twilight. This is my short, sad, answer to the entire genre. This time the vampire's the girl, she can't turn anybody, and there's no romance at all. Of all my short stories, I think I like this one best, and according to one of my friends, it has the best line she thinks I've ever written in it. "The living didn't like to remember the dead girls that they talked to, even when they didn't know those girls were dead," if you're curious. I could say the invisibility and the being forgotten were metaphors for adolescent isolation, and that Clara's need to occasionally tell her story is representative of our human need to connect. Really though, I was just thinking "Now why would a vampire actually go to high school, and what would really happen? And yes, I'm aware the title's an absolutely horrible play on words.