How To Survive Your Death

Dear Em,

You asked me two questions tonight that it’s time I answered. Here goes. This is going to take a few pages, I’m afraid, cause, questions like these can’t be put into haiku. I’ve got time. If there’s one thing I’ve got, it’s time. Doomed to immortality can be hard to swallow for anybody, not just the being immortal part, but, worse, knowing you’re immortal. No one ever talks about that, the knowing part, when they talk about your mother’s deathstyle. I think that next to the Jews, Vampires have been the most persecuted minority in history. Must suck being a Jewish Vampire.

I understand many people take the sucking of human blood personally, but, what can I do? You know all those stories that show vampires living off the blood of sheep or cows were written by people who have never actually been vampires. As my daughter, you know how close I come to passing as human. I don’t look like a cow, do I? (Be nice). Could a blood transfusion from a cow save the life of a human? So, why should you ever imagine the blood a vampire needs can be anything other than human and anything other than living? I need living human blood to survive, this is about the worst thing you can say about me.

I’ve been a good mother to you, haven’t I? You think this deathstyle has been easy on me? I mean, I have a serious handicap, daylight. I don’t think you’ve ever truly appreciated the struggle it is to have such an allergic reaction to something so commonplace as daylight while raising a teenaged daughter. And this allergy will last forever because there will never be an antihistamine short of an eclipse for me.

You are my sunshine, Emily. Before you, I didn’t live. I was truly dead inside until you gave me birth. The Spanish say, dar a luz, to give light. You give me light. Though, technically I’m your mother, you gave birth to me, May 2nd, fifteen years ago. I was thirty-one when I was bitten and the year was 1772, so, that makes me… too old. Most vampires my age don’t have teenage daughters. Soon we’re going to have to call each other sisters and there will come a night when someone will mistake you for my mother, get ready for it.

But your questions. It’s been hard keeping all this from you. It was harder going through it. I’ve kept it from you as much to spare you as to spare me. Now, I feel the need to tell you this, as much as you need to feel this. Ready?

You’re getting old enough to see what men like and are like. I hope for both our sakes that you’re still too young to have shared that with one of them. You’re an old-soul fifteen, Emily, but, you’re still fifteen. I’ve liked some men, I’ve even loved one of them. Before love, the love that gave light to you, I would never intentionally meet a man for anything other than dinner. Now there are your teachers, your coaches, lately the boyfriends you’ve been bringing home, sneaking home, mostly. Do you think I don’t know about the boys you take upstairs after school? The ones who always slip right back out just before dark?

I trust you, Emily, though, I feel that I barely know you anymore. You’ve been so quiet. I trust you, but, I don’t trust these boys you bring home. I know it’s been hard on you having a part-time mother, so I haven’t said anything, but, now I’m saying something. I know this will make me even more unpopular with you, but, I’ve got to tell you not to bring home any more people in the daytime. Your friends are more than welcome to come over any night, they’re welcome to stay the night, and depending on their sex, they’re welcome to share your bedroom. It’s been so long since you had a girlfriend sleep over. I know you don’t have people stay over because of me. You’re afraid I’ll embarrass you, or worse.

You think I don’t feel worse knowing I have never made a single school event, only parent-teacher nights? No picnics, graduations, careers days. Could you imagine me at careers day? What do you do? I feast on the living, you? Ridiculous. If it wasn’t for the time schedule of careers day, I think I could pull off a pretty good careers night. I could talk about my antique collection, and how antiques are sold online, and online advertising. I could easily do a good hour’s worth, I think.

You don’t see me as a successful business woman, do you? You see me only as mom, and vampire. That’s the look I get when I sit across from you watching you eat dinner. I know that look, your father had that same look, that look, like, ‘and where’s your food?’ I sit with you because I love seeing you, and I cooked your dinners because I love you, and I love watching you eat, I love watching you anything. I’m sorry that anything can never include breakfast and lunch.

But getting back to visitors, as long as we’re living together, you must respect that your mother doesn’t feel comfortable with people in the house in the daytime. You know I don’t have the energy to come upstairs and meet any of them, and so I don’t know who you’re bringing home, Emily, he could be a hunter for all I know, and I’m talking about a hunter for both of us. I’m vulnerable in the daytime, sweetheart. I know you’re no pushover, anytime, but, you haven’t been around as long as I have. You sneak in all your boyfriends in the daytime knowing I’m not coming up to meet them, and that means I’ll never eat somebody you love, or just think is cute. Sweetheart, you know I would never eat anyone you bring home, unless of course, you wanted me to. But, I really don’t want you mixed up in any of that and you know I’d never ask, or expect you to pick me up takeout.

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