I read this story on Halloween at my favorite open mic, Saturday Night Special.
“Before we get too involved,” she said, “there are some things I need to tell you. There are things you don’t know about me. I have a secret.”
“I’ve got it,” he said, like it was a quiz. “You’re afraid of commitment.”
“What?” She said. “No.”
“Also I’m guessing you’ve been in some bad relationships. Maybe some abuse. That’s why you’re so insecure.”
Abuse? Insecure? Her?
“I’m not insecure,” she said. “I mean, am I?”
“It’s okay, babe,” he said. “All the women I’m attracted to are insecure. It’s probably something about me.”
She wanted to say, do you know who you’re talking to? She wanted to say, you wouldn’t talk to a man this way, would you? She looked at the soft spot where his jawline met his neck, the pale skin, the soft, dark stubble. That spot was the main reason she hadn’t brushed him off a million times in the last two months they’d been dating.
“Do you want to hear it or not,” she asked.
“Yeah, sure, babe,” he said. “Of course.”
That muscle running thick down the side of his neck. The meatiness of it. The delicious solidity of a grown man, the kind of man who lifted weights three days after work and both days on the weekend. It brought out that thing in her, that primal, hidden thing that the world must never know of.
“Lay it on me,” he said.
She hushed her voice. The room dimmed, and a crackle of electricity filled the air outside the window.
“I am Adrasteia,” she said. “Immortal queen of darkness, perpetual sovereign of the night, undying monarch of the underworld.”
“Wait, what,” he said.
“A vampire,” she said.
“You’re shitting me.” His Adam’s apple bobbed indignantly under that soft, thin skin.
She snarled one side of her lip, flashed demon-yellow eyes, showed him the deadly sharpness of her canine tooth.
“That’s like a metaphor,” he said.
“It’s not a metaphor,” she said. “It’s literal. I’m literally a vampire.”
“Right, I was just telling my buddy that. I was like, this girl I’ve been seeing, she’s literally a vampire.”
“But you didn’t mean literally,” she said.
“It’s a metaphor for feeling invisible,” he said. “Like how vampires don’t show up in the mirror.”
“I don’t feel invisible,” she said.
“And how you always come out all awkward in photos, like you don’t know what to do with your face.”
“The vampire metaphor,” he said. “Vampire is a metaphor for invisible or no one really sees you. It’s in that novel The Woman Warrior.”
“When did you read a novel?” she asked.
“You’re remembering it wrong.” She straightened her long, silk-lined cloak, ran her fingers through her hair so her widow’s peak looked extra widowy. “Vampire is not a metaphor for invisible. You’re thinking of ghosts.”
“I’m not thinking of ghosts.” He touched his neck, brushing away a strand of shaggy hair. “We’re just going to have to agree to disagree.”
“No, we’re not,” she said. “I’m a vampire and you’re not, so you can’t tell me what vampires are and aren’t a metaphor for. You’re not an expert on everything.”
“Okay, miss vampire. Why don’t you tell me. What is vampire a metaphor for?”
His dark sweater had little holes in the weave, she realized. Through them, she could see the swell of his collarbone.
“Violent physical appetites,” she said.
He opened his mouth to argue, but she covered it with one long-clawed hand. She used the other hand to pull his head back. There it was, the soft neck. She stretched the skin tight over the small blue veins and took took a long, satisfying bite, savoring the thickness of his blood, the heavy smell of laundry detergent and unearned confidence.