Barbara smiled as she left the restaurant with Elsie.
John and Clarice walked ahead of them. They were lost in a relaxed conversation and didn’t look back at their respective daughters even once.
“It’s good to see him like this.” said Barbara.
“What? You aren’t jealous?” asked Elsie.
“Oh, please. Don’t play dumb blonde. You know what I mean. Don’t you feel like he’s betraying your mother’s memory by trying to move on too fast?”
Barbara looked straight ahead. “My mom died when I was thirteen.” She paused. “I’m no longer thirteen.” She stopped walking and Elsie followed suit. “If he’s all ready to move forward, I’m not gonna get in his way.”
Elsie didn’t respond to that.
Barbara looked at her. “Are you jealous?”
“I don’t know. I want her to be happy, but the thought of potentially calling someone else ‘Dad’…” Elsie shook her head. “It’s too surreal.”
Barbara giggled. “Well. That’s jumping pretty far ahead. They’ve just met.”
“And look at them. They’re not throwing themselves at each other, but the spark is there. I’m not able to see energies like my mom can, but…Just look at them.”
Barbara watched them.
Clarice and John kept walking to her car, blissfully unaware that their daughters were no longer following them.
Barbara smiled. Her thoughts turned to Ambrose.
I shouldn’t bother him.
He’s probably sleeping.
Her smile grew as she thought about the sound of his sleep-slushed voice.
So, I’ll bother him.
She pulled out her cellphone and called him.
She listened to his phone ring and ring and ring.
He didn’t pick up.
It went to his voicemail.
Hm. Too bad. He must be sound asleep. “Hi there, kitten. Just calling you to bug you. I have some surprising news to tell you. Bet you’re all curious about what it is. But I’m not going to tell you yet. You’ll just have to wait for tomorrow night.” She felt a slight ache in her chest. “I wish I could see you tonight. But don’t worry. I’ll be good. I’ll stay inside and barricade the doors.”
She imagined him sleeping with his face burrowed into his pillow. Her fingers ached with the need to touch him. “I love you. I love you so darn much. I wish. Oh, Ambrose. I wish…” She suddenly felt self-conscious about Elsie overhearing her love love love message. “I’ll talk to you later. I love you.”
The world around Ambrose moved in stuttered, staggered lines, jolting and jouncing him.
As if he were on a train.
He opened his eyes.
The ceiling was made out of blood and it dripped in dense, wet clots. It clumped in his hair and glumped down his face, leaving behind sweet-scented stains. It smelled like semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla bean.
Ambrose leaned his head back and stuck out his tongue as if he were catching snowflakes.
The clots landed on his tongue and dissolved, leaving a faint trace of their scent in his mouth.
His stomach growled with hunger.
“I want more. I want more. I WANT!”
Ambrose opened his eyes.
And the hallucination ended, leaving him in the painful throes of a witch hazel hangover.
From the top layer of his skin deep into his bone marrow, it hurt as if someone were slicing through him with a raggedy-edged knife.
For two whole hours.
The pain stopped, leaving Ambrose drained.
He collapsed to his hands and knees and vomited everything that was in his stomach.
He pressed the back of his hand against his mouth.
I wish you were here.
With your arm around my back.
Your hand stroking my back.
Ambrose lowered his hand as he finally noticed the change in his surroundings.
He was no longer on Kevin’s front porch.
His pupils widened.
He was in a small room.
Surrounded by metal bars.
He ran towards the bars.
Only to collide into an invisible wall.
His breath froze in his throat.
Memories assailed his mind.
People coming to stare at the vampire.
Laughing and staring at the vampire.
“No. I can’t go back. I can’t.”
He spent his endless days walking around the enclosure, trying to find a weakness.
Trying to find an exit.
Trying to escape.
He reached into his pocket for his cellphone.
Only to remember that it was still lying right where he left it.
On Kevin’s bed.
The sun was hot and merciless.
There was no shade.
There was no escape.
“I can’t go back to that. I can’t!” He assaulted the invisible wall with his claws.
It was a useless venture.
No matter how hard he tried.
No matter how long he tried, the wall did not break.
Ambrose dropped down to his knees. “Barbara.” He sobbed. “I can’t go back there. I can’t. I can’t.”
He buried his face in his hands. His shoulders shook as he cried.
She’ll never find me.
I’ll never see her again.
After everything that I’ve gone through.
After enduring so many doubts and fears.
This is how I end?
To be thrown into an exhibit and forgotten.
He saw her face.
Heard her giggle.
Felt the warmth of her voice in his ear.
He moaned as if he were still in pain.
“Barbara. I want to marry you. I want to see you walk down the aisle in a glorious wedding dress. I want to say those words that will make us husband and wife. I want…”
He saw that future slip away from him.
And it broke him inside.
He curled up on the floor with his head pressed against the invisible wall.