I used to work the late shift at a suicide hotline in Atlanta. It must have been two years after I’d turned. I still didn’t have really good “people skills” since every living bipod I saw I wanted to drain, not that I ever had the skills when I was alive. Before my vampire birthday my peers often ostracized me because I wore glasses and practiced good table manners, unforgiving qualities in the eyes of my graduating class—the few things I remember about who I used to be. My eyesight had improved but my popularity was still the same. I had been in the papers, caught feeding on some sorority girls one night at the university, and so I needed a good alibi. I liked the suicide hotline gig because it was a good way to find food while staying out of trouble. And, I’ll admit, it did make me feel a little better about killing—I mean, it doesn’t count if they are already going to kill themselves. If anything I was helping them out, giving them the push they needed to actually do it. Besides, letting all that blood go to waste would have been ridiculous.
Most of the calls I’d went on were a blur of blood and rage, but I do remember this one particular call. I answered the phone in the most sincere a voice I could muster and the woman spoke back in a soft coo.
“I can’t go on without him,” she said in such a delicate waver. Her tone was more of a broom-gently-rubbing-against-hardwood sound than a crying one.
I suggested that she go to the hospital before she hurt herself, as I always did, but I didn’t have the intentions of letting her do so.
“Better yet,” I whispered, my tongue slithering across the receiver, “I will call them for you. What is your address?”
She complied. I informed by manager that I had to go to the bathroom, but slipped out the back, and flitted across town in a couple of minutes.
There she was, standing in the doorway. Too upset to put on proper clothes, she was dressed in a blue tee and matching panties. She was thin, but her smell was intoxicated; she was a blood red rose with dropping, tear-seeping petals. I reached out and his thorns.
“Please, kill me.” She held a knife. The teeth ready to bite into her wrist.
What’s this? Forfeit? Usually when actually faced with death, my victims came to their senses and tried to run. The chase, the game, was what made the meal. I was ready to play, but she wasn’t.
“You don’t want to do that, er…” I didn’t normally have to speed time on formalities, so I had never learned her name. With my vamp-acuteness I did a quick scan of the room and saw a photograph or her through her open bedroom door; she is standing with a guy whose arm is around her, their name written underneath in thick black sharpie.
I also discovered a pair of dark-rimmed glasses, one of the lenses lying on the floor. I didn’t have to have amazing vampire-sight to see the kitchen table dressed in a brown tablecloth and covered with a southern spread complete with fried chicken. I remember fried chicken, a friend of mine used to make it for me every year on my birthday—I used to suck on the bones. What was that old friend’s name? I can’t remember. Anyways, the flame had burned out on the candles quite some time ago and the food hadn’t been touched.
At that point I had no intentions of feeding; her lack of fight disgusted made me lose my appetite and honestly I was begging to feel sorry for her, her being stood up and all. But she scraped the knife against her wrist—a few beads of blood appeared and that was all she wrote. Within the breadth of a breath, I’d snapped her neck, wrenched out a few quarts of blood into one of the soup bowls on the table and took a seat.
As I stood up straight and spooned the delicious crimson liquid between my fangs, I was barraged by images of Clara’s life: her mother singing a song of beeps to her that sounded not unlike the trill of my hotline phone, her getting laughed at in class—a multiple of fingers pointed at her glasses—and image after image of her watching John, the boy in the picture with her in her bedroom.
I whipped my mouth of her and walked to the door. I caught myself trying to primp in the mirror for a split second until I realized I didn’t have a reflection. I rubbed the spot where my old glasses used to rest on my nose and then flitted back across town.
Back at my cubicle, my phone rang manically.
“Teen suicide hotline,” his voice softer than usual, “this is John. How can I help you?”