The Lampire

The Lampire

“Jacob! You just had to invite Michael, didn’t you?” Avery groaned.

Her best friend, Cami, said, “Why are you complaining? Michael’s hot.”

Avery snorted. “Only if you like tall, dark, and indifferent.”

I poked my head out of the kitchen, a tightly sealed jar of salsa in my hands. My hands were sore from trying to wrench it open. Avery and Cami were kneeling backwards on the couch, staring out the front window.

My little sister had disliked my best friend since the scene he had caused at her fifteenth birthday party. The girls at the sleepover had never been the same since that night.

“He won’t do anything tonight,” I assured her as the doorbell rang. Under my breath I added, “I hope.”

I opened the door and was met with Michael’s pale face, partially covered by his stringy blonde hair. He wore all black, as usual.

“Hey, man,” I said, moving aside so he could step in.

“Salsa jar,” he murmured.

“Huh? Oh, yeah. Here, could you—”

Michael took the jar and popped off the lid like it was easy as anything, sighing contentedly. He started walking past me, but I grabbed his arm.

“Michael,” I said, “Avery is worried that you’ll, well, do your thing tonight. You remember last time.”

He stared at me with his black eyes.

“You know I can’t control the urges,” he said in his soft, grating voice.

I fought my own urge to roll my eyes. I said,

“Okay, well, could you at least avoid doing it in the main party rooms? I don’t want to freak anyone else out.”

Michael walked toward the kitchen and called over his shoulder, “Sure. Sure, man.”

I followed behind him, only half convinced.

That was the trouble of having one of the Dark Ones for your best friend: never knowing when your parties were going to turn into a horror story.

* * *

It happened a few minutes before midnight, while we were all watching Twilight—not for the plot, mind you, but for the joy of making fun of the acting. In this way, Twilight is one of my favorite movies.

The party had gone well—five of my friends had come, plus four of Avery’s. Mom and Dad had gone to bed at eleven, having reached their limit for babysitting.

I was seconds away from putting my arm around Joyce, the girl I’d had a crush on since we’d met at a concert last summer. We’d been sitting next to each other on the couch for the last twenty minutes, which had been torturous for me. My original plan had been to hold her hand, but my hands had grown so sweaty I decided it would do more harm than good. Thus I had settled on putting my arm around her, though only after multiple armpit-smelling tests.

This was the moment. I shifted my arm slightly, and Joyce stood up and walked toward the bathroom, stepping around people lounging on love sacks and pillows on the carpeted floor.

I sighed in frustration and had turned my gaze back to the movie just as I heard her call,

“Jacob, the lights aren’t working in the bathroom!”

My stomach dropped into my ankles.

Michael.

“Coming!” I called. I passed by Avery cuddling with her current boy-toy on a love sack. I grabbed her arm and whispered, “Find Michael!”

She groaned and slipped away from the cuddle fest. I watched her run to the basement and then went to meet Joyce in the bathroom.

“Bulbs must be out or something,” I said, knowing I was wrong. I reached up and tightened the lightbulbs in their sockets. Light suddenly blinded me, creating brown spots in my vision.

“Hey! Nice detective work!” she laughed. I shrugged and gave a false laugh as she closed the door, leaving me in the hallway with the terror of having a loose Lampire in my house.

“Michael?” I called, flicking on all the bedroom light switches as I glanced in. I had to find him before something bad happened—something bad like Avery’s sleepover.

With sudden inspiration, I ran outside and was rewarded: I found him on our darkened back porch—dark until I screwed the lightbulb in. The porch was flooded with golden light, causing Michael to flinch.

“Sorry, Jake,” was all he said. He sounded low.

I sighed. It was hard to stay mad at Michael for too long. At least I’d found him before he’d done any real damage.

I sat down with him on the porch, staring into the shadows in the corners of the yard.

“Look, Michael, I know you didn’t ask for this life,” I said.

“It’s not all bad,” he said quietly. “Superhuman strength. Twenty-ten vision. Devilishly good looks. But…”

“I know,” I said. “The urges are sometimes problematic.”

“I just have to unscrew lightbulbs,” he moaned. “It’s fine until I’m at the dentist and his hand slips during what he thinks is a blackout, jamming a screw into my tongue. Or until I’m playing videogames with you during your sister’s sleepover and suddenly all the girls and screaming and running around in the dark.” He pressed his fists into his eyes.

“It’s okay,” I said. “That one girl eventually found the tooth she broke off on the banister. It’s back in and no one remembers it ever happened.”

“Avery remembers. You remember.”

I shook my head. “I don’t know why you care what she thinks,” I said.

He looked at me, his black eyes burning. “Once I get her forgiveness,” he said, “I’ll be convinced I’m not as monstrous as I feel.”

I stood up. “Well, don’t hold your breath, dude.”

He stood up, too, stretching his arms.

I paused at the doorway. “By the way, did you put out any more lights than the bathroom and porch?”

He groaned and buried his face in his hands.

I blew out one long sigh. It was going to be a long night if my friends tried to turn on the lights before I could go around and screw them in. The lightbulbs, that is.

“I’ll take care of it,” I said.

“Think I’ll head home,” Michael said. “Or maybe I’ll go to a nice RC Willey and work on the lighting there.”

“Sounds cool, man. See you at school.”

I closed the door and watched Michael disappear into the shadows of the backyard. He may have been one of the literal Dark Ones, but was still the best friend I’d ever had.

Avery walked up behind me and stared out the window, too.

“Michael left?” she asked.

“Yes, you can now party in peace,” I said. “I’ve got to go scour the house for loose bulbs. Want to help?”

She shrugged. “Sure. It’s not like I was having any fun watching Twilight. Who wants to hear about bloodsucking vampires nowadays? I much prefer the ones that mess with the status quo.”

Avery smiled at me before disappearing into the living room.

I stood with my eyes wide. Michael would definitely be hearing about this development on Monday.

I’d like to give credit to my little sister. She encouraged me to write this story, which was based on a misunderstanding.

Poetry Friday: Three Years Later

(For Mrs. Hogan)

Three Years Later

They warned me since the beginning
that Honors Pre-Calc was tough.
I watched Andrew, Zach, and Doug do work
using theta, vectors, and stuff.

The teacher, a gal affectionately known
as a homework corrector from Heck,
was petite with a smile that was fast as a flash
and a chocolate bar always on deck.

My fears were relieved as the months went by
and my math career didn’t just end,
for along with the knowledge I gained of sine,
my teacher became my friend.

So now that the world’s been torn in two,
I really just want to say:
Thank you so, so much for understanding;
you were an angel to me today.

Poetry Friday: Then and Now

Then and Now

I travel in my mind
from that memory—
foamy ocean wave creeping
up my toes, feet, ankles,
slow as a weary sigh,
as I blink my eyes
once, that blue landscape
of water and sky darkening
behind tired eyelids,
losing my surroundings as the
wave eases up to my calves,
and my eyes inch open again,
my body exhaling—
to this one, this flurry of movement,
of feet splashing in smooth,
sandy rolls of seascape,
a laugh in my mouth
and my arms stretched out,
sprinting after a dream
that today, I suppose,
my heart is not too burdened
to entertain.

I breathe in salt air
in normal amounts of seconds,
and know I am free.

BTDubs

Just so y’all know, I’m actually really really excited for you to read my Poetry Friday tomorrow… I really like this one. I wrote it while I was in San Francisco, amid that beautiful seascape. Spoiler: half of the poem is set in slow motion.

Anyway, happy Friday! (Tomorrow.)

To-Do: Self-Actualization

I met with a college advisement counselor today who advised me to meet with another advisement counselor. The first one, an elderly man with a warm smile, was checking off classes on a list, writing down programs and semester names, chatting about how education is truly the greatest profession.

I smiled. I nodded.

The whole time of course I’m thinking about how long it will be before I can finally get out of this school and start teaching. How much out-of-pocket and scholarship money it will take to complete a teaching degree. How many more semesters of my life I will be sitting in classrooms being lulled to sleep by teachers–not counting the years my own students will be lulled to sleep by me.

I’m thinking about how I don’t even want this career. I just want to write, write and be heard and accepted; write and get all these freakin’ stories out of me. Write and maybe help people. Write and get paid to do what I love, write so I can find some meaning for myself.

I’m thinking about how I don’t even care about life most days; it’s just one foot in front of the other, dragging and scuffing and stubbing my toes. I assign meaning to a college degree: when I have my BA, I will be happy. I will be self-assured. I will be successful. I will be okay.

I’m not at a place yet where I can just be happy, but I feel I should be. I think I can take some of the pressure off by reminding myself that I may never reach true joy in this life. Mostly I’ll just keep stumbling along doing my best, and sometimes not even that. And that’s okay.

So when I attend the advisement appointment tomorrow with this newly recommended adviser, I’ll tell myself that it doesn’t matter how many semesters it takes me to finish this degree.

At least I don’t have to worry about keeping self actualization on my to-do list.

And for those of you looking for some oh-so-slow music to help you keep some perspective, I suggest Low, one of my dad’s favorite bands. This song is about recognizing that even when the band members go deaf from their rock and roll days, there will be lots of perks.

So they rock out.

The Best Revenge: Leaping Buildings in a Single Bound

What a beautiful post; just what this human needed to hear: “It’s a big choice to make: churn in our revenge fantasies, do something constructive or laugh at our silliness.”

The Green Study

canstockphoto19248113Sometimes I imagine staring levelly at her and saying slowly, deliberately, with great enunciation, “You are a complete asshole” and then I’d walk away. It would be like a scene from Douglas Adam’s Life, the Universe and Everything when an immortal alien, bitter about his lot as an immortal, has decided to insult the universe – one living creature at a time. He lands on a planet, confirms the creature’s identity on his clipboard, makes eye contact, says “You are a jerk” and then flies away.

In reality, my antagonist would likely look at me, mouth agape, lip quivering. Maybe she’d start to cry. Then I’d backpedal with some excuse about having a bad day and that she’s not really an asshole, but she just did an asshole-ish thing. Or maybe she’d find a few choice words of her own to describe my loathsome character. And before you know it…

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Poetry Friday: What Is Love?

(Once upon a time I was a hopeless romantic. Those were the days.)

What Is Love?

Love is a new beginning,
love is the last word,
love is the “happily ever after,”
love is all you need.

Love is a song sung by angels.
Love is a story told by dreamers.
Love is two pairs of eyes locked together
with no hope of escape.

Love is the moment of stillness
when you wake up in the morning,
and all the world holds its breath
as you first open your eyes.

Love is discovering,
knowing,
forgetting,
and remembering.

Love is a suit coat around my shoulders;
singing together in the car;
kissing while making breakfast;
roses drying in my bedroom.

Love moves the artist’s paintbrush,
love wakes the sleeping child,
love ties the world together,
love is warm and bright and wild.

Love is you, you, you, you, you,
and me.

Love is us.