A Quick Blog Insider

Hello, I am planning on revamping this blog soon. Smiling picture (seems appropriate, right?), adding contact information, changing the Facebook page a bit, reblogging old posts. You know why? Because I am wondering whether this blog is ever going to earn me some kind of income or fame (tbh that would be nice), and I figure that means I need to give it some TLC. Hope you are all okay that I plan on selling out as soon as I possibly can. But don’t worry, there is basically no chance that I will ever get that opportunity. So don’t abandon all respect for me yet.

A Short Story: Be Happy

 

Be Happy

I wrote a quick note and posted it by the kitchen light switch.

“Be happy.”

I rolled my eyes as I imagined friends and loved ones puzzling over that choice of last words for years after I was gone. Was I being sincere, like I was commanding them to be happy now that I had rid them of myself? Was it a sardonic tribute to the many times people had told me to just get over my hopelessness and “be happy”? Were my best intentions in mind?

I scoffed. It didn’t matter now. I was halfway down the block and headed for the bus stop.

Nothing mattered anymore.

I stood in the chill autumn air wearing multiple layers to hide me from the cold—and from any familiar faces. I didn’t want to deal with small talk on my way to my predetermined death.

The bus came screeching and rumbling to a halt in front of me and I paid for the ride in cash. No need to give away my whereabouts by using my bus pass.

As I shuffled to the back of the bus and seated myself across from a grizzled, smoky fellow, I shook my head at my unobservant girlfriend for not realizing what was so blatantly obvious to me. I had been pulling away for some time, not just from her, but from life; from this mess we stumble through and pretend we understand or care about.

I smiled despite myself. That had been what had attracted me to her in the first place: the wide-eyed belief that life is sacred and meaningful and joyous. And at first, I had believed her.

“Can’t do nothin’ right,” the old man coughed, distracting me.

But, like all my relationships, it began to fade in grandeur. We moved in together a few months ago in an unspoken attempt to ignite it once again. And I will admit that for a while, seeing her get dressed in the morning and falling asleep together after long work days was more than pleasant. The problem was never her; no. I know that. Not my sweet, vanilla girlfriend.

It was me.

After all, I’m the one with the shadows dancing against my eyelids. The one with dark memories and faithless approach to the future. The one who, despite deceiving my trusting lover into thinking I was going to buy us some ice cream to watch a movie in our apartment, still marveled at her gullibility.

She would be worried when I didn’t come home, true, but I couldn’t get too worked up about it because she’s the type of person that everyone loves. People want to be around her, unlike me. When we get invited to parties, I know deep down that it is for Vicky and guest. She would make it through losing me, easy.

I surprised myself with a sudden, lopsided smile. How did I ever end up with someone named Vicky?

The bus made a sharp turn and the tire connected loudly with a curb. I glanced out the window—the darkness was swallowed completely by advertisements, headlights, street lamps, and store fronts. I recognized the road. If I had borrowed her car, I’d be approaching the grocery store in a matter of blocks.

Something twisted inside me, a rare jolt of emotion after so many weeks and months of pain and anger, always masking it with a smile or a shrug because I had to placate Vicky—protect her from my reality of inexplicable rage and relentless sorrow.

I could rewrite history, take back this choice. Buy the stupid ice cream and go home to my waiting girlfriend. Watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers because, according to her, “It’s a classic.”

He started coughing again, wheezing out, “Nothin’! Nothin’!”

The other passengers and I pretended we couldn’t hear him, but his words pounded in my ears. Nothing. Nothing. I reached for the cord and the buzzer rang out. The bus decelerated violently and I was almost thrown to the floor until I grabbed a handle to steady myself.

In ten minutes I was out by the bus stop again, shivering, a carton of vanilla ice cream cradled in my arms. I cursed myself for moving through self-checkout so fast I forgot a bag.

Soon I found myself climbing into another bus—What’s going on in your head, Alex?—and heading back toward our apartment. My brain ached as I tried to rationalize this behavior. It doesn’t make sense.

Nothing. Nothing. Did I want nothing more than pain and sadness and Vicky?

I shook my head. No, it was never about wanting. It was an escape from an uglier reality—the greater of two evils. And even if everything came down to chemical reactions in my brain, and life and death were never mine to choose, I was headed home now.

I ran up the staircase and opened the door to a delicate squeal.

“You scared me!” she scolded me. “What took you so long?”

“I decided to take the bus and save some gas money,” I said, smiling sheepishly. I amazed myself with my ease at lying to her face.

She walked over and folded me in her arms.

“You’re freezing,” she announced, releasing me and taking the carton from my hand. “Vanilla? You know I like more flavor than that. Something nutty or fruity.”

“Or something a little of both?” I said, smiling.

She laughed at my joke. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Okay, I’m going to go put on pajamas. Will you pop some popcorn?”

“Sure,” I said.

She left the room and I remembered my note by the door.

“Be happy,” it told me.

I pulled it down, crumpled it up.

“I’ll try,” I said.

“What?” Vicky called from the bedroom.

“Nothing.”

Getting Doodley

(Hey, y’all, I wanted to try this form of blogging. It’s probably a one-time thing.)

I call myself Maney and I like to write. I’m learning guitar, I love ice cream, and sea otters are my favorite animals. I doodle so much it’s not even funny. During school, during church, in my journal, etc. So I wanted to see if I could share them a little via the blogging platform.

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At school I doodle because I am bored bored bored BORED. My mind wanders and I get distracted. I hate sitting in the classroom and listening to droning teachers. I feel so exposed. At church I doodle because I get anxious, or I’m so tired and I’m trying to keep myself awake. And sometimes it makes me feel less lonely. It’s hard to talk to people.

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Some days I can hardly say a word. Other days I can be gregarious because I feel okay, or I see myself in the other solitary sitters. I can talk to them. One shy person at a time is usually not too hard to talk to.

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At home I spend a lot of time watching TV series when I feel lonely, anxious, hopeless, etc. It’s fun having friends you can always count on. I try to do dishes or fold laundry or clean my room, because ironically, watching TV makes me feel guilty for wasting time.

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Also I have depression.

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Spiders are one of my many enemies, right up there with ringing phones, cold spoons scraping together, and death.

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My family doesn’t appreciate when I smash a spider but then refuse to throw away the dead body. (Carcass?) I feel I’ve been brave enough to get rid of the little monster–why should I be expected to touch it, ever?

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This is a family portrait. I am the one on the top right. My right. Wha–

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I also have a lot of plants in my room, tiny palm trees and cacti. I like flowers too but I always forget to water them, so I just stick to keeping these more desert-y plants. I talk to them out loud when I water them. They make my room smell nice, like soil.

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The end. Goodnight.

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Comment or like this madness below if you appreciated this type of storytelling and possibly want more.

Yerp.

Last Words Before Brutal Death by Hordes of Young Mormon Feminists

Guys. Team. Readers.

My stomach’s in my throat right now.

!!!

So. I got accepted to write for this really cool blog called Young Mormon Feminists. And I’m freaking out but no big deal.

Hopefully I will be able to eventually get over my anxiety/excitement about this opportunity. But in case I am killed by hordes of angry YMF readers, just know that you guys are awesome and it’s been a real pleasure sharing my thoughts with you.

P.S. This is how I feel: (The whole video applies, but especially from 1:40 on.)

P.P.S. I’m making a big deal out of this but it’s pretty much not even a cool thing.

P.P.P.S. I’m going to be excited anyway.

“This Terror”: Happily Never After (Essay on Dracula)

This is the English final that got a five percent deduction for lateness. I didn’t include the references because I’m a huge sass, and also because I don’t want people copy-pasting this for their own devices. Anyway, it was really fun to write, though by no means is it a perfectly edited and crafted piece. (Seven pages doubled-spaced, 12-point font)

“This Terror”: Happily Never After

In almost all cultures, children are raised listening to stories. Life becomes one story after another, weaving each thread together to create reality for the future generation. Many of us grew up with fairy tales, stories of magic and wonder, lands where the righteous prevailed and lived happily forevermore, while the wicked were doomed to suffer. One story weaver in particular, Bram Stoker, wrestled with the notion that sodomy could possibly keep one from ever reaching happily ever after. It was through writing Dracula, the gothic horror novel, through creating a subtle and sensual relationship between Count Dracula and Jonathan Harker that Stoker delved into the matter and revealed his true feelings on it. By studying the relationship between Jonathan and Dracula, we can interpret Stoker’s opinion on whether homosexuals can ever truly experience their happily ever after, or if walking that road can only lead to destruction.

First we must understand the context in which Stoker was writing. In the modern world, we are making large strides to reach a point where non-heteronormativity is as acceptable as its straight counterpart, and yet there is still persecution against those who identify as anything but heterosexual. However, today is decidedly a better time than the Victorian era to experience same-sex attraction. At the turn of the century, Britain “criminalized all male homosexual acts with draconian penalties” (Adut 214). These penalties often entailed death for the culprit. The times required a certain level of subtlety if one’s romantic inclinations were anything short of heterosexual. It was preferred that those committing crimes of sodomy went undetected, so as to avoid a scandal. The Victorians believed that “the publicity of homosexuality contaminated third parties and the public sphere as a whole” (Adut 241). One man’s publicized homosexual act could tarnish the reputation all those in the surrounding community. Sexuality in general was avoided as a topic, as they believed that “any open discussion of sexuality debased the public sphere and defiled its participants, the members of the middle and upper classes” (Adut 241); therefore, discussion of bedroom experimentation was prohibited. Silence was golden for homosexual men at the time; for the most part, if they could keep their sexual sprees a secret, they could remain safe from the law. Reticence (meaning remaining silent in Latin) was “the paramount principle of the 19th‐century English public sphere” (Adut 222-223). It was by practicing this form of secrecy that Bram Stoker was able to protect himself from the persecutions of the day.

Stoker seems to have lived and died within the closet, having never revealed to the public eye his sexual preferences. Even Stoker’s married life suggests that he was heterosexual: he got married in 1878 to Florence Balcombe, childhood sweetheart of the well-known Oscar Wilde. This betrayal of friendship caused a rift in Stoker and Wilde’s relationship for a time, but ultimately “the two men had an intimate and varied history lasting for at least twenty years” (Schaffer 381). The two men approached their homosexuality differently; while Stoker took great care to hide his homosexual feelings deep in his writing, Wilde “favored revealing secrets (those of his own and of others), instead of keeping them” (Genç). It could be argued that “Dracula explores Stoker’s fear and anxiety as a closeted homosexual man during Oscar Wilde’s trial” (Schaffer 381), and that Wilde resembles Count Dracula himself. Indeed, Wilde had come to represent the deviant parts of European culture, much as Dracula does in the novel. They both represent “the other” their given settings; both of them breaking social norms and writing their own moral rulebook. Both men were deeply captivating to audiences, whether for shattering accepted social codes or for their infamous reputations. And as Stoker created a character to wield the notorious reputation of Wilde, he needed to create the counterbalance: a character to represent his own girlish inclinations.

Stoker wrote an effeminate male character into Dracula: Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer, comes to inhabit Dracula’s castle by the vampire’s underhanded scheme. The plot reads like a generic gothic romance, wherein “the heroine is captive by an aggressive masculine figure who proclaims to wish her well but whom she sees as a threat to her integrity” (Kuzmanovic 415). Jonathan plays the part of the threatened heroine, the maiden helpless against the villain’s malicious whims. But Jonathan is not comfortable in the environment and manner by which Dracula keeps him. One day he roams the castle and happens upon a room that he suspects was once occupied by ladies. He writes, “Here I am, sitting at a little oak table where in old times possibly some fair lady sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her ill-spelt love-letter” (Stoker 59-60). This brings to mind a very woman-like appearance of Jonathan writing in his diary and blushing. Perhaps another man would feel uncomfortable with this image in his mind, as if a bygone blushing lady would threaten his masculinity, and cause him to leave. But not so with Jonathan. Tired of his “gloom-haunted room,” he chooses to sleep in this new sanctuary, writing that at one time “ladies had sat and sung and lived sweet lives whilst their gentle breasts were sad for their menfolk away in the midst of remorseless wars” (Stoker 60). Perhaps as Dracula continues to leave the castle in the night, much as a man would leave to fight in a war, Jonathan feels his own breast ache for his absent masculine half.

It is in this discreet writing that Stoker embeds a “recognizable code that was, perhaps, designed to be broken” (Schaffer 381) regarding the relationship between Jonathan and Dracula. Stoker described himself as naturally secretive to the world. His homoerotic desires were “imprisoned in cryptic texts; his private life undecipherable through thick layers of transference” (Genç). One could read much of Stoker’s work, including Dracula, and never wonder about his sexuality. However, sometimes his true intentions slip through; the code can be cracked. He wrote in Greystones in August of 1871, “Will men ever believe that a strong man can have a woman’s heart and the wishes of a lonely child?” Besides being deeply poetic and soulfully written, this question highlights Stoker’s own yearnings. Unlike others, he is willing to question society’s beliefs about manhood and what it means to be masculine.

In reading Dracula purely for entertainment, readers may miss the subtle yet passionate relationship between the Count and the lawyer. Indeed, we understand that Jonathan has recently been engaged to a woman named Mina, whom he writes to and about consistently with clear love and respect. And as for Dracula, he is a rich and powerful man with what could be considered a secret harem of wives. Both men seem satisfied in their significant others. However, what both the readers and characters don’t seem to expect is exactly what comes to pass: a same-sex, mutually satisfying cohabitation is born. One piece of textual evidence of this relationship is Dracula’s possessiveness over Jonathan while they reside in the castle; in fact, Dracula never stalks any of the novel’s other male characters, though they greatly outnumber the females. This indicates that Dracula finds Jonathan special.

One of the greatest scenes in this romance is when Jonathan discovers Dracula’s three vampire wives. They set upon him with their “brilliant white teeth, that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips” (Stoker 61), kissing him and wishing to drink his blood. Dracula enters the room and wrenches away the vampire kissing Jonathan’s throat. With blazing eyes and a deathly pale face, Dracula hisses, “How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me!” (Stoker 62) When his wives question his ability to love, the Count pauses to look attentively at Jonathan’s face, and then whispers, ““Yes, I too can love… I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will. Now go! go! I must awaken him, for there is work to be done” (Stoker 62-63). At this point, Jonathan swoons, as women often do in such moments of high emotion, and “the next thing he is aware of is awaking in his own bed and realizing that Dracula must have carried him there and undressed him” (Kuzmanovic 417). Despite this tender act on Dracula’s part, the situation smacks of one partner who acts, and another who is merely acted upon. If Jonathan Harker had been a woman, then Dracula could be seen as the Victorian era precursor to Fifty Shades of Gray, a modern-day, popular romance that focuses on power play; in both stories we have a sexual interest between two characters: a captivating masculine figure with higher social standing and a fetish for control, and a feminine figure who allows themselves to be the victim of their master’s entertainment, though we get the sense that the victim derives some pleasure nonetheless.

But we mustn’t forget about Jonathan’s other romantic responsibilities. Jonathan is a happily engaged man to an upstanding woman of the Victorian era. Any feelings Jonathan has for Dracula must be filtered through his sense of morality and feelings of love for Mina. Jonathan writes in his journal of his letters to Mina: “To her I have explained my situation, but without the horrors which I may only surmise. It would shock and frighten her to death were I to expose my heart to her” (Stoker 65). He doesn’t feel that the horrifying story of his imprisonment or his impending doom would scare her; he worries that the content of his heart would shock and frighten her to death. It is true that she would likely be “shocked to learn that her fiancé’s identity may not be unambiguously heterosexual, masculine, and monogamous” (Kuzmanovic 418). Earlier in the novel Jonathan admits that he feels his thoughts are unlike the thoughts of others in his words, “I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul” (Stoker 43). This is possibly a stirring in his heart that causes him to seek comfort from the ladies of old, perhaps unlike the other men in the novel would do. He even grows to feel trustworthy of the Count. He writes that “surely it is maddening to think that of all the foul things that lurk in this hateful place the Count is the least dreadful to me; that to him alone I can look for safety” (Stoker 60). He feels his heart opening to his captor, and it horrifies him. This is the point where Stoker solidifies Jonathan’s position on the character’s feelings for Dracula, and in many ways his own feelings about himself. He admits that he feels most comfortable as a feminine man, and he longs for the company of men; and yet, he disgusts himself. His own feelings are maddening. He believes his feelings, though pleasurable for a moment, are intrinsically wrong.

By the end of the novel, the battle in Stoker’s heart has reached a climax. Jonathan and the others begin the vampire hunt with the intention of destroy the apparent source of their pain and loss. It is possible that when Jonathan and Dracula cohabited the castle, as their relationship was just developing, that Jonathan believed it could end happily for them. But time has passed, blood has been shed, friends have been lost, and he realizes that it can never be. He grows cold and bitter, half-believing that if he could end the life that he had come to treasure, then perhaps he could right so many wrongs. To Mina he confesses that if he “could send his soul for ever and ever to burning hell [he] would do it!” (Stoker 306) Taken aback, she responds, “I pray that God may not have treasured your wild words, except as the heartbroken wail of a very loving and sorely stricken man” (Stoker 307). It is possible she suspects Jonathan’s true reasons for wanting Dracula dead, and yet she seems to have hope for his soul; she is merciful in her judgement of both Dracula as a monster and Jonathan as a loving man, and she sends up prayers to God on Jonathan’s behalf.

But this hopeful note is not what Stoker ended his novel on, nor his life. Indeed, he had given up on ever realizing a happy ending as an active and “out” homosexual. Whatever his reasons, be it the culture and laws of the Victorian era, his own moral code, his disgust at his own feelings, or what have you, at the time of his own death, “Stoker was so fiercely homophobic that he went so far as to demand imprisonment of all homosexual authors in Britain—a group to which he, inevitably, belonged” (Genç). This hopelessness, this fist shaken hatefully at the sky, reflects in Jonathan’s own desperate words to Van Helsing, “Have you felt the Vampire’s lips upon your throat?” (Stoker 348) Then, turning to see Mina’s marked forehead, and perhaps considering all the pain that had apparently been caused by his natural predispositions toward femininity and homosexuality, he throws up his arms and cries, “‘Oh, my God, what have we done to have this terror upon us!’ and he sank down on the sofa in a collapse of misery.”
“This terror” does not refer to Dracula, nor to any man Stoker admired. In Stoker’s mind, “this terror” was his uncontrollable sexual preference. He felt attracted to men and he even entertained the thought of what an accepted cohabiting relationship with one might look like, but deep down he never truly accepted himself and his orientation. By the end of Dracula, Jonathan and Mina are happily married with a son of their own, living the only happily ever after life that Bram Stoker ever truly believed in, despite his secret dreams.

I’m Giving Up This Whole Lie

Team, I am quite bamboozled. Indeed, I am not confused. I am not mixed up. I am not even flummoxed.

I am bamboozed.

(Prepare yourself for an immature rant.)

Question: Why does every boy I am even vaguely interested in seem to enjoy playing with my emotions? I think it is my own fault. I think maybe I am simply attracted to sociopathic creeps. This is deeply unfortunate for two main reasons:

1. I can never trust my own judgement in choosing mates.

2. What does this say about me?!

I’ve pretty much given up on my own good judgement. I’ve lost my faith in humanity. I’ve tossed the idea of happily ever after, as least for me.

(I know I’m just being dramatic and I’ll forget this feeling in just a few days (hours?), but allow me to relish in it a bit.)

The one positive thing about my habit of choosing manipulators as crushes is that it has held true for many years; therefore, I have been able to identify it and maybe move forward in a better direction. Or maybe I’ll just embrace celibacy for the rest of my life. It’s a tossup.

Anyway, folks, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for for about a year… I’m finally going to share my favorite song with you! (And yes, I do mean favorite.) It matters because this is what I listen to when I need to be me in the greatest sense of the word. You get a little piece of raw Maney this Monday morning.

So without further ado, this is the gorgeous, the inspirational, and the life-changing song “Resolution” by Matt Corby.

Here is just one lovely piece:

You said don’t lie so I made the truth
Seemed like a lie to even you
Control your fear, it’s clear
That you do not know where you’re going to

So, don’t you worry
You’ll be my resolution
Characters of no illusion
You’ll be my resolution

You are welcome. Stay gold, y’all.

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.