Friday, September 02, 2005
Vampire Juno
When I was about eight-years-old, I had my little sister convinced I was a vampire. It was during my Barnabas Collins period. I used to sneak into the den every day after school to watch Dark Shadows, the popular monster soap opera. If my aunt had ever caught me I would have been beaten within an inch of my life. I didn't care though. I was addicted.

It was October, and I had gotten a pair of plastic vampire teeth from the Halloween party we had at school. When I got home I put them in and practiced my best vampiric hiss in front of the mirror, opening my eyes wide and baring my teeth--just like I had seen Barnabas do a milllion times. It looked amazing. Very real. Excellent. Pocketing the teeth, I went off in search of my little sister.

Iris was sitting on the floor of her bedroom, dressing her Malibu Barbie. I settled into the corner and pretended to read. She ignored me. Pulling my face into the most mournful expression I could think of, I sighed dramatically. I peered over the top of my book at my sister. She was brushing Barbie's hair into a ponytail. This was going to require more drastic measures.

I let out a strangled sob and hid my face in my book. Iris looked up, startled.

"What's wrong?"

My lip trembled bravely. "Nothing."

That got her attention. We always told each other everything. "Come on, Juno. Tell me."

"I can't!" I told her, blinking back real tears. "It's just too awful. If anyone ever found out . . ."

She scooted across the floor and put her arms around me. "I won't tell," she promised. "Really I won't."

Taking a deep breath, I looked her in the eye. "I'm a vampire."

My sister punched me in the arm. Hard.


"That's for making me all worried. You're just mean!" She tossed her head and went back to her Barbie.

"But I really AM a vampire," I wailed piteously. "I am so scared, Iris! Do you think I wanted this? Do you think I want to be a bloodsucking monster with an insatiable thirst, always afraid I am going to destroy the ones I love?" Barnabas had made that speech just last week.

Iris looked at me skeptically. "Yeah, right."

"I AM!" I choked, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Her eyes narrowed. "Prove it. Show me."

I stared at her in horror. "I can't! I might hurt you!"

"I'll take my chances."

"You don't understand," I told her earnestly. "Once I transform, I'm not me anymore. I'm a monster. And I have absolutely no control over what I do. I could kill you."

"Are you going to do it or not?" Iris asked pointedly.

I sighed heavily. "Fine. I'll do it. But let's go out in the hall. You have to promise me that once I change, you'll run in your room and lock the door so I won't hurt you. Whatever you do, DON'T LET ME IN! Got it?"


We walked out into the hall together.

Iris folded her arms across her chest. "Well?"

"It takes a minute," I told her.

Suddenly I arched my back, grabbing my throat. I twisted and clawed at myself, letting out strangled cries, seemingly in agony from the throes of transformation. It must have been impressive because my sister began to look scared and stepped back a bit. Finally I turned my head to the side and slipped the teeth into my mouth. I whipped back towards her, wild-eyed and hissing.

Iris screamed. She ran into her room and slammed the door, locking it behind her.

I rattled the handle. "LET ME IN!" I roared threateningly. "I must drink your BLOOD!" I could hear her breathing heavily on the other side of the door.

I fumbled in my pocket and pulled out a hairpin I kept there for just this sort of emergency. Sticking it in the hole of the doorknob, I popped the lock and threw open the door. Iris shrieked and dove under the bed.

Unfortunately it was a very low bed, and she got stuck about halfway under. When she realized what had happened, she began wriggling like crazy , screaming for help at the top of her lungs. I heard footsteps in the hall and quickly slipped the teeth back into my pocket.

"What is going on in here?" my aunt shouted, running into the room. "Why is she screaming?"

I shrugged innocently. "I'm not sure. I heard her yelling and came in to see what was going on."

My aunt went over to the bed and started tugging on Iris's legs. My sister shrieked louder and tried to kick her.

"Stop that this minute, young lady!" With a good hard yank, she popped Iris out from under the bed frame. "What 's wrong with you?" she demanded.

"Juno's a vampire!" Iris howled hysterically. "She's going to suck my blood!"

Aunt Fran looked at me accusingly.

"I have no idea what she's talking about." I looked at Iris, concerned. "Did you have a bad dream or something?" I asked kindly.

My sister glared at me.

Fed up, my aunt grabbed me by the arm and began whacking me. "I don't know what you did, but I know you instigated this. Your sister isn't smart enough to think up this stuff by herself."

Iris watched in satisfaction, only slightly offended by Aunt Fran's comment. My butt hurt for an hour after that, but it was worth it.

Barnabas would have been proud.

Footnote: I called Iris on the phone and told her that I had written a story about the time I had her convinced I was a vampire. After a brief silence, she asked dryly, "which time?."
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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