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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · LGBTQ+ · #2318361
A maid's curiosity leads to quiet, tragic yearning for her broken vampire employer.
Though she’s not afraid of her employer like the rest of her village, it still takes the woman nearly a month to realize that the other is truly not a danger to her. Even if for no other reason than a severe aversion to any kind of social interaction, the vampyr adamantly refuses to look at—much less interact with—the likes of her. Perhaps, the woman thinks, it’s got something to do with her vampiric tendencies. Are they prone to be less social than the average person? Are they less likely to be friendly? Is she really the monster that everyone makes her out to be? Or, perhaps, the vampyr is simply a fool and sees her maid as lesser-than on the sheer basis of her position in life. That would be unpleasant and unfortunate, but it would be a lie to say that it would be any different from the other men and women the woman’s worked for. In any or either case, the woman argues, her life is certainly not at risk.

It takes another week for her to realize that there is a deep, harrowing sadness in the monster that leaks out when she is at her most unsuspecting. When she’s at rest and thinks that she’s alone, when she’s curled up on the steps of her property with the barn cat that refuses to leave her side, when the two of them make eye contact on accident while passing each other in the garden.

She asks about it one day, when the vampyr is sitting on the porch and the barn cat is curled contently on her lap. She’s in a better mood than usual that day—as close to personable as she has been since the woman first met her several months ago.

“I can’t get rid of it,” she says. It’s curt, short. “I’m sorry to have put you in audience with my sorrow. You needn’t worry about it.”

“What do you mean?” The woman can’t help but ask. The gentle wind of dusk eases the burn of the question.

The vampyr looks at the fading light with an indiscernible expression on her face. “Nothing,” she says, and continues to stare at the horizon.

“I had a husband.” The vampyr admits one day, fiddling with her ring. She turns it around, over and over again, on her ring finger. “A daughter, too. She was such a sweet girl.”

“Where are they?” The woman asks. On her hip is a laundry basket full of springtime clothes—they’re all clean and completely dry. The only reason she’d even walked outside was to talk to the vampyr anyway; the laundry was just her excuse to leave the house, to not look like a woman slacking on what she would argue is a core tenant of her work.

“I’m not even sure where we are,” the vampyr admits, shrugging. “When I left, I ran without rhyme or reason. They could be halfway across the world, or they could be in the next village over. Who knows.”

“I see.” The woman says. “Why don’t you search for them?”

“This is already a curse,” the vampyr says, pointing at her teeth. It’s in the same cadence of delivering a fact and it’s the first time she says it out loud. “I can’t be a burden too.”

The woman nods. “I see,” she says again. In truth, she neither sees nor understands, but she knows how the townspeople talk about her. How they warned her about working here, about the lustful and deceiving monster that dwelled this land, about all of the creative and graphic ways she’d take her life.

“I want to go home,” the vampyr laments, but there is no emotion in her voice. As always, it remains stoic, sterile, and unwavering even as she attempts to verbalize grief. On her tongue, even the most painfully human experience of loss becomes inhuman. “More than anything, I want to see them again. I loved my husband, you know. I just couldn’t love him the same way he loved me.”

The vampyr sighs, deeply, and watches as her breath coalesces and dances in the cold, spring air.

“I’m sorry,” the woman offers, speaking only to fill the emptiness between them. She isn’t surprised when an answer isn’t returned. She returns back to the house with the dry clothes in the basket, and starts to fold.

The vampyr feels it most on a day when they’re both tinkering in her kitchen. For some reason indiscernible to even herself, the woman insists on spending time with her, and in her exhausting loneliness she’s found that she cannot deny her. So, she watches, observing the pot of vegetables stewing on the stovetop and the woman quietly stirring the soup she swears up and down by, the one she had insisted on cooking for today. The vampyr herself does not need nor desire normal food—rather, cannot keep it down—but entertains the other’s interests in an effort to keep the air between them amicable.

It happens as she passes by her to get to the cellar for more carrots—carrots she only started keeping there at the request of the woman.

For a moment, she seems enticing. For a moment, the vampyr can’t help but follow the curve of her neck, to notice, not for the first time, how beautiful she is, to outline the inviting slope of her shoulder.

For a moment, it seems so easy to just lean in, to plant a kiss on soft skin.

“Are you alright?” The woman asks, and the vampyr jumps three feet into the air for having been caught staring.

The realization of it shoots through her like a sheet of ice, pale and cold, and her heart palpitates with excitement and self-hatred all the same.

“I’m fine,” she manages, and tells the woman that she’ll be retiring to bed immediately. She does not need the soup, nor does she want it.

The woman’s efforts to keep her from leaving are valiant as they are admirable: a hand grabbing at her apron ties, a swift move to stand in front of her to survey her face, to search for emotion that she knows she won’t find. The vampyr dodges each attempt with expert precision and flees to her bedroom anyway.

She lays down with tears and bites her hand to keep the nausea at bay. Bile tastes a certain kind of bitter and she gags. With great effort she sinks her teeth into her fist and pays no mind to the blood that pools beneath her head, the red that soaks into her pillows and sheets.

She notes with distaste how dirty desire feels.

In the dark sanctuary of her room, she prays and prays for the feeling to go away.

In the morning, she washes her sheets and acts like yesterday didn’t happen at all, but in her throat, the bile stays.

The woman haunts her dreams.

Or rather, she occupies the semi-formed and undercooked landscapes with a disturbing, silent ease. “Haunt” is too strong of a word, she fears, but to simply say the woman “appears” feels to her too informal. The woman is there, almost always, in the corner or deep in the shadows of the vampyr’s subconscious. She can feel her nonetheless. She can always feel her.

Her eyes are gentle, her freckles prominent. The idea of touch leaves the vampyr averse and yet she grasps at the woman’s shoulders as if she’s holding on for dear life, as if she’s been dangled over a never-ending edge and this woman is the sole, tangible object in her vicinity onto which she can dig her nails. She can feel the woman smile against her neck, feel her hold her tighter, and the vampyr wants to cry.

She thinks about her in the morning on her walk around the barn and when she’s tending the garden. She thinks about her as she traces the black and white pattern of the barn cat’s fur. She thinks about her at night when she’s laying in bed, staring at the wooden slats of the ceiling as sleep continues to evade her.

She thinks about carrots and ginger brown hair and pointedly ignores the pressing fact of daybreak as the light of the sun begins to grow outside.

“You’re being exceptionally vulnerable today. Are you feeling alright? Have you fallen ill in some manner?”

“On the contrary,” the vampyr smiles, pinning her cotton blouse to the laundry line with a gentleness that the woman can’t help but find endearing. Her smile is a confusing imitation of happiness, as though the feeling’s become so entirely foreign to the monster that she’s learning to express it on her face all over again. “I’m only disclosing information that no longer has an emotional bearing on me. As you have seen, I’m rather allergic to vulnerability.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily say allergic,” the woman counters, and the vampyr snorts. “More like averse to. Entirely disgusted by. Thoroughly uninterested in. Completely—”

“Okay, okay,” the vampyr relents, and moves back to observe her handiwork. By now, her laundry basket is empty and their dresswear ripples in the wind before them, the scent of lavender overwhelming. “I get it. You’ve made your point clear.”

The woman takes a moment to observe the scene before her: the barn cat rubs himself against the vampyr’s shins, ever the steadfast and loyal fellow, wearing a little checkered scarf wrapped decoratively around his neck. His request for attention is greeted by a kind hand and a palm down the spine. The vampyr herself wears loose white cotton and a smile on her face. It’s carefree—or about as close to carefree as the woman’s ever seen her to be—and it’s an altogether bizarre interaction. It feels like a baby’s first steps, shaky and exciting, nervous and concerning.

“What?” The vampyr asks. The image of her smile is shattered completely now, no trace of it visible on her face. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she says, but something’s wrong. The attempt to smooth over the situation falls rapidly out of the woman’s hands. “Nothing’s wrong, I was just admiring the view.” She coughs, awkward, and gestures to the spanning hills, the seaside town in the distance, and the property on which they reside.

“Ah,” the vampyr says. The jumbled tone makes the words fall out all wrong, coated in something that the woman can’t parse out, but it weighs heavily in the air between them. It feels like she crossed over a boundary, and the woman doesn’t know how to undo her steps. She doesn’t even know what she did wrong.

She doesn’t understand. She opens her mouth to say something but the vampyr beats her to it.

“I see.”

She says nothing else. Neither does the woman.

“What do they say about me in the village?” The vampyr asks.

The woman stops for a moment, sitting back in her seat on the porch to think. The barn cat meows with attitude at the divided attention and tries to get her to keep petting him, but her mind is entirely elsewhere.

“That you’re uncouth,” the woman says. It’s the one word that she can settle on that feels right enough to be believable but not so right that it’s hurtful. The woman doesn’t want to say what the townsfolk and her family really think of the vampyr—she herself wouldn’t want to know if it was her—but something in the monster’s expression lets her know she’s aware of it all anyway.

“I’ve lived here as long as you have,” the vampyr says. “I hear them. What do they really say?”

For a few minutes, the woman doesn’t speak.

She goes through several scenarios in her head at once. For one, she could try to lie again. But seldom has the vampyr bought into one of her lies, and she feels like it would be disrespectful to attempt again. The second, more attractive, option would be to ignore the question or change the subject altogether—she knows with certainty that the vampyr wouldn’t press or push her evasion. It’s one of the things she respects most about her. The final scenario would be to say the truth, but the woman doesn’t want to say the truth.

Any and every word she could use is a quiet violence, she realizes. Either of the three choices are ultimately hurtful. To say nothing would sting the same as saying the truth, and she realizes that there is absolutely no winning.

At the silence, the vampyr speaks. “You work for me, you know. It’s my right to know what they think of me, and it’s your job to be honest.” It’s a painfully ill attempt at humor or whatever is akin to it, but blessed be to all, it somehow pulls a smile from the woman anyway.

“They think you’re a monster.”

Jarringly, the vampyr snorts. “That much I am aware of, yes. What else?”

“That you’re unclean.”


“That you’re without morals and reason. Beyond saving.”

“That’s all?”

The woman purses her lips and pointedly avoids eye contact. “Yes,” she lies. “That’s all.”

The vampyr looks at her. She doesn’t believe the lie and the woman can’t blame her at all—how can she expect the vampyr to believe her when she herself knows it to not be true?

“Okay,” the vampyr says. She smiles. “Thank you.”

“I must admit,” the woman says one day. “I never did have anyone help me with the chores that they pay someone else to do.”

The vampyr hums quietly, her own version of a laugh. She’s much taller than the woman, by at least a foot, so much so that when the woman hands over their freshly rinsed garden tomatoes, she must go on the very tips of her toes to see over the vampyr’s shoulders. It’s fascinating to see how quickly the vampyr wields her knife, how expertly she cubes and dices. “I enjoy your company,” the vampyr says. “It’s too large a property to look after myself, but I was, after all, still a wife.”

The woman falls back to the balls of her feet and sighs. “Yeah, I know. Still, arguably, you do more work than even I do.”

“I can stop,” she says. “Would you like more work?”

“God, please don’t do that,” the woman laughs. “The mundane is fun with you.”

The vampire smiles. This time, it feels real and gentle. The woman is taken aback at the sudden observation that the vampyr has never smiled with her teeth before.
The image is instantly pressed into the back of the woman’s eyelids, permanent and haunting. She thinks about it every day for the next week, unable to wipe it off her person. It makes her heart beat faster, makes her itch to get her to smile with teeth again.

She thinks of how it would feel to have the vampyr’s teeth graze her neck in a tender tease. She thinks about the vampyr’s teeth on her shoulders and elsewhere. She imagines being bitten but cannot find an ounce of fear in her body at the thought. She doesn’t understand the obsession her brain fixates onto that split-second image, but chalks it up to a fascination with sharp, pretty teeth.

It takes weeks before she can look at the vampyr again and not have them flash before her vision.

If the vampyr notices, she does not say anything.

The one rule she had never broken was the one about staying on the property after dark. But she’d forgotten something, something important that evades her now, but something important enough to turn back. So, halfway down the rolling hills and towards her seaside port village, the woman turns back and walks towards the barn house.

Just beyond the porch, inside, she finds the vampyr in hysterics.

“Oh,” she bemoans, and her voice breaks raspy like firecrackers. “I want to be a newborn again. I want my thoughts pure and pristine, and I want my mother, my father. I want to start again, to have made no mistakes, to have no wants. I want to stop this spiral of losing control before it can ever begin. I clutch my chest in an attempt to keep desire inside; it all spills out anyway. To feel something so horrifying and beautiful—I can’t stand it.”
It’s a grotesque image. It’s pathetic and vulnerable. The woman watches as the vampyr crumbles to her knees, hand at her heart as though to keep it inside of her body. “Oh,” the monster cries again. “I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it. I want to feel the way I feel when I’m asleep. I want to feel okay again. I want to feel nothing at all.”

Sitting by her knees, the woman attempts to embrace her. There remains a tense apprehension in her actions—little fluidity and no elegance to the way she tumbles down to be level with the other. The monster flinches at the sound of her knees hitting the wood beneath them.

“Hold onto me,” she instructs, quietly, and the vampyr laughs wet with tears.

“I can’t tell if you’re being brave or foolish,” she muses. “You’re sitting awfully close to me.”

“I already told you that I don’t care.”

“Which is it? Bravery or foolishness?”

“Why not both?”

“It’s paradoxical. It makes no sense.”

The woman shrugs, and for a moment, all is quiet.

The embrace feels like the ones in her dreams, and the vampyr marvels at how it’s only sweeter when translated into reality. She is weak. She is weaker than weak. The vampyr snorts at her own foolishness in that moment, finding herself at the butt-end of a horrible, terrible joke. She laments her loss and realizes that she never had a chance to win to begin with.

Tentatively, as if the action of speaking any louder would break the veil of night itself, she speaks into the emptiness of the woman’s neck.

“Only for tonight,” the vampyr whispers. The woman almost doesn’t hear the admission, but the fingers digging into her arms are answer enough. She holds on tighter.

“I will hold on, but only for tonight,” the vampyr repeats. She’s not speaking to the woman; she’s speaking to herself.

“I believe you,” the woman says, and ignores the fact that it’s blatantly a lie.

“Just tonight,” the vampyr says again. “Just tonight.”

“Okay,” the woman says, and makes no attempt to move away.
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