in the evening

the deep

dark summer




Blood, that euphemism for what moves in us.

--Anne Michaels


I feel him coming, too. He'll want to know why. Why did I do this? Why didn't I tell him? The one answer to both questions is I have no idea.

I suppose because she was dying—she was dead—and I didn't want her to be. For myself, for him. For all of us who knew her. He might have been prepared to let her go but I wasn't. Of course, I think the only reason he had been able to walk away was because he knew she was still alive and he could protect her from a distance, whether she liked it or not. There was still that piece of her in his brain that he could keep with him. I, on the other hand, had no such thing.

Then I didn't tell him because I didn't know how. She is really gone, he'd said to me on the third night as he sat on the couch in his office, his head in his hands. He never sat on that couch. He was always at his desk or leaning on the edge of it. I said I would leave him alone and asked him if I could go for the night. He just nodded. I hoped he wouldn't cry. It wouldn't become him. As it was, his actions were confusing to me. His grief I understood, but I thought he would expel it with rage, in a physical explosion of force in which I expected to be caught and destroyed. And in which many a thrill-seeking fangbanger would be seriously injured. I had even taken the precaution of preparing our legal counsel for the lawsuits I assumed would arise.

I did feel the mingled waves of anger and grief rolling off of him, but there he was, sitting. Speaking softly. He didn't feed, I noticed. She is really gone. I couldn't form the words, Actually, she isn't, so I did not break my silence on the subject, maybe out of cowardice, but also because in a matter of hours, I knew the silence would break itself and save me the trouble. And break it did, in a long and piercing scream.

When I arrived in that small clearing where I'd buried her a second time, I finally started thinking about how I would explain. For one thing it was already done, so there was nothing to argue about in terms of choice. I knew that the fact that I'd taken it out of her hands would not go over well. And that I'd taken it out of Eric's hands. But—in terms of choice—I considered myself the sacrificial lamb. She could be angry at me but she couldn't be angry at Eric because he hadn't known of her new existence until she herself knew. And for Christ's sake, the last thing they needed was another reason to be angry with each other, another smokescreen thrown up between them.

This is what they needed, this change. To prod them, to knock their heads together and make them realize that time is short for all of us. The blood that moved in her would have spent itself in a matter of years. Our blood—his and mine—also has its limits, though I wouldn't admit this freely to anyone. We the dead are not here forever any more than humans are. We are just here longer.

I saw the piled earth above her begin to shift and tumble. She screamed, the silence broken. I felt my Maker as he felt her rise. He was feeling her. The bond was intact. As her scream gave way to choking, I plunged my hands into the ground until I could hook them under her arms and pull. She inhaled and exhaled in dramatic bursts, from a human instinct that would fade. I felt her panic and pushed through it, supporting her with my body, allowing her to sink slowly to the forest floor. I remembered that first hunger and how much it hurt. My relief from it took longer, since there had been no synthetic blood immediately at hand. I held the bottle to her lips and she drank. I continue to hold her, because she is mine. My friend, my Child.

I remember in my human youth that I did not want to be a mother. I knew it was expected of me and that it would happen because I couldn't control anything about my life at that time. There were a few women our family knew and of whom I heard much talk in drawing rooms and candlelit hallways, women who could not have children. They were pitied and considered damaged, though in one of those cases it was so obvious that her husband loved her too dearly to care that to see them together filled me with fear that I wouldn't, couldn't be so lucky. He gave her everything and took her everywhere and she gave it all back when she caught his gaze, across the dining table, across a crowded room. I assumed, at the time, that love like that was only to be had between a man and a woman. I assumed, at the time, that there was nothing for me beyond what path my father laid at my feet and expected me to follow. To be turned was to be rescued. For me, my death had been my salvation, my passage into life.

Now, with this new creature leaning heavily on my shoulder, her soft cries filling the deep quiet of the woods, I understand.

I had seen my mother cradle my baby sister. She was tired from the labor and my older sister and I had been allowed in to see her, I think to make us want it also, to move in us the maternal instinct that was supposed to be inherent in all women. But I was not moved. And when the baby died and our house was shuttered up in grief, I couldn't help but feel that she had escaped. I grieved for the pain my mother felt but not for my little lost sister. I sensed relief from my father, though he was decent enough to hold my mother every day, in the evening when she seemed to feel it the most. When I sat with her late one night, after he had gone, she told me her breasts ached with the loss. I didn't know what to say because we never used such language to refer to our bodies. I told her I was sorry, so sorry, and I was.

I can almost see myself now, if I had remained alive and moved forward on that predetermined path. A child handed to me, my blood swirling with unexpected love and rushing to my head to make me understand that this would not be so bad.

My blood moves now with those feelings. She is not a baby, but I plant my lips very softly on her temple. I don't think she felt it, too absorbed in her shock. I look up to the sky, waiting for him to descend. When he does a moment later, he touches down with such force that he sends a wave of dirt over us as we kneel on the ground. Our eyes lock. He bears down like a tidal wave and sweeps me up by the throat, pinning me to a smooth-barked tree. What have you done, he hisses. He is not hurting me but his hand is on my throat and jaw in such a way that I cannot look away from him.

I can feel the turmoil in his head. I don't want to cry. I hate crying. But I think I might do it anyway. I can sense them both and their combined emotion is overwhelming. Pamela Sarah Fermor, he whispers. My full name, my first one anyway, that I haven't heard in decades. I think he is the only other person on this planet who knows it. Please, I say. I was thinking of you.

Eric stop, she says from where she has remained on her knees on the ground. He releases me immediately and kneels before her. His fingers find her face and trace it out again in wonder, having thought they'd felt the last of her. He scoops her up and looks to me as she slings an arm around his neck and curls the other hand into his shirt. Where to, he asks, she is your Child. I nod and begin to walk the path I know out of the woods. He follows.

He settles her into my car while I sift through her bedroom. She will come to my house, which is entirely light-tight, and I would like her to feel at home while she's there. There is a t-shirt on the floor and I know to whom it belongs as soon as I pick it up. It is the first thing I take, then changes of clothes and her toiletries. I even spy a few books on her nightstand and I pack them as well.

At my house, Eric sits with us and doesn't interrupt me as I begin to explain, though she knows more than most people do before they're turned. She has drained two more bottles of TrueBlood, one O negative and an A, which she seems to prefer. She will stay with me for a month, maybe two, and I will teach her. We'll talk about securing her home. Around six in the morning, she begins to fade. I show her to a spare bedroom, where she opens her suitcase and digs straight to the bottom, pulling out the t-shirt. She knew it was there because she could smell it. When she emerges from the bathroom, she is wearing it. Pam, she says and trails off. He didn't know, I say. You've said that before, she replies. And it is no less true now than it was then. He didn't know. Now enough, I tell her. Her body straightens at the tone of my voice, the command of it running deep into her brain. Don't do that, she says, I don't heel. On one level, I'm glad to see some emotion push its way through her numb exterior. On another, I understand why Eric would get so angry with her. She brought her stubbornness back from the grave. Rest, I tell her again, in no less commanding a tone. You need it. After all… Tomorrow is another night.

Eric still sits at the kitchen table. I don't know what to say in this moment any more than I did when she first died. But I'm on a different level with him now. I am a Maker and in some ways she is mine more than she is his. He stands, his huge form filling up the alcove of my little kitchen. I back up without realizing I've done it. Why did you do it, he asks. To buy you both a little time. None of us has forever, you know. If he's surprised by my forthright answer, he doesn't show it. Moving faster than I can see him, he opens her bedroom door. There are humans who would have everyone think the dead don't feel things. We do. Our feeling moves in us with more strength and depth, more fully and longer than any of them could imagine. This is why most of us avoid it.

In the slice of light that illuminates her sleeping form, I see him sit on the edge of the bed. He has flung open a door in himself long shut. I can feel my heart swell with how much he missed and regretted her those three nights, how much he wants her, loves her now. My heart.

He rests his palm on her forehead and brushes his fingers over her closed eyes. Seeing her dead like this is not so difficult for him, knowing he will see her awake, moving, feeding in the coming night. He lets her be and shuts the door behind him. Then he hugs me, honestly hugs me, and whispers in my ear. Thank you, he says.

That night I have a dream and for the first time I remember it in detail. I am a living woman, in a bed like the one my mother laid in, and I am handed a baby. I am told it is a girl. She is warm, I feel her small heartbeat and trace the edges of the soft spot on her delicate skull. I place my hand over it. The feeling of its slight movement on my palm remains as clear to me awake as it was in the dream. My mother is seated on the edge of the bed with me. Up from the deep, she says, and balls her hands into fists and splays her fingers out over and over again. Fireworks. She leans forward to kiss my forehead like she always did when she would put me to bed herself. Then I woke up.

I bring Sookie with me to the bar the next night, where the human staff are falling over themselves with glee at seeing someone they knew become a vampire. She looks at me with some alarm at their reaction. The vampires are not surprised, most of them having assumed she'd get herself turned at some point anyway. Clancy, Maxwell and Indira are welcoming enough. Thalia humphs to herself and goes back to prepping the bar for the coming crowd. Felicia looks downright frightened, as if she thought she'd been clear of the Sookie Stackhouse Bartender Death Curse, the idea of which I can't pretend I didn't plant in her head and remind her of frequently. Don't worry, I tell her, she didn't come back for you.

She didn't come back for me, either. I believe there is a choice involved in the mind of the Child, even though I can't remember making it myself. It is a backward journey through the halls of the dead, to come back into the world and agree to live in it again for an indeterminate amount of time, and you have to choose to make it. I had heard of instances of even very strong and capable Makers attempting to bring someone over without success. It did happen, rather like a stillborn human child. The assumption was always that the human had been too weak. My private explanation is that there must be a choice. She chose, whether she is conscious of it or not. And her choice was not for me. It was not my call that drew her back, though my blood made it possible.

Eric calls us to his office. After we enter, he motions with his hand for me to shut the door behind us. He asks a few insipid questions about how she's doing, how does she feel, will she feed tonight. Fine, fine and of course. I don't know why I'm still in the room. She answers on her own and they begin staring in turn at nearly everything except each other. Finally he says, you do look different. You are different. But you are still so beautiful. And I am so sorry for everything before this. She finally looks him in the eye, knowing he is not one to apologize for anything. I feel the energy between them tighten and hum to an almost audible pitch, but neither of them moves even though their fingers are positively twitching to touch the other. I try not to roll my eyes. Enough already.

She steps forward and he meets her with his embrace, picking her up off the floor to hold her to him. They inhale each other. Her slim feet trail a little, like a dancer floating en pointe. They smile. They are already so close inside and out but I can tell they're both thinking that it's not enough. I slip out of the office and shut the door behind me without a word. Walking down the hallway, I smile, too. My heart, my heart, my heart...

I feel the spreading pleasure of their kiss as if it were my own.

It is about fucking time.



More to come.