I’ve never been a committed person in my too-long existence.
I’m more of a drifter, cruising from one town to the other, assuming a new identity with each new address. Most people would find my lifestyle exhausting, but for me it was fun, interesting and convenient.
Oftentimes, I’d suddenly feel my spark of wanderlust ignited from within and I’d pack up and leave town, one hand on the steering wheel and the other scrolling through Google Maps, looking for the next quick fix.
Sometimes it’s not so random. Sometimes I’d follow a certain trail of sparkles in the air, knowing that it would take me to a place with bakeries and patisseries and sweet-shops that would keep me fed, with quaint-looking streets and houses that I could paint and photograph, with soft throats and wrists that would soothe the burning in my parched throat.
This time, the shimmer that floated in the air led me to a mountain town that grew strawberries and cherries as their main crop. The moment I drove into Main Street, my senses were assaulted by the fruity, sugary sweetness and I knew that I had found a new home.
The white bakery near the park served me strawberry cinnamon rolls with a flat white latte. I consumed it, feeling the sugar dissolve on my tongue and invade my bloodstream. They had a HELP WANTED sign posted on the window, and I plucked it off before heading to the manager’s office in the back.
My new house was near the edge of town. It was a small, two-bedroom building, but it had charming eaves, a pristine white picket fence and a lush garden surrounding it. I set out votive candles everywhere and unpacked my belongings by candlelight, indulging myself by dipping big red cherries in a white chocolate fondue.
I first saw the old Victorian house during one of my late-night walks. It was a large, sprawling house and had Christmas lights blazing every night of the year. The moment six o’clock rolled around, the house transformed into a fairyland of blinking white light.
I had taken to trespassing through the strawberry fields at night to stand in front of that house, watching the lights, camera in hand. Its weight was comforting in the cold.
The owner started coming out after my third time. I was a bit worried that he would tell me to get lost, but he never did. At first he would just stand by the window and watch me, hidden behind thick velvet drapes.
After a few nights, he got used to me and abandoned his post behind the curtains, standing right in front of the window and smiling at me, his black hair moving slightly in the breeze.
We never talked, but he finally invited me in.
He has bruised, bleeding lips and I think he’s trying to tempt me.
We talk about random topics, jumping from subject to subject over our cups of tea, but I’m distracted and my eyes keep straying back to his lips.
I wonder if he bit them?
I wonder if he’s doing it on purpose?
He’s telling me a story about his job, something about volunteering overseas to help the less fortunate. I listen half-heartedly, my gaze trained on his mouth like someone hypnotized. Sometimes he stops to take a sip of his chai, and he runs his tongue over his lips afterwards.
He asks me a question and I answer in length, while he sits and stares and nibbles worriedly at the corner of his lip. His teeth break the skin and a thin trickle of red stains the tip of his tooth.
I didn’t notice that I was leaning forward until I realize that I’m only a few centimeters away and his breathing has become rapid. I can hear his heartbeat hammering in his chest.
I close the distance and start sucking on his lower lip.
His blood is sweet.
Afterwards, I spent part of every night with him.
I’d read in bed and he’d write poems on my back and sometimes I’d draw on the surfaces of his too-pale skin.
But mostly we’d just lay in bed and indulge in each other, drunk on blood and strawberry wine.
It was a pleasant arrangement and I’d sneak out in the morning, tired and bruised but with my lips red with his sweet, sweet blood. But he had begun to get attached to me, and with it brought a feeling of unease. I was sure I saw him a couple of times during my shift at the bakery, hunched behind other people, his eyes watchful and on me.
I knew I had to leave town that night.
The moment I stepped inside his door, I smelled the trepidation, ripe and thick in the air.
He was holding a gun with his finger on the trigger, and a thin sheen of perspiration gleamed dully on his forehead.
“I can’t let you go,” he whispered. “Take me with you.”
I smile at him lovingly, trying to work my compulsion on him. But his eyes are crazed behind their outward calmness, and I know that no amount of compulsion would work on him now.
“What you’re feeling is all an illusion,” I say, trying to reason with him. “My saliva produces a chemical that drugs you and makes you feel euphoric. It’s not permanent – you’ll recover after a week or two.”
“I don’t want to recover!” He shrieks. “If you leave me, I’ll die. So I’m going to have to kill you unless you stay here with me.”
“Don’t be like that,” I beg him, because I don’t want to kill him.
His eyes are filled with tears. He has gone completely white, and the red wounds on his throat and wrists blaze starkly. The wounds, made by my teeth and loved by my lips.
He raises the gun to eye-level, and his hands are no longer shaking. His eyes have lost their last vestige of sanity.
I shake my head sadly and smile.
“Good-bye,” I whisper.
There’s a gunshot, and to both of us, it’s like a clap of vicious thunder.
I leave town that night, my belly full of blood and my eyes full of tears. I still taste him on my lips and I sigh with regret.
Why does it have to end like this every time?
But I don’t have time to wonder for long – I see a faint trail of sparkles in the air, and feel a smile tug at the corners of my mouth.
There will be a new town.
There will be bakeries to feed me with sweets, picturesque houses to watch, and soft, warm flesh to feed from.
And maybe, I’ll have another chance to lie supine in bed, drunk on blood and strawberry wine.
Disclaimer: Photograph credited to Google Images.