This story is by Kate Hill and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
I walk up the steps of the two-story brownstone, excited to be home for summer. I love college, but I’ve barely been home since I started. I try to be quiet since Dad is probably still sleeping. He’s been a cop on the night shift so long that he’s now a nocturnal creature.
I open the fridge to look for a snack and find few protein shakes and ketchup. “Typical,” I mutter to myself.
Normally Dad guards his protein shakes like they’re blended with jewels stolen from the Queen of England. I hope I won’t have to spend my college fund to replace the one I’m taking. I hear Dad rustling through the house now, but I’m just too hungry to wait for dinner.
I crack open the bottle and tentatively sniff. The label promises a wild berry concoction, and the liquid is red and viscous, but it smells odd, almost metallic. A quick look tells me the expiration date isn’t for a bit longer.
“I shrug, and start to take a sip.”
“No!” He shouts, suddenly in the kitchen with me. I jolt to a stop. Dad snatches the bottle from me but not a before a bit of the liquid in the bottle splashes on my bottom lip. I lick it away and taste… blood. I look at him sharply, and he looks paler than I’ve ever seen him.
“What the hell?” I ask, calmer than I feel.
“Maybe you should sit down.”
“Just tell me already!” I shout. I need to hear this. I’ve always known something was up, and I hate not knowing.
“I’m a vampire.”
“How long have you been a vampire?”
“About two hundred years I guess.”
“Wow, you’re old.”
“You’re taking this better than I expected.”
“I should’ve sat down,” I tell him, just before I feel myself grow faint.
I don’t lose consciousness, but it’s a close thing. Dad helps me into a kitchen chair and makes me bend over and breathe between my knees. Deep breath. A vampire. Exhale. My father is a vampire.
Then I realize something else. “Oh my god, I’m adopted, aren’t I? How could you never tell me! I mean the vampire part I get, I think. I mean, seven-year-old me going up to my teacher and telling her that you couldn’t be the classroom parent because you are a vampire would be a mess. But how could you not tell me I’m adopted?”
“Oh, sweetheart -”
“I can deal with the fact that you’re a vampire. It’s weird, but I always knew you were weird. Who still wears bow ties? Aside from Doctor Who cos-players.”
“You’ve been lying to me my whole life!” I stand up. I’m about to run out because I don’t know how to handle any of this. I can’t think where I’d go, but I feel like my whole identity is sliding away. I’m grasping at it, but it’s water through my fingers.
Dad gets a good grip on my shoulders. He’s so fast. How did I never realize how fast he is?
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I’m a vampire earlier, but you’re my daughter. I’ve loved you from the moment you were born.”
Tears prick at my eyes, and I know I won’t be able to fight them long. Maybe I’m supposed to be worried about whether my dad has killed someone for their blood. Maybe I’m supposed to be panicking because vampires are real. But I could give a shit about any of that.
“But I am adopted, aren’t I?”
“You’re my daughter.”
“But I’m not!”
“Yes, you are. You were my family the moment you came into this world.”
“What,” I hiccup,” happened?”
“I was friends with your mother. She named me as your godfather. I honestly don’t know who your biological father was. If she knew who he was, she never told me.”
“What about her parents?” I sniffle.
“They left you this house, just like I always told you. They were older when they had your mother, and she was their only child. I think… I think they may have died of broken hearts after she passed.”
My head is spinning. I collapse back in the chair. “I should’ve known. I don’t look anything like you, and you haven’t aged. What were you going to do about that?”
“Would you believe that denial is more than just a river in Egypt?”
I laugh a little, despite the fact that I’m still reeling, still hurt. “Is there anything else you’re hiding from me?”
“You remember your Uncle Jimmy?”
“You mean my adopted Uncle Jimmy?”
Dad sighs, “Jean-y, you’ve always known he wasn’t related to us by blood.”
“Is he a vampire too?” I ask.
“No, he’s a werewolf.”
“Great. Is Auntie Linda a Zombie?”
“Your Auntie Linda is human.”
“No way!” She’s been ancient as long as I can remember, and mean. I once told Dad that she must live off the bits of souls she sucks out of other people. I must make a face because my dad chuckles. I let him kiss my forehead, and I feel a little better for it.
“Come on, ladybug, let’s find you some real food.”
I’m still hurt he didn’t tell me any of this, but no one has ever had a better father. I’ve never doubted he loves me, not even at this moment. “Yeah, okay. Food would be good.”