This story is by Terence Reynolds and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Uncle Eddie was a mess. Blood stained his uniform. His usually jovial smile had flatlined, and there was a pink tint to his hazel eyes. He wasn’t my biological uncle, but he was the only family I had outside of mom and dad. Seeing him in such bad shape sent a shiver up my spine. He stood in the doorway of our brownstone, struggling to deliver the news. Mom beat him to it. “He’s dead!” It was more of a declaration than a question. Dad’s partner of fifteen years just nodded. He began to tremble. I’m not sure if it was the Brooklyn winter or grief, that sent his nerves into a spasm. Mom either didn’t notice or didn’t care.
She placed a hand on his shoulder and stared at him intensely with her big brown eyes. The trembling stopped, and everything he had been struggling to say erupted out of him like a geyser. “It was a drug raid gone horribly wrong Caroline. Some how those bastards knew we were coming. They ambused us. Mark was superhuman. He jumped out front. Taking out three guys before succumbing to gunfire. We got the assailants, but Mark had passed before we could call a ambulance. Your pop was a fucking hero Jeanette. You remember that!” He said looking past mom to me . Tears rolling down his chubby cheeks.
I’m sure his words were meant to provide comfort. They didn’t. “Thank you, Edward, for letting us know, but I think it’s best if you leave now.” Mom said, her chocolate face tense with anger. “I’m truly sorry Caro. .” Mom didn’t give him a chance to finish the sentiment. She slammed the oak doors in his face. The metallic smell of blood from his uniformed lingered in the corridor, along with the stale Brooklyn air.
A wave of hunger hit me as I stared up at mom. She had always been my refuge. Like when I was ten, and awoke in the neighbor’s yard at three a.m., covered in blood. A dog I had never encoutered laying limp at my feet. Mom ensured me it was a accident, talked to the neighbors, and helped me bury the poor animal. She commended me for being a big girl, and smiled at me. Her smile could’ve lit up all of New York that night, but there was no comfort to be found there now. Her face was stoic. Almost primal, as she took in a deep breath of the air that lingered behind. In that moment I realized I hadn’t reacted either. I was sad, but not enough. Wasn’t I suppose to cry in moments like this? Why wasn’t I crying? I couldn’t remember if I had ever cried. “No you haven’t! Mom stated, answering my thoughts.
It was creepy how she could answer a question before I even decided to ask it. Dad could to, but he wasn’t as good as mom. He was good enough to scare off Phillip though. Phillip is in my homeschool support group. He had been trying to ask me out for a month. I knew, but was being coy. He came over one night to study, and the first word out of Dad’s mouth when he saw him was “No you can’t date my daughter!” Phillip swears dad’s eyes glowed, and hasn’t called since. I sighed, poor dad, thinking of him in the past tense made me feel empty inside. “He’s not dead Jeanette.” Mom said answering my thoughts again. ” But Uncle Eddie saw it, mom” I declared. “I know honey let’s have a talk!” she said as she made her way to the kitchen. I followed without hesitation.
“Damn you, Mark, “she mumbled under her breath as she grabbed two coffee mugs. She filled them with what she called blood coffee. A special brew from her native Haiti. The name was a bit weird, but the taste was divine.
She passed me a mug. We both took a big gulp. The hunger faded, and she began to speak. “Jeanette have you ever wondered how I can read your thoughts? Why you can’t feel the cold in winter? Or why being around blood makes you hungry? She paused and waited for an answer. I nodded. “Honey it’s because we’re vampires!” she finished.
The word hung in the air for a moment. I tried not to think, but the thought slipped out. “Mom has lost her damn mind!” Her face was riddled with frustration. “Watch your language, and I have not lost my damn mind!” she stated frankly before continuing her diatribe. “This is all your father’s fault. I told him there was no place in the NYPD for our kind. Did he listen? No! I’ve been saving his butt for over a century, and now I’m going to have to do it again.”
We both were silent for a while. What she said made sense, but it could also be the grief talking. “You are definitely your father’s daughter!” She sighed. She rose from her chair, and pulled a knife out of a nearby drawer. She turned towards me. “Was she going to stab me?” “Of course not!” she said before plunging the steak knife into her stomach. The scream started in my toes, slowly built up, and erupted out of my mouth.
“Hush all that noise, I’m fine!” she said before pulling the knife out and lifting her shirt. Revealing a wound that had already begun to heal. “Believe me now?” she asked. I nodded furiously. “Good, now we have to figure out a way to break your dad out of the morgue and get the hell out of Brooklyn!”