“Samuel was five months old when Philip finished his tour of duty, and we moved to the US, to a small flat in St. Paul, where Philip and his family were from,” Mae continued. “The first few months we lived here were truly wonderful. Then, one night, three weeks before Samuel’s first birthday, I went in to check on him, and he wasn’t breathing.” A solitary tear slid down her cheek, but she chose to ignore it.
“The pain never gets easier. Don’t listen to what anyone tells you. Losing a child is… an impossible loss.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, unsure of what else to say.
“Everybody kept saying, ‘At least you’re young enough to try again.’” Mae smiled bitterly at the memory and glanced over to me. “But I didn’t want to try again.
“After Samuel died, I spent months curled up in bed. My family, everything I had known and loved, was a million miles away, and my husband, as much as he did love me, was very young himself and he was busy trying to work and start a life for us…” She had a faraway expression for a moment, but then she remembered I was there and snapped herself out of it.
“I was just a little older than you, so you can imagine what it would be like,” Mae looked at me warmly, but I sensed an uneasy warning underneath her gaze. “I understand the excitement of being offered a whole new life with an attractive stranger. But you isolate yourself from everything you know.”
“I don’t feel isolated,” I offered lamely.
I tried to understand her reasoning for telling me the story. My guesses were leaning towards Samuel’s headstone, and she wanted explain the immeasurable the loss a person goes through when they out live everything around them.
But she would’ve outlived her baby whether she was a vampire or not. It had nothing to do with the choices she made.
“Nevertheless.” Mae stared straight ahead, her knuckles turning white from the way she gripped the steering wheel. “Philip, bless his heart, stayed by my side, when a lesser man might’ve shipped me back home for my parents to deal with.
“Eventually, I managed to pull myself out of the depression and go on with my life. I got a job at a deli to keep myself busy and made a few friends. And one day, I decided it was time to start trying for a family again.
“Being pregnant was the most miraculous thing that ever happened to me. To feel this little life growing inside me…” She looked rather blissful, but her gaze got harder when she turned to me. “That’s something you’ll be giving up, you know. Vampires can’t get pregnant. They don’t have children. You will never have a family if you choose this life.”
“I don’t think I want kids anyway.” I had actually thought about it very little, but for the most part, the idea of having a child didn’t sound that appealing.
“Well, you might change your mind when the option is taken away from you,” Mae replied thoughtfully. “It’s just something for you to think about.”
“I will,” I promised her, but I doubted that it would affect my decision at all.
Even if she was right, if someday I regretted never having children, I could only make the decision now, based on my current state of mind. And right now, having children didn’t seem that important.
“The day my daughter was born was the happiest day of my life.” Her expression stretched into a deep smile, and her eyes filled with happy tears. “She was so beautiful. Her eyes were huge and blue, just like Philip’s. And she had these soft, downy curls, the same as I had had when I was born. I remember the first time I held her in my arms, and the soft warm weight of her body… I promised her I’d never let anything bad happen to her.” She exhaled heavily, and the sadness started seeping into her eyes.
“I named her Sarah, after my mother.” She wiped at her cheek, trying to catch a tear before it fell. “Everyday with her was absolute heaven. I’m sure every mother thinks her child was perfect, but she really was. She rarely cried, and she woke with this beautiful smile on her chubby cheeks. I quit my job at the deli just so I could spend as much time with her as I could. Every moment with her just seemed so absolutely precious.
“One night, I was preparing supper, and I realized that we were out of milk,” Mae went on. “We had a man who would deliver milk to our house, but with having a toddler, we went through milk faster than normal. Sarah was nearly two, and I had stopped breastfeeding not long before that.
“Philip had just gotten home from work, so I didn’t want to send him back out. Besides that, the corner market was only two blocks down and it was a beautiful night.
“I remember that I had been wearing this beautiful spring dress with blue flowers that I’d made from a pattern. It was one of my favorites, and I had been meaning to make a smaller version for Sarah just as soon as I got more fabric.”
She hesitated before she spoke again, and I almost thought she might not go on anymore. Whatever she had meant to tell me had become too painful, but finally, she continued.
“He was so attractive that I would’ve gone with him anywhere,” Mae said bitterly, but she was angrier with herself than him. “I had barely made it a block, and then he just appeared out of nowhere.
“In retrospect, he wasn’t half as handsome as Ezra is, but to my human sense, he was an Adonis. I never even put up a fight. When he led me away into the trees, I was too intoxicated by him to think of Sarah. He sunk his teeth into my neck, and I thought for sure I was dying, but it felt so good, that I didn’t even care. I should’ve been pleading for my life, for Sarah, but I just…”
“You couldn’t do anything,” I tried to comfort her. While I had never been in the exact same position, I knew how impossible it was to think when a vampire wanted your blood. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“But I loved her!” Mae insisted fiercely. “I just wanted to spend the rest of my life watching her grow up and being a part of her life! But instead I went into a patch of trees, and let a vampire bite me.
“He drained me, but then instead of leaving me to recover and go back to my family, he offered his blood to me. He said I tasted too good to waste on a human life. I didn’t understand what he meant, and I was still completely under his spell, so I did as I was told.” She smiled painfully and rolled her eyes at her own ignorance.
“I had a choice!” Her voice broke sharply. “I’m the only one that did. Ezra was forced into it, and Peter and Jack were done to save their lives. But me, somebody asked me. I didn’t understand what it meant, and yet I agreed to it. Willingly.”