“But you couldn’t have known.” I thought about reaching out to touch her, but she was too angry.
“For two days afterwards, I laid in the trees, afraid to move,” Mae went on. “The virus attacked my body, and everything changed and died. I was weak and in pain, and I had no idea what was happening to me.
“Then finally, my strength returned, only much more brilliantly then it had before. And this unquenchable thirst. All the while I had been writhing in pain, all I had been able to think about was Sarah and how much I wanted to get back to her. But as soon as I felt that hunger, I knew that I could never go back to her. I couldn’t trust myself.
“Within my first few hours as a vampire, I nearly killed our neighbor, I was so hungry. After my bloodlust calmed down, I felt safe enough to check on Sarah. I hid in the backyard and peered in through the window.
“Before I even got near the house, I heard Sarah crying. Philip was carrying her around trying to calm her down, saying ‘We’ll find your Mama. She’ll come back to you.’” Fresh tears streams down her cheeks, and the car started to slow.
We were on a suburban street I had never seen before, and Mae parked on the side of the road, underneath a tree.
“I slept in the woods during the day, and at night, I would sit outside the window and just watch Sarah. She cried for me every night for a month. Philip had the police searching for me, so I had to be very careful that no one would spot me.” She sighed heavily. “I lived that way for over six months. I wore the same dress, and fed on our neighbor, since he was nearby. If Ezra hadn’t found me, I don’t know what would’ve become of me. Maybe I’d still be living out behind that house.”
“What happened to your family?” I asked quietly.
“Philip eventually remarried a girl I had known from the deli. She was very kind, and I’d like to believe that she was good to him. They had two more children together, and Sarah eventually started calling her Mom. I don’t know if she even remembers me anymore. It’s probably better if she doesn’t.”
Mae nodded towards a house in front of us, and I saw the silhouette of an older woman it the window. She carried a small child, a little boy, on her hip, and she looked happy. There was something familiar about her, and I couldn’t quite place it.
Then it dawned on me. Her hair graying wavy hair, pale skin, and even the way she smiled – they were all Mae’s.
“That’s your daughter!” I gasped, looking over at her.
“It is.” She looked pleased that I had been able to see the resemblance. “She’s a teacher. She used to be married, but her husband left her years ago. Ezra threatened to teach him a lesson, but I told him not to. Sarah has to live her own life. She’s fifty-four now. She has a daughter, Elizabeth, and that little boy on her hip, that’s her grandson, Riley. My great-grandson.” She smiled painfully. “During the week, she watches her grandkids, while Elizabeth works and goes to school. Riley’s three, and Daisy just turned five.”
“So you just come out here and watch them?” I asked.
“It’s the only way I got to watch her grow up,” Mae explained sadly. “When she was little, I would come into her room at night and watch her sleep. I even did that a little while with Elizabeth, but Ezra says that I need to start letting them go. Sarah has a wonderful life, and I should just be happy with it.
“I know Ezra’s right,” Mae said. “It will get harder watching her as she grows old and frail. Watching her die.” She swallowed painfully. “I don’t want to outlive my daughter. I outlived one of my children, and I swore that I’d never do it again.”
She turned to look at me and whispered harshly, “It is so much harder to watch everyone you love die then it is to simply die yourself. Immortality is much more of a curse than it is a blessing.”
“But you have Ezra, and Peter and Jack,” I attempted to comfort her. “I know it’s not the same as a child you gave birth to, but you love them too, and you get to spend forever with them.”
“I know, and I am grateful that I have them. Without Ezra, I never would’ve made it this long.” Mae had gone back to staring at her daughter. Through an open curtain, we could see Sarah chasing after a small girl with soft, blond curls.
“Three years ago, Philip died. I cried more than I had thought I would after all these years. But he had always been good to me, and he’d been wonderful father to our daughter.
“That’s when Ezra built the house that we live in, and he said it would be the last place we lived in Minneapolis,” Mae sighed. “He doesn’t like to stay in one city for this long, especially one that has family. Jack’s mother launched a missing persons search for him after he turned, but they eventually chucked it up to another drunk kid falling in a frozen lake.”
“How does Jack feel about leaving his mother and family behind?” I asked. He had never mentioned his family at all, but then again, neither had Mae, and they were incredibly important to her.
“He severed all contact with her after he turned,” Mae said. “He’d never been that close to her anyway. She left when he was young, taking only his sister with her, and his father raised him. From what I understand, his father wasn’t a very nice man either. When his father got cancer, and his mother was forced to take him back in. Truthfully, I think he was rather happy that he has an excuse not to see her.”
“So why did you all stay here for so long?” I asked, even though I thought I knew the answer.
“I refused to go,” Mae said simply. “But the boys are getting restless. Jack has never lived anywhere else. Peter will go stay other places, but he’s always been more of a drifter. In a few years, I’ll have no choice but to move, and I suppose it will be better for me to remember my daughter this way, while she’s still vibrant.”
“Where will you move?” I asked.
“I’m not sure yet. Jack has a list of places he’d love to go, but there has been some talk of England since that’s where both Ezra and I were born, and I haven’t been back since I was sixteen.” She turned her serious gaze on me. “In two or three years, at the latest, we will be moving, and we won’t come back for another fifty years or more. We may not even come back to America for many years.”
“I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing,” I said. Moving to another country sounded ridiculously exciting. I didn’t know why she made it sound like a threat.