“You will not be able to see your brother again,” Mae explained softly. “Even if we stayed around here, the best you could hope for is watching him grow old from afar. Even as much as I’ve watched my own family, I never interacted with them. After you turn, you’ll be unable to talk to Milo ever again.”
“But…” I trailed off, trying to think of an argument that would win her over. “But he’s met you all! And why can’t I just tell him what you are? What I’ll be? He’d understand. And he wouldn’t tell anyone.”
“Telling humans just makes their lives worse,” Mae told me gravely. “If you decided not to turn, or if we’d never even offered it to you, can you imagine how you would feel? In a year or two, we just up and leave you behind. Knowing what we are, knowing that we exist.
“Every time you’re enamored with a boy, you’ll wonder if it’s just because he’s a vampire. You’ll age, and you’ll wonder what it would’ve been like to stay young forever. And you’ll wonder if you just made it all up, if you’re insane.”
“But you think it would be better for Milo to think that I had been murdered or kidnapped or something?” I asked her incredulously. “That’s the better alternative?”
“You don’t want to watch him die, Alice!” Mae insisted with tears in her eyes. “I know that you don’t love him quite the same way that I love my daughter, but even knowing that Philip died was devastating. Leaving them behind is hard, it is so very hard, and you’ll question it forever. But there is no other option. Immortality requires you to leave everything behind.”
“So you expect me to turn my back on all of this, all that you have to offer, because Milo will die? He’s going to die anyway! Me staying human doesn’t make him live forever!” I countered. “But you and Jack and Peter won’t die. I don’t know how I could possibly go back to living my life knowing that you’re out there and I’m not with you.”
“You just needed to know,” Mae looked at me earnestly. “You needed to know exactly what you’d be giving up. It’s not fair to ask you something that you don’t understand. I wanted to give you a chance, so you wouldn’t make the same mistake that I did.”
“Are you saying that you don’t want me to turn?” I asked thickly.
“No, no, of course not, love.” She reached out and gently stroked me cheek. “I would want nothing more than to spend forever watching you turn into the amazing woman I know you’ll be. But I know the price of turning better than anyone, and if I can spare you from any pain, I will.”
“But as a human, people will still die around me,” I argued. She dropped her hand from my face but kept her sad eyes on mine. “I’ll be touched by even more death as a human than I would be as a vampire. At least you guys won’t die.”
“That is true. But that doesn’t make leaving your brother any easier.” She forced a smile at me, then turned the car back on and drove away from her daughter’s house. “It’s just something that I thought you should think about it.”
“Thank you.” I sunk low into the seat.
I stared out into the darkness, watching the houses and trees roll past us. Mae sang softly along with the stereo in attempt to alleviate her own sadness by the time we got back home. She had left me with an impossible choice. Leave behind my brother, or leave behind them.
- 21 -
The covers were pulled completely over my head in attempt to keep the daylight out, but when I finally poked my head up, there was no light spilling in. Part of it was because of the thick curtains that blanketed every window of the house, but the main reason, according to the clock on my nightstand, was probably because it was after six, and the sun had already set.
Last night, I had again stayed up with Jack, watching his DVDs of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and very deliberately not talking about the elephant in the room: whether or not I planned to ever become a vampire.
I couldn’t understand all the ramifications of my decision when I couldn’t even fully believe it was true. Last night, I had spent the entire time watching an old TV show on DVD and trying not to entice a vampire to bite me.
How could I possibly reconcile those two ideas? The utterly mundane with the totally supernatural? One of those things just didn’t belong.
Instead of dwelling on it any longer, I rolled over and grabbed my cell phone off the nightstand. I vaguely remembered the jingle of my phone interrupting my sleep, but I had been too tired to answer it. When you’re still human, staying up all night can be incredibly exhausting.
So what? Are you like really sick or something? That was a text message from Jane. Along with, Hello? Are you ignoring me? At least she still cared, which I found to be kinda surprising.
There were three from Milo, and I was reluctant to read them. I didn’t want to think about him being alone in that apartment all the time. He didn’t really have any friends, and on top of that, he had his current issues with his sexuality. It was a very cruel time for me to leave him.
Are you done going to school now?
Mom asked about you. She’s worried. Maybe you should apologize to her now.
I’m worried too. When are you coming home?
I groaned and pulled the covers back up over my head. How would I answer that? I was probably never coming home, and I’d probably never talk to him again.
But I couldn’t exactly say that. I didn’t want to. Just yesterday, I’d promised he’d be in my life forever, and apparently, that was a total lie.
“Are you up yet?” Jack asked sunnily, and I assumed he was standing in my doorway.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” The bed heaved as Jack jumped into it, and I lowered the covers enough so I could peek out at him. My room was completely dark except for a light from the hall, and I could barely make out the cocky grin on his face. “Morning, sunshine.”
“If you’re gonna be this cheery, you can just go away,” I grumbled, and he laughed.
I hated how wonderful his laughter sounded and the way it filled me with pleasant tingles. I didn’t want to be pleasant. I wanted to be grumpy and stay in bed all day, avoiding the world until somebody else made a decision for me.
Having a choice in something as major as the rest of my life was far too much of a responsibility for me.
“Didn’t sleep well, I take it?” He propped himself up on his elbow so he could smirk down at me.