Little wonder we stumble in life.

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There was something about the bright lights, the crowd, his smile before the camera, that creeped her out. Because she saw the darkness behind it, the darkness inside when she him bloody, bruised, swollen. When her own knuckles bled as she stared down at him lying at her feet, her eyebrows still drawn tight, her breaths coming in shallow and sharp.

He didn’t remember.

But she did. She didn’t think she’d ever forget. Now every day she was in the same room as him, she remembered. There was something tainted about him now. And she couldn’t say a word, about how much she hated him, about what she’d done. Because she worked with him. Because now, he was smiling, taking food, talking in a light tone. He was friendly. He had never been with her.

There had always been a hidden rage inside her that she kept well hidden. Nobody would ever suspect her. Not even him.

“Hey, Anya, you wanna dance?” he finally asked, walking up to her.

“Sure,” she said, her voice wavering uncertainly as she took his hand uncertainly.

They danced to some unknown club song, playing from someone’s personal speakers. She pretended to like it. She even gave him a fake smile, pretending to like him. But, she kept reminding herself, she could never get that close to him again.

Until he swooped in closer, and she almost fell over backwards, and he captured her in his arms. Her insidee were rioting, but she made herself remain still, remain calm.

“That was a close one,” said Timothy. He smiled, that disgusting, hypocritical smile.

“Yeah,” she managed, flinching under his touch. He straightened her to her feet and let go. She had to remind her she really didn’t like him, because she could feel his assumptions creeping up on her. Men like to tell you exactly what you like, and who you are. They like to pretend they’re desirable to everyone. “Thanks,” she said, a little spite creeping into her voice and flying right over his head.

She went immediately to her room.

He followed her. “Where are you going?”

“Nowhere. Go back to the party.”

“Only if you come with me.”

No, her mind reacted automatically. “I’ll be right there.”

“No, you won’t. Come on!”

He made it sound perfectly reasonable, but she knew it was anything but. It was times like this she wondered about that night, how or even if he really could’ve forgotten. It seemed so ludicrous.


“Is this about me?”


“Come on, I didn’t even touch you!”

“It doesn’t matter. I just need a moment.”

“Okay, but you got to promise you’ll come right back. I’m saving us a dance.”

“Okay,” she said, just to get him to shut up, and he went back to the party.

She didn’t even bother turning on the light when she got inside. Mind roiling in nightmares, she flopped down on her bed, tossing and turning to sleep.

A touch on her shoulder shuddered her awake, and she twisted his wrist hard, sending its owner sprawling to the ground. Even when she heard his screams, she couldn’t stop, separating his arm from the socket. Blood flashed in her mind again, and it sent her fist flying into his face, defending herself from the intruder.

“It’s me, it’s me!” he cried, until another punch collided with his face, knocking him out.

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Permanent Loathing

“Why did you do this to me?” she asked herself, crying in the mirror, body full of fat and blood, thick, solid, thumping heart in her chest. “At least let me diet first. This body is too hungry, kills too many. I’d rather starve on a hospital bed than be this.”

And she had. For ten years before being bitten, she had gone between a hundred kilos and forty, bloated body and frail one, a life of self-hatred at extremes, a life both starving and full, in a desperate dissatisfied longing to find a perfect medium and passing it constantly. She had gotten used to the misery. It felt like she had spent less than 1% in that satisfied state before she lost it again, before her feelings, like a black pit of nerves and fear and disbelief, possessed her again and that hate bubbled to the surface again, convincing her she was ugly, that she wasn’t enough, that she had to eat less and exercise more, until her ribs poked out and her eyes sunk, and they had to feed her through a tube again. Feeling so sick, she swore she’d never do that again, and she ate and ate all her body back… until she couldn’t stop. And the process started over again.

She would never be back in that bed again. She was fat forever, a vampire thirsty for blood. Perhaps the vampire who bit her knew that, had a sadistic fascination with bloodlust, liked killing, liked corrupting her. Maybe he was like a soldier, or a serial killer, and wanted her to feel the same fury.

All that blood in her memories, dripping, soaking the ground, soaking people she had known… what was satisfying about that?

He walked up behind her, skinny had she had once been, thin waist, flat stomach, and wrapped his hands around her protruding one. “Because I love you, Stephanie. I hated to see you suffer. I want you to see yourself as I see you: beautiful.”

“I’ve killed people,” she said.

“I know,” he said. “But don’t you love me too? Isn’t this worth it?”

“No. Not anymore. I loved you too. But I can I love someone who made me this?”

“Because you just do. I can see inside your soul, Steph, I know you’re in pain. But love is forever, and I think you know that.”

“I feel no love here. I don’t think you ever have.”

“Stop lying,” he said, “it hurts, you know.”

“Now you know how I feel.”

“Please,” he begged, “just love yourself. Please,” he cried, silent solitary tears sliding slowly down his face. “Please.” He put his chin on her shoulder, looking at her reflection.

“I don’t know how,” she said.