“The police found me half dead, on my bed,” I mumbled, burying my face into Harry’s chest as I spilled out my deepest, darkest secrets to him. “My father, he…” I stopped myself, the sentence dying on my tongue. I breathed in deeply, eyes distantly staring at the ground by my feet.
“He was found dead next door with Amelia, their bodies drained of all blood.” My stomach churned painfully, my voice trailing off as I pictured it.
“The umm…” I continued, blinking the tears away as I coughed awkwardly. “The police, they thought I wasn’t listening, since I was only five, but I heard every word they said.”
Goosebumps rose on my skin even though the sun shone brightly outside of the band stand. Harry stayed silent, listening to everything I was saying.
“Apparently Amelia had been brutally attacked; her body was found bruised and cut deeply. They found marks...on her neck, teeth marks. Her body was drained of all blood. That beast had murdered her. She didn’t deserve that. She was so kind; she had such a warm heart, so close to my mother.”
I let a small smile grow on my face, remembering my mother having long conversations with her under the sun at the beach. I soon realised I was staring up at Harry and looked away quickly.
“And my father, he was thrown across the room,” I said shakily. The sound of that horrendous thump, then a heavy object hitting a glass piece of furniture, highly likely my father’s body, echoed in my head. I shuddered, my bottom lip quivering. “He only went next door to see what the noises were about,” I sobbed. “And he never came back.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, using all my strength not to burst into tears in front of Harry. I felt him tighten his arms around me. My muscles softened slowly by his touch as I let out a shaky breath. Harry was still silent and I preferred it like that. He didn’t press me with any questions. He just listened quietly.
“I told everyone that it was Samuel, that he was a vampire, but who would believe a five year old girl?” I asked, swallowing back the anger building inside of me. “Some said I was imagining it, some said I had been drugged or had a bang to the head, but after that night the only marks I had were these…” I moved my hair over one shoulder and tilted my head to the side, showing Harry the faded bite marks on my neck. I ran my fingertips over the mark, so faint they were barely noticeable. But I knew they were always there, haunting me, scarring me. Harry stared at them, his mouth open slightly as he slowly began understanding.
I soon tilted my head back, cupping the side of my neck to stop Harry from staring. He looked away embarrassingly, dropping his gaze. I rubbed my neck, the touch of the mark making my fingertips tingle.
“I was sent to live with a neighbour for the time being,” I continued quietly. “The unfortunate thing was that the whole town knew my parents. Their deaths were the talk of the town for weeks, months. I heard so many rumours. A lot of people believed that a wild dog had crept in from the woods behind our house and killed my parents and Amelia, but was scared off before it could do the same to me.” I shook my head, face growing angry at those people for believing in the easiest reason for such cruel deaths. “I’m the only one that knows the truth,” I sighed. I could feel Harry’s sympathetic eyes on the top of my head as he placed his hand on my thigh, his other arm around my back.
“What about Samuel?” Harry eventually asked. “What happened to him?”
My body grew tense as Harry spoke his name, however soft Harry’s voice was.
“No one else knows,” I muttered. “He ran, I guess. My bedroom window was wide open when I regained consciousness. He must have fled.” I lowered my gaze, staring down at Harry’s hand on my leg. But I couldn’t let a smile adorn my face, knowing that I was the only one that knew what happened to him after that night. He’s always around. He’s been controlling my life ever since that night. I can never get away from him.
“Rosie…” Harry started, his voice sounding shaky. I shot my head up, meeting his awkward gaze. “You don’t have to answer this, but...why didn’t Samuel kill you? I mean I thought that if he sucked your blood then you’d die.”
His question hit me hard. I took a deep breath, feeling Samuel’s muscled body crush mine as a child, my ribs so close to breaking in my chest. I could feel his hot breath burning my exposed skin on my neck, the smell of my mother’s blood encircling me.
“I’m sorry, Rosie,” Harry said, squeezing me tight. I realised I was shaking, tears pricking my eyes.
“N-no, it’s fine,” I stuttered, brushing the tears from my cheeks. “Vampires, they can control whether they want to kill their victim or turn them,” I murmured, glancing at Harry. He nodded slowly, trying to work this out. “He killed my parents and Amelia, but turned me into a vampire.”
“Why?” he asked, his eyebrows furrowed.
“I don’t know. Maybe he wanted me to spend all eternity as this creature, this thing that killed my parents. The two people in my life that I really loved were killed by these blood sucking, heartless beasts and now I’m forced to be one. I’m what killed my parents,” I muttered, tears swelling in my eyes. “I have to live like this forever, Harry. I stopped growing at the peak of my fitness. Eighteen. I’m as strong as I can be, but I’m still weak. Samuel controls me; he owns me. And I don’t think that will ever stop.”
I let out an angered sob, the noise echoing around us. I felt my rage building up, ready to lash out at any second. I quickly scrambled up to my feet before Harry could stop me, the urge slowly returning because of my anger. I could feel my muscles tingling, my body feeling stronger, more powerful as the urge to suck blood grew. I had to get away from Harry before I could hurt him. Again. I didn’t want him seeing me like this.
I marched away from Harry, forcing myself to believe this was a huge mistake. I shouldn’t have accepted his love. He’s gonna get hurt being with me. And I’ll have to carry that heart ache and guilt forever.
“Rosie,” Harry called as he clambered to his feet. His footsteps echoed in the band stand as he quickly approached me. Before I reached the steps of the stand, Harry placed a firm hand on my shoulder. I spun around to face him, the anger getting the better of me. I went to reach out, to slam my hands into his chest again, to send him flying just like Samuel did to my mother. But I didn’t.
A loud sob burst from my mouth as I slowly weakened, the urge subsiding. My face crumpled as I let the tears fall heavily. Harry enveloped me in his arms, pressing me tight to his chest. I flung my arms around his firm body, holding the back of his shirt tight in my fists. I screamed into Harry’s chest as he rubbed my back, resting his other hand on the back of my head. Every tear escaping my sore eyes weakened my anger, slowly diminishing the urge.
It felt like we stood there for ages, just holding each other. I eventually calmed down, my chest rising and falling slower after every sob. I pulled back from Harry, rubbing my swollen eyes roughly.
“I’m sorry, Harry. I’ve never broken down about my parents’ death like that before.” I gazed up at him through the tears blurring my vision. He slipped his hands into mine, squeezing them softly.
“Do you wanna go now?” he asked, giving me a warm smile. I wanted to; I never wanted to speak about my parents’ death again. I wanted to run away from it all. But I’ve been doing that for far too long now. And I’ve had enough of it.
I shook my head. “There’s so much more needed to be said. I don’t want to run from it anymore. I’ve never told anyone this before and I need to get it off my chest.”
“I’m proud of you, Rosie,” Harry said, his dimpled smile broadening. He led me back over to the middle of the stand, sitting down cross legged again. I copied him, sitting opposite him. He still had one of my hands, rubbing it with his thumb. I took a deep breath, remembering where I was.
“I only stayed in the neighbourhood for a few months, but then I was sent to a foster home. I had no other family members.” I blinked back the tears threatening to spill, memories flooding back of years of loneliness, no freedom, no escape from what I am. “I was bullied a lot,” I muttered, hanging my head. “I was different from all the other kids with my smart clothes and posh voice I used to have. They would mock me just ‘cause I didn’t dress or act like them. I kept myself secluded and isolated from everyone. I just curled up in my bed and…and cried,” I said, my voice trembling as I spoke.
“I’m sorry, Rosie,” Harry murmured.
“I-It’s fine. I got used to it. I was a weirdo, a posh weirdo,” I mumbled.
Harry squeezed my hand before sitting forward and nuzzling his face into my neck. He kissed my mark with such tenderness, his lips sending tingles under my skin. His curly hair brushed my ear delicately. I felt his soft lips trail precious kisses along my jawline. I let out a small sigh, feeling my muscles release the tension building up inside.
Once he’d eventually pulled back, he flashed me a cheeky grin. I smiled widely, but my happiness only lasted a few seconds. I gained a knot in my stomach as my mind flashed back to those empty days, no one to speak to, no one to confide in. My smile fell slowly, my body feeling heavy, exhausted. I sighed heavily, knowing I’m nowhere near finishing my story.
“The foster home, they organised a camping trip for the weekend. I was dreading it, knowing that we’d have to do team exercises. I had been camping with father and Samuel a few times before. I knew how to set up a tent, start a fire and fish a little. I showed off these skills. I finally thought that the kids might find me cool or fun, but they just called me a nerd.” Harry squeezed my hand, but I didn’t react. I just remembered all the names they spat at me.
My body shivered uncontrollably as I flinched with every word echoed in my head. Harry gave me a concerned look, but I continued to stare straight ahead, goose bumps covering my skin.
“It was on the first night,” I continued, my voice shaky. “We were around the campfire. The social workers were washing up. That’s when all the kids started ganging up on me. Somehow they found out about my parents’ death. They all laughed at me, calling me a liar when I said it was a vampire. They threw dirt and stones at my head until I fell backward off the log I was sat on and onto the ground. I tried scrambling to my feet, but one boy, Lou, pounced on me and straddled me and began pulling my hair and slapping me. The other kids just laughed as I tried fighting him off. But another boy pinned my arms against the ground by my head. I can still remember the smirk he had as he watched me getting beaten.” My words grew quicker, my chest rising and falling heavier. My body grew hot with anger as I pictured it.
“It’s okay, Rosie. Calm down,” Harry murmured. But that made it worse.
“I attacked them, Harry!” I shouted back, my wide eyes staring at Harry. He stared back, but he didn’t look frightened or scared of me at all. “I wrenched my arms from the boy’s grip and punched Lou straight in the face. His nose crunched under my fist; I remember the noise to this day. But he didn’t stop; it only got him angrier. I was hit harder by him. He was screaming into my face. So I lashed out. I pushed my hands into his chest and threw him up into the air. He crashed down onto the ground by me. His leg was bent back awkwardly. So I got to my feet and ran.”