“Honey?” came my mum’s sleepy voice. She sounded confused.
I pretended to wake up. Sitting up slowly and stretching my arms above my head, I faked a yawn. Blinking in the light from the passageway, I murmured, “Mum?”
“Are you okay?”
“Um, yeah. What time is it?”
“I have no idea. I woke up to go to the bathroom and I thought I heard your voice from your room. I came to investigate. You sounded like you were asking someone if they could fly.”
“Fly?” I tried to sound puzzled. “I can’t remember what I was dreaming about. Magic pigs perhaps?”
Mum frowned. “You did say something about the person not being capable of much. I suppose that’s plausible.”
“People talk in their sleep all the time, Mum.”
“That’s true. Well, you can go back to sleep now, honey. Sorry for waking you.”
Phew, I thought as my mother closed the door behind her. And then I smiled to myself. Magic pigs, indeed.
I woke up at 8 o’clock. Yawning, I remained still under my covers, enjoying the warmth and comfort of my duvet and sheets. I smiled, reliving last night. Last night...
I sat up with a suddenness that made my head spin. Last night, I had decided that I was going to start a relationship with Christopher in his human form.
I dressed quickly, only ate toast for breakfast and was out of the cottage by a quarter to nine. There had been raised eyebrows at my rush to leave, but I’d told my parents that I had arranged to meet a friend in town.
I almost ran across the field of cows between my house and the sloping hills of the village. I soon tired, though, and slowed the pace. I wondered what I was going to say. After thinking up a few greetings for Christopher’s parents, however, my thoughts wandered to imagining Christopher as a human. I reached the foot of the only hill with a house built on it, incidentally the tallest, during my wondering of whether he’d still act like Christopher as a human.
My thoughts were pushed aside as it took all my effort to climb the steep footpath. I often had to lean against nearby rocks to catch my breath.
I arrived at the house almost panting from exertion. It was an amiable-looking place, red-bricked, slate-roofed, but many a ghost story was set here, with tales of piercing screams at the dead of night. I mustered up all my courage and knocked on the green door, which was decorated by a painted white rose.
A few seconds later, a tall, friendly-looking man with brown hair and square-framed glasses came to the door, looking like the dad from some kids’ cartoon.
“Hi,” I said. “Is Christopher in?”
The man almost jumped out of his skin. He looked around frantically, as if worried someone might jump out of the surrounding bushes.
“Who are you?” He glared, as if I’d insulted him.
“I’m Terri, Christopher’s friend.” He winced at Christopher’s name.
“How did you find out?”
“About what?” I asked, confused. Was there something I wasn’t meant to know?
“His name,” he almost whispered, as if scared of being overheard.
“He told you?” He sounded angry as he continued, “And I’m guessing he didn’t tell you his daytime name?”
“Look, do you know what he and his mother are?”
“Yeah, they’re v...”
“Not here!” he hissed, interrupting me. “You’d better come in!”
I followed him down a narrow hallway to a cosy looking kitchen. The man gestured at a wooden chair. I sat.
“I should probably introduce myself. I’m sure you’ve guessed but I’m,” he paused and continued in a whisper, “Christopher’s dad.” His voice resumed its normal volume. “Christopher’s very bad for not telling you his daytime name. Too bad I’ll have to wait until night time to tell him off. His daytime name’s Charlie, okay? You must never call him Christopher by day.”
“Daytime names are used to protect a vampire’s identity from slayers.”
“Slayers? People slay vampires? But, they don’t do any harm, surely?”
Christopher’s dad looked at me quizzically, perhaps wondering what I knew about vampires.
“Good ones don’t, no. Incidentally, slayers don’t see a difference. They’re sort of like Nazis - they hate all vampires the way Nazis hated all Jews. They see them as unnatural, and believe the world could do without them. Part-human vampires are incredibly vulnerable by day, with the weakness of a human and the lack of vampire defences (i.e., fangs and an ability to control minds), so if a slayer discovers their name, they can simply track them down and kill them. The daytime name prevents this, and a part-vampire can live in the safety of the knowledge that he won’t be hunted during the day, when he can’t even remember that he’s a vampire.”
“I see.” I nodded. I felt suddenly scared of the threat posed by my knowledge of Christopher’s real name.
“I’m surprised he mentioned none of this. What do you two talk about?”
I blushed. “Nothing much.”
He raised an eyebrow, but didn’t press further.
“What’s Charlie like?” I asked, knowing Christopher’s dad would understand.
He looked puzzled. “Have you only talked to my boy at night?”
I nodded. He frowned, but answered my question.
“He’s a good, hard-working lad. He’s a bit shy, but when you get to know him, he’s friendly enough. Wait. What did you say your name was?”
“Terri,” I answered.
“Terri, Terri,” he said to himself, racking his brains for something. “Terri!”
“Terri.” He turned to me, “You must try not to upset him. He’ll be incredibly timid of you.”
Before I could respond to this strange request, Christopher, no, Charlie walked in. He froze when he saw me sitting at the table. He paled.
I quickly blurted out the first excuse for my presence I could think of.
“Hey! Charlie, isn’t it? I’m Terri. I live down at Thistledown Cottage. All my friends are busy and I was really bored, so I hung around the house until my mum got annoyed at me. She told me to go and make a new friend. She told me you lived here, so I thought I’d come and meet you. I’m sure we’ll be best friends!”
Christopher’s dad looked quizzical and he raised an eyebrow at the last sentence, but he shrugged and said, “I guess I’ll leave you two to it, then,” leaving the kitchen
I stood up, but Chr -Charlie sat down as if his knees could no longer support his weight. He was very plain. His untidy brown hair seemed slightly duller than in the nights I’d seen him. I tried to remind myself, ‘He will be different.’
As promised, I couldn’t see the golden glow around him, and overall he just seemed to lack the perfection of his vampire features.
When he finally looked up, my heart warmed at the last of his features. His blue eyes seemed to hint at potential of depths. He gazed intently at me for a while and I had the sensation that if he stared in the right way, he could hold my gaze. I remembered something he’d said last night and wondered what he’d meant by his eyes being less hypnotic by day.
I realised I’d been staring and I averted my eyes. But then, I wondered if I could perhaps end up declaring my love for him after having stared so much. Staring seemed like a good plan.
I raised my eyes to stare at him again. I must admit, I felt slightly silly.
“Do you want to sit outside?” Charlie asked timidly. His voice was painfully as normal as his looks.
“Um, sure,” I answered, smiling.
Outside, we sat on the side of the hill which was bathed in sunlight.
“Gorgeous weather, isn’t it?” I asked.
I was itching to tell him that I loved hum, but I had no clue how.
“So, what’s sort of stuff do you like?”
“Um, reading, listening to music...”
“Same!” I exclaimed, far too eagerly. He looked at me searchingly, perhaps wondering if I was making fun of him.
“What else do you like?” He didn’t really sound interested. In fact, he seemed really preoccupied.
“Well, I usually gossip a lot about boys with my other friends.” I was trying to create a window of opportunity. I felt this could go quite well.
“Boys,” he acknowledged, still uninterested.
“Yeah. If you like someone, they usually know within a week.” He looked sharply at me when I said this.
“Does that work both ways?” He seemed interested now, but warily so.
“Oh, I suppose.”
“So, you know which boys like you?” He looked slightly worried.
“Only if they’ve told someone,” I replied carefully. He looked relieved.
“Which boys do you like, then?”
“Only one,” I answered, trying to sound mysterious.
“Do you mind if I ask who?”
“You,” I told him sincerely.