At that moment, Christopher returned. He was grinning from ear to ear and the glow around him seemed to stretch out a foot in all directions.
“You can stay,” he beamed.
I sat up and grinned. He sat beside me and started kissing me happily, clasping my hands in his. I had a fleeting image of a wedding scene (at which point, Christopher chuckled in my mind) before I realised Harry was clearing his throat.
Christopher carried on, ignoring his father, even sending me images of potential wedding dressed.
Push him away, Terri. Harry was going to tell you a story.
I froze, startled by the sudden appearance of Roxanna’s voice in my head. I hadn’t heard her enter the room.
I gently pushed Christopher away, though he gazed longingly at me with wistful eyes that could send the world’s toughest man into tears.
“Stop it,” I laughed.
Stop what? Loving you? Imagining you in a wedding dress?
He sent me images of myself in white, blue, green, purple...
“Don’t!” I laughed, ignoring the fact that Harry was probably staring at my seemingly one-sided conversation. ‘You’re so distracting,’ I thought to him.
“Harry’s going to tell us a story,” I said aloud. Harry looked surprised that I knew, but the surprise faded as he gazed behind me. I looked back and caught Roxanna winking from the doorway.
She glided in and over to Harry. She folded the newspaper he handed her and put it on the arm of the couch Christopher and I were sitting on, and sat at Harry’s feet. Toying with her hair and reminding me very much of Christopher, he began his tale.
“Twenty-five years ago, I was strolling along a beach at night time. I was fifteen and life had been treating me fairly decently. I was reflecting upon my luck when I suddenly heard someone crying. I ran to the source of the noise, and there, sitting on the sand was Rosie Danes, the most beautiful girl at school.
I searched my pockets for a tissue and found a whole packet. I handed it to her and said, ‘Don’t cry.’
She looked stunning, as ever, with her long, shiny, curly black hair and emerald eyes that seemed to hold my gaze. At the time, I thought the silver glow around her was a trick of the light - the full moon was very bright that night - but of course, it wasn’t.”
Harry smiled at Roxanna. She smiled back.
Silver, I wondered. Absent-mindedly, I wondered what colour glow I’d have as a vampire.
‘Silver,’ Christopher murmured in my head. ‘It’s silver for females and gold for males.’
Harry sipped from a glass of water I hadn’t noticed, before handing it to Roxanna who placed it beside her.
“I sat beside her. She was looking at me as if I were the most wonderful boy she’d ever seen. I don’t know what came over me, but I had a sudden urge to put my arm around her and kiss her hair. I didn’t do the latter - I was far too shy - but I lifted my arm and draped it across her shoulder.”
“I’m so glad you did,” Roxanna murmured.
Christopher put his arm around my shoulder and I rested my head on his.
Smiling, Harry continued.
“‘What’s wrong?’ I asked.”
“‘I’m a fool and I can’t do anything about it,’” Roxanna contributed.
“‘I’m sure you’re not,’ I told her.
‘I am! What would you know, anyway?’ she asked.
‘I see you at school. You always seem to care. I don’t believe that fools care.’ I was desperate for her to cheer up. I’d always cared about her, you see.
She looked at me intently. ‘I wish Kevin were like you,’ she told me.
My heart felt like it was doing somersaults. Kevin was the captain in every sport, he was the epitome of cool, he was the most popular guy in the school, and here Rosie Danes was saying she wished I was like him.
‘Are you together, then?’ I asked.
‘Yes.’ She winced.
‘If you don’t like him, can’t you dump him?’
‘Well, that’s the thing, you see. Rosie likes him and can’t see he’s no good for her. Rosie doesn’t remember me.’
I was very confused. ‘Um, aren’t you Rosie?’
‘Not quite. She’s part of me, but completely different.’
‘Have you got some sort of multiple personality disorder?’
‘Something like that. I have two personalities. Look, I wouldn’t expect you to understand. You’re human...’
‘...and you’re not?’ I interrupted. Her voice was kind, but I couldn’t help but feel frustrated. ‘Look, you may not expect me to understand, but I’d like to. Start from the beginning.’
She looked at me searchingly, but told her story, anyway.
‘I’m a vampire, Harry.’
This caught me off guard. ‘How do you know my name?!’ I was sure I hadn’t told her.
‘Oh. Go, on, then.’ I encouraged gently. She looked bewildered at my willingness to continue listening to this ridiculous tale.
‘By day, I look and feel like a human. I’m completely normal, except for the way I never seem to dream. By day, I’m Rosie Danes, a vampire who doesn’t remember what she is.’
‘Who she is,’ I corrected. I was willing to accept her as she was, even if she was crazy.
She looked at me strangely, as if not quite daring to believe what she was hearing.
‘Tomorrow, I won’t even remember your name, because, by night, I’m a hypersensitive, telepathic, blood-drinking vampire. I have fangs, hypnotic eyes; serene beauty and I emanate a silver glow. I’m Roxanna.’
Oh, it wasn’t the moonlight, I thought to myself.
‘No.’ She startled me by commenting on this unspoken thought.
She’s telling the truth, I realised.
‘As a vampire, I can remember both types of experience. I can tell you, right now, that Kevin is treating Rosie unfairly. But, what can I do? I have no way to communicate this to her. My greatest fear is that he’ll hurt her.’
Without quite knowing what I was doing, I hugged her tightly.
‘I want to help, Roxanna. If there’s anything I can do...’ I trailed off, realising she was motionless.
I sat there awkwardly, until she hesitantly put her arms around me.
‘You’re a decent guy, Harry.’ The words stuck in her throat as she began to cry, burying her head in my shoulder. I wanted nothing more than to comfort her and convey that I was there for her.
I love her, I realised. This has gone past admiration of Rosie; I am in love with Roxanna. My head span dizzyingly.
‘You love me?’ A startled voice came into my head. ‘But, I’m a vampire!’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ I answered with my thoughts. I laughed in my mind. ‘It doesn’t even matter!’
And her mental laughter joined mine. ‘Harry,’ she thought to me. ‘Harry, I love you too!’ She sounded overjoyed, like a child reunited with a missing favourite toy.
We spent the rest of the night walking along the beach hand in hand.
‘Befriend Rosie,’ Roxanna thought to me as we strolled along. ‘She could do with you as a supportive friend, if not a lover.’
‘That’ll be weird,’ I thought back. I felt I was really getting the knack of telepathy.
She laughed out loud, a beautiful, tinkling laugh, like piano keys.
You’re not the one who’s telepathic, silly! I’m listening to your thoughts. I’m telepathic.
I laughed with her.”
Roxanna handed Harry the glass of water. He downed it all. He gave her the empty glass and she put it down beside her. I noticed there were tears in her eyes.
“The next day, I saw Rosie at school, chatting with her friends outside her next lesson, which happened to be in the same building as mine. I walked up to her, stuck out my hand and said, ‘Hi, I’m Harry Parker. I saw you won a prize in an art competition this morning in assembly. I wanted to congratulate you.’
She shook my hand uncertainly, but didn’t laugh at me. In fact, she peered at me strangely.
‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’ she asked.
‘Don’t think so,’ I shrugged.
With a jolt, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t letting go of her hand. I abruptly let go, but not before one of her friends had noticed. Melissa, I think her name was. Anyway, Melissa raised an eyebrow quizzically and teased, ‘She’s a bit old for you, isn’t she?’
I blushed. This was true. Rosie was in the year above, the first year of sixth form, in fact.
‘A bit too good for me, too.” I turned to go, embarrassed but Rosie grabbed my shoulder. I turned back.
Another friend of hers was saying, ‘Aw, he’s cute.’
Rosie said, ‘You’re a sweet guy. See you ’round.’ She let go of me and I smiled shyly.
‘See you ’round.’
At lunch, she came and sat with me. She wasn’t surrounded by her friends, which made conversation easier. We were just about to discuss hobbies when Kevin came up to our table.
Rosie looked alarmed and slightly afraid.
‘Who’s your new boyfriend? I thought we had something going on!” He planted himself next to her. His muscular arms were very menacing and intimidating.
‘W-we do,’ she stammered. ‘H-Harry’s not my boyfriend.’
‘Worms have names?’ he snorted.
‘He’s not a worm! Don’t be mean!’
Kevin grabbed her wrist and held it tightly. I could see she was in pain.
‘Don’t hurt her!’ I surprised myself. Ever since I’d met Roxanna, I’d felt like anything was possible. Now, looking at the massive guy glaring in front of me, I realised some things weren’t.
I tried to duck out of the way of the coming punch, but the fist still caught my head. I blacked out.
I woke up to a frantic voice asking, ‘Harry? Harry? Can you hear me? Are you all right? Shut up, Kevin!’
I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was Rosie’s concerned face.
‘Oh, you’re awake! You’re so brave!’ She hurriedly kissed me on the cheek.
Kissed me? Wow.