The following attempt at short story writing was inspired by The Plottery and their fun July writing prompts that they posted on their Instagram account, @the.plottery! A big ol’ THANK YOU to them for putting the jumper cables on the old imagination engine.
I actually do enjoy writing my own stories. I haven’t had much practice, and I’m not all that confident about it, but I still LOVE writing them. But sharing them? That’s so scary, so I do it even less often than I write them!
Today I feel brave. Not really, but I feel good about this little story. I made me smile and laugh writing it. I hope you enjoy it!
Michael had always wanted to celebrate the 4th of July. It’s Independence Day and that’s what he wanted, independence. From what? Family, of course. Who doesn’t complain about restrictions put on them by well-meaning family members, the keepers of tradition and order?
He respected them, but he was different. He wanted to try new things, experience new places and meet new people. He wasn’t interested in the same old family games and annual gatherings.
Summer is complicated for a vampire. The nights are so short, you know. It makes the evening hunt feel rushed and mechanical. Before the sun hits the horizon, the whole family starts to anxiously stir in their secluded coffins. Even with the new air conditioning pumped up into their belfry, the summer’s heat is only partially abated. Those satin lined coffins are stifling, and everyone is chomping at the bit to get out and stretch their limbs in the cooler night air.
How they know the sun has completely set and those burning rays can’t reach them, has always been beyond him. The best he can do is say that he “feels” it in his dry bones, and when he does, he can’t help by start to yawn and stretch to wake himself and push against his coffin lid in the hopes that he’s the first to emerge.
Why the first? Because being alone in such a small space with such a big family is a luxury. Sometimes he lives dangerously and peeks out at the room before the sun has dropped its upper edge below the horizon. He can see it streaming through the room and hitting the ceiling at high angle, but if he’s careful, he can sneak out underneath it and gaze upon the land from out the window before anyone else. Sometimes his sister beats him to it, and he finds her draped in a large hood and cape, her eyes shaded by dark glasses, every inch of her pale body covered, sitting on the windowsill staring.
She never acknowledges his presence when he joins her. She just sits there, staring straight ahead. Maybe she longs for independence, too? He’ll never know because she never speaks. He doesn’t take it personally. She speaks to no one. Never has. He’s sure it has something to do with how she came to this family, who brought her in and that she’s no longer with us. But that’s her story to tell, and she won’t.
As soon as darkness covers the land below, without a word she makes a scooting move with her butt and drops into the space below them. To anyone below, she would look like a larger bat dropping from the roofline. She won’t be back until morning. She never joins in family meals or games.
Michael enjoys watching the night spread out over the land. It hits the valley first, spreading out to the foothills and then climbs steadily up to the mountain tops and finally the land succumbs to darkness, stillness, and quiet.
He hears his family stirring in their coffins, the creak and hard thump of lids being pushed open and dropped to the side, the rustle of black capes and the murmur of hungry voices. Their excited chatter annoys him. In moments, they are off into the night to hunt without a word to him, kindly or otherwise.
Do they even notice the world around them? Do they ever pause to think about their existence? Or is it all animal instinct? And why is he so different?
He sighs into the night as he watches them float on the evening breezes in a wide swath of bat like wings. Death on the move.
He’s hungry too, and he realizes his time is shorter in the summer months, but there is more to life that feeding. Isn’t there?
One of those fine evenings, where the angst was sweetest, a piece of paper floated on the breeze beneath his tower. At first, he believed it was a small white bird returning late to its evening roost. Poor thing. He dropped off the ledge and dove toward it. Once he had it in his hands though, he realized he was mistaken.
He turned the paper over in his hand. “Don’t miss the 4th of July Fireworks, after sunset in the park!” it read. Ever since then he’d wanted to see these “fireworks.” He brought the idea up to his family as they each returned just before dawn. They came in the window in groups of three and four, chattering on about the evening’s hunt. He hated hearing their callous remarks about the lives they’d taken that night.
When he tried to show them the flyer, they scoffed. Human celebrations were not for them, especially when the short summer nights compelled them to hunt so swiftly. That’s when his father came in with, “Wait a minute. I think Michael is on to something.”
It didn’t take them long to forge a plan to turn a pyrotechnic spectacle watching event into a bloodbath. He was so disappointed. He tried to explain to them why he wanted to go, that watching those fireworks in the park, set to music, with the people singing and dancing below, the smell of BBQ and popcorn wafting up to them would be so beautiful.
“And just think! We could fly above and around them, a view from a new angle with every burst!”
They barely heard him. Plans were being laid.
All throughout June, Michael thought about his family ruining his Independence Day celebration, and then one night something came to him. He brought it up the next evening, before they headed out into the night.
“Has anyone thought that maybe swooping down into crowd of revelers might be a bad idea? There would be no mistake about what had attacked them. There would be survivors, and they’d be angry. It wouldn’t take them long to find their lair and destroy them all, especially with such long summer days.”
That got them thinking in a different direction. A feast would be a spectacular thing, but the results would be a bummer. They went to considering their options. Maybe pick off a few as they wandered into the less crowded areas of the park. A lost child. A pair of lovers. And old lady that had fallen behind.
Ugg…why aren’t they interested in the fireworks?