August 13, 2010

Artwork by Brian Byers

When I was eighteen years old, my life changed forever. I left the world I knew behind me and promised myself I would never look back. My grandmother had given me a gift beyond measure and I was determined to make a life for myself, a life I thought she would have wanted for me, a life she could be proud of.

Granted, a polyamorous miscreant didn't exactly fit that bill, but a part of me hoped that Parker's behavior was just a stage. Another part of me was relatively certain that my interest in Parker was purely a socially repressed girl's dysfunctional infatuation with an unavailable bad boy who was being kind by giving me the time of day. And still another part of me knew that I was completely in love and utterly full of shit because none of it mattered to me as much as he did.

About three weeks before I turned twenty-one, I went to visit Parker at his place. He was on the phone looking very serious when he opened the door.

"Who was that?" I asked after he hung up.

"My... uh...sister," he drawled as if trying to remember the details of a previously told lie.

"You're lying to me?" I asked.

He sighed. "Not really. It was my sister's number I dialed but I was talking to my mother," he said after a moment. "So what's up with you beautiful?" He changed the subject. "What brings you my way?"

Shit filled justifications aside, it was statements like that, that swayed me toward the heart of Parker's unavailable love and convinced me that if I pined for him long enough, eventually he would see the error of his ways and love me - and only me - in return.

"I came to return your DVD," I said. "But I forgot to bring it with me, so I guess I'm just here. Are you doing anything tonight? Do you want to hang out?"

Parker eyed his phone again for a moment, used it to send a quick message then said, "Absolutely, let's hang out."

"You weren't just canceling a date were you?" I asked.

"Uhm," he looked uncomfortable. "No."

"I know it's none of my business, but I noticed you haven't been "dating" very much lately." I added air quotes as I said dating.

"Uhm.... yeah." He hesitated. "I'm just kind of..." He sighed. "Doing something...different." He scrunched his nose as if the word 'different' had left a bad taste in his mouth.

His phone rang a second later. He sighed as he looked at it. "One second," he said then answered. "Mother?" ... "Yes." ... "Text messaging is the wave of the future mother," he sighed. "It's going to do to communication what the microwave did for cooking. You loved the microwave," his tone hinted at condescension. ... "I'm sorry," he said "Listen, you stop being obstinate and I'll stop patronizing. Deal?" ... "You have to stop acting your age, Mom," he said. He met my eyes as she talked and he listened. The serious look he had before returned to his face. It was almost woeful. "Yes mother, I know." He said. "I understand." ... "I love you too." He hung up with her, turned and tossed his phone onto the couch across the room. "Not a vampire," he said softly while shaking his head.

"Cut her some slack," I said. "She loves you."

Parker turned abruptly. "I'm sorry," he said. "I know she means well, I shouldn't talk that way about her. Sometimes I wish she'd just... I don't know," he shook his head.

"How old is your mother?" I asked.

Parker shrugged. "Eighty-five?"

I chuckled. Then stopped abruptly. "Wait. You're not being serious are you? I mean, my mom is in her sixties, so I don't want you to think that I'm being insensitive toward her age or anything."

"I wasn't," he smiled. "I was kidding. She's only forty-five-ish. Give or take a couple hundred years." He added.

"Mine too." I said.

"Indian food?" he asked.

I loved just being with him. We talked and ate take-out and watched movies and drank too much. Or at least I did. I was trying to get my nerve up to tell Parker how I felt about him so I'd been drinking perhaps more than I should have. And I mean more than I should have forgetting the fact that I wasn't legally allowed to drink alcohol for another three weeks.

It was late, and the credits were rolling on "Goblet of Fire" when I turned to Parker and with all the thought in the world, while in the same instant completely without thought I said, "I love you."

He looked at me for moment, opened his mouth like he was going to say something then stood up, walked over to the TV, ejected the DVD, put it in it's case and put it away before he turned back to me.

It was more than enough time for me to traverse through several different stages of complete awkwardness.

I was wavering between restating my feelings, blaming it on the alcohol and adding "in a really good friends kind of way," when Parker said, "No you don't. Listen, I care about you Eden. A lot. You are someone who matters to me, some one whose life I would love to always be a part of and... I hope that maybe, if it's at all possible, that I will be able to do that. I do love you Eden. But... You can't be in love with me and I... I can't be in love with you," he sighed. "I'm sorry."

The world spun as I stood. Partially from the alcohol, partially from shock and the fact that I had been holding my breath the entire time he was speaking.

"It's okay," I stumbled.

He was at my side in an instant, steadying me.

"You don't have to love me," I slurred. "But you don't get to tell me that I don't love you." I poked his chest with my finger as I said each word, except me and I when I poked my own chest. "You. Don't. Know."

He kissed me then. I have no idea why.

It was a simple kiss, short sweet and with just a hint of his tongue against my lips. "I know," he said with his hand on my cheek.

Then he scooped me up in his arms and carried me to his bed. Laid me down, covered me with a comforter and told me I needed to sleep it off.

He wasn't there the next morning when I woke feeling completely stupid. I was a little sad about that, but also a little bit grateful.

A couple days later I received a notice from a bank on the other side of the country and dated two months earlier and forwarded to me through a chain of channels that basically said the rental fee on a security deposit box in my name was due to expire in a month and I would need to come and claim my belongings or renew the rental.

As much as I loved my grandmother, a woman I only met once, I'm ashamed to admit that after I turned eighteen, after I inherited her legacy, all her money, all her property, and belongings, I had never - not once - had anything to do with anything tangible of hers.

It's hard to explain why. I just knew that my heart couldn't take it. I'd never seen her house. When she died, Marjory was living in it. Before Marjory died, she moved into a nursing home, and had a property management company and her and Iona's lawyer handle the estate. When I turned eighteen it was being rented to a nice family for a sizable amount of money. My portion of which was sent to me on a monthly basis, and used for things like tuition and rent and utilities.

After what had happened with Parker I was feeling the need to be alone with my thoughts and slight humiliation so I called the bank and made arrangements to pick up the contents of the box during spring break. It was time to have something tangible.

I told my roommate where I was going, but no one else. Maybe I should have told Parker, but I didn't. We couldn't be in love and I'd made an ass of myself. I needed time to wrap my head around removing all inclinations toward romance in reference to Parker Hughes. Or at least my tendency to act on them, which I was relatively sure I could manage as long as I stayed sober.

The safety deposit box held a large wrapped present topped with a bow. The accompanying card had a big red heart on the front and read:


Chapter 33 - Tangible Notions

The package contained a sizable metal tin that contained a few letters, a couple of journals and a fire-scorched wooden box, full of fire-scorched notes, poems, stories, letters and journal entries and a deep blue satin drawstring bag with a large blue-jeweled medallion with odd symbols etched around its edges. One of the letters in the metal box explained how the scorching had come to be.

Long story short, my mother had tossed it in a fire, thus removing herself from the line of lineage, by way of a bypass through my aunt Emily.

I spent the rest of my spring break locked in a hotel room reading and learning about the "Angel" who had looked after my family for centuries. His countenance wasn't entirely Angelic in the writing of my grandmother and great grandmother, who portrayed him much more so as a lost and interminably lonely soul. Journals were traditionally only kept from mother to daughter and not beyond that, but Iona felt that her mother's perspective and experiences being so different from her own it didn't seem right not to include it.

I was enthralled by what I read, what I learned. But as the week went by, as I discovered more about this man they believed to be an angel, a man cursed to immortality with a penchant for human blood, I kept arriving at one conclusion. One word.



          Dear Eden,

     Happy 18th Birthday Sweetheart!

       It seems odd to hope that you and your mother are still at odds with each other, and that you didn't turn out like her. She was such a sweet child.

       If fate finds you unlike your mother I hope you will have a mind and heart open enough to believe in the impossible.

      If you two are like-minded or the best of friends, I hope you find happiness in that. Please consider selling the contents of this package to the man on whose number I've written on the back of this card, and not burning them. He has agreed to pay 5 million for the contents in its entirety. You won't get that much at auction, and I won't have your greed on my soul.

     Whatever you do, Please, Do Not Open Until You Are Alone.

                                                 Love, Granny Iona


(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart