Copyright is held by the author.

I USED to have a calendar on my bedroom wall — when I had a bedroom. I used to wear a jewelled watch and tell the time and the season by way of these human devices. I lost the watch a decade ago, somewhere over the Atlantic. I remember the exhilaration of flying into the thundercloud at midnight — the wet and wind that took my breath away, the electric air that made my hair stand on end. I was zapped and the clasp on the watch broke and it fell from my wrist. The last I saw of it, in a lightning flash, was a glint of silver spiralling down toward the sea.

I had kept the watch out of nostalgia for the young girl I had been, so flustered and happy to have received it from the great man himself. “Happy birthday, my dear. Do not over-wind it,” he had said, placing it on my wrist, and dismissing me from his study.

But I had stopped winding it long before it fell into the ocean. Now I decipher the hours and seasons by the smell on the wind, the tides and temperature, and the moon’s cycle. On the fifth full moon, the Inuit hunters and I know that spring is near and it’s time to get off the ice. They head back to their villages on shore. I take to the sky, heading south toward the darkness of an Antarctic winter. I cannot make the trip across the Americas in one night. I land and find a deep cranny to wait out the sun. Or, sometimes, if I have drifted too far offshore and the first light of day gleams on the horizon, I sink into deep ocean and float among the bioluminescent creatures there. I feed very little and mostly on non-humans.

One night, soon after I had lost the watch off the coast near Boston, I drifted too far inland and found myself in my home town. None of the people I had grown up with were alive by that point. It had been a century since I had been that girl, and there was much that was alien to me there. Only remnants remained of the farmers’ fields and clapboard houses, the orchards and maple groves. But the old church and cemetery were there. I found the family graves weathered and unkept — my grandparents, my two baby sisters who died in childhood, my mother and the great man himself, my father, who had given me that watch and who had thrown me out when my pregnancy had begun to show.

I traced my fingers along the worn etching of the letters. Matilda, beloved wife of Thomas. Hope, darling daughter. Charity, our little angel.

“Faith is missing,” said someone from the shadows.

Turning toward the female voice, I wrapped my ragged cloak tighter and tried to smooth my wild hair. She was young, on the cusp of adulthood. I licked my lips, suddenly thirsty, and stared. I had not talked for so long I struggled to form words. “Wha…at?” I finally croaked.

“You know, Faith, Hope and Charity?” she said, gesturing to the tombstone. “I’ve always wondered where Faith got to. Why isn’t she here with her sisters?”

Her attire was dusty and stained. I knew I probably looked just as dishevelled to her, and I smiled, recognizing a fellow feral. No one would miss her — like no one had missed me. I had been written out of the family history long ago, even before I grew my fangs. I was a blank, a nothing. No one noticed the hole in the picture where I had stood, no one ever said my name — except this girl.

“Perhaps there never was a Faith,” I whispered.

“Yes, there was. I’m sure of it. She grew up and had a family of her own and moved far away from here,” the girl said all in a giddy rush. And I wondered why she had approached me, why she still stood there talking instead of running away. You’re supposed to run from mad-looking strangers in cemeteries in the middle of the night, aren’t you? I had run — that demon had caught me anyway, drained my foetus of life, left me with the blood lust, but at least I had tried to get away. 

But here this girl was within easy reach, still talking. “That’s why she isn’t buried here. She’s buried with her husband and their three beautiful kids named Patience, Honour and Bliss.”

“You think . . . this Faith . . . had a happy end?”

“Damn right I do,” the girl replied. “How could someone named Faith not live happily ever after?” She giggled. “I mean, you gotta have faith, right? Cause hope and charity are fucking dead.” More laughter, and I realized whatever good sense this girl possessed was at this moment bedevilled by strong drink. She teetered and swayed, finally falling on her bottom in a swoon. How my prohibitionist parents would have disapproved!

I knelt beside her and gently brushed her hair from her closed eyes. She did not mind the touch, probably craved it, as many of the loneliest do. So close was I to her now I could hear her heart beat and smell her pulsing blood. I licked my lips again. “Thank you Child, for thinking of me. Should I take you for my own?” I imagined having a young companion at my side, to spend the long winter nights with me on the ice, watching the astral lights dance overhead. Why not? She was out in the cemetery by herself at night. Surely that’s proof that no one wants her. No one needs her, but me.

The collar of her shirt was open, and I placed a hand on her chest, just above her plump breasts, to feel her warmth. Her heartbeat rippled through my bones and seemed to multiply. No, wait, there was something else — beneath that strong beat. It was faint to be sure, but definitely there. An echoing beat? I ran my hand down her body. It was early days yet, I think, but even over her bulky clothes, I could feel the slight swelling in her belly.

I retracted my hand. My mind took me back to the pitch black of my childhood room. I felt again the weight of the great man grunting over me, pinning me to the bed. I remembered the horror I felt when my belly began to swell. And I remembered the blood demon, just before he bit, whispering in my ear: “You know you want this.”

I have always been afraid that the demon was right. Would this girl want what I had to offer? Did she wish to be rid of her life, and all its complications? I leaned forward and breathed her scent in. I was so close to that smooth flesh. My mouth opened. My fangs itched to strike.

But then she moved in her slumber, and her hand came to rest on her belly, and . . . I could not do it. Instead, I kissed her forehead and left. 

I have not been back to the family graves since. I still don’t know whether I will find the happy end the girl imagined for me. But sometimes when I am buffeted by the wind and wet, or swimming with the great whales, in the darkest of nights with all the stars ablaze I am content. And I have faith that the girl’s heart still beats, and she has found some hope and charity after all.


Image of Nancy Kay Clark

Nancy Kay Clark is the editor and publisher of CommuterLit.

  1. Polished writing, but I have never been a fan of stories where the writer turns it into a guessing game. Sorry!

  2. Great character, Nancy!

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