Why is it that every time I try to write something sweet and adorable that something goes dark? I promise it only lasts a couple of chapters 🙂 Content Warning: Contains an incident that might be upsetting to some people in the fourth letter. It isn’t mentioned again this chapter, so if it makes you uncomfortable then scroll onto the next letter. For full description of the issue, scroll to Author’s note at the end. x
I’m beginning to wonder whether living with me is the safest thing for you. I’m doing my best – keeping up with repairs and toddler-proofing the house – but there’s no way to protect you from me.
I’d never do anything to hurt you on purpose, of course. It’s just that… well, I’m not exactly very good at any of this. I tried to make you breakfast this morning, and I nearly burnt the house down.
You noticed the flames first. You started crying.
“Boom! No die, mama, no die! Mastikokopa!” You grabbed my skirt and tried to pull me away. I’m sorry to say that I’d frozen. Fire scares me more than I like to admit. It has ever since I was little. You were able to pull me out of my trance, thank goodness, and I picked you up and ran.
Furniture can be replaced. You can’t.
I could see you crying through the window, and I wanted nothing more than to run over to you and comfort you, but I had to stop the fire from spreading any more than it had. If we lost our home, they would have taken you away. I couldn’t bear that, Panda.
We lost quite a lot today. I was too slow to save most of our kitchen.
You saved me, Panda. You took me away from the flames, even though they scared you, too. I promise, I’ll do anything to keep you safe, love. I won’t put us in danger again.
Things have been going pretty smoothly recently. I haven’t put our lives in danger for at least a week.
I think you’re growing taller. It’s been nearly two years since we met, so I suppose it would be strange if you hadn’t. You’ll be going to school, soon. I tried talking to you about it, but the only thing you wanted to know is whether you’d be allowed to take your kitty with you. Of course you can, sweetie.
Your abilities are really blossoming. I was used to the little pictures you created in the air, but I swear I forgot to breathe when you began to use them on me.
I was working in the garden, and you were watching. You love the purple wolfsbane flowers. Sometimes you even put them in your hair. “Look, mama,” you laugh, “Now I am the flower.” Anyway, I’m getting distracted. You’re too cute for words, sometimes. So, there I was, taking care of the plants, when suddenly you started clapping and laughing.
“What is it?”
“Flowers are changing.”
I looked down at them. “I don’t see anything.”
“Mama watch,” you said, and then suddenly I was surrounded by a bright light. I could see exactly what you meant. For a moment, it was like I was the plant: my body becoming stronger, steadier and somehow more than it was before.
Then the light faded, and I was just me again.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at gardening the same way again, and I’m glad.
Your face lit up, and you giggled.
“Was that the right word?” I asked.
I’m learning so much from you, little one. Squeegee, Pandora, for everything.
Well, little Panda, you are full of surprises.
For the last month, you’ve been scratching at your skin. Obviously I was worried, but when I took you to the (government approved) doctor, they couldn’t find anything wrong. You had no rash, no swelling. Sometimes I’d even find you rubbing your arms against the wall.
“Off! Mama, off!”
I’d tried dressing you so that as much skin was covered as possible, but minutes later I’d find those extra layers thrown on the floor and you once again wriggling against any surface you could find. You could barely sit still. When I asked you what was wrong, you wrung your hands.
“E xefuki, sipaxni refijotu!”
I wish I understood.
Imagine my shock this morning when I found a Pandora shaped shed-skin on your bedroom floor. You were in bed, peaceful for the first time in days, and you had scales. I tried to be quiet, but you opened your eyes and smiled at me.
“Refijotu sipaxni, baska e.” You snuggled further into your bed with a happy sigh, and closed your eyes again.
Whatever you said, I’ll take your word for it.
Now that I’m getting used to them, your scales are beautiful. They’re almost invisible out of direct light, but in it you glimmer soft, iridescent shades of purple and blue. My pretty little snake-girl.
I’ll ask Caleb if there’s a library nearby – there has to be a way to make shedding easier for you. Look at us, being all neighbourly! It seems there are up-sides to living in such a quiet village after all. No one is a stranger.
Well, now that you aren’t completely pre-occupied with body issues, you’ve gone back to what you enjoy most: making a mess. Honestly, sweetie, when I said”Don’t throw paint at home,” I didn’t mean for you to walk out past the lot and start throwing it there.
I hope you don’t remember the incident I’m about to write about. It’s the sort of thing no-one should ever have to witness, especially at your age. You know that the world is sometimes dangerous and cruel, but I wanted to keep you from knowing just how sad it can be for a little longer.
You saw a man on fire today. He wasn’t screaming or flailing, he was just standing there, silent as the flames ran over his body.
“Mama? Fire man.”
I wasn’t facing him at first, so I thought you meant an actual fireman.
“It’s his job. He saves people from fire.”
You stomped your feet on the ground. “No, mama! Man fire! Boom!”
That got my attention. When I turned around, I saw a man standing on the street corner. He must have been a vampire, because his skin was peeling off and falling like embers to the ground at his feet.
He turned and looked at us, and my heart nearly stopped. I’ve never seen someone look so broken before.
“Sir? You’re burning. Come inside, you can stay with us until the sun is gone.”
He shook his head and turned away from us again. “I am a fool, so I will go like one.”
I must be an awful person, because my first thought was Well, that explains the outfit.
I picked you up and carried you inside. There are some things I hope you never have to see, Pandora.
I kept you away from the windows and doors for the rest of the day, though you cried and sulked about it. I’m sorry, sweetheart, but it was for the best. I admit, sometimes I caught myself looking out at him. He was almost a skeleton by the time night fell, but he was still alive. In the light of the streetlamp, I saw him look down at his hands and sigh before walking slowly up the hill. I’ve never seen skin growing before. By the time he was out of sight, his arms looked almost normal again.
I wonder if he lives up there, in that scary house on the hill? Maybe he’s lonely.
Your very own fool,
You know I would do anything to keep you safe, right? Well, I got a call from Caleb today. He said he had something important to ask me.
Forgotten Hollow is a wonderful place, Pandora, but it isn’t a place for humans. Not really. We can’t hold territory like vampires can, and unless something changes you will be fair game in a few years. True, being fed on doesn’t hurt – I hardly remember the times it’s happened to me – but that doesn’t mean it’s right. I never consented to it, and it makes me feel helpless. I won’t let anyone do the same to you, Panda.
There are some good vampires out there. Caleb, Riya, Lilith, Inna… they’re wonderful people. That doesn’t mean that everyone is.
If I have my own territory, no one can hunt on it. If you are my family, no one can hunt you. All I have to do is make the change.
I’m making this decision willingly, with fully-informed consent. I don’t know how I’ll explain it to you, but I have to do this. It is nothing to blame anyone for, love. It’s no-one’s fault.
His blood tasted strange. It was sharper than my own, and much, much colder.
I feel drained.
I think I need to sleep.
I know things are strange right now.
We’ll be ok.
A/N Contains a potential suicide attempt of a background character. It’s unsuccessful.
So, this was pretty bleak in places. I have no idea what was up with Vlad – he just stood there until night. I really did think he was going to die, but maybe he’s got really high sun resistance. He was out there for a good few hours. Also, Harmony needs a tv so I can get her cooking skill up without her burning the place down – the lass is a menace.
I will say one thing about the fire, though. It gave me this gem of a picture:
It didn’t fit the story, but it made me laugh too hard to just delete it. So yeah, bonus pic!
E xefuki, sipaxni refijotu! – I’m scratching so the skin will come off. Literally: I scratch, gone skin.
Refijotu sipaxni, baska e. – The skin is gone so I’m comfy now. Lit: Skin gone, comfortable me.