It was over. I stared in disbelief at the words The End. My favorite vampire book series had concluded. What else would I live for? I sadly put the book down on my end table and stared at the shirtless vampire hero that had graced the cover for the last five years. My box of tissues was empty. I grimaced at having to go upstairs to get a new one. My mother would no doubt notice my blotchy face and puffy eyes. She was the last person I wanted to explain myself to. Carefully, I tiptoed up the stairs and peeked around the corner. My father was in his recliner, reading the Sunday paper and mumbling to himself in a manner that only he could understand. I turned my head slightly to wait for any sounds that would indicate my mother’s approach. Hearing none, I continued to the main floor and quietly opened the hallway closet to obtain a new box of tissues. Smiling at my success, I closed the door and screamed when my mother’s face appeared. Her arms were crossed as she glared at me. She merely raised her eyebrow, and I knew what I had to do.
“I finished it.” My voice was meek as my eyes fixed on the colorful swirls that decorated the prized possession in my hands. After a long pause, I cautiously raised my gaze to meet hers.
She shook her head in response. “Waste of time. That nonsense does nothing but fill your head with sinful thoughts. I don’t know why I allow you to bring that filth into my home.”
A surge of defensive anger rose within me. I knew better than to speak against her. All I could do was be thankful she had never resorted to throwing my books away. My mother was a woman of words, not action. Yet, her tongue was as sharp as a knife, and she knew how to use it to cut my joy into pieces. My mind raced with all the things I wished I could say to her. I am a grown adult, and I can read whatever in the hell I want to! I don’t know what your problem is, but I am going to leave someday and then you won’t have anyone to control anymore!
Where would I go? How would I support myself? I had a minimum wage job downtown in a small company with no room for upward movement. I still had two more years of college. My best friends Amanda and Julie were doing so much better than me and would surely leave me behind. No boyfriend. No romance. No excitement. Nothing to look forward to. I was a nobody, and it became harder each day to see any way out. I held my mother’s gaze and simply nodded. She shrugged her shoulders, sighed, and brushed past me down the hallway without another word. I clutched the box of tissues to my chest and ran back down the stairs, stumbling over the loose piece of carpet that always managed to snag my toe.
Once I reached my chair and laid the tissue box down on the end table, I picked up the book and sat down to stare once more at the unrealistic man that had starred in my darkest fantasies for so many nights. Every sensual scene replayed in my memory. The way he caressed the heroine with such delicate touches while he held the monster inside of him back. I pretended she was me. A woman deserving of sexual gratification. A woman deserving of passion and romance. A woman deserving of love. A woman that I was not. I closed my eyes and allowed the finality to sink in.
My thoughts slowly turned to the other man who had appeared in my dreams since I was sixteen years old - recurring dreams of a mysterious figure that hid in the shadows. I always assumed it was the vampire novels stimulating my overactive imagination…but he watched me. Stalked me. Whispered his name to me. Or…perhaps he was simply watching out for me. All I knew was he both frightened and excited me at the same time. He seemed to know me but that only made it even more enticing.
The sun streamed through my lace window curtains and I could feel the heat on my face. A long drive in my car with the radio blasting melancholy goth tunes is what I needed. But alas, my car was in the repair shop and wouldn’t be done until Tuesday. Realizing I had nothing better to do, I easily drifted off to sleep.
My eyes fluttered open as my gaze fixed on the partially obscured window. How long was I asleep? It was morning. It can’t be night already. As my hazy vision adjusted, a rising panic filled my insides as I stared at the shape of a large man outside. Rationality tried to tell me that it was my father, but he was much too stocky. Despite the thudding in my chest, I forced my shaky legs to move so I could get a closer look. He’s got to have the wrong window. He’s probably looking for someone else. The moment I was halfway to the window, the shadow moved away slowly. Sunlight flooded my room, and I accepted the creepy truth: I had a Peeping Tom.
I swallowed with an audible gulp as I gingerly moved the curtain out of the way. No one. A part of me still felt as if I were dreaming. Could he have run away that fast? What if he merely moved out of view and is hiding on the side of the house? A surge of determination forced my trembling legs to race upstairs and look out the back door window. No one again. It must have been my imagination or…my fears of being alone are getting the best of me.