June 21, 2013
New York, New York
This morning, Mama’s madness burst with perilous enthusiasm. She arrived at Camp Cute, Creepy and (quite conveniently) Remote unannounced and screaming. “Neither I nor my child need spend another instant in this… place!” Her shouts enticed campers to abandon their duties, in order to witness one of Llanelli the Beauty Tepes’ eruptions.
I would have fainted from mortification, but collapsing when things are just getting interesting has always seemed rather ridiculous to me. Also, Raven DeNina, my dearest friend at camp, was standing at my back. Raven would never let me fall.
“Change out of those tatters, Drusilla,” Mama said, snapping her fingers at a tuxedoed driver who pulled a stack of suitcases out of the rear of his hearse, to deposit them in front of me. “No Tepes blood will suffer these conditions while I exist.”
I am proud to relate that I did not scream in Mama’s face, You forced me to come here! But I wanted to, Great-Grand-Papa. My want was so fierce that I felt it glowing out of my eyes, as I imagined Mama’s earholes bleeding under the pitch of my displeasure. I just hovered in front of Mama. Collected, stiff, staring… knowing that if I let loose one inch, her tympanic membranes would not have a chance.
“I’ll grab those for Drusilla, Dad.” Sweet Darn, the igorina I told you about in my last letter, walked between Mama and me, and picked up the suitcases. All four of them. With one hand. “Drusilla?” she said, and the look in her black eyes suggested that she had been trying to claim my attention for longer than it was polite for me to ignore her.
“Yes?” I said, tearing my eyes from Mama’s left earlobe.
“Are you coming? We have to change clothes and pack our things.”
One look towards the rest of the campers told me I was not the only one startled by the igorina’s behavior. Everyone watched with interest. Some tried to join Sweet Darn and me, but Raven’s presence froze them in place.
“Go, Drusilla,” Raven whispered. “Sweet Darn knows what she’s doing. I will contain the horde. And charm your mother if the need arises.”
The horde split into two unwholesome, muttering halves. I followed Sweet Darn and the suitcases through twin walls of staring eyes.
After closing our cabin door, Sweet Darn pulled a folded paper out of her boot and tried handing it to me. “Sorry,” she said, her face reddening with unrequired shame.
I brushed off the apology. And was, mayhap, too sharp when I told her to set the paper down, so I could read it myself. It is not that I disliked Sweet Darn as a person, but I felt a general aversion towards igors. The idea of an entire people whose sole profession was to chop dead bodies and stitch the pieces to other living bodies made me a bit sick.
Avoiding Sweet Darn’s face, I focused all my will on unfolding the paper. The air spell I use to hover from place to place, and to handle objects, is not too complex. But when I am furious, my air handling can turn destructive. One glance at Mama’s flowery script filled my blood with reasons to personally loathe Sweet Darn. My spell tore the paper in two. “You have been stealing my correspondence?” I hissed and bared fangs.
“Look at the addressee, Drusilla.” Sweet Darn sat on her bunk. “I’m sorry,” she said again. And for a moment, I thought the igorina was going to cry.
I have included a copy of Mama’s letter to Sweet Darn’s father, Great-Grand-Papa. If you read it, then you should understand what I am about to ask of you. Please take me away from Mama before her madness pushes me to do something irreversible.
I let the pieces of paper fall to the floor, and told Sweet Darn that her father’s work was monstrous. “Your kind should not be allowed to do this.”
Sweet Darn stood up, and stepped slowly towards me. When her face was close enough to mine that I could see the individual threads stitching the scars on her cheeks, she said, “Don’t make me forget that I’m my father’s daughter, vampire. And that like him, I believe everyone has the right to choose, when it comes to their minds and body parts.”
I did not understand, and said so.
Sweet Darn told me that the self-blinded understand nothing.
After a very long pause, Sweet Darn explained that Mama told her father that I live a miserable existence because I have no arms or legs. When Mama’s story failed to match what Sweet Darn had told her father about me, he told Mama that he could not violate my right to be me. I felt rotten for having thought that all igors were nothing but meat stitchers. My discomfort grew after I learned that her father tried to discourage Mama.
“But he was unsuccessful,” Sweet Darn said. “So—”
“He decided that I would ‘look so normal and fabulously perfect with four sutural enhancements and a velvet cape,’ as my mother suggests in her letter.”
Sweet Darn’s eyes hardened. “I don’t know about arms or legs, but you’d probably look better with more sense and a few stitches holding your lips closed.”
We stayed silent for a while, glowering at each other.
Then I found myself apologizing, pointing at the copy of Nothing Says I Love You Like a Sharp Scalpel—which I got from Mama for my thirteenth birthday—and confessing to a girl I did not much like, that Mama could be a fearsome beast when she got desperate.
“Dad thinks your mother’s… desperation might push her to seek assistance from sutural surgeons who don’t share his work ethics. He lied about you and me being close friends because he needed an excuse to talk to you, to see what you wanted. So here we are.”
I thanked Sweet Darn while we packed. Then again with my eyes, because she was kind enough to ask no questions of me during the long drive from our camp to her house.
Now it is almost midnight, as I hide behind a stainless-steel box overflowing with severed arms and the odd pirate hook, to write these words to you. Mama thinks me asleep, getting some pre-suturing rest. I shall send this letter via carrier, Great-Grand-Papa, in hope that you will receive it before noonday and opt for a timely reply.
I respect Mama’s oddness. I know she is not insensitive and self-absorbed on purpose. And If she had asked any other thing of me, I would have given it. But I will not allow her or anyone else to attach arms or legs to my already perfect self. If she is so disturbed by the sight of my body, I know a decent sutural surgeon who could stitch her eyes shut.
Yours in blood and thought,
Drusilla Amarantha Tepes, the Only
the wee notes…
– The 4th letter: A Charming Unkindness of One.
– When I wrote the first Drusilla story, I thought she was a young girl (maybe 8 or 9). Then Drusilla wrote this letter, and I realized that she had to be at least in her teens.
– The 6th letter: Special Interests.