Special Interests

June 22, 2013
New York, New York
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Dearest Raven,

Sharing the blood of wannabe murderous psychopaths has eerie effects on the psyche. I spent most of the morning helping Sweet Darn sort severed extremities for her father’s home clinic, hoping the busy work would distract my anxiety. I had sent an urgent letter to Great-Grand-Papa and received no reply. Then I telephoned and no one answered.

“Give him time”, Sweet Darn said to me, placing an arm with big hands and long fingers in a drawer labeled Possibly a Pianist.

I levitated an arm with a pirate hook in the end, dropped it in a huge Special Interests box, and said nothing.

Sweet Darn smiled, mayhap to comfort me.

I trembled, wondering if she knew that no one could be reassured of anything, while watching her grin stretch the sutures crisscrossing the skin of her cheeks. I opened my mouth to ask her, but the sound of approaching steps and Mama’s words hushed me.

Mama was telling Sweet Darn’s father that she knew what was best for me. Since I did not wish to tell Mama exactly what I thought about her knowledge, I urged Sweet Darn to hide with me behind the Special Interests box. For a moment, I worried Mama would smell our scents, then I remembered that her daily perfumed bath blinded her senses.

“We can’t truly know our children if we don’t talk to them, Ms. Tepes.” Sweet Darn’s father pulled a folder out of a filing cabinet set against the wall opposite to where we hid. “Limb transplants involved complex surgery. I rather the three of us discussed—”

Mama silenced Sweet Darn’s father with a raised hand. She told him that I was a minor and she the parent, then ordered him to sedate me before I went to bed, and to perform the transplant while I slumbered. “My Drusilla will awaken whole and happy. She will think her perfect new body was a gift from The Stitcher herself.”

It was the ill-informed joy I heard in Mama’s voice that made me lose control, Raven. Screaming a “No!” that was the raw rage of a hurt beast, I slammed my will into the steel box that hid me, lifted it three feet, and pushed it forward until its bulk trapped my mother against the wall. When my mother tried to speak, the arm with the pirate hook rose out of the box to level itself with her neck, its tip just centimeters from her jugular.

Sweet Darn called my name in that soft, frightened voice reserved for talking to rabid animals and to people in deathbeds… The sort of voice that says the speaker wants to give no offense, since it cannot tell if the listener is going to attack or just die.

“Drusilla Amarantha Tepes, control yourself.” The new voice knew neither softness nor fright. The force that fed its tone gripped my bones and blood and will, made the hook twitch in midair. “Control yourself, or this fury will control you, Great-Granddaughter.”

My rage felt good, Raven. I wanted to keep it. But I did not. I would not give anyone or anything that much control over me.

I pulled the steel box away from my mother, let the hook fall to the floor, and hovered out of the room without saying a word or looking at anyone.

Sweet Darn and her father are proper behavior connoisseurs. They stayed put. But my mother and Great-Grand-Papa never heard of the respect one should pay to a dramatic exit. If I had feet, my mother and Great-Grand-Papa would have stepped right on my heels. They followed me to the Darn’s library and closed the door behind them.

“Drusilla, I need to talk to you”, my mother said.

“No, Llanelli,” Great-Grand-Papa told her, “you need to listen.”

“She is my daughter, Father.”

“And you are mine, child.” Great-Grand-Papa walked closer to my mother, and told her that if she did not tell me why she was behaving half insane, then he would tell me.

Raven, you will not believe it. My mother wants to get me armed and legged because she believes that if I look like everyone else, then my life in society will be easier than hers has been. You see, my parents did not wed for love, money or any other traditional motive. They chose each other because of their surnames. My mother thought marrying a Bethory would give her a grander and gorier status. My father believed marrying a Tepes would mean sharing his life with a ruthless, imaginative murderess, who would protect him from stronger predators and assist him in the bullying of weaker ones.

My father ran off after learning that neither Great-Grand-Papa nor my mother killed for sport—the Tepes family rejected games like Two Legs and a Bloodied Stump Races and Stick the Stiletto in the Urbanite’s Eyeball generations ago, that sort of screaming is unhealthy for the ear. My mother was shocked to discover that my father was a bloody coward, but not enough to stop pretending that she had not attempted to deceived him.

I am staying at Sweet Darn’s house for a few days. Great-Grand-Papa is taking me home, to Wildwoods, to gather my things. He lives too far away from any school that can teach our kind. But he spoke to Mistress Claudia, and she said that Camp Cute, Creepy and (quite conveniently) Remote would be thrilled to have me as a permanent resident, while I complete my schooling.

My new living arrangements hurt my mother’s feelings. I am sorry she still fails to see. I wish she could understand that people must grow up, before they can be parents.

Missing you terribly,
Drusilla Amarantha Tepes, the Only

P.S. Sweet Darn’s father has bleached skulls and small bones looking for a good home. Would you please ask Roseblood if her dolly could use any new teeth?

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the wee notes…
– The 5th letter: Four Sutural Enhancements and a Velvet Cape.
– I’m not sure when the 7th of Drusilla’s letters will be published. Maybe in 3 months, for May Monster Madness. Or sooner… if her constant whispering turns into shouts. 😉
– Linked to Holly’s Vampire’s Day Soirée. Fly over to her blog, and see what wonders others have written, painted, photographed, brewed, bled… *cough, cough, cough*.

Drusilla, in front of the portraits of two of her ancestors,
Elizabeth Báthory (the Blood Countess) and Vlad III (the Impaler)
by Emma Yardis, mistress of Groovy Gothic

The Day Before the Soirée

Dearest Wicked Luvs,

Since I’ve been pelting you with Drusilla’s letters, nonstop for a week, I thought it might be sensible to give you a day to catch up with the reading before the Soirée. Here are the Camp Cute, Creepy and (quite conveniently) Remote tales, in order of publication:

A Date for the Vampire’s Day Soirée (1st Letter)
Camp Cute, Creepy and (quite conveniently) Remote (2nd Letter)
A Hauntingly Mad Tea Party (3rd Letter)
A Charming Unkindness of One (4th Letter)
Four Sutural Enhancements and a Velvet Cape (5th Letter)
Special Interests (6th letter)

 

Drusilla Amarantha Tepes, the Only
by Emma Yardis, of Groovy Gothic

Four Sutural Enhancements and a Velvet Cape

June 21, 2013
New York, New York
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Dearest Great-Grand-Papa,

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

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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.

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