Fruit on Black


This is an unfinished story that I toyed with, on and off, awhile back. My wife enjoys the Twilight saga. Myself, I prefer zombies.

It’s not that Stefanie wasn’t trying. If anything, she was trying too hard.

Here we were, on her fifth-story balcony for our third date, eating a home-cooked Italian meal off her fine china, drinking from her crystal wine glasses, and listening to smooth piano from her “Classical for Everybody” CD.

A brass candelabra on the dining table held three white candles. Their flames flickered as the warm June wind picked up.

And there across the table was Stefanie, pixie-cut blonde hair, dangly earrings whose sapphires matched her eyes, wearing a black v-neck dress that showed a little more cleavage than she liked to reveal in public. It glistened in the candlelight, and I noticed a hint of glitter on her skin as well.

I was glad I dressed up for the occasion, even though my necktie was making it hard to breathe. There was something purple on my plate. I stabbed at it with my fork.

“Do you like the parmigiana di melanzane grigliate? It’s my grandmother’s recipe.”

Too fancy. This relationship would never work out. “It’s pretty good. The garlic is a little strong, though.”

“I’m a vampire,” Stefanie blurted out.

“Mmhmm. Wait, what?”

She repeated her original statement, pausing between each word. “I. Am. A. Vampire.”

“A vampire?” I frowned at her in the fading twilight. Stefanie wasn’t prone to flights of fancy. Her bookshelf had none of those silly fantasy romance books. “You’re joking?”

“Lee, you know I don’t joke around like that. It’s the truth. I’ve been worrying all day about how to tell you.”

“How to tell me… that you’re a vampire? Come on, Stef.” I thought for a moment. “What about the meal you cooked? I’ve never eaten so much garlic in a single bite.”

“All of the old vampire myths have gotten that wrong,” she explained. “Actually, I have to eat garlic on a daily basis to survive.”

“Ok. What about your necklace?”

Stef reached for her chest, then held up the ornate silver cross dangling from her necklace chain. “My grandmother gave this to me,” she said with a shrug. “For my sixteenth birthday. It’s a family heirloom. Don’t tell me you don’t like it?”

“I’ve seen you go out during the day! In sunlight!”

“Duh! I’m a bank teller, Lee. We don’t work at night.”

“So you’re a vampire that eats garlic, doesn’t mind the sight of a cross, and has no problem with sunlight?”

Stef smiled at me and nodded.

I thought about it for a minute. Then I shrugged, pick up my fork, and continued eating. “Do you have any more of that wine?” I asked after taking another bite of grilled parmesan melon zone A.

Stef reached across the table, around the candelabra, and pulled away my dinner plate. “I can explain everything, Lee, but first you need to believe me.”

“That you’re a vampire? That’s crazy. You won’t even watch my horror movies, Stef.”

“They’re scary!” she protested. “My high school boyfriend made me watch them. I liked the werewolves, but the vampires were too… ok, I can prove that I’m a vampire.” She pointed to the glass balcony doors. “Look over there and tell me what you see.”

“A glass door?”

“And?”

“Your living room.”

She sighed. “Look closely at the reflection, Lee. What do you see?”

I sighed and looked at the reflection. “I see… my reflection. And the reflection of the balcony. And the dining table. And the candles. And your chair. And…”

“And?” Stefanie prompted me again.

Blinking, I looked at the reflection in the door, then back to Stef, then back to the reflection.

“You don’t have a reflection,” I observed as I turned back to Stefanie. She smiled at me, and within that familiar rose lipstick smile, for the first time, I saw two sizable protruding fangs.

“I’m a vampire,” she reiterated.

For several seconds, I stared uncomfortably at her, uncertain of what to do.

“Do you have any more of that wine?”

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