Writer in Motion: Week 1
Updated: Jul 15
Photo by Jaroslav Devia at Unsplash
Half Past Chai (or, Too Thoughtful for a Haunting)
You've been gone three years now, and I still dream about you. It's annoying, really. I'll go to bed with something stupid but nerve-wracking on my mind and there you'll be, giving me all that sage advice I used to roll my eyes at, back when you were alive.
The thing I hate most about these dreams is the way you always leave me. Disappearing into smoke right when I'm getting used to seeing you again. Right when it's about time to start rolling my eyes. Of course, you're never there when I wake up and that thought just grips my heart and my throat every damn morning.
A haunting is one thing. I could live with that. But this is something else, entirely. What it is, I can't say. I just know that hauntings feel different. Hauntings are unrest. Eyes on your back. Hair rising and a wet breath on your neck.
You're too thoughtful for a haunting.
And I hate you for it.
In the afterlife, you learn that smoke and mirrors are much more important for the dead than for the living. So, when I hear you curse my smoky disappearance, I wince and chuckle and not always in that order.
Would you believe that you had a guardian angel, at some point? That poor bastard had his work cut out for him and good lord, you and I both know he fucked it right up sometimes. Okay, most times. Would you believe that when I died, he retired? I'm that poor bastard now.
In training, he told me that I did a much better job in life than he was able to do for you in death. I get the impression you knew him, once. But I can't tell you who he is without breaking the rules. Though, I guess I'm already breaking the rules just by showing up in your dreams.
I just don't know any other way to get through to you. Subtle hints (yeah, like what they tell us we should be doing) are lost on you the way a grain of sand gets lost in a desert.
You were like that to me, you know. A desert. Vast and dry and total hell, with so little to give. But when I found an oasis in you, it was downright magical.
I wish I hadn't died. I did a better job of keeping you safe in life than I'm doing now.
Owen used to act like he had some huge cross to bear, hanging out with me. I never understood it. Like, dude, just fuck off if you don't want to be around me. Right? Is that so hard?
Ugh. I can't even be mad. That son-of-a-bitch kept me out of so much trouble. Got me into enough, too. Always bailed me out first, though. Even when he was the one who did the stupid. Ha. Especially then.
I think that's why I miss him now. I guess I'm allowed to miss my partner in crime. Okay, in petty crime? Eh. I left the brain-thinking to Owen. I definitely miss him for that. I suppose if he were still around, I wouldn't be standing here about to walk in on what may or may not be a vampire. Not a soucouyant, eh. Those I can deal with. Whatever is on the other side of that door is certainly not a soucouyant. That's why the rice is in the car, and not on my belt.
The silver cross and the stake, now that's on my belt, and in my hand. Of course, I have no idea if they'll work given that I'm Hindu and all, but it's the thought that counts, right? I guess we'll find out.
Inside is precisely what you'd expect a vampire lair to be like. You know, if the vampire where a unwashed bum or something. It's humid-- duh. But also dense. The air is thick and sticky with something more than Caribbean heat. I'm afraid to do it, but I take a deep breath anyway.
Blood. No surprise there. And magic. No surprise there, either. That's why they called me, after all. So what's that other thing? Cardamom, definitely. Cinnamon? Maybe. Mmm, cloves... is this asshole drinking chai?
When you smell the chai, I know you're in trouble. Double trouble, because the vampire in the other room is neither unwashed nor a bum. She's just your type. You're going to walk in there and see those deep brown eyes and bam! Mesmerized. And I don't mean by vamp hypnosis because we both know you're immune but Jesus Christ, Maddie, you're such a sucker for a cute brunette.
The vampire in the other room is precisely my type. And the kitchen would make my mother envious. It's like walking into a sitcom where I'm the hubby and my wife is perfect. Er. Okay, the fangs are... shit, nevermind. The fangs are hot.
She looks up from her very fragrant, probably blood-magical chai and her dark eyes immediately slap me in the face and damnit Owen, this is why I need you around. Of course I say yes when she invites me to sit and have a cup.
Maddie, I swear to my undead God that if I were alive I would slap you in the face. Girl, what is wrong with you? I always knew you were reckless when it comes to a pretty face but you are literally in danger from the thing that you were hired to kill!
I don't know what the Hell I was thinking, sitting for some chai with a frickin' vampire. It was, obviously, the worst move one could make. Vampires, as you would know, are cobra-fast. I am not quite that fast, but I am prepared so, ha!
When she flings herself across the table, my shield springs off of my forearm and the magic sizzles on impact giving her a burn worthy of an aloes meme. Her hiss reminds me of your cat, Socks. Such a generic name, for a cat.
I'm not prepared when her nails break right through and claw my arm. That bitch. So rude!
The chair tumbles back and I manage to roll away but the magic in the air is thickening. Her blood ritual-- fuck, obviously the damn tea! --is complete now and I am only just realizing how seriously fucked I am because my seat at her table has given her access to my obeah and that was not a smart thing.
Nope nope nope. I'm swearing off women after this. Yep. Celibacy, that's for me.
Well, if I survive. Nah, I'll figure it out. I always do.
Then again, I always had you with me.
I can save you, you know. If I break every rule they gave me. But hey, that's what best friends are for, right?
Sigh. Maddie, you are so damn lucky I love you, you crazy, crazy woman.
The smoke that passes between me and hot vamp-lady is vaguely man shaped. I brace myself for more of her sorcery but it doesn't turn on me. No, it whips out a stick? A sword? Something long and possibly pointy and the smoke-man-thing tries to hit her with it. Vamp lady is smooth and fast but smoke moves like liquid.
God, help me. It moves like you. It twists when it crouches like you. It turns it's vaguely arm-shaped appendage just like you do when you're smacking me around on the practice mats. It does an absolutely unnecessary back flip off of the table, like you would.
It stabs vamp-lady right through the heart, like you always taught me.
It turns to me when she falls and solidifies just a hot moment, whipping the still smoky weapon toward me. Somehow there's blood on it and it splatters right into my mouth, ew! It's gross, but immediately the air thins and I feel my obeah, my magic returning to my skin, filling my tattoos with danger and protection.
There's a face in that dark hoodie. The one that looks just like your favorite, ratty black sweater-thing. It reaches to pull the hood down, but all that's inside is smoke.
I'm sorry I couldn't speak to you right then. I'd already broken so many rules. I know you'll be mad at me but what's new, eh? I'll just wait here, instead, and try to prepare some kind of explanation. You'll go to bed soon, so I better be ready.