Trolls for Dust is very much inspired by the recent popularity of stories involving teenage vampires, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, and, yes, Twilight. This short story involves the solitary plight of a young woman who is half-human, half-vamipre.
April 5, 2010 (Story Eighty-Eight)
The sun beat down hot and hard, baking everything in sight. Nora huddled under a wide umbrella. Slowly she peeled off the hat, sunglasses and bulky sweater she wore. With the revelation of her pink bikini, the gawkers on the beach turned back to their sunbathing.
Nora sighed. It wasn’t often that she ventured out to the ocean front, but a girl could only take so much darkness. Ever since her mother had taken off, she’d kept to herself in the old house. She thought about her father, the one parent who really cared. He was still off in Romania tracking yet another legend. Nora didn’t blame her mother for leaving, for, being what she was, the woman couldn’t help it. Sunlight was a bane for creatures like her.
For an hour Nora sat in the shade and stared at the ocean. She longed to jump into the cool water, but could not without getting severely burned by the sun. All of the legends said it wasn’t possible; they said a person like her couldn’t exist. Then again, common sense said her mother couldn’t exist either. If Nora’s father possessed any common sense, Nora herself would have never come to be. Charles Peyton, researcher of paranormal myths and folk tales had found Lyssa, had lured her to him, and had fallen in love. Dark creatures being what they were, Lyssa was an inconstant lover, disappearing for weeks or months at a time. Once, seventeen years ago, she had shown up with a baby she’d named Nora. Charles recovered from one shock only to receive another, for Nora had inherited a degree of her mother’s abilities.
Nora ran her tongue over the ridges of her upper teeth, stopping at each of the two longer, pointer canines. The vampire teeth were not as sharp as her mother’s but they were useful for tearing into the bloody hamburgers she loved. Her father worried that she would contract some disease from the raw meat, but Nora’s digestive system could handle it, and the more raw the better. She’d never tasted human blood, because the thought made her nauseous.
When the sun shifted in the sky, Nora angled the umbrella to block its gaze. The sun couldn’t kill her as it could Lyssa, but she stayed out of it nonetheless. It had been many years since she had last tried to go out in sunlight. Although she shivered now to remember that traumatic incident, she couldn’t help herself in trying another experiment. Perhaps it was that the day was so hot, or the umbrella so voluminous. Perhaps it was one of those risky things people did when they started to feel lonely. Whatever it was, Nora felt reckless. She scooted to the edge of the umbrella’s shadow and stuck her big toe out from under it, and then her foot up to her ankle.
The effect of the sunlight was instantaneous. First her skin turned brown, like a marshmallow held over a fire. Then it blackened and started to bubble. Nora pulled her foot back into the shade. The burn would take weeks to heal, but then her skin would look as unbroken as ever, turning back to its light caramel color. Nora felt eyes on her and looked up. A boy lounging on a blanket a few yards away stared at her. He looked puzzled, as if trying to work out a difficult math problem. He caught her gaze, then reverted his to the book in front of him.
Scolding herself for not being more aware of her surroundings, Nora pulled on the bulky sweater, the hat and the sunglasses. Her dread was not that he had seen her, but that she had recognized him. He was a skinny, red-haired boy from her sixth period English class. Humans, she thought. They were always the trouble, always too inquisitive. This boy would try to befriend her like so many others before him. He would ask her about the burn, about her attire, and on and on. Like always, Nora would tell him she had a rare skin disorder. Very rare. As she trekked through the sand and up to the parking lot, she stole a look over her shoulder at the boy. For all of his skinniness, he was kind of cute. Nora sighed. She really was quite lonely.
–Original story by Pixie Beldona was previously published on pixiebeldona.com. It has been edited for this post.–