Liquorice is a short story written by student and aspiring writer Emilie Ann Holmes.
I have been a vampire for three years. Jeremy Trifer, a fifty-year-old alcoholic who resembles a bull, bit me. I was in a supermarket car park, on my way to buy milk for my sister, and my life completely changed.
Nobody knows but Ben. I have only known the human for a few months but time shifts rapidly now that I’m immortal. Perhaps he is mortal, but the connection between us is chemical. I knew he was different because he’s the only human I don’t want to sink my teeth into. I have been ‘pure’ for two years now; I haven’t preyed on an innocent soul since my sister’s ex-boyfriend. I only target the dying; it’s more natural and humane. Time travels inconsistently but today it travelled as fast as it took for me to turn eternal.
The hostile gate and ceramic cherubs scorned me as I waited to be welcomed inside. The sun followed him as his floppy hair played in the subtle breeze of the fall evening. Ben acknowledged me with a light kiss and touch of the waist. His hand was smooth like the pages of a loved book, as it drove me to his sofa. I thought I heard a stir, but his family weren’t home, not even his brother. Ben’s white skin sat next to me as he queried my day. However, my mind walked elsewhere. He wasn’t wearing the ring I gave him.
‘Why wasn’t he wearing the ring, he always does.’ I felt my eyebrows perform a stern dance upon my forehead.
He offered me some liquorice, I presented a smile of delight, but the truth is I don’t even like liquorice. His hands played with his guitar strings, along with my heart, as he recited a song he wrote about me. Many days slipped through my fingers that were full with memories of music and falling leaves, but today remained more distinct to recollect. Today was the red amongst the white.
Ben has wanted me to turn him for a while, but due to my age I forbade it. There was a simple condition which you were tied to for the rest of your existence. If I were to bite him, Ben would have to devote the rest of his existence to me in an act of gratitude. He would be my slave. I couldn’t let him waste his life on me. To do that would be like tormenting the dead. Pointless. He seemed nervous today, his touch was icy. His eyes wouldn’t meet mine. He was like a flickering flame, agitated. He wouldn’t focus on my questioning gaze.
‘Look at me.’ I spoke in a nonchalant yet demanding tone.
His eyes met mine. Even though warmth was never within me, my skin felt colder now. Ben’s eyes were blood. The crimson pierced my skin. Ben’s a new vampire, but who bit him if I didn’t?
‘Imelda.’ This name escaped Ben’s sealed mouth.
I queried this name with hesitation as the mere thought of the exposure of truth startled me.
‘That’s who turned me.’ Ben sat back as if he could feel my thoughts.
Silence. I didn’t ask or say a word. I simply didn’t want to know. My feet hovered in the air then they thudded on the ground, my boots walked away and I followed. As I went home, I pinched myself in order to gain some perspective. I had a flush of gratitude because I didn’t change Ben myself. If he could betray me already, what else was he capable of? I ate liquorice for him and I don’t even like liquorice. Relief numbed me as I found comfort that I didn’t meet his family or anyone close to him. I can move on. But for tonight I needed a distraction. I was hungry. Temptation pulled me by my heart.
‘Just one,’ I assured myself.
As I was exiting Ben’s estate, a young man who was tailored in a suit caught my attention. It was time. My hands restrained him like a snake around his neck. He fell. My teeth sank into the goodness of his skin. I felt health pouring into my body. But I couldn’t stop myself. The man lay still in the middle of the road. He was dead. I vanished in the shadows of the alleyway. I felt myself rotting.
The following day, my remorse melted into shock. The roar of the radio caught my attention. I heard a voice that sounded like Ben’s within the talking box.
‘My brother will never be forgotten.’
I switched on the television. A man in a business suit lay in the middle of a road with teeth marks carved into his neck.
I killed Ben’s brother.