Sharon’s note: So, I decided that there aren’t enough feel-good vampire stories out there. I wanted one without mentions of over sexualized biting or wash-board abs. It’s time like this that’s it good to be an writer. I’m willing to admit that this is pointless feel-good good story, but I needed a feel-good pointless story. With fangs. Thus begins my seven part delve into the warm fuzzies. Warning: Author has discovered it is not who will let her, but who will stop her, but has taken it to a mostly benign place.
The way to Sarah’s fort was a secret. You had to go behind the wisteria bush to the corner of the hedge wall. At the very bottom, there was a hole. It went under the chain link fence and to the side of the roots. It had been dug by the Robinsons’ dog. He had been a big mastiff mix that had liked to play with Sarah. When the old couple had moved, they’d taken the dog with them, and now the house was empty. That was okay. It meant no one would take away her fort.
The Robinsons had built a gazebo in the backyard, but they never used it. They never went into the yard, so Sarah snuck in to play. She’d even hung up old sheets on the side, so it was all closed in, a secret place just for her.
Even though it was dark out, Sarah’s parents told her to go outside. She knew what that meant. They didn’t want her in the house so they could fight. For some reason they thought if she was outside, she couldn’t hear them. That was okay, she couldn’t hear anyone in her fort.
Instead of dinner, her mother had given her a box of cookies. She dragged them with her as she wiggled under the fence. Dirt smudged her knees and palms and sticks scratched at her back. She popped up on the other side, ready to eat her dinner while reading with the book and flashlight she’d stashed. Her face fell.
The sheets were gone. Dropping the cookies, she raced to see if maybe a raccoon had pulled them down again, but they were gone. So was the cooler that she kept her things in. Her lip began to tremble as she stared at her fort, looted of all its treasures.
“So you’re the one who’s been camping back here.”
Sarah whirled around. A man stood by the back door of the house, very tall and very pale and with long, red hair braided down his back. His t-shirt and jeans were dirty like he’d been cleaning. She hadn’t heard the back door open, so he must have been standing there the whole time.
“What are you doing here?” She pointed like she was accusing him. “Where are my things?”
“Well, I threw the sheets away. They were moldy in some places and not worth washing. The cooler is in my house, since I figured someone would come back for them.”
Her shoulders slumped. “You bought the Robinson house then.”
“I did.” Eyebrow raised, he studied her. “How did you even get in here?”
“There’s a hole under the fence over there.” Sarah pointed with eyes downcast. “I’m sorry my stuff was in your yard. Can I have it back? I won’t come back, I promise.”
“What are you doing over her anyway?” The man chuckled as he opened the back door to grab the little cooler that was just inside.
She shrugged. “I come here to hide and read. My parents sent me outside because they wanted to argue, so I was going to hang out in my fort.”
“Yes, I can hear them.” He frowned, then handed her the plastic box. “I take it they do that a lot.”
“Wow. You must have awesome hearing.” Sarah grinned.
“Wow indeed.” He laughed again. “So what’s your name?”
“Sarah Murphy,” She answered, chin tilted up as she smirked.
“Murphy,” he mused. “You know, growing up, I had a friend named Nora Murphy. She was very special to me.”
“What’s your name?”
“Peter Blight.” He held out his hand, and she shook it.
Through the hedge, the arguing had reached such a pitch that even if you couldn’t make out words, you could still hear it. Mr. Blight frowned at the noise, then looked down at Sarah with a raised eyebrow.
“Do they do this a lot? Argue?”
“More all the time.” Her lip started to tremble again, but she stopped it. You aren’t supposed to cry in front of strangers. Her daddy had said so. “Sometimes they start to yell at me, then they start yelling at each other again and kick me outside.”
“If,” he lingered over the word, “I was to let you continue to use my yard, I’d have to get a few promises from you.”
Sarah perked up. “Okay, I promise.”
Mr. Blight shook his head, but kept smiling. “Just a moment. You haven’t heard what my conditions are yet. First, you have to leave my house alone. No trying to come inside.”
“Sure.” She bounced on her heels, the cooler rattling.
“Second, if you come over when it’s light out, you have to be quiet. I work during the night, and sleep all day.”
“Yeah! I don’t make a lot of noise. Everyone says I’m really quiet.”
“I’m sure,” he muttered. “Third, if I put something over the hole, say some plywood, it means you can’t come over till it’s gone. This one is absolutely crucial, alright?”
“Right. I can do that. Thank you!” Sarah launched forward to give him a hug while she beamed up at him.
Mr. Blight raised his arms, hands posed like he was afraid she would touch them. His lip curled a little, showing a slightly long, very white canine. “Ah, well, you are welcome. Now, if you let me go, I have to finish cleaning out the basement.”
“Okay. Thanks again.” She released him to skip to the gazebo, where she settled down with her back against one of the supports. Withdrawing her book and flashlight from the cooler, she snuggled against a post to read and promptly forgot about the man still standing in the yard.
Mr. Blight lingered to watch her. After a moment, he shook his head with a smile, then went back inside.