I bought a Dracula painting at the Thrift store yesterday. The clerk looked at me with contemptuous eyes as she scanned the price ticket. I thought I heard her whisper “That gothic child just wasted his money” as I walked towards the door.
My room was painted maroon. It had been my favorite color since childhood. One evening my mother cut herself when she was slicing raw chicken. “My little one will choke if I do not chop this poultry into tiny bits.” She said when she noticed me watching her. Her lips suddenly started trembling, and before I could comprehend what was wrong, she released an eldritch scream. It sounded so awful I cringed and held my ears. Blood was spilling down her wrists and dripping from the counter. There was a rag resting on the table, but I ignored it, grabbing her bleeding hand with my own. I’ll never forget the image of us cradling her wound as if it was both of ours. Her blood became my favorite color.
I hung the Dracula painting above my bed. He looked quite handsome in the reddish hue of my room. His cheekbones seemed like two caves when within the shadows, gaping and dark. I wondered if he was real and could see himself, would he find himself boring or charming. I found myself weird for thinking these thoughts. “Sorry, Dracula. You have an eccentric owner. I hope you’ll still consider adapting to me.” We looked at each other. I smiled. He continued to show his fangs because that was his purpose, to frighten and beguile humans at once.
My mother used to say I wore too much black. “Why are you like that? Are you sad most of the time?” I’d hold my cheeks and laugh, something that made her blush. She found me child-like even though my face had matured into a young mans. “We shouldn’t talk about negative things, mama. We might hurt each other’s feelings if we admit the truth.” She usually got tears in her eyes after my words. My mother was the one who was depressed most of the time. I was all she had. Sometimes I heard her praying for happiness.
I buy wine every weekend. The owner of the liquor store always says it’s good to see me when I arrive at the counter. “Are you still drunk from last week?” she’ll joke around. She is Japanese too. She often says she finds me handsome and has naughty thoughts about me. “Forgive me for that. It’s just you look so innocent, yet your eyes, they are so uninviting. It’s almost as if everything you see makes you miserable, like you’re missing something or despise your surroundings. Tell me, is it hatred you feel or sorrow? ” She desperately asked me yesterday when I was the only one in the store. “I just bought a Dracula painting, so I like the sight of him.” I replied, trying to change the subject. She gasped when I snickered, took my wine and left. “Atsuto, please drink for me.” I heard her say as I was walking away.
Tonight, when I get home, I immediately open my bottle of Merlot. I sit on the bed while drinking it, wishing I didn’t feel so lonely all a sudden. I turn off the lights to enhance the thrill of intoxication. At some point, I see my mother’s bloody hand inside my head. “Do not worry son. I will not bleed forever, only for now.” I heard her voice. “Let me do it, ma. Let me bleed forever instead. I feel bad for you.” I was talking out-loud. I giggled at myself when I realized it, but at the same time tears were leaking from my eyes. “I miss you. I’ll admit it. I feel so damaged. I have no one. You were all I had.”
She didn’t mean to leave me. Even when she was dying, she promised she didn’t mean to go. It was her heart. The doctors said it had been sick for a long time, but she did not discover it until it was too damaged to be saved. “Heart disease son.” She kept repeating herself, a horrifying look of sadness on her face. “But why am I not ill too? I thought we were the same person.” She pushed her fingers against my lips, as if silently admitting we were never the same. I remember not knowing where to touch her or how to comfort her, my hands shaking so intensely that I did not understand what was happening to me. It felt like my body was not mine. Instead, it belonged only to my emotions. I wanted to die beside of her.
I did not move from her until three hours after she passed. Two nurses had to remove me from the room. They knew I would feel her decay and never be the same. I roared when they forced me out of the room. I am sure I looked satanic with grief. I felt weightless with despair.
I finish drinking Merlot then turn on the TV. I am craving for sound and distraction. “I wish someone would sing to me.” I say while staring at the screen. “There is no one out there.” I close my eyes, dizzy, distressed. My head sags towards my chest for a moment before it is abruptly titled up. There’s a faint glimpse of a long piece of material swaying across the TV, then seconds later, the same piece of material dashing towards my eyes.
I start defending myself, feeling a tight pressure against my back, the same type of intense pressure one feels when being adored by an overly passionate lover. In the midst of fighting for myself, I see the outline of a man’s face. I notice the shape of it is very long, and on the side of his head are long, curly locks. The man slowly lowers me backward, as if to see my face in the light from the TV. “Help.” I beg. “I am honestly afraid.” “It is I who you should find eccentric.” The man says, slowly revealing himself by leaning into the light. I quickly glance at the painting on the wall and see it is gone.
I fight with the man so violently that my nails break off and I see his blood splatter across the TV screen. A mysterious guilt overcomes me though when he does not defend himself against me. I eventually become exhausted and let him carry me to the bed. I feel the mattress sinking when he crawls on top of me, taking a moment to wipe my tears before exposing his long, devilish fangs. He drinks from my chest. I feel his teeth in my heart and wail. “Do you want to die?” he asks when he withdraws, his eyes furious with romance and hunger. The man unbuttons his shirt, revealing his entire torso. “Don’t pass in front of me. You’re too attractive to rot. Repeat my painful ritual.” I hide my face and weep. My mother appears inside my head again. “Why didn’t I get this chance? We could’ve lived outlived everyone.” “I’m sorry ma.” I whisper while coming closer to Dracula. His skin is so soft I get chills when I feel it. I bite him, easily at first then once the blood starts flowing, I become desperate for it. “Do not hate me, young Atsuto. I will not be mean after this. I was only aggressive because I had to wait so long to taste you. Can you see how obsessed I am?” Dracula wipes his blood from my mouth, purposely pulling my hair back so I have no choice but to see his wild eyes. “How did you come out of that painting?” I ask. “It was my tomb. I rested inside of it until someone as beautiful as you took me home.” I accept his answer and die against his cold body. I shiver when I realize I’ll never die again.
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