The sound of crickets alarmed Amanda as she stirred from her slumber. She hated waking up in the middle of the night. That meant her sleep had been interrupted. That was anything but good.
The cute blonde refused to open her magnetic gray eyes. She hated the dark. Nothing in her 16 years of existence had changed that fact. However, the effort to ignore the situation was useless. Once she was awake, Amanda knew she wouldn’t get back to sleep. She’d either have to lie there for hours suffering or get up and do what she knew needed to be done. Eventually, she opted for the latter. She realized there was no other choice.
Except for the sound of crickets, the stillness of the night continued to surprise her. She knew she’d never get used to it. She wasn’t suited for it. She was a morning person. Amanda hated everything about the blackness that surrounded her. Even as she moved into the cool darkness, she cursed its existence.
Staring at the moon, Amanda remembered a time when the sight of it had made her pulse quicken. It seemed impossible that just a year ago she’d gone on her first date with Jeremy. After the dance, they drove up the hill overlooking the town. That night, the moon was full and a buttery yellow color that somehow seemed magical. It was the only time the night had spoken to her in a positive way.
Amanda smiled as she remembered their first kiss. It had been tentative and sweet; everything a girl could hope for. She’d hoped for many more of the same but that wish had not been granted. The next night, on Halloween, Jeremy’s life ended at the hands of a drunk driver. That wasn’t the worst of it. Amanda’s life had been altered too.
The blonde heard the sounds of young lovers as she neared Widow’s Peak, the place where she and Jeremy shared their first kiss. No doubt, others used the same spot for their pleasure.
A cool breeze blew Amanda’s curls into her eyes and for just a moment, she thought she caught the hint of a shadow against the outside of the vehicle she was approaching.
“Amanda, don’t!” The sound of Jeremy’s voice caught the young girl off guard. She turned around, expecting to find him standing nearby. Of course he wasn’t. Jeremy was dead.
“You don’t have to do this,” the voice continued. “It’s not who you are.”
Amanda’s eyes grew fearful. She raised her hands to her head as if that could wipe the sounds away. It didn’t work. Another voice from inside of her agreed. However, it came from a part of her she thought lay dormant.
“I do,” she whispered into the wind. “I must.”
As Amanda moved toward the blue sedan parked in the exact spot where she and Jeremy once sat, she saw the strange shadow pass the vehicle a second time.
“Jeremy, is that you?” The blonde shook her head knowing that her mind was playing tricks on her. She closed her eyes and counted to 10 before opening them a second time. When she did, an audible gasp escaped her lips. Jeremy stood before her.
At least she thought it was Jeremy. The apparition held little form. It was more like a gray misty shadow. Still, if Amanda squinted her eyes just right, she swore there was a face in the shadow – Jeremy’s face.
“You left me,” she cried out, raising a hand to caress the phantom form. “That wasn’t all of it though.” Her whispers fell silent. Amanda lowered her head to elude what she perceived to be Jeremy’s eyes.
“I know. I’m sorry,” Jeremy returned. Amanda heard the pain in his voice. It was mixed with compassion.
“I don’t like it here without you,” she returned. “Especially now. I try to ignore the hunger. Most of the time I am successful,” she noted with defeat. “But it’s Halloween. It’s THE night I lost you. That night that cost me everything.”
Amanda fell to the ground even though she wasn’t weakened. She just couldn’t bear to have Jeremy see her as she was.
“We were supposed to have time,” she mumbled sadly. “We were supposed to go to movies and dinners and more dances. We were supposed to go to college and get married and have children. Those things were taken from us. It isn’t fair.”
“No, it isn’t,” Jeremy responded as his shadow lowered to meet her form near the ground. “Nothing about this was right, but you can’t compound the problem, Amanda. You can’t take what is left of your soul and smash it into a million pieces.”
“Why?” The cry came out guttural. Amanda’s anger was too close to the surface.
“Because I love you,” Jeremy answered simply. “I’ve always loved you. I fell in love the first time I saw you on the kindergarten playground. I don’t want this for you.”
Amanda shielded her face from the only boy she’d ever loved. She took in the words and let them blanket the fire that burned inside of her.
“I love you, too,” she finally whispered. “I loved you the first time you threw sand at me,” she laughed.
Standing up again, she realized the car she’d been stalking had started. The love birds were leaving.
“Let them go, Amanda.”
“I can’t,” the girl returned as she took a step forward to stop them. Instead, something stopped her. It was the feel of Jeremy’s hand on her shoulder.
“Will you stay with me?” The question seemed odd but Jeremy understood its meaning.
“I will. I will always stay with you.” Jeremy’s ghostly hand moved to Amanda’s cheek. The tenderness of the touch calmed what remained of her fire.
The two ghostly figures remained there on the hill, wrapped in imaginary arms, until the first signs of daylight broke over the horizon.
“Thank you,” Amanda cooed as the sunlight caressed her body for the first time in a year. “Now, the curse is broken.” With that, Amanda’s vampire body turned to dust, floating on the soft spring breeze. Behind it, a gray shadow followed. He would follow her anywhere.