We should have known, of course, that coming back home to Fondant Fields to celebrate Lava’s birthday was a bad idea. Honestly, we did know, and yet we came back. In an attempt at giving the boy a normal childhood we brought him back to our old hometown to host a party with family and friends. It could have been a good idea, but it wasn’t.
I regret it with my whole heart. But I had hoped that it would pass without too much hassle. Of course, with the mother I had, I was wrong. Very wrong.
The party had been going on for an hour and laughter filled our kitchen. Bittersweet, Romeo, Watermelon, Celeste and her children had all come to celebrate Lava’s birthday and we were all playing a game of “Who am I?” when the the doorbell interrupted Bittersweet in the middle of a question.
I stumbled backwards in shock when I saw mother outside the door. “Hello” she said with a cold and calm voice. Her eyes revealed no sign of expressions and chills ran over my body. “I have a gift for my son for his birthday” she continued and I found myself frozen at the spot.
I was afraid of my mother, but the thought of what could happen if she got to meet Lava was even scarier than the thought of her fangs digging through my own neck so I stepped outside and closed the door behind me. “You need to leave” I hissed.
Mother stayed calm and she seemed empty of expressions as she coldly replied: “He’s my son”.
“You have no children” I snarled back, and felt my heartbeats race.
Mother stumbled back in pretended shock before a cold and heartless laughter escaped her lips. “You’re a fool if you think you can keep him from me forever. He’s a vampire, he’ll need me eventually. Just you wait.”
“Besides, I am his mother” she added afterwards. Be it that she scared me senseless but the ironic words about her actually being a mother disgusted me. I see myself as a forgiving and positive person, but forgiving mother for the childhood and life she had forced upon me and my siblings would never happen. She was as far from a mother you could be unless you counted the biological part. And honestly, being a mother concerned a lot more than just giving birth to a child. Being a mother is something that comes from your actions and thoughts, not from your womb. I had learned that the hard way.
Mother covered her face with her hands and laughed. “You think you can keep me away? From my son? You’re a true fool, Coral.”
As her words landed I heard the faint sound of footsteps behind me and when I turned around Lava was coming through the door. Instinctively I turned towards him and took a step in front of him so that mother would have to pass through my back if she wanted to reach him. I would not give up the poor boy without a fight for I had come to love him as my own son, despite his vampirism. “Mommy, who was that?” he wondered and looked straight at me with curiosity in his eyes.
I glanced over my shoulder and realized mother had fled the scene and I was left all alone with Lava. “That was someone who’s very bad” I replied and hushed my son indoors again. Once inside we made sure to secure every lock and every door. The party had naturally come to a halt and we were all quite worked up and scared of what just had happened. It had only been a fraction of time, but mother’s appearance affected us all anyhow.
“Her eyes were glowing kind of like mine” Lava noted once I had come back to the living room after securing all doors and windows. “Neither yours or daddy’s eyes glow like that” he said and I was surprised by his ability to notify such a small detail in the short time he had laid eyes on mother.
“Well…” I cleared my throat to prepare for a decent answer. I would have to tell him about his biological mother one day, but that day was not now. “She is your grandmother” I said instead and explained to him that she was a murderer and that we wanted nothing to do with her because of what she had previously done. Now, crime and bad guys was a concept Lava did understand after endless video game sessions with Salmon and cartoons. Good versus Bad was a concept that children learned even before they could walk and Lava nodded to show me that he had understood.
I had always been grateful for the family I had and even more so today, when we needed each other’s support. Salmon was, as always, a great help in the house and when it was time to put the babies to sleep he stepped in and sang Rhubarb to sleep. I myself was all too worked up and stressed to put anyone to sleep so I just sat in the sofa while Berrian and Salmon got the kids to bed.
It was hard to understand how mother could still affect our family after all these years. Lava had been with us for over five years and even though this was the first time mother actually came around and tried to get in touch with him, we had lived under the stress and fear for that to happen ever since Lava first arrived. It wasn’t hard to see why it teared on us, and I wanted nothing less than to find a solution that would let us free from mother’s iron hand.
“What did she want then?” Bittersweet asked me a few hours later when the kids had been put to sleep and I told her in detail about what had happened. My sister also lived in fear, although she had less of what mother was after because yet she had no children – and certainly not mother’s children. It must have been hard for her to understand the stress and fear I lived under when being responsible for Lava’s childhood and well-being. No matter, she did a good job at supporting me even when I traveled the world. I could never have wished for a better friend.
Once the situation had been described it didn’t take Bittersweet long to realize we would soon have to leave again. We were just not safe while we stayed in Fondant Fields.
Berrian was kind of involved in the conversation but occasionally went upstairs when any of the kids groaned or mumbled in their sleep. He was a real guardian and tucked them in whenever he found that they had kicked their blankets off. I know it was both a way for him to steal yet another kiss from them as well as a reassurement that they were still sleeping safe in their beds.
While the fear for the possibility of our children getting snatched out of their beds was present, it almost felt like an impossibility for it was simply too frightening. Still, that was exactly what happened on the night after Lava’s birthday.
Berrian first noted that the door to Lava’s bedroom was slightly open and when he peaked inside he found the bed empty. Not wanting to stress himself too much, Berrian calmed himself by thinking that the oldest son had simply gone up to use the bathroom. It wasn’t until he had assured himself that both bathrooms were unoccupied and that Lava really was gone from the house that he came and told me about it. I panicked straight off and lost my mind. This was my worst nightmare coming true.
While I sat down, staring straight in front of me, picturing my son under the killing wings of my mother, Berrian remained focused and headed out to look for him. Perhaps he was still to be found.
While Coral was way too worried and stressed up to function normally, Berrian walked around town looking for their adopted son. Despite not having had anything to say in the matter of bringing the boy in to their family Berrian had come to love and care for him as though he were his own. May be it that Berrian wasn’t the typical family man and rather traveled and went on adventures, but that had never stopped him from loving his family to pieces. Like Coral, it scared him to think of what could happen if Lava had actually been kidnapped by his biological mother. And thinking about the possibility of the boy running out in to the night on his own scared him even more.
Berrian walked with determination and forced himself not to cry or worry too much. He simply needed to find the boy and since he couldn’t have been gone long until they discovered it, he hoped that he shouldn’t have made it very far. He walked for hours, looking behind bushes and trees, searching colorful backyards and secret hideouts but Lava was nowhere to be found. He refused to give up hope though and kept on walking.
Several hours after he had left the house to look for the boy Berrian walked past the playground located just outside their own house. And there, inside the jungle gym stood the boy he had been looking for.
All the worry he had been feeling made the relief of finding the boy come out in an angry tone and as he swiftly approached his son Berrian couldn’t help but curse at him. “Lava Twist! You get down here right now.” As soon as the first yelling words had left Berrian’s mouth he calmed down a bit. “We were so worried. Don’t you ever run away like that again.”
“You lied to me!” Lava yelled as he slid down the ladder of the jungle gym. “You lied about that woman. She’s not just my grandmother, she’s my mother and she needs me and I need her. I have the right to see her!”
Lava’s eyes were glowing in the dark and a determination Berrian had never seen in a kid before glowed around his son. He knew then, that no matter how hard they tried to raise Lava in to a normal child, he would always be different. He was a vampire, and that was something they could never change.
“I’m more like her than I am like any of you” Lava cried and tears welled up in his eyes. Be it that his family had never known, but he had known. He had always been different. His temper had been different and his urges had been different. And seeing the woman tonight had made that so much clearer. There were people like him out there, people who could teach him to control those feelings and urges his parents would never understand. He hated them for keeping him from that, from who he was.
“We were going to tell you eventually” Berrian sighed. He knew he was defeated and that the time had come. Lava was big enough to know, even if he wouldn’t be big enough to understand. And perhaps Berrian and Coral needed to change the way they brought him up, perhaps they too had to learn how to control a vampire’s urges and needs. For their son would always have stronger impulses and a more unstable mind than they did. Their oldest son would need to learn how to live with his differences, and if they wanted to keep him, they would have to work with him to figure something out.
“I’d say we get you back home to your momma so she can see that you’re safe. And once we’re there, I promise we will tell you everything” Berrian said and placed his arm around Lava’s shoulders. The boy didn’t fight it, instead he curled up against his father’s side and walked with him home. He was happy to have been found, and he was glad to know that they had worried. No matter what the crazy woman with the shining eyes told him through telepathy, his parents were Berrian and Coral. For they were the ones had come looking for him after all. Though, that didn’t change the fact that he was curious to what it meant to have shining eyes and pointy teeth. But he was sure he would find out eventually.
That night, Coral and Berrian did tell Lava everything they knew about vampires and his background. It wasn’t much, but they decided to not keep anything a secret anymore. Coral was still hesitant because she wanted the boy to grow up without any outside expectations to who he was to become. For her, the part of finding yourself and the person you want to be was the most important thing in life and she wanted to give her children a childhood were they felt free to become whoever they wanted. She hated the fact that perhaps being a vampire somehow limited Lava, but after some persuasion from Berrian she agreed to talk to the boy about the things they knew. And Lava was pleased to know, it was a true relief for him to find out that the want to bite his siblings in the neck was not simply him being a freak but actually part of his nature. And it was nice to hear his parents promising to support him in the attempts at having a normal life.
After a long conversation, both Berrian and Coral tucked Lava in and stayed with him until he fell asleep. Berrian left after that, but Coral couldn’t get herself to leave Lava’s side and sat on his bed the entire night. It was impossible to shake off the fear she had felt when they realized that Lava was gone and she knew it had everything to do with her mother. As long as Soda Pop was around, Coral and her family would never be able to relax. And she knew right then that the only way of life they could possibly live was one where they kept moving from place to place. She knew right then something she had always known but never been able to accept: That her family would never be able to call a place home.
We left early the day after Lava’s birthday. I hadn’t slept a single minute during the night which meant I was both exhausted and still stressed out from the night’s nightmare. It was a long drive and I managed to get some sleep even if I had to wake up just to count my children ever so often. I knew we were most likely safe once we had crossed the country borders, but I could never be sure and I swore that I would never wake up to find any of my children missing again.
Egypt had always felt like a home to us. I had always managed to relax there and I had always loved being there. That had changed now. Not even the warming sun or the matte colors could calm me down. I had become a nervous wreck. The days during the weeks closest to Lava’s disappearance I just sat mindlessly rocking back and forth at the front of our camper with Rhubarb in my arms. I refused to let him down for he was the weakest and most fragile out of all our kids.
I’ll admit that I stopped functioning as I should have. I was simply too scared. Mother had finally been able to push me over the edge. I had become a mother who was so scared for my children to get hurt that I had trouble letting them out of my sight. It was far from how I wanted to be. I wanted my children to explore life by themselves. To travel and meet new people and experience new things. And now I just kept them around the camper, refusing to let them even leave our little plot of land.
Berrian and Salmon did what they could to activate Lava and Yew but it wasn’t hard to see that my fears were tearing on us all. None of us were cut out to stay put like this. Especially not Berrian.
Yet, he did the best he could. He played catch with Lava and encouraged the fast reactions and powerful throws the kid managed. Whenever a vampire feat shined through Berrian did his best to point it out and praise it. It made me cringe. I had never asked for a vampire child and it made me sick to think of the things our poor child would have to go through. I had seen mother go through it in her transformation and I feared the day our son would refuse to eat anything but blood. But Berrian did wonders. As always. He found the good parts of Lava’s vampirism and he taught Lava to value them.
And Lava loved his father. Even though I was living in a bubble of fear I could see that the boy progressed and grew. He was on his way to finding himself and while I had trouble enjoying it, I could see that Berrian was proud.
And they tried to help me too. They talked to me, tried to take me on walks but I constantly worried that something would happen. Every step we took I felt sick and the further away from the camper we got, the more scared I became. I kind of lost myself and the only thing occupying my head and thoughts was the worry and the need to keep my family safe.
Months passed and before I knew it Salmon was growing up. I cried when he left us to go home and start his life with Tosca. I cried because I was losing him. Like I had lost so many before. I cried because he would no longer be around to help me with the kids and I cried because I would miss his wedding ad his life with Tosca. And I cried for the same thing applied to the rest of my siblings. But despite my crying, he went back home to Fondant Fields. I knew he was happy to for it had pained him to be apart from Tosca.
He told me that Tosca had pretty much moved in when he came home but that Tosca also had a hard time accepting him growing up. She was certain that he would leave her once he aged up and gained new perspectives. It was a silly fear, of course, for Salmon would never dream of anyone but Tosca. And he promised her time after time that he would wait for her. Always.
It did little to calm Tosca down, though. And I should know. Promises don’t do wonders, only yourself ca overcome your fear and worries. I still hadn’t managed and perhaps Tosca wouldn’t manage either until she was grown up and able to actually form a family with Salmon.
And perhaps she was right to worry for Salmon was a gorgeous and amazing man. Tosca was lucky to have snatched him early for he could probably get whichever girl he wanted. Of course, I knew that the only girl for him was Tosca. And I was happy for them. But sad in the same time because her getting him meant that I lost him. I had gotten used to having him around and we would surely miss him now that he started his own adventure.