I’ve done a shit job at keeping up with this blog all September. I’d try and explain myself but there’s no time for that because it is now October and I’ve a new story to share with you, called “The Walking Hours”. It’s a vampire story, which definitely isn’t my normal affair, but I’m glad I took on the challenge. In short order, I’ll share my MOODBOARD post all about the story, but because “The Walking Hours” drops TODAY, the very first day of my very favourite month which contains my very favourite holiday, here’s an excerpt for you.
THE WALKING HOURS
Frederick had only known Julia for a week before the world changed. She was smitten enough to give him a photo when he left for France with a fresh haircut and a gun. “You’re the sweetest man I’ve ever met,” she’d said. When Frederick returned unscathed, he held her face in his hands, swearing that she looked just the same. She nuzzled herself deep in his embrace, saying that he smelt just as sweet.
They married and bought a modest home in the suburbs. Everyone knew he was a soldier, a hero, but Frederick preferred it when people commented on the green yard that he painstakingly kept free of weeds. He craved normalcy, but then one night he woke to Julia laughing maniacally. He ran down the stairs to find her crawling on her stomach across the living room floor, cackling as she moaned about how thirsty she was.
“I’ve always been a sleepwalker,” she said, serving him French toast the next morning. She hung her head in shame, but Frederick tucked his fingers beneath her chin.
“I guess I’m in love with a sleepwalker,” he said.
Months passed and Frederick woke to Julia stumbling through the house like a toddler, her voice slurred and rambling, her dreams in full exposure. He loved her, even if she stripped herself naked, even if she cursed, even if she spilled drinks and food, even if she opened the door and went for a midnight walk. Sometimes he’d wake to find her gone and he’d tear through the streets in his slippers, screaming her name until he found her.
He was careful not to wake her, but sometimes she did and she found her bearings in his arms. Then she’d laugh. That was her constant. She always managed to make him smile, which is what Frederick did every morning when he walked outside to retrieve the newspaper and the new bottle of milk.
He shielded his eyes from the sunlight, taking notice of a fresh dandelion that poked out from the grass. He stepped off the stoop to pluck it, but was distracted by the moving truck that pulled up in front of the house across the street.
Out of the truck came a young family: a man, a wife holding a baby, and a boy who clutched a toy plane in his hands. The boy made plane sounds, bomb sounds, angry sounds. Frederick clutched at the dog tags he still hadn’t removed since his return from the war. He retreated, taking refuge at the kitchen table, where Julia placed a fresh crepe covered in icing sugar.
“It’s almost as sweet as you,” she said.
He felt the warmth of her smile, but then felt scratched at the itch on his neck.
“What’s wrong, Fred?”
“Just a mosquito bite,” he said, picking up his fork.