There was a new girl in Dullsville--me. After all, I'd spent sixteen years living a monotonous existence. Now Dullsville wasn't so dull anymore. A few blocks away from me on Benson Hill lived the love of my life--Alexander Sterling. My boyfriend. My Gothic Mate. My vampire.
I was reunited with Alexander, and his nemesis was out of our lives. I had to wonder what would be normal for us. I was dating a vampire. I would have to keep a secret I'd never be able to share with Becky, my parents, or anyone. To keep him in my life, I needed a padlock on my black lips.
Alexander and I would always have to meet after sundown. I would never be able to eat breakfast or lunch with him. We'd have to avoid sitting near mirrors at fancy restaurants and make sure garlic wasn't being minced anywhere in the vicinity.
And most important, I wondered whether I would have to become a vampire for us to have a future. That evening, I met Alexander at the Mansion door, a backpack slung on his shoulder and an umbrella in his hand.
"Let's go," he said proudly, taking my hand.
"Where are you taking me tonight? A tomb?"
"You were awesome that night. Everyone at school thought you totally rocked! For a moment, I thought you were really going to bite me."
"For a moment, I really wanted to," he said with a wink.
"It must be hard for you, resisting your impulses."
"You have impulses, too, that you resist, don't you?" he asked playfully, tickling me. "Why should I be any different?"
After a few blocks we stopped in front of Dullsville's country club.
"You're kidding. My dad belongs here."
"Well, he has good taste."
"I never thought so."
Bushes standing eight feet high lined the property of the golf course, surrounded by a low chain-link fence.
We quickly climbed over the metal blockade and walked onto Dullsville's golf course. Of all the places I've snuck into before, this was not on my list.
"If I get caught sneaking in here," I joked, "this could really ruin my reputation." At night, the course seemed mysteriously spooky and gorgeous.
We walked across the tee, down the fairway, and onto the green, avoiding the sand traps and bunkers just like golf balls.
Alexander and I sat on the green of the third hole, which overlooked a small lake with a lit fountain. A few weeping willows, which offset the lake, in the darkness looked like they were crying black lace instead of leaves. The course was eerily quiet. The only sounds we could hear were crickets and the gentle splashing of the waterfall.
"I like to be surrounded by beautiful scenery--but you overshadow even that."
I gave him a quick kiss.
"I also like to dance in unusual places." He opened his backpack and pulled out a portable CD player. He switched it on, and Marilyn Manson began to wail.
"Can I have this dance?" he asked, offering his hand.
At first we slow danced on the green to one of the morbidly sluggish tunes. We must have looked like quite a sight--two goths dancing in the dark on a golf course.
As the songs picked up pace, we danced around each other and the flagpole until we were exhausted.
We ran to the lake and cupped our hands in the water. The light from the fountain caught my reflection in the water. What should have been Alexander's reflection was only ripples of water from where he dipped his hands. I looked up at him. He smiled back joyfully, not even aware of his missing image. I felt a pang of loneliness for him, wondering what it must be like to live a life of empty reflections.
Breathless, we plopped down on the green and looked up at the stars. The sky was clear except for some clouds in the distance. Lying on the open golf course without hovering trees and glaring streetlights, we could see what seemed like a million stars twinkling just for us.
Alexander sat up and pulled out two drinks from his backpack.
"Gummi worms, spiders, or lizards?" he asked, reaching back inside.
We both drank and chewed on the brightly colored candy insects.
"What's it like never seeing your reflection?" I asked, his missing image still on my mind.
"It's all I've ever known."
"How do you know what you look like?"
"From paintings. When I was five, my parents commissioned one of their artists to make a portrait of us. We have it hanging over the fireplace in our home in Romania. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. How the artist captured the light, the details of my mother's dimples, the joy in my father's eyes, all through gentle strokes from his palette. The artist made me look alive when I felt lonely and grim inside. That's the way this man saw me. I decided then that that's what I wanted to do."
"Did you like the way you looked?"
"I'm sure I looked much better than if I'd seen myself in a reflection." Alexander's voice became impassioned, as if he were expressing his thoughts for the very first time. "I always felt sorry for humans, spending so much time in front of the mirror. Fixing their hair, makeup, and clothes, mostly to impress others. Did they really see themselves in the mirror? Was it what they wanted to see? Did it make them feel good or bad? And mostly I wondered if they based their self-image on their reflected one." "You're right. We do spend a lot of time worrying about our looks, instead of focusing on what's inside."
"The artist has the power to capture that. To express what he thinks about the subject. I thought that was much more romantic than seeing myself in a cold, stark glass reflection."
"So that is why you paint portraits? Like the one of me at the Snow Ball?"
"It must be hard to be an artist among vampires."
"That's why I never fit in. I'd rather create than destroy."
Alexander suddenly looked up at the moon. He got up and grabbed a sturdy branch that had fallen from one of the trees and was lying by the lake. He took off his belt and bound the branch to the umbrella handle. He removed the flagpole and stuck the umbrella stick in the third hole.
"What are you doing? Want to keep out the moon?"
Suddenly I could hear the sound of a sprinkler turning on. Water began to drizzle down over us like a gentle storm.
I giggled as the cold water hit my legs.
"This is so awesome! I never knew a golf course could be so beautiful."
We kissed underneath the sprinkling water until we noticed lightning flashing in the distance.
I quickly packed up our drinks and CD player while Alexander dismantled the umbrella.
"I'm sorry we have to call this short," he said as we headed for home. "Are you kidding? It was perfect," I said, giving him a quick hug. "I'll never look at golf the same way again."