Sunday, 10 May 2015

Talking to kids about vampires

I was sitting on a bench the other day, trying to think of a way to finish the new short story. Around, there were all these kids riding bikes, leaping from one place to another, screaming.

Idyllic, but I couldn’t think.

Then one of the kids stopped near the bench and looked at me. Intensely, for what seemed like one whole minute. I thought I had to use that and told him I had a question. He sat beside me on the bench, excited and just a little confused.

As a way of casual street introduction, I told him my name, he told me his. Sitting there, the kid seemed both patient and restless, which was what most kids are these days.

‘Hey’, I said. ‘I’m writing a story about vampires, and I need your help’.

‘Cool’, he said, and made it sound as if it really was cool. (Though maybe it was.) He turned his whole body to me, and I knew I had his full, undivided attention. I could swallow him he wouldn’t notice.

‘You see, there is this main guy. He is a vampire. Years ago he was in love with a girl-vampire, her name was Claire. (At which point I winced: God, I made it sound like fucking Twilight!) But he did something bad once, he betrayed her. She needed him, but he was with another girl. Not a vampire. Which would have been okay if he bit her – but he never did. Are you following me?’

‘Yes’, he said. ‘Are you a real writer? I think it’s cool.’

‘Good. Now listen. He didn’t kill her, because he liked her too much. He needed something she could give him. (Of course, I couldn’t tell him what this ‘something’ was. This wasn’t sex education, and he was 7 or 8.) And then one day he thinks he sees Claire. Remember? That girl-vampire?’

He nodded, and I sighed with relief. God I was making it sound so simple, but then in a weird way this was like explaining to a kid how love works.

‘And she was this beautiful girl. With red hair. I mean, really beautiful. Late at night, they go to her place and then he realizes it’s not Claire. It’s Betty. That other girl he liked and couldn’t kill. She wasn’t a vampire…’

‘He should bite her!’ the kid screamed. ‘He should make her like Claire!’

‘Really?’ I said.

‘Absolutely!’ he said. He was so red and excited I thought he would burst, lose all his weight and fly up into the sky. ‘That’s what vampires do!’

‘Thank you’, I said, smiling. God I loved that kid. ‘You’ve just helped me a lot’.

But then someone called him and he said he had to go. I shook his hand, and he ran away (he certainly had something to tell to his friends). Ten metres away, though, he turned around and asked me what the title of the story was.

Second Movement’, I said and waved to him. 

I can only hope that one day he will read it, my short story. Second Movement. After all, he finished it for me. And the most precious thing about it was that he didn’t even understand why the main character had to bite Betty. But that was not the point. The point was that he got it right. Somehow, he knew how it worked. How love worked.