|Gehena Vampire Clan|
“The problem with being nice is that people forget you have a dark side too.”
That’s how Charlotte closed her speech. It took her a good 3 months to prepare it. She wrote a first draft, then a second, a third, and she stopped counting by the eleventh.
When the day of the meeting finally came, she wanted to miss it and just stay at home. Those meetings were so boring.
It was a small group of about 10 people. The stories were always the same. They had different names, true, but their paths were excruciatingly similar and she found herself counting the tiles on the floor to numb her mind.
They never told the group that the day before they had done what they really wanted to do and that they had enjoyed it immensely, excited as if they were talking about a new taste of lollipop or an exotic dish, depending on their mental age.
They simply rambled about their daily routine, shyly implying that they thought about it, but that they pushed those thoughts away into the darker corners of their twisted lives, as they were expected to do.
And Charlotte got so bored.
She wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, telling the world what she had done. She had done it over and over again, methodically, systematically, and no one would ever know; no one would ever admire her brilliancy, her artful and empathetic masterpieces. Yes, she had a few of them. Actually, now that she thought of it, each and every one was absolutely brilliant.
She tried recollecting all of them. It was becoming more and more difficult. She smiled.
Yes. People thought of her as a friendly, happy, thoughtful young woman. She enjoyed that.
When Charlotte had the car accident and spent a few days at the hospital, the neighbors visited her. They offered to water the lavender garden, but she preferred her beautiful plants to suffer slightly than to have her neighbors snooping around the house. She hadn’t had time to put a few things away properly...
As soon as she was released from the hospital, the neighbors dropped by with soup and stews and pies. She never allowed them in past the front door, never. Perhaps they thought that was rude of her, but her open smile and her tired looks somehow offered them a plausible explanation and they forgave her.
When did she start attending these dreadful meetings? It wasn’t long ago, not even a year. At the beginning she went every week. She thought she could somehow slow down her urges by attending the support group get-togethers.
Then she got friendly, in hindsight too friendly, with a fellow called Thomas, who decided she was too much to handle, “high maintenance” as he put it.
After a while, he stopped going to the meetings. Everyone wondered what happened to him, yes, they did wonder. They still do.
That’s when she started going once every month. Enough was enough.
For this month, however, she wanted to state something more than the usual feeble ramblings that annoyed her deeply.
“I can do strange things, very strange things, believe me.” And she sat down.
The group remained in silence. Someone coughed nervously.
Ellen, the group facilitator, didn’t really know what to say. She shifted slightly on her chair, buying time. “That was…”
“The truth,” said Charlotte. “We all think this way. We just sit here and pretend we don’t, week after week, month after month. It’s mind-boggling. I thought this was a support group where we could talk freely about our concerns. I thought we were safe here, that we were surrounded by people who cared, people with whom we shared the same anxieties.
“I thought we were here to hold hands and push one another towards a better future. White flowers in our hairs and all that bullshit. I honestly thought that I would feel better about myself, empowered, free.
“Yet, all I can think of is to get away, run away as fast as I can, and never come back. I am so tired of us not speaking openly. I’m so tired of trying to endure this and I sit here counting the fucking tiles on the floor. 30 in that direction and 50 in that direction,” and she pointed towards the exit door. “Isn’t it ironic that to leave we have a much longer path than to go grab a donut?”
Ellen tried to interrupt, with no result.
“I know. You think I’m crazy. I most likely am. At least that’s what they told me when I was a kid. You’re nuts, you know, they’d say, smiling. I never took it seriously. They were smiling, the bastards. Yeah, they were smiling. All I wanted was for them to tell me the truth.”
“What was the truth?” Ellen ventured, treading a very slippery terrain.
“The truth… The truth was the same as your truth. What is your truth? I did the same things you all did. Perhaps I did them in larger numbers. I was never appreciated. They don’t even know what I did. I don’t care. But I refuse to sit here, meeting after meeting, listening to the same crap over and over again.”
“What are you talking about?” Ellen looked at her intensely with those big green eyes of hers that begged to be shut down, smiling.
Charlotte reciprocated the smile. The bastard is smiling that same cryptic smile her family had smiled. She’d have to do something about this Ellen.
“Never mind. I apologize for the outburst and I’ll leave you to your meeting. This is clearly the wrong support group for me.”
Amidst feeble protests, Charlotte walked towards the donut table. “30 plus 50, 80. Well, that’s just about right. You don’t mind I take one of these, do you?”
Everyone shook their heads, relieved she was about to leave them for good. She could see that in their eyes. When she left the room, donut in hand, she had a new project.
Throughout the next few months, the media did mention the disappearance of a certain moderator of an obscure local support group, a woman whose past was never quite clear and one who made the controversial decision to start a support group for people who felt the urge to perpetrate acts of extreme violence towards others but who had never acted on it - that last bit was clearly stressed in the brochure; it was underlined, bold and in italic, just in case.
The police looked into every attending member of the group. They even checked former members, most of them serving time in jail. They talked to the neighbors and all they said was that she was such a friendly, happy, thoughtful young woman. They did talk to Charlotte too and they found nothing relevant.
As the police drove away, she took a deep breath. No problem. Everything was ok. The lavender was working amazingly well. The neighbors loved the scent and even the homicide detectives praised it. She hated lavender, but what could she do.
“And that makes 81.” One day, they’d know about her, one day. A snicker followed the mumbled words. She had done it once again. And once again, no one had noticed it. Perfect.
500 Word Snatch Writing Challenge (daily sessions)
Prompt: "I can do strange things, believe me."