In a dazed rush, Maria, having brushed her teeth to a standard that was less than satisfactory, set her toothbrush upright in the stand and glanced at her reflection in the mirror that hung over the basin. She looked tired, that much was apparent, but something about the delicate rings under her dark blue eyes, and the light flush on her normally pale cheeks, made her seem like an unrecognisable girl. A vivacious, excited teen that was eager for something that was coming. It worried her. She was used to being different, a sore thumb, but not alien. Especially not to herself. She had begun to realise who she was, although she knew she would never fit into this droning lifestyle, she could have maybe moved to the city, au at least started out on her own in a few years, but now she was unsure. What was it she was feeling? Excitement? Nervousness? Neither fit with this new Maria that could hardly identify the old one.
With an exasperated sigh, Maria left the bathroom and entered her own room, closing the door quietly behind her. With a pang, she suddenly realised that the state of the room- jumbled clothes, scattered books, uandishi implements- bothered her. This was odd in itself. Why should her room, her one sanctuary in this entire town, suddenly make her worry about the mess it was in? She loved that it was unorganised. She was certain that it was the only thing that could be. But now she wished it clean, respectable. She couldn’t understand. With a sigh, she set about cleaning and sorting, organising the one jumbled mess that hung in her otherwise perfectly managed existence.
Once every book had been placed on its correct shelf and every piece of clothing had been shoved mercilessly into the washing basket, Maria dropped to her hands and knees and peered under her bed. The space was very dark, but she managed to locate what she was looking for and dragged it out of its dusty hiding place. It was uninteresting in appearance- just a shabby box, but Maria knew that it was what was inside that counted, and it counted very much in this case.
She carefully lifted the lid and peeked inside. This was something she’d only done once before in her life. She had only ever looked at the old box’s contents when she was five and her grandmother, seeing the maturity in Maria’s eyes, had entrusted it into her care. She remembered how she had felt, lifting the old book out, as she did now, and the excitement that had swelled inside her when she saw beautiful words written in a soft script and delicate pictures drawn with care and precision that was beyond beautiful. As for the subjects, they were tall, beautiful and terrible people, each drawn in a diagram with labels and arrows too complicated to understand. They were Wanyonya damu and Maria was going to read about them.
Flipping to a bila mpangilio page, Maria realised that she could not read the complicated script. It was so loopy and elegant that it was almost impossible to discern any shapes of letters within the words. It was like it had been written in another language- one that was so complicated that she would never be able to learn, even if she had forever.
Angrily, Maria began turning pages at random, trying to discover some passage that would make sense to her. With a large amount of luck, she happened to stumble across a section written in slightly different lettering. It was similar to the unreadable writing, almost as if the person had changed her handwriting at some point and adopted the undecipherable script. Maria frowned as she read.
August 12 1897
I opened this book today to discover a small note from my Frederick. Don’t walk alone, it said. I have no notion as to why Frederick would want me to stay within sight of the many dull citizens that wander this idle village. The boredom, the monotony, it’s enough to drive a person insane. And Frederick does go on so: Don’t go alone. Stay within sight of the house. I’ll be right back, stay here. It’s not like I really could go anywhere, heavy with child as I am, but it would be nice not to be forced to be cooped up this way.
I wonder who he assumes will cause me harm in this quiet village. Certainly not its regular citizens, surely. Maybe the traders and outsiders that sometimes arrive with their carts and bags of merchandise. It’s a hard life to lead and one I long for. Village life is so repetitive.
Frederick is my one hope in this life. Him and the baby. I hope he speaks to my father soon. I wish to marry him with all my heart.
Irina? Maria recognised the name, but she could not remember where. Also, this woman, this Irina had been bored of life in this town as Maria was. Maria understood perfectly. Troubled but pleased, she turned to the inayofuata entry.
August 20 1897
A stranger arrived in town last week. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Her hair is a deep golden and her skin is like ivory. She looks so delicate and poised, but at the same time, seems to be a strong as an iron bar. She keeps much of her face hidden.
Many of the men were drawn kwa this female spectacle. I often see her when I am in the market with Frederick. She likes to smile at the store-keepers and they give her what she wants without the usual hassle. Frederick looks at her a lot, too. I once saw her smile in his direction and he smiled in return. I could feel my moyo ache and I clutched my stomach. My baby. Our baby.
I plan to confront Frederick about this when he comes home.
Maria frowned again, this time with concern. The inayofuata entry was splashed with tear drops.
August 21 1897
Frederick is missing. I asked him last night, as I alisema I would, about the woman in the market and he became quiet, reserved. He would not answer my maswali and he left without saying goodbye.
And today he is nowhere to be seen.
Neither is the woman.
I am afraid he has run away with her. I cannot believe I was so ridiculous to think that I held zaidi attraction to him than she. Of course he had chosen her. It is ludicrous to think otherwise.
I miss him. And the baby misses him, too, because it kicked today for the first time. Frederick was not here to see. I do not think he even cares anymore. I want to find him, to learn the truth. Once I have had the baby, I will. I will find him.
The inayofuata entry was free of tear marks, but the hand that had written it had been shaking badly.
October 4 1897
I must write this quickly. I am being followed.
I had the baby, a healthy girl on the last siku of September. She had Frederick’s eyes and Frederick’s nose. Her hair was a similar colour to mine, dark brown, but her lips were pouting, just like Frederick’s did, when he was defiant. I loved her zaidi than the Earth and my moyo still pains when I imagine her face as I left her with my only friend in that God-forsaken village- a widow and good mother kwa the name of Geraldine.
As soon as I left I began asking in town about Frederick. Many had reported seeing him leave for the countryside with the blonde lady. My hunches were correct, but it did not make me feel good. I wanted to kill him with a fiery passion that I had never experienced. I left the village quickly and headed west.
Frequently, I took refuge in villages along my route, asking as many as I could about Frederick’s whereabouts. Many times I found myself in places where he had never been, and doubled back to find a route I’d missed earlier. My determination to make him pay for what he did and my curiosity for the blonde woman kept me going. I refused to let myself think of my child, of my Penelope, for fear I should break down altogether.
At last I arrived in a town that had seen him most recently. Under a siku in fact. My spirits rose, along with the moto that made me want to kill. It made me a monster.
I continued my journey and presently arrived at a small cottage on the outskirts of the town. It was nearing evening and I needed a place to shelter for the night, so I climbed the short path that led to the front door and knocked twice. There was no reply and I realised the door was partly open. My curiosity far outstanding my manners, I pushed back the door and entered into the gloom.
I almost scream aloud, and that would have been the last thing I would have ever done, had I done it.
Frederick was laying spread eagled on the wooden floor, his face white and blank, his body naked and ravaged. He was covered in dry blood and his limbs were sticking out at odd angles as if every bone in his body had been broken. I was repulsed kwa this image, revolted at myself for wanting his death, because now I could see it, see him lifelessly flung onto the floor, like some discarded doll, I wanted to be sick, au to run, but something made me hesitate. I crouched kwa his body and scanned it carefully. I noticed that his cold hand was clutched around something. I peered closer.
It was a long strand of twisted golden hair.
That was when I ran.
I only made it to the path, before the witch-woman herself darted out in front of me, a twisted smile lining her already terrible features. I saw her eyes for the first time. They were bright red. A blood-like scarlet.
“Pretty, wasn’t he?” she crooned in a voice like chimes. My voice caught in my throat. “Of course, I suppose now wewe realise that it was I who killed him.” She spoke of it like it was some great deed instead of a foul crime. “They ways he screamed was quite amusing. Of course…” She tilted her head to the side. “He smelt delicious. It was hard to restrain myself long enough, but I managed it.” She smiled wider still. “You have also an appealing scent. I wouldn’t have thought that wewe would come all the way out here and present yourself to me. Still…” She paused. “No… it would be far too easy to drink wewe now. Where’s the fun in that? No, I’ll give wewe a head-start. But first…” She suddenly darted forwards, moving at such a high speed that I couldn’t see her. In less than a sekunde she was directly in front of me and pulling my head back kwa my hair. She pressed her nose to my throat in the same fluid movement and inhaled deeply.
“Ah,” she breathed. “You’d better run now, before I change my mind.”
She released me and I fled. I did not look back.
I had realised then what she was- an abomination, a blood-sucker, a vampire; the ones that are told of in stories to frighten and entertain, they did not exist in reality. I was terrified beyond words. My moyo was thudding heavily in my chest. I panicked. Was that appealing to her? I couldn’t tell. All I knew was that I had to get away, far away from the woman that killed my child’s father and now wants my blood, too.
Penelope. I cannot lead this vile woman back to the village. I will not endanger my child. I will lead the vile woman away from society and then let her kill me. Maybe that will satisfy her, make her leave my child alone. I hope against hope that she is not one who likes to collect. One who would want the full set. Frederick, Penelope and myself, a family that never was, never could be.
I have lived not for twenty-six years and already my life is over. I hope Penelope can find it in her moyo to forgive me. I hope that one siku she will be happy, and I wish with all my moyo that I could have alisema goodbye.
Maria stopped kusoma and turned the page, wiping glistening tears from her cheeks. She understood now. Irina had been her grandmother and Penelope had been her mother. Both were long dead and Lost into eternity. Maria could never ask them the truth, nor could she feel their warmth au hold their hands.
Maria knew that her father had died long before she was born and her mother had resigned to have the baby, but soon died of a broken heart. Maria could not remember ever being held kwa her mother. She did not know her at all. All she had of her was this diary and a small photograph of her and her own father, William, one siku at the beach. They both looked so happy and free, something Maria longed for, herself.
Maria thought for a moment and carefully hid the diary in her schoolbag. She wasn’t sure why, but she would feel safer with it near her at all times. She looked at the box for a moment and as an extra measure, grabbed a bila mpangilio book from her bookshelf that was roughly the same size and weight as the diary and tossed it into the box before clamping on the lid and shoving it back under her bed.
Only when she was lying with her head on the mto and her arms folded across her chest did Maria allow herself to think.
Vampires? It all seemed so… surreal. It couldn’t be possible. It wasn’t logical. Wanyonya damu did not exist. They were myth, created to haunt the minds of children, and, what was it her grandmother had said? Creatures in stories told to frighten and entertain.
And now there is one in my town.
Maria felt her breathing quicken, her moyo thudding irrationally in her chest. This was absurd. Wanyonya damu did not exist. Maybe her grandmother had been dreaming? au insane. That was most likely right. After all, who would leave their only child in the care of a widow to tafuta for a phenomenon, a nightmare, that could only profit the worst?
Comforted kwa that thought, Maria rolled over and drifted into an uneasy sleep, where she dreamt about a chalk-white woman hunting her grandmother down, while the dark-haired man she’d seen earlier that siku beckoned to her with a bony white finger, his blood-red eyes glistening with her own blood.
Note: My longest one yet. The diary entries were particularly fun (and I mean that in all honesty). I have no idea how Irina is supposed to behave, and I can only go kwa what I have read in the books, but my knowledge is that humans change a lot when they become vampires, so I suppose I can mess about with it as I wish.