Sam called later that night to tell me he was gonna be gone for another few days. This trip had some complications, but he’d back as soon as he could. Which meant he wouldn’t find out about Ethan for a little longer. For the next four days Ethan fed on me every morning. I tried to keep my strength up, but by day four I was having trouble walking. My blood wasn’t replenishing as fast as Ethan was taking it. I could tell I was getting weaker and weaker.
At this point I had severe anemia and without help I would die, but I couldn’t tell him no. Ethan needed blood to live and as long as he fed on me he wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Day five was the last straw. Ethan came to feed on me, but I held my hand up to stop him, “Please I need a break. You are taking too much and my blood isn’t replenishing. If you keep feeding like this I’ll be dead within a day or two.”
“You said I could feed on you and that is what I have been doing. Because of you I haven’t hurt anyone. I haven’t even wanted to because your blood destroys my urges. Why are you suddenly being like this?” Ethan questioned not really seeing how bad I truly was.
“I am glad to be helping, but Ethan you’re killing me.” I said weakly as I got off the bed and used one of the bedposts to keep my balance, “You are taking my blood too often. I can’t take much more of this.”
Ethan looked at my weak state, but pushed it out of his mind, “I need blood, Carly. Please I need it.”
I swallowed the spit in my throat and looked at him with weak eyes, “I understand you need it, but I can’t take much more. My body is shutting down and I barely have the strength to stand up. I want to help, but I am getting too weak. Please, I am begging you. Go to mom and try blood bags again. I am glad I kept you from hurting people these last few days, but I can’t continue like this.”
“Carly, you are my only option. I need it, even if you won’t give it to me willingly.” Ethan threatened as he appeared in front of me.
I pleaded for him to stop, but he paid no attention. He didn’t realize the bad he was really doing. He wanted to survive, but he wasn’t realizing the consequences. I tried to push him away, but I barely had the strength to lift my arms. He moved my hair aside to reveal my bruised neck. For a second he realized the damage he was doing, but again pushed down. He was letting his hunger outweigh his morality.
He pulled me toward him and sank his fangs into my throat. At this point my skin was so raw it hurt 100x worse, but I dealt with it for him. He was my brother, what other choice did I have? When Ethan was finished he thanked me and quickly left the room. When his grasp left my arms, I fell to my knees as he was the only thing keeping me standing.
I collected myself as I used my bed to help me get onto my feet. Once I took a few deep breaths I walked to the bathroom feeling as if a weight was tied to my legs. I tied my hair up and looked in the mirror. The skin was red where it wasn’t bruised black and blue. I looked like a complete mess. My neck was a war zone, my eyes sunken caverns, and my skin was whiter than a ghost. I looked like I was dying and I think I probably was.
I began to clean up the blood when my phone rang. I looked at the caller I.D. and smiled a weak smile, “Hi Sam.”
“Are you okay? You don’t sound like yourself.” Sam worried
“I’m just tired, that’s all. When are you coming home I really miss you. These last few days have been rough.” I said as I used the counter for support.
Sam ruffled with a bag and then continued talking, “I should be back by tonight. I got the blood I need and I met with a friend I haven’t seen in a very long time. When I get back, I’ll be there to comfort you. I promise.”
“I can’t wait.” I said sighing as I tried to sanitize my wound, which was not the best feeling.
Sam could sense something was wrong, I could tell by what he said next, “Are you sure your okay? You don’t sound good, Carly. Did something happen?”
“Nothing happened. I am just tired and I think I’m getting the flu. I’m fine, Sam. I’ll see you tonight. Love you.” I lied
“I love you too.” Sam said as I ended the call. I set the phone down on the counter and continued getting ready.
I cleaned up, got dressed, and put a scarf around my neck. I even put on some makeup to hide how terrible I really looked. With one last check I grabbed my backpack, barely having the strength to pick it up. I should have just stayed home or told someone what was going on, but then I’d hurt Ethan. I had to protect him as he was my little brother and Sam would be here tonight. I had to make it through the day for Sam.
My dad was in the living room when I came down the stairs. Each step felt like lifting a cinderblock and I was actually running out of breath. When I got near the bottom my legs gave out and before I hit the floor, I was in his arms, “Carly, are you feeling alright?”
“I’m fine, Dad.” I said pushing him away only to falter into the wall, “Nothing for you to worry about.”
“Carly, you can’t go to school like this. You can barely walk and you do not look your best. Go back to bed and I can call you in.” Dad said trying to help me, but I refused his help.
“I am not going to miss school. I have a test today and the homework will just pile up. If I feel like I can’t make it anymore, I’ll come home during lunch. But I have to go and nothing you stay is gonna stop me.” I said
“I’m not going to stop you.” Dad replied
“If you want to go to school, I’ll drive you. I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to, but if you feel like you can’t make it, come home. Don’t make yourself suffer for no reason. Deal?” Dad said
He helped me to the car and we drove to the school in utter silence. He kept looking over at me to make sure I was okay. I kept reassuring him I was fine, even though I felt like breathing was a chore. Every time I took a breath, pain surged throughout my lungs as if I was being stabbed repeatedly. It hurt to move my hands, to move my toes, to even blink. My body was weak and in pain, weighed down in pain. I knew that was not a good thing, but if I told Dad he would be in danger. Learning about all this vampire stuff never ended well for anyone.
“You are just like your mother used to be.” Dad said as he caught my attention, “She was stubborn and would go to work sick because she had to help support us. She would rather see herself suffer then watch any of us get hurt.”
“She’s not like that anymore.” I whispered underneath my breath.
“What?” Dad questioned
Dad sighed and continued to drive, “I know I never talk about your mother and that I moved on quite quickly. It’s just when she died, I felt like a part of me had died with her. I needed someone to help me heal that wound and Amy was there. I don’t talk about your mother because it causes me too much pain.”
“No need to explain yourself. I completely get it. You wanted the pain to stop and Amy helped the pain cease. I’m not mad at you Dad for any of that because I understand why you did it.” I said
“So I haven’t seen Sam around in the last few days. Did something happen between you two?” Dad asked changing the subject.
“No, he’s been out of town.” I said with a bit of sadness, “He was visiting family, but he’ll be back tonight.”
“Do you love him?” Dad asked
I looked at my feet and then back at him, “I really do, Dad. He is the one person I feel safe with. He filled the part that died with mom just as you did with Amy. He means the world to me. He truly does.”
“I still don’t agree with it, but he seems like a...good boy. But if he ever does anything to you, let me know. Promise?” Dad said
“Yeah, I promise.” I said with a sigh, “If he ever does anything I will let you know.”
“Thank you.” Dad said
The rest of the car ride was in silence which was good because the conversation caused me to run out of breath. I felt like my body was weighed down with cinder blocks and it was getting worse. We arrived at the school and he helped me out of the car. Then he brought me into a hug and squeezed, “I know you think you deserve to be in pain, but don’t let yourself suffer. Please.”
“I’ll try my best.”
He waved to me as I waved back. I dragged myself into the building and tried to take deep breaths. I felt nauseous, tired, and numb. I just wanted the pain to go away, but I knew it wasn’t going to. The world was spinning and I felt like an absolute zombie. I just had to make it to tonight and Sam would heal me right up. Plus I would have to apologize for going against what he had wanted.
In each class I half paid attention because I was trying to keep my eyes open the entire time. I was so scared that if I closed them I wouldn’t wake up. I couldn’t die like this, not before saying goodbye to Sam. I did everything I could to keep myself awake, but by lunch it was getting too hard. Every little task seemed like running a mile and it was getting harder to try and hide how miserable I truly was.
I shakily opened my locker and with a lot of struggle I got my bag in. I slammed it shut and used the lockerbank as support. I looked around and saw a lot of people giving me either looks of disgust or sympathy. Even with those looks no one came to make sure I was alright, which was fine. What would I say if they did come to help me? If I told them the truth they would think I was crazy and if I lied they would probably see right through it. Either way I was screwed.
I dragged myself into the cafeteria and saw my friends at our regular table. I was gonna get some food so my friends wouldn’t worry, but even the thought of food made me nauseous. So I passed the food line and sat down, but the food around me was making me very nauseous. I tried to keep my cool, but they saw right through me. Especially Christina, “Carly, you don’t look good.”
“Are you sick or something?” Phoua asked squeezing my hand. I pulled my hand away from her as even that small touch caused my skin to ache. She looked worried, but I tried to play it off.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence. Really means a lot.” I said holding onto my side as a surge of pain shot through my chest. I cringed at the pain and everyone at the table noticed my discomfort.
“Are you sure your okay?” Anna asked
I looked at all of them and took a deep breath. I had to lie and I hopefully could trick them, “I’m sick with the flu, but I didn’t want to get behind so I came to school. I think I’ll be leaving soon though because all this food is making me nauseous.”
“Good idea. Coming to school sick is never fun. Even if you were gonna get behind you should’ve stayed home. Having the extra homework would suck, but dealing with all this pain isn’t worth it.” Christmas explained
“We could’ve gotten the homework for you, Carly. You didn’t have to come here and suffer. You should’ve told us you weren’t feeling well.” Anna suggested
“I will definitely let you guys know next time. I promise.” I said
“This weekend I can bring over some soup or something. I barely ever get sick and I’ll be free anyway. I can take care of you if you want.” Phoua said with a smile.
“That’s not necessary, Phoua. I’ll be fine with some rest and lot of flu medicine. But thank you for thinking of me.” I said with a small smile.
Then the conversation continued, but I barely paid attention. I just focused on not puking and keeping my eyes open. I felt like everything hurt and I just wanted it to stop. I noticed my scarf was a little loose so I tightened it before any of them saw. I succeeded, except Claire noticed the bruise. She looked at me with even more worry, but I mouthed it’s okay. She didn’t believe me.
I could see it in her face that she didn’t believe me. She knew what a wound like this was from and that made her even more anxious. I tried to calm her down with a smile, but it didn’t work. The group chatted for a few more minutes and then the smell of food got to be too much. I excused myself from the group and headed to the bathroom. I ran as fast as my weak body would let me.
I made it to the bathroom down the hall from the cafeteria and collapsed into a stall. After puking my guts out I heard someone enter the bathroom. From the way they came in, I could tell who it was. I dragged myself over to the sink to find Claire with crossed arms. She looked worried and angry all at once.
I washed the puke from my face as I began this uncomfortable conversation I knew I was about to have, “Hi, Claire.”
“Who did this to you?” Claire asked
“I have no idea what your talking about.” I said wiping the puke away with a paper towel. I tried to walk around her, but she stepped in front of whatever direction I turned toward.
“You know exactly what I am talking about.” Claire said walking forward and ripping the scarf from my throat. When the full extent of the bruising was revealed Claire gasped, “Who did this to you? Was it one of your mother’s minions? Was it Sam?”
“It’s none of your business, Claire.” I said taking the scarf back from her.
“It is my business because I am your friend. I know when you are hurting and I am the only one who knows what kind of monster can leave these marks. Carly, let me help you.” Claire said putting her hands on my shoulders, “Who did this to you?”
“Carly, please tell me.” Claire said
“I told you I can’t.”
Claire looked into my eyes with strength, “Carly, please let me help. I am the only human who knows what could happen to you. I am the only one you can trust. So talk to me, that is all I ask for. Please tell me, who did this to you?”
I looked at her for a long moment and sighed, “Ethan. It was...Ethan.”
“Ethan, did this to you?!” Claire asked with surprise and anger.
“I had a vision about Ethan killing this girl named Sarah and so I went to stop it. I got there right before he was going to do the deed. I distracted him long enough for her to run off. Ethan was going to kill her and he needed to feed so…” I began
“You offered your neck to him.” Claire interrupted
“I had to Claire.” I said with sad eyes, “If I hadn’t then that sophomore would be dead. Ethan has been feeding on me every morning for the last 5 days, but he isn’t giving my blood enough time to replenish. I told him, but he doesn’t see the damage he is causing.”
“Why hasn’t Sam stopped this? He should’ve protected you. Unless...” Claire said looking me over, “He doesn’t know about it. You did this without telling him, didn’t you?”
“I had to Claire. Sam has been gone the last few days on a blood bag run. There was a complication and it took him longer than expected. If he was here then Ethan would have never laid one hand on me. Ethan would’ve killed that girl, but since Sam wasn’t here I saved her.” I explained
Claire brought me in for a hug, “Ethan is killing you, Carly. This needs to stop. You need to stop giving yourself over to the bad guy. You don’t need to suffer so others can be free of harm. You have to think of yourself too.”
“That’s just who I am. I would rather see myself hurt then those around me. I want to protect everyone even if I die because of it. I’ve always been like this.” I said as Claire moved back, but continued holding my hands.
Claire smiled and sighed, “Yeah, I know. Since we were kids you always protected the people you hold dear. You would die for them, but sometimes you need to take care of yourself. Otherwise it will end in tragedy.”
“I can’t Claire, not this time.” I said as I moved away from her, “Ethan needs blood to survive. As long as he feeds on me he doesn’t hurt anyone else. I don’t want to die, but I also can’t let Ethan torment other people.”
“Carly, please let me take you to the hospital. You are severely anemic and weak. You need medical attention sooner than later. Please let me help you. You need assistance.” Claire begged
“No hospital. Sam will be here by tonight and he can heal all my wounds. I just need to make it till then.” I said as I tried to walk to the door, but my legs gave out and Claire caught me.
“You won’t make it till tonight. I am taking you to the hospital, right now.” Claire said
“Claire, I’m fine.” I said trying to push her away, but failing.
Then Claire started getting frustrated, “No, you aren’t fine. Don’t give me that garbage, Carly. You are dying and you won’t make it much longer without help. Sam isn’t here to heal you so a doctor is what you need. This is non-negotiable.”
“Just leave me be.” I said as my eyelids became really heavy. I pushed her off and tried to walk, but I collapsed onto the floor. My back slammed into the tile and I didn’t have the strength to get back up.
“Carly? Carly!” Claire yelled shaking me as my eyes closed. I tried to open them, but I couldn’t. Not anymore.
I remember Claire picking me up and calling for the nurse. Then there was movement and soon after I heard sirens. I tried to tell someone I was okay, but my eyes and mouth wouldn’t open. I was trapped in my own mind. At least the pain was gone.