Ch 28: Here I sit

On my way to the Tae Kwon Do test, I stopped by a storage unit, as has become my habit at least once a week. I dialed the combination lock, and then unlocked the second with a key. Inside, the unit was empty except for one eight foot long locker and a small generator next to it. I unlocked the locker with a key I always kept around my neck.

I strapped my UV protective goggles on before I lifted the lid to reveal the tanning bed, which is turned on at all times. As I lifted the upper half of the tanning bed, I was reassured as I gazed upon Brad's aging face. Just one glance is all I needed, and I closed everything back, and locked it tight.

As I drove to the test, I received a text message from Yuki. "Check," is all it said, but I knew what it meant. She has Brad's torso in a similar condition half way across the globe. The rest of his body is separated, and locked up in various places. But we have decided that the constant UV radiation and weekly monitoring are only necessary for the most vital parts. As long as these are within our control, the vampire could never reassemble himself.

Now, I sit here witnessing one of the happiest days in Natalie's life – and one of the happiest days in my life. I am surrounded by my best friends who I know would accept anything that I tell them about myself.

I have been hiding the truth for a year, and now it is time to make a decision. I am sure that they are suspicious if Brad's constant absence, but they have no idea what has caused it. I have been thinking that I should tell them the truth.

But I won't. I will not burden them with the knowledge. It would make my life easier if they knew. I wouldn't have to make excuses or tell them lies. But the knowledge would be a burden to them. To know that Brad is dead, at my hand. To know the horrendous things I have seen. I know that vampires exist and may be among us.

No, I will not burden them. I will tell them just a small lie.

"Brad left," I tell them a few days after the test. "I don't want to ruin your good news, Natalie. I am truly happy for you. And in the spirit of honesty and of our friendship, I just wanted to tell you all that he is gone. He will not be coming back."

"What? Why?" Jennifer asks quietly.

"We were having some problems, he has been gone a year now," this statement was true, at least. "I'm sorry I haven't been honest with you. I didn't know how to tell you."

The four of them – Alice, Jennifer, Sharon, and Natalie – surrounded me and embraced me in a group hug. Sharon and Natalie have tears in their eyes.

"You can tell us anything, Linda," Natalie reassures me.

"We would never judge you," Sharon adds.

"No matter what," Alice says.

"We're here for you. We'll always be here," Jennifer tells me, and pulls us all in tighter.

Standing here, surrounded by my four best friends, I know that I will be all right.

The End?