looking for someone like her anyway. There was no reason for her closest friends to even have the thought that she was something other than human.
It would be the same as believing she was an alien from outer space, hatched from an egg.
Unless she did something really stupid, no one would ever know.
Then again, if she didn't learn how to breathe properly, she was going to be in one hell of a lot of trouble, she thought, realizing she hadn't taken a breath in minutes.
She sucked in air and let it out as she walked the house, room to room. If she ran, she would have to exert her will and pretend she was breathless. If someone were to accidentally knock her down or if she fell—which she supposed she probably wouldn't, ever again, unless it was to fool someone, she would have to pretend she'd lost her breath. She must recall how she'd breathed naturally for seventeen years, unconsciously, and get into the habit of it all over again.
On the second day she thought she had mastered breathing so that it came more naturally to her. It was funny how the air tasted. It was as if the little sacs in her lungs had taste buds and relayed them to her brain, the same as her tongue did. The air in the living room sometimes recalled the taste and scent of popcorn left over from human guests. Sometimes it tasted of the tweed fabric on the sofas and sometimes it just seemed it was a room full of dust despite the fact that her mother was a neat housekeeper. The air in her bedroom was made up of distinct scents of lipstick and foundation powder and deodorant and peach toilet water. The bathroom—she tried to stay out of the bathroom. It tasted downright foul, with old, stale scents coming up from the drains of the tub and sink. Those particular bodily functions had ceased along with the end of her intake of food and drink. Pure blood did not produce waste. The bathrooms now were just places where they bathed and shaved.
On her second day home alone when Eddie got off the school bus, Dell met him at the door. He threw down his schoolbooks on the sofa and made for the kitchen. He never had to study anymore. His memory was phenomenal. All he had to do was glance over pages and they were committed forever to memory. That was a change Dell was looking forward to. Now perhaps she'd truly understand chemistry. She would soon tackle her father's computer, go on the Internet, and study the online encyclopedias. She'd end up acing her tests. She'd have more knowledge than a college grad. She wouldn't even need to go to college, except for the sheepskin she might want to show the world so they'd believe she was educated.
She followed Eddie to the kitchen, watched him take, a bag from the white cardboard box, and loft it higher than his face. He hadn't even said hello to her yet.
"You get really hungry at school, don't you?" she asked.
"Mmmm." He had his fangs in the bag, but he cut his gaze to her.
"Isn't it funny? It feels almost like when we were human and needed to eat food."
"But it's not really food, the blood. It just keeps us vibrant, gives us our energy back. It doesn't even go into our stomachs. And the hunger isn't centered there, is it? It's like . . . all over our bodies . . . or mostly in our brains. Like if our brains had teeth, they would crawl out to search for blood." The thought gave her a shiver. It made her think of zombie movies. More dumb stuff from Hollywood. She rubbed her arms.
He finished draining the bag and, with his foot, hit the garbage pail pedal. He dropped the bag inside. They were very careful to double bag their garbage for pickup. They didn't want some garbage man breaking open one of the bags all over the street, strewing dozens of plastic transfusion bags that were slick with rotting blood.
Eddie turned to her. "Is that what you do all day here, think about how everything's different?"
"Well, yeah, I guess I do. What did you think about?"
"Scaling Mount Everest,"