“He drained me, but then instead of leaving me to recover and go back to my family, he offered his blood to me. He said I tasted too good to waste on a human life. I didn’t understand what he meant, and I was still completely under his spell, so I did as I was told.” She smiled painfully and rolled her eyes at her own ignorance.

“I had a choice!” Her voice broke sharply. “I’m the only one that did. Ezra was forced into it, and Peter and Jack were done to save their lives. But me, somebody asked me. I didn’t understand what it meant, and yet I agreed to it. Willingly.”

“But you couldn’t have known.” I thought about reaching out to touch her, but she was too angry.

“For two days afterwards, I laid in the trees, afraid to move,” Mae went on. “The virus attacked my body, and everything changed and died. I was weak and in pain, and I had no idea what was happening to me.

“Then finally, my strength returned, only much more brilliantly then it had before. And this unquenchable thirst. All the while I had been writhing in pain, all I had been able to think about was Sarah and how much I wanted to get back to her. But as soon as I felt that hunger, I knew that I could never go back to her. I couldn’t trust myself.

“Within my first few hours as a vampire, I nearly killed our neighbor, I was so hungry. After my bloodlust calmed down, I felt safe enough to check on Sarah. I hid in the backyard and peered in through the window.

“Before I even got near the house, I heard Sarah crying. Philip was carrying her around trying to calm her down, saying ‘We’ll find your Mama. She’ll come back to you.’” Fresh tears streams down her cheeks, and the car started to slow.

We were on a suburban street I had never seen before, and Mae parked on the side of the road, underneath a tree.

“I slept in the woods during the day, and at night, I would sit outside the window and just watch Sarah. She cried for me every night for a month. Philip had the police searching for me, so I had to be very careful that no one would spot me.” She sighed heavily. “I lived that way for over six months. I wore the same dress, and fed on our neighbor, since he was nearby. If Ezra hadn’t found me, I don’t know what would’ve become of me. Maybe I’d still be living out behind that house.”

“What happened to your family?” I asked quietly.

“Philip eventually remarried a girl I had known from the deli. She was very kind, and I’d like to believe that she was good to him. They had two more children together, and Sarah eventually started calling her Mom. I don’t know if she even remembers me anymore. It’s probably better if she doesn’t.”

Mae nodded towards a house in front of us, and I saw the silhouette of an older woman it the window. She carried a small child, a little boy, on her hip, and she looked happy. There was something familiar about her, and I couldn’t quite place it.

Then it dawned on me. Her hair graying wavy hair, pale skin, and even the way she smiled – they were all Mae’s.

“That’s your daughter!” I gasped, looking over at her.

“It is.” She looked pleased that I had been able to see the resemblance. “She’s a teacher. She used to be married, but her husband left her years ago. Ezra threatened to teach him a lesson, but I told him not to. Sarah has to live her own life. She’s fifty-four now. She has a daughter, Elizabeth, and that little boy on her hip, that’s her grandson, Riley. My great-grandson.” She smiled painfully. “During the week, she watches her grandkids, while Elizabeth works and goes to school. Riley’s three, and Daisy just turned five.”

“So you just come out here and watch them?” I asked.

“It’s the only way I got to watch her grow up,” Mae explained sadly. “When she was little, I would come into her room at night and watch her sleep. I even did that a little while with Elizabeth, but Ezra says that I need to start letting them go. Sarah has a wonderful life, and I should just be happy with it.

“I know Ezra’s right,” Mae said. “It will get harder watching her as she grows old and frail. Watching her die.” She swallowed painfully. “I don’t want to outlive my daughter. I outlived one of my children, and I swore that I’d never do it again.”

She turned to look at me and whispered harshly, “It is so much harder to watch everyone you love die then it is to simply die yourself. Immortality is much more of a curse than it is a blessing.”

“But you have Ezra, and Peter and Jack,” I attempted to comfort her. “I know it’s not the same as a child you gave birth to, but you love them too, and you get to spend forever with them.”

“I know, and I am grateful that I have them. Without Ezra, I never would’ve made it this long.” Mae had gone back to staring at her daughter. Through an open curtain, we could see Sarah chasing after a small girl with soft, blond curls.

“Three years ago, Philip died. I cried more than I had thought I would after all these years. But he had always been good to me, and he’d been wonderful father to our daughter.

“That’s when Ezra built the house that we live in, and he said it would be the last place we lived in Minneapolis,” Mae sighed. “He doesn’t like to stay in one city for this long, especially one that has family. Jack’s mother launched a missing persons search for him after he turned, but they eventually chucked it up to another drunk kid falling in a frozen lake.”