I’m sitting in the vinyl chair, reclined so far that I’m looking up at her. She bends over me, so close I can see a faint blue vein feathering across her forehead. One of her eyes is a deeper shade of violet than the other, and she smells like my grandmother’s kitchen when I was five. A hint of a smile curves her lips when I recognize the scent, as though she can read my mind. I can, I hear her say, right inside my head. A surprised murmur escapes my mouth, but her gloved finger is propping up my cheek while she prods my molars with a steel instrument, so I can’t form actual words.
I try to shake the strange feeling overtaking me as she polishes my teeth. After a moment she asks, out loud, what flavor fluoride I would like. “Cherry,” I answer, and she nods. I watch her pour red liquid into foam trays. I open my mouth, she inserts them gently. When she pulls away I realize I want her close again, so much that it hurts. She leaves the room, and I’m so distraught that I almost get up from the chair. And then she is there, in the doorway like some perfect marble statue and she says, Relax, I’m here, but her mouth doesn’t move.
The room begins to spin, my x-rays are circling, along with the tacky art on the wall and the fern in the corner. She holds steady though, prolific in cotton scrubs, and my gaze seeks hers like a ship seeks a lighthouse in a storm. She moves slowly, reaches her elegant fingers towards my face and removes the fluoride trays. “What’s happening,” I ask, my voice a whisper. Meet me at midnight, I hear, on the corner of Church and Vine.
At home, my husband asks what’s gotten into me. We’re sitting across from each other at the table, and I think he must have repeated himself multiple times because his eyebrows are raised high on his forehead. I don’t give him the time of day, consumed with thoughts of the hygienist. What should I wear to this intriguing rendezvous? Will I make it back alive? Do I even care? My husband picks up his plate and slams it in the sink. Stalks outside to the garage, where he’ll curse my name while smoking cigars with our unemployed neighbor.
I stand under a streetlight at the appointed place and time, in a velvet dress I’ve had forever. She appears from nowhere, a goddess in pleather pants and a purple bustier. Her hair is loose, spiraling in inky tendrils over her bare shoulders. “How are you?” I ask, and she laughs. Leads me down an alley, through a back entrance into a club I didn’t know existed.
We sit, and a waiter serves us drinks we didn’t order. I attempt small talk. “So why did you become a hygienist?” I ask, sipping from a silver goblet.
“I have a fixation with teeth; I suppose it stems from nostalgia for a time when my own were mere harmless things.”
The conversation shifts into the realm of telepathy. She tells me I can have my way with any person in the room. I survey the crowd, a writhing mass of glistening flesh in every shape, color and size. I ask why she would offer me such a thing, and she says it’s because she likes me. In fact, she likes me so much she’s proposing immortality.
“That’s why I brought you here,” she says, switching to audible communication. “It’s not often that humans can detect my kind. Most of them just sit in the chair and open their mouths.”
“Really? It’s so obvious, everything about you screams vampire.”
“You’d be surprised what humans choose to ignore, even when it’s right in front of them. But you saw me for what I really am.”
I think about my husband, and how I choose to ignore what he really is. I notice an attractive man in a top hat, and for a minute I imagine calling him over, almost losing myself in his eyes. “This is all very enticing,” I say, “but I do have a serious issue. I mean, you kill people.”
“True, but they’re going to die anyway. It’s a mercy, really.”
She takes my hand in hers, rubs her thumb over my palm. “The drink of death is a communion of souls, so rapturous that the person begs me to kill them, because they have gained the knowledge that, if they return to normal life it will never live up to what they just experienced. Ending their life is a gift, I’m only doing what they ask.”
“But they wouldn’t be in that situation if you left them alone, let them continue to live pathetic human lives, have boring human sex. Let them be miserable if that’s what they prefer.”
“Huh,” she says, “I never thought of it that way. You know, you could still become immortal, and drink only the blood of animals. I’ve got friends like that.”
“I’m vegan, it would never fly.”
“How about blood donors? That way no one gets hurt?”
“This is a huge decision for me.” I say, weighing my words, “I think I need to mull things over.”
“How about I give you until your next regular six-month check-up.”
We shake hands, and she kisses me goodbye slowly. Pulls a small white card out from her purse that reads “Church Street Dental. Next appointment: Wednesday, November 17, 2:45 pm.” The swirling sensation returns, and in a blink, I’m standing at my own front door. She has vanished, though her delicious scent lingers.
In the morning, I turn to my husband in bed. “I want a divorce,” I say, and he looks at me like I have two heads.
“Is that right?” he scoffs, “how do you think you’re going to live without me? What are you going to do?”
“Don’t worry about me” I say, “I’ve got options.”