Queen of Hearts

The village where I spent my boyhood years had an unwritten mantra amongst the children, it existed before my family moved there generations before and will continue long after I am dead. Be careful what you wish for. It was a law, a saying and a threat. It goes in accordance with another lore, which states that if a person pure of heart believes anything strong enough, it will come true. Almost like a wish.  I never thought much of it before, but it became the forefront of my thoughts after a winter that changed my life. The night exceeds all scientific possibility and the village of Efrose still contains inexplicable mysteries which turn into stories. 

In my youth, I was particularly fond of magic. It inspired an odd sense of hope and no one can deny that it holds a childlike wonder. The one trick that enamoured me was the disappearing act. I never saw a trapdoor or other cheap tricks; it was simple, a person was there and the next second by some divine miracle, they no longer were: magic.

My best friend at the time — probably the best friend I ever had, a better friend than any I’ve made well into my adult years — was a girl named Reina. That wasn’t her real name, there was another story. This story like all others entwine into each other, so I must bore you with some details.

Her real name was Olivia but she hated being called that, in addition to Liv, Ollie or any other rendition you can muster . One day by pure instinct, I called her Reina. She looked at me confused, like I was stupid. I got flustered quickly and felt a strong urge to explain myself. “My mum reads me a story about a strong princess who ran away with a knight. Her name is Reina — it means queen. So even if she wasn’t the queen of that kingdom, she was still a queen by name. That’s what my mum said at least. It just reminds me of you. Sorry.” I look down at my shoes when I noted that she looked sad due to the tears forming in her eyes, however, upon reflection it was quite the opposite.

She put her hands on my face, looking at me with those glassy eyes, and said, “you truly are an Angel.” Now would be a good time to mention that my eccentric parents named me Angel. She kissed my forehead and we proceeded to play like we always did.  Shortly after that event the name stuck and everyone called her Reina.

We were inseparable. While the other kids in our class would tease me for expressing high praise for the magical arts, she would encourage it and remind me why I loved it. She made sure no one laughed at me.

At that age, I never understood why she would not want to return home, or why she had bruises on her body. I never understood why sometimes she would flinch when anyone came close to her. At that age, all I thought was that her life was awesome because she never had a curfew and would spend all day trying to play. She would spend days on end at my house or hide in the park. I understand it now. But it’s too late.

She was my partner in crime and on occasion my lovely assistant. The most notable case, brings us to the winter of 2000. We were 11, preparing for the school’s talent show. I remember the nerves, and how I would joke that Reina had a spidey sense for it. She had a knack of soothing me and on that night Reina simply said, “I believe in you.” 

With that my nerves dissipated. “Believe in me but the magic is a trick, which we have practised to perfection.” 

“Remember, if you believe strong enough anything can come true. Like Peter Pan and fairies. Believe in the magic.”

Backstage was a flurry of parents fussing over their children. Reina’s parents were not there so she gave her seats to my family. While the other kid’s parents primped them, she was alone. The teachers and parents often gave her sympathetic looks coupled with inaudible muttering. She smiled at me as though she couldn’t see them. “I really wish I could disappear sometimes,” she muttered to herself.

When the show commenced, it was a mashup of offkey singers and out of time dancers. We were the last kids to go on, not for our talent but because we were the only act that was different. It went as practised, we did our card tricks without a hitch, pulled a coin out from behind unsuspecting audience members ears, turned water into ice immediately and made a ring defy gravity by going up a string. Finally, time for the big finish: make my lovely assistant disappear.

We had it planned: there was a small space underneath the stage where Reina could hide, mimicking a trapdoor. We placed the box on top with a false bottom. She walked in the box with a large smile, her face shone brighter every time the audience would clap. She whispered to me just as I closed the door, “this is the happiest day of my life. Thank you for being my best friend.”

Upon hearing those words, I said to the audience, “I love Reina. She is my best friend.” The door was closed but I was sure she could hear me. The big reveal to the audience which showed she had disappeared resulted in a massive round of applause. I just imagined how happy she would be to hear it. The finale should have shown Reina reappear. Should have. “Now ladies and gentlemen. I need some help to get Reina back. Reina. Reina.” I made motions to encourage them to chant. Now everyone was chanting Reina’s name, including the kids that would ridicule us and even the teachers who knew of the trick. I opened the door to reveal Reina. But she wasn’t there. I closed it and tried again. 

Panic struck me, maybe she was stuck, I thought. I dropped to the floor and removed the false bottom. The space was empty. There was no sign of Reina in the school or town of Efrose. Everyone searched for her but to no avail. Her parents never pushed to find her and moved out of the village not long after she went missing. The people soon forgot about her after that. Reina was a whisper in the wind and the village would never see her again. She had truly disappeared.

Eternal Damnation Has Never Been So Sexy

Every piece of vampire fiction since 2008 and the emergence of a certain book has caused the same carbon copy of every plot to exist in the same way. A handsome “high school” vampire falls in love with an average sad girl who will later entangle into a love triangle. This is no shade to any authors because this gave my preteen years so much excitement to gush over these stories with my friends. The annoyance of this to me and the apparent number of people who are sick of it could be summed up in one word: consistency. After this has been repeated so many times, overkill is the only word I can think of. By the end of a trend when people jump on the bandwagon it results in repetitiveness and lazy writing.

It also destroyed the idea of monster stories, they’re no longer a homage to terror. Now, if these monsters were not sexy or a romantic interest then they are reduced to a mindless one dimensional villain. So when did monster stories not become scary, when was it better to be the monsters we once feared?

Therefore in preparation to me wanting to write a vampire fiction which I want to read, here are plot devices I wish to no longer see in vampire fiction:

Issue #1: They only attend high school:

Before anyone @s me, I know exactly why they take place in high schools; it is aimed at kids these age however it makes no sense. If you were 100+ there is no way anyone would want to redo high school over and over. The first time was bad enough, I imagine the tenth just gets even more tedious. There’s nothing knew to learn and you are spending time around people who are in a completely different place. They are too much of your junior who have high school problems which you can’t relate to. As someone in my 20’s I find my teenage problems trivial, so someone living for at least a century must find it grating. You are so out of touch and honestly it will make you hate yourself an humanity even more.

I’m not even going to delve into how predatory it is to be involved romantically with someone 90 years your junior, especially when they are not even adults.

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Issue #2: Love overcomes everything with no struggle:

The male vampire in his natural habitat is a soulless cold killing machine but quickly switches to a big cheesy fluff-ball with no development simply with the love of a good woman. Cute, right? WRONG . Let us not forget the endless killing these beings have done and pain they have caused to mostly innocent people but we feel sympathy for them and root for them because they are in love. They are not good people still, there is no guilt and no struggle. This gives two additional points which are wrong with this. Firstly, the time scale, they haven’t known each other for long at all but are willing to risk it all. Secondly, is the ill writing of the woman, who is portrayed as so bland and void of nay personality, an object created purely to with the sole purpose to fall in love with him, which eliminates the anticipation if they are going to be together.

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Issue #3: The absence of any weaknesses:

The general tropes for all vampires have gone and they have quickie solutions as to why they are seemingly indestructible. Some of the older tropes were pretty cheesy, let us not lie to each other, the most iconic and hilarious being garlic or sleeping in a coffin. There’s no reason for this besides aesthetic. but there seems to be no real threat if vampires lived among us because sunlight doesn’t hurt them and holy water is a myth. They aren’t creatures of the night or eternally damned because humanising them is important.

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Issue #4: The sudden appearance of every other mythical creature:

It tends to be predominantly werewolves and then this results in a rivalry between them which often times develops into a frenemy relationship. This isn’t limited to werewolves, there are witches, doppelgangers, and mixes of all of these, the inter-species breeding is something else as well. One can apparently not exist without the other and it often distracts from the main issues. It gets a bit tedious and ineffective having undeveloped characters of different creatures and heavily rely on gang wars for no reason, the overkill is real.

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Issue #5: Immortality is always deemed as a good thing:

I have never been able to relate to this. They always think of immortal life as a goal, they believe in souls and know they are damned but every lead human is fine with this. Immortality would mean watching your loved one die and not seeing them because they will see you do not age. The main characters often times do not have terrible home lives and a loving family but are willing to give it up easily. I am not going into detail about the idea of living forever because it sounds depressing. There will be a point where you are content for it to end. Also the idea of actually living as a vampire doesn’t sound great; no taste of food, having to drink blood, fighting this and then hurting people.

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Issue #6: Family is of the utmost un-importance:

Aside from the person they are going to fall in love with, everyone else in their life is irrelevant. I would get it more if they had a terrible home life, no aspirations and future, which meant vampirism is the best option but that is hardly ever the case. The main characters usually have pretty good home lives and if not they have other things going for them. Family hardly ever makes an impact on their decision and I find that hard to understand and believe.

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Issue #7: BEING SEXY!

They are always the best looking in the room, stand out good looks, models. The talk of the town. Is there a requirement that you have to be a certain level of attractive before you can be turned or does turning make your bone structure reconstruct itself and become automatically thin? They never talk about them being average let alone plain. But seriously if I saw someone pale, translucent almost, and thin, never fluctuating in weight, I would think they were sickly. Especially if people hardly see them eat, or function as a normal person. But hey, sex sells.

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(Of course, I am putting in a gratuitous shower scene as the last image.)