When Countess bit Zimin on the playground, her mom and dad got called in for a parent-teacher conference. Everybody was trying to pretend they werenâ€™t upset by putting on smiley faces, but they were mad, Countess could tell. She wasnâ€™t supposed to bite people till she was sixteen. Zimins blood wasnâ€™t even any good, it was all crunchy and weird. Her mom said that was because he had little robots inside him that made him smarter.
After that, they made her wear caps on her teeth. The robot nurse would come to the lunch table and take them off in front of the whole class. Countess was pale, but her face was always red when the nurse showed up.
The other kids stayed away. Even Lisa, who had been her best friend for a whole week now decided that Mary-Anne, the icky fish girl, was her best friend. Better a fish girl than a vampire. Countess didnâ€™t want to be a vampire anymore. On the playground, she went into the trees and played at being a lonely dragon, sitting on top of her book bag, pretending it was gold.
Mamma said that different families chose to be different things, and when she got older, she might decide to become something else, to have extra arms or eyes. Right now though, her mamma said, she was Countess, designed by mom and dad, just like they had been designed by their mom and dad. It may have been old fashioned, but it was who they were, and until Countess was eighteen, it was who she had to be too.
Countess stopped drinking her plastic packets of blood. She got hungry, but she didnâ€™t care; maybe if she stopped for long enough the robot nurse would stop coming to her caps off in front of everyone. Maybe if she stopped drinking blood, she might turn into something else, whether her parents liked it or not.
Thatâ€™s when her dad brought home the Squib. The Squib was small and black, with pointy ears and a pointy tail and a chubby stomach. He giggled when she tickled him, and snuggled next to her at night. He smelled like coco and floated along next to her on a little umbrella while she was at school. She was the only girl with a Squib. Mary-Anne had her tank for her fins, but that really wasnâ€™t like a Squib. The Squib held out her blood bag and would make sad faces if she didnâ€™t bite into it. When she did drink, he would do a little tottering dance with his umbrella that made the other kids laugh and clap.
Mary-Anne asked if she could tickle the Squib, and even though she was icky, Countess let her, because even smelly fish girls were better than nothing. The Squib would dance and sing for the other children but he always came back to Countess, it was clear he always liked her best. Kids would sit next to her just to see the Squib, and by the end of the week, Countess had three best friends.
Two weeks later she went out to the Transit stop and realized that her Squib wasnâ€™t with her. Her Squib hadnâ€™t been with her all morning! She ran back to the house, not even caring if she missed the Transit. She ran though the portal to her house and started looking for the Squib. Her lithe mother caught her.
â€œSweetie, whatâ€™s wrong?â€
â€œI canâ€™t find Squibbers!â€ Her mother knelt and wrapped her pale arms around Countess.
â€œOh, my little icicle. Your Squib had to go take care of other little vampire girls. Maybe heâ€™ll come back and visit sometimes, but I donâ€™t think you need him anymore. He hasnâ€™t been around much recently, did you notice?â€ She brushed back Countesses blue-black hair.
Countess sucked on her lip. Her Squib had been gone a lot recently but she had been so busy, she never noticed. She felt something strange kick in her tummy and she thought about other vampire girls. Her mother handed her a sweet blood ball and told her they could ride to school together this morning. They took their purple parasols and walked out into the morning.