“5AM Vampire,” by Andrea Arnold
The lab technician said it was his first day on the job. He was joking, of course, as he drew vials of my blood. The needle poked in my vein. The red oozed through a long, plastic tube and filled the glass. He sealed and labeled each vile with a sticker drenched in black numbers. My blood surprised me; it looked strong. It made me confident. Like I can do this. I can live. I can survive. I can have a baby.
“Do I get a Hello Kitty Band Aid?” I said, trying to be funny too, like him, grateful he didn’t spill my blood on the floor. Just then I heard myself and remembered I’m a blueprint for how not to raise a child. Where do I begin?
It had been ten years since anyone had taken blood from me. It never occurred to me to take care of myself. Blood tests weren’t on my radar. My gynecologist had insisted. She was pissed, even. How could anyone let me go this long and who was my general practitioner and what was she thinking?
“I’m from the Philippines, not Japan,” the guy tells me, but he’d already explained where he was from, how he came here young, joined the marines, and that his time as a combat medic prepared him for a career as a “5AM vampire.” Another joke, of course. “Men with no legs, from bombs. It was gross.” The word came out sloppy, like he had soup in his mouth. “Now I get here at five in the morning and suck blood,” he said, filled and sealed another vile.
My arm began to ache. I felt the bruising. “It hurts.”
“Are you having surgery?”
I shook my head. “Why? Should I?”
“This much blood. Why not?”
This morning all I could think about were my ovaries and whether my husband’s sperms were making ground, like good soldiers, charging up the fallopian tube and busting through the shell. In my mind the vampire could fly. He had wings. He could hunt and kill in the moonlight, under a bridge; he’d lay down his prey and drain the body until it was stiff and cold. He’d stay young forever.
But we are worriers, not warriors. My husband swears he will rip in half the day he hears his baby cry.
I don’t march or charge or win. I play. I drink moon juice and leap from star to star. This is the most real thing I’ve ever done. Now I feel old, but I take it as a sign of strength. I can read it in my blood. It’s regenerating.
The lab technician assures me this was easy, everything was easy, in comparison to what he’s seen. He points to the wound, how it’s already closed, and I reach up and pull apart a cloud.
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