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Tanya: Creature of the Night

Tanya: Creature of the Night

It is the late fall of 1994, and you are sitting in the outer room of the small apartment that you share with Tanya at Kingscote Gardens. You are just where you wanted to be, living with Tanya, smack dab in the middle of campus, and just a few hundred yards away from the Coffee House, where you will undoubtedly down a pitcher of beer later, just as soon as it doesn’t seem so totally early in the day as to be embarrassing.
There is a stench coming from the general vicinity of the kitchen, the sink of which holds a pile of dirty dishes, including several plates covered in cheese, because cheese is mostly what Tanya eats–cheese, and sometimes pasta or the occasional piece of cheesecake. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her–she looks like a young Catherine Zeta-Jones, though you don’t know who that is yet, because it is only 1994 and The Mask of Zorro is still several years away. But Tanya’s home is in France, and though she is not French, she has mastered the French woman’s knack for eating whatever she wants without gaining weight, and, more to the point, she is anosmic, so the stench might as well not exist to her.
But what is your excuse? They are not your dishes, no, but this is your airspace, right? Was it primarily your trash that you finally gave in and emptied, dragging it down the back stairway, carefully breathing through your mouth so as to not pass out, and shuffling carefully out of the way of some other residents making their way up the stairs–overhearing, but determinedly ignoring them saying, “Uggh, it’s like something died in here.” What was it that made you give in with the trash, that the dishes have yet to accomplish?
You are halfway through Jane Eyre for your senior seminar, but a rumbling in the next room prompts you to take out one of the neon green earplugs you crammed into your ear to drown out Tanya’s three separate alarm clocks going off. The last time you saw Tanya was two days ago, but you knew she was there, because you had been checking periodically, listening at the foot of her loft to make sure she was still breathing, marveling at the fact that she could sleep through that kind of noise, and even more wondrous, at the fact that there was still any cocaine left. But here she was again, in her pajamas, her hair still strikingly perfect after two days in bed sleeping off a three or four day coke binge.
The crazy girl was talking about vampires again. She was obsessed with vampires, back when it wasn’t cool to be. There was no Twilight series then, no True Blood on HBO, and I’m not even sure how big Anne Rice was in those days. But Tanya was obsessed, and she had found TV shows on basic cable, way past anyone discerning going to bed, that dealt with the plight of the vampire who wanted to be good, but who fought their unholy urges to drink blood. She really thought this was an interesting topic, this being a vampire, and spoke of it as something that might be an ambitious aspiration, yes, but still something that could be accomplished, not unlike others of our classmates would talk of McKinsey consulting jobs or getting into UCSF Med School.
Somewhere in the vampire monologue, you notice something blackish all over Tanya’s otherwise perfectly white teeth. What is that? Chocolate? You have never known Tanya to eat chocolate, at least not in the obsessive, hiding food beneath the mattress kind of way that it would have to have been–given the fact that she has been holed up in her loft for two days. What is that, you think? At length, you decide to ask, though you are never sure if you should do that in these kinds of situations. What is most polite? Never mind, Tanya is headed to the bathroom.
It’s blood. She has blood on her teeth. And you realize then that this cocaine thing has gotten totally out of control, she sleeps all day and stays up all night, she has blood in her postnasal drip, she is disappearing for days at a time, talking obsessively about bizarre topics, making lists of things that make no logical sense, avoiding class, avoiding friends, unless they come equipped with an 8-ball or a bottle of Night Train. Somebody is going to have to do something. It seems absurd that it would be you, given . . . well, just given. But who else will do it?
She walks out of the bathroom, wiping her mouth, tasting the blood, smiles and says, “Maybe I really am a vampire.”

Comments (13)

  1. Oct 2, 2008

    Hello Anna!
    I’m visiting you via Mary Anne “The Stiletto Mom”.
    Since you and I aren’t going to Cabo I see were are going to help keep an eye on things over at T.S.M.
    This entry was terrific. I want more!
    I look forward to your post at Mary Anne’s space.

  2. Oct 2, 2008

    Hi Ann, thanks for coming over! Hope my post over there isn’t too random . . . we’ll see.

  3. Oct 2, 2008

    Anna – great story. Hope there’s another installment coming soon.

  4. Oct 2, 2008

    I used to watch this show on USA called “Forever Night” (or Knight, can’t remember – tough street cop in Toronto was also a vampire who was trying to be good), and I LOVED it. I also had an unhealthy obsession with vampires in the early 90s. Last year I rented part of the first season of the show and was appalled at how bad it was. I was even more appalled that I actually let my husband watch it with me, so he could thoroughly mock me & my taste.

    I totally relate to Tanya. Except for the coke part. BUT, I love cheese! Also, never even once wondered aloud if I was, in fact, a vampire.

  5. Oct 2, 2008

    Wow. That was freaky. I hated rooming with some of my roommates. I had one who was on sleeping pills, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic meds from different doctors and she would pop cocktails of them and sleep for days. I was always freaked that I was going to come in the apartment some day and find her dead on the couch. Ew.

  6. eliz
    Oct 2, 2008

    I’m with Ann; I want more of the Tanya Chronicles. What’s she doing now? She must have either come to some bad end or is a fundie homeschooling mother of 7.

  7. Oct 2, 2008

    Funny you should ask. I was just talking to a friend from college this morning and we were wondering about that. We fell out of touch, you will see why once I write more about her, but we have developed a couple of theories as to where she might be these days.

  8. I sure hope that this is a fictional piece. It was beautiful and so disturbing. What is Tanya doing now. I must know. I really thought that stench might be a dead Tanya. Ew!

    Also, how bummed am I that I don’t have HBO? I so want to see that Vampire series.

  9. Oct 2, 2008

    Woah. This entry is a perfect example of why you should write a book. Soon!

  10. Oct 2, 2008

    My first year of college I went thru 3 roommates in the first semester. I wonder if they are writing about me now?

    You’ve piqued my interest….need more Tanya….now.

  11. Oct 2, 2008

    So Kingscote Gardens are apartments… I always wondered, but never got curious enough to actually investigate it any further.

  12. Oct 3, 2008

    I am hooked – Love the way you write.

  13. surcey
    Oct 4, 2008

    Your “voice” really comes out in this piece. I love it. Thanks for sharing. I know it must be tough, and I know you worry about losing some of your readership, but I’ll be coming back, as I have been since I found you last month.

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