Day 2 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge!
I hate this question. It comes up a lot in journal prompts and character sketch worksheets – what is your earliest memory???
I don’t know what my earliest memory is. I know from my studies that the earliest we can start retaining memories is 3, but I’m not sure what I remember from then. I don’t know what I remember vs. what I’ve been told about or seen in home movies or even just made up in my mind. I’m a very fanciful person. So I’ll just go with a random memory from early childhood.
Starting in first grade, my fascination with horror began to develop. I watched movies like Terminator and Jaws and Kevin Bacon’s best work Tremors all the time. Listening to ghost stories was my favorite thing to do with my Grandma Nancy. I liked alien invasions and body snatchers and crypt keepers and Edgar Allen Poe. But above all else, I adored the shit out of vampires.
Count Chocula was/is my top choice cereal. I buy it in bulk come Halloween time. My favorite Sesame Street character was The Count; the little purple vampire dude obsessed with counting bats, oh yeah I was all over it. I got my hands on every vampire book I could find and watched every early 90s vampire flick over and over until the minute we had to return it to Hastings.
So in first grade one afternoon we were learning about states. I was following along in my textbook looking at the map when suddenly my teacher got to Pennsylvania. I sat bolt right in my chair. Pennsylvania sounded a lot like Transylvania. That could only mean one thing.
I loved them, but I wasn’t no chump. I knew they were dangerous and would drink my blood the second they got a chance. Cross necklace? Check. Garlic? I knew right where the minced stuff was my mom kept in the fridge. Wooden stake? I had a gallon bag full of used popsicle sticks. If I had to get up in the middle of the night for a drink of water, I kept my wrists pressed against my throat so as to prevent any night stalkers from getting their fangs in me.
I also understood that with knowledge came power, and it was my duty to warn my class about what kind of terror could be found in PA. I quietly raised my hand.
“You have a question??” the little girl who sat beside me asked surprised. You see, I never spoke.
But this was too important.
“What’s in Pennsylvania?” I asked, knowingly. I felt the warning would be taken more seriously coming from my teacher rather than me, so I was trying to lead her to the right answer.
She went on about the Hershey chocolate factory, but I raised my hand again.
“No, but what’s there? Like what kind of people???” I could not have said it in a more insinuating tone.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean.”
How could she not know?!?! She was a teacher; a “knower of all things,” surely she had to know that Pennsylvania was lousy with vampires who’d immigrated from Transylvania. Even I knew that, and I was just a 7-year-old.
But soon after that the final bell rang and it was time to run out to our parent’s cars. I put my book away feeling frustrated and defeated. That’s what I get for raising my hand, I thought. It was too bad about the other kids, but at least I knew that if I ever went to Pennsylvania, I would be ready.
And those vampires would be sorry.