About twenty years ago I knew a woman who could walk into a room and empty the energy from every human within her reach in a matter of minutes.
I don’t know how she targeted her “friends” exactly, and I don’t recall where I first met her; I only remember that she started coming around my house at least once a week, unannounced and always, always with a gift for me, or rather an offering, which is truly what it felt like. They were mostly small things like decorative lights or a fancy bar of soap that she would say with slight coyness in a shy thin voice, made her think of me.
She seemed somewhat apologetic about showing up the way that she did, as if it were a rather unpleasant task she needed to put me through, but never the less one she felt compelled to do.
She was a strange and uncomfortable woman to be around, she looked to be about forty eight but claimed to be only thirty six, and why she chose to attempt a relationship of sorts with a twenty four year old, who had shown no interest in her whatsoever, I simply couldn’t understand.
She was rather skinny with a sallow complexion, dull eyes, and her hair was a bit on the frizzy and scraggly side with a lifeless washed out nondescript color, and she carried herself in a bowed self protected posture. It would be fair to say that I felt sorry for her, and would like to have helped her in some way, but I really couldn’t stand to be near her.
The most odd thing about her showing up in the first place was that I don’t ever recall telling her where I lived, nor had I given an invitation, and as I already stated I couldn’t even remember having met the woman before she showed up at my door, token in hand.
I felt myself cringing with annoyance, and something akin to horror whenever she presented herself and her little offering of the week at my door, but I always opened it for her and invited her in, she seemed so pathetic and downtrodden that I couldn’t make myself tell her to go away, which is what I felt near desperation in the back of my skull to do!
I was young and could be a real wimp that way, I’d been hearing the words “You’re too nice” my entire life, meaning that I was a pushover, which I was, so telling her to get the hell away from me was not something I felt I could do without a tangible reason, after all my reasons for wanting her to take a permanent hike, seemed so damned impalpable, and what would I say to her, “You’re a nice person, thanks for the string of chili pepper lights and the lavender soap, but I can’t stand to be near you, so would you please bugger off "? No, far to crass for me at the time, but there had to be some way to make her want to go, hmmm.
In the mean time (rudeness not being an option), I put up with her visits for several months and started to notice an interesting phenomena, whenever she came over, I always ended our visit in an exhausted and drained state, while she seemed to invigorate, stand straighter and even look younger, with bright eyes, pink cheeks and a lilt in her now quite sing-songy voice! She even began to seem more interesting, less boorish, what the hell was going on here?
She would look over at me with her now shining squirrel eyes, inquisitive and sparklingly effuse “Well, I’ve taken up enough of your time, I’ll get out of your hair now, besides you look tired!” No shit I looked tired! Seriously, I could barely stand up by the end of one of her visits, when I looked in the mirror the pallid creature staring back at me looked older somehow and worn out!
Then one day, to my good fortune, she happened by while I was having a few friends over for Sunday brunch. There was plenty of food, and she looked longingly over towards the tasty spread, steam curling off of the freshly brewed coffee and hot currant/orange zest scones that I had just taken out of the oven two minutes prior, lending a mouthwatering aroma that begged for butter and honey.
“Why don’t you join us, there’s plenty, we’d love to have you?” came a robust voice
“Who said that?” I wondered, “and is it to late to catch it and cram it back down their impudent throat?” but before I could fully register the question, the answer was thrust upon me
“Are you sure?” came the now familiar anemic tone “I wouldn’t want to intrude on your beautiful party”
“Nonsense,” came the other voice I had now identified as my friend Michael “let me pour you a cup of coffee” he beamed, in that nicely modulated, deeply confident, rocket scientist manner of his.
I adored my new friend Michael he was one of the kindest hearted and most interesting people I knew at the time. We met at mutual friends party a few months earlier and had become fast friends. We shared many of the same interests in literature, art and music, he was quite a snappy salsa dancer too, and dragged me out kicking and screaming at least once a month to “samba down” with him.
And now, I wanted to kill him.
So in she came, luckily Michael reached his hand over and said “Names Michael, and you must be_____” Oh geez, what is her damned name? Just as I was about to put my foot in deep doo-doo, she took his hand and filled in the blank herself, which was a good thing, because as usual, I really wasn’t sure what it was (I’m still not).
We showed her in and introduced her to the rest of the merry band of mates: Jana, Terry, Vince and Ted, then sat down to eat.
It wasn’t long before I noticed the quiet that had consumed the formerly boisterous and sunny crew, and then the yawning contest started along with uncomfortable forced chuckles at how “contagious” yawning is. This went on for a good fifteen minutes before we just fell silent nibbling at our Sherried eggs and scones, feigning interest in continuing the late morning festivities.
Now this was very interesting to me, it wasn’t just me she was affecting, I was getting a strangely clear picture that this was something her presence did to many people, and as I was making this private observation I was closely watching the change come over her, how her eyes altered from dull and weary to lustrous and aware, her cheeks flushing and her thin dry lips even appeared to flesh out with a youthful pout. Yes, this woman was blossoming before my eyes, in fact she seemed to be fulgurating with quite a lively luminescence now, even as the rest of us seemed destined for an early nap, and brunch wasn’t even over yet!
It occurred to me then that her little gifts were meant to be more of a surreptitious trade, and that she indeed knew the effect she had on others, and as such, felt an obligation to keep an even score card, was my conjecture. This however felt more akin to trading glass beads for beaver skins with Native Americans, and I suddenly felt dirty and complicit as if I’d accepted a cheap bribe.
Suddenly she popped up like a weasel and said that she had to go now, that she had forgotten a previous engagement and was going to be late. We nodded our goodbyes, and smiled weakly as she bounced out the same door she had meekly entered a scant thirty minutes before!
“What the hell was that, and how do you know her?” asked Terry.
“Holy shit,” said John “can we never let that person back into this house, please?”
“Yeah” agreed Ted “what a parasite!”
Jana could only sit there like a melting pudding pop, staring blandly at her nearly full brunch plate.
Finally my friend Michael put in his two and a half cents “I think that was the most pathetic creature I have ever seen” he said “and Tedly, you’re not far off about her being a parasite, an energy vampire is what I think I’d call her, and Tracy, I am so sorry for speaking out of turn and inviting her in, where on earth did you find her?”
I told them my story of how I couldn’t remember having met her before she showed up at the door, and how she seemed to get younger like a modern day Bathory bathing in the blood of young virgins, I may not have been a virgin anymore but I surely felt drained and bloodless after a visit from what’s her name.
“That is seriously creepy.” said Ted.
"Should we hang garlic on the doors or something?” snorted John “I’ll go to the market right now if you want.”
Janna looked up and in a deadly serious tone added “Seriously Tracy, you need to make her leave you alone, it’s not healthy for you.”
To which we all agreed.
About a week later she came to the door, looking every bit the waif, only this time I was ready for her. I opened the door and said “ I can no longer accept your gifts anymore, I can’t afford the energy loss.” To which she replied “That’s ok, I knew it couldn’t last much longer, and you’ve been very kind to me” then she added something that made the gooseflesh appear on my arms “You know, you lasted much longer than any of the others.”
I still think of her from time to time and I wonder what became of her, but I still can’t remember her name…