MILD KLEENEX WARNING
LAST TIME: Chillingly, the last thoughts that Sookie had picked up from the werefox as she’d driven away had been about “odds.” Apparently, if Debbie had someone to “bet” with, she would wager that Sookie would be drained before Bill “finished” with the sex part. Morbidly, Debbie had thought that all vampires and fangbangers were necrophiles anyway—so what did it matter? And as she’d driven her car past the Lincoln, the werefox had wondered whether Bill would have the presence of mind to turn Sookie. That thought had amused the werefox.
But it horrified Sookie.
Would the trunk simply be her first coffin of many? Would Bill force her to become his child—just so that he could keep her forever?
Sookie’s body shook inside of her blanket cocoon, and it wasn’t from the cold; it was from the thought of Bill being her maker.
However, he’d never seemed to want to be that; in fact, he’d always seemed to disdain the notion of becoming a maker—probably because his own was so bad.
Still—during her time together with Bill, it was only natural that Sookie had thought about what might happen if they continued their relationship. She’d get older, after all. Meanwhile, he’d stay the same. She sighed even as she opened her eyes to the darkness of the trunk and tried to make out the lump that was Bill’s body.
Humans gave lip service to sentiments like, “I will love you forever.” Of course, the “forever” part was a nice thought in some ways. But—then again—humans wouldn’t really have to see that commitment through beyond a half century or so. She wondered if vampires ever made such declarations—since they technically could live forever—or at least, further into forever than any human could.
Would Bill try to “love her forever” if he drained and turned her?
The best evidence of her true feelings about that idea was the fact that her empty stomach lurched, and she spent several minutes dry heaving against her gag.
She could accept—part of her had already accepted—the idea that Bill would take her blood by force.
She could accept—part of her had already accepted—that she was powerless to stop Bill if he raped her.
She could accept—part of her had already accepted—that Bill would be pitiless and brutal.
She could accept—part of her had already accepted—that the pain she would feel in the minutes after sundown would be immeasurable.
She could accept—maybe even forgive—Bill’s violence against her.
But she knew that she could never forgive him if he made her his child.
The telepath closed her eyes again—tighter than even before and trembled with fear and dread.
How many choices would Bill take away from her before his vision of “forever” was finally brought to fruition?
Sookie felt a new stream of tears as she tried to force herself to return again to memories of her conversation with Lafayette about Gone with the Wind. Perhaps she was being a coward, but in that moment, she needed to avoid hyperventilation. And she knew that it would be easier to think about the movie—in clinical terms, of course—than to contemplate her current situation or the horrifying prospect of becoming Bill’s child to command as he saw fit.
The telepath attempted to take deep, steady breaths, but her gag prevented that to a certain extent. Finally, however, she regained control of her breathing as she lost herself in memories.
She recalled the day that she and Lafayette had spoken about the 1939 movie as if it were yesterday. She and Gran had been among the last people she knew to get a VCR (heck—by then, most people had transitioned to DVD players), but the women had always been on an extremely tight budget. They’d found an “almost-new” VCR at the second-hand store for only ten dollars! They’d splurged. And, as luck would have it, Gone with the Wind had been among the used tapes for sale at the store.
The women had had to wait almost a week after that—for Jason to come to Sunday supper and hook up the contraption. And then they had to wait another full week because they didn’t have one of the required wires, and Jason couldn’t find—or make—the time to bring it mid-week.
Finally, however, the Stackhouse women had found themselves with a working VCR in the early evening of the Sunday almost two weeks after they’d found their prized VCR; to celebrate, they’d decided to pop some popcorn, turn off the lights, and pretend they were at the movie theater—a place where Sookie had never ventured for obvious reasons.
Their movie of choice had been Gone with the Wind.
Not surprisingly, when Sookie arrived at Merlotte’s the next day and was prepping for the lunch shift with Lafayette, she had been so excited that she’d mentioned the VCR find and the movie. What was surprising was that Lafayette had reacted swiftly and negatively.
“That movie’s ’bout the most fucked up thing I’s ever seen!” he’d criticized.
Initially, Sookie had figured that her friend’s reaction related to slavery, so she’d made it clear that she thought that the sentimentalizing of that kind of culture was wrong, but that she enjoyed the love story.
However, it turned out that Lafayette had more trouble with that part than he did with the slavery part.
“Girl, I’s loves me a good love story more than most, but that story’s ’bout as fucked up as Luke and Laura on General Hospital!” he’d scoffed. “My momma loves them too, but did you know that they’s first time havin’ sex was rape?” He’d shaken his head with derision. “I used to watch GH with my momma every summer. ‘Course I was too young to have seen how Luke and Laura gots together, but I sure ‘nough fell in love with them as a couple. Then I finds out ’bout the rape.” He shook his head. “That shit fucked me up—made me question lots ‘a shit I thoughts ’bout love. And when I saw Gone with the Wind for the first time, it just pissed me off all over again!”
Sookie had frowned at her friend. “But there isn’t a rape in the move.”
Lafayette had looked at her incredulously. “Oh—yes they is! What do you call the scene where Rhett’s drunk and gets all pissed at Scarlett? You think that his carryin’ her up the stairs as she struggles is romance? What with her kickin’ and yellin’? Hells no! I don’t care that they was married and that she was actin’ a fool or that he was drunk! He raped her and she woke up all smilin’ ’bout it. Turned my fuckin’ stomach!”
Sookie had reacted to Lafayette’s words as if she’d been punched in the gut, even as she’d realized that he was right.
Of course, her outspoken friend had had more to say.
“What pissed me off the most was that I’d liked Mr. Sexy Ass Butler up till then. Hell—he was the only likable one in my humble opinion! I blame that hack of a writer—Mary, no Margaret somebody or other! Yeah, Rhett was a scallywag—sure ‘nough—but he was a de-lucious one. And everythin’ up till that scene screamed that he loved Scarlett more than life itself, though he might have never admitted that shit out loud. And then little Miss Margaret made him turn into something he wasn’t—made him take Scarlett by force. Yep! That right there pissed me off more that almost anything—’cept Scarlett wakin’ up with that big smile. Least Rhett seemed to realize that he’d let himself become a monster that night. Least he felt guilty ‘nough to leave outta shame. Least he acted like he’d done wrong when he took a second chance with her, but everyone else seemed to sweep that rape right under the carpet. Scarlett and her sweepin’ shit to the next day!” he’d fumed.
In addition to his ranting, Sookie had heard from Lafayette’s head that his mother had been raped once—and that horror had led to her first mental breakdown. He couldn’t understand why she still loved General Hospital—especially Luke and Laura—or Gone with the Wind for that matter.
As Sookie lay in the trunk listening to the thunder rolling above her, she wondered what it said about her that she’d continued to enjoy Gone with the Wind, even though she’d agreed with Lafayette’s interpretation. Of course, she’d also tried to talk herself into believing that somewhere between the staircase and the bedroom, Rhett had calmed down and Scarlett had given consent.
Maybe she’d continued to cheer for Rhett because he had ultimately redeemed himself. Maybe it was because Scarlett had redeemed herself too when she finally realized that Rhett was immeasurably better than Ashley Wilkes.
Maybe it was because Rhett and Scarlett had both made enough mistakes to break the world, but they couldn’t ever break each other.
Of course, she’d also always imagined that Rhett and Scarlett would find their happiness in the “tomorrow” that the heroine clung to. And she’d not believed for a moment that Rhett no longer gave a damn about her.
However, she wondered if she’d interpreted the ending of the movie incorrectly—if she’d missed the fact that Rhett was truly done with Scarlett.
He ought to have been done with her. But—then again—she’d given him a second chance, despite his doing something unthinkable to her. Or—maybe—he’d walked away because she’d never seemed to “get” that he’d raped her. Or—maybe—he’d felt just as raped—on an emotional level—by that point.
In the swirling world of her mind, Sookie also found herself questioning Scarlett’s reaction at the end of the movie. After all, she’d just realized that she loved Rhett. But she didn’t put up an immediate fight for him—as she’d done for Ashley Douche when he’d told her that he was going to marry Melanie. No! Scarlett had put it off—as if she had an infinite number of “other days!”
“Other days” ran out.
Sookie opened, but then closed her eyes again; strangely enough, having them closed made the world seem less dark than the trunk. “Scarlett should have run after Rhett at the end,” Sookie mumbled into the gag.
She should have fought for him.
“Rhett was worth fighting for,” Sookie mumbled, even though the minimal sound she produced irritated her swollen throat more than it already was. It didn’t matter; she realized that her words were worth saying—worth being sounded.
Scarlett had fought for the wrong man for way too long, just as Sookie now understood that she’d been fighting for the wrong man. She’d gotten it into her head that Bill Compton was her best option—maybe her only option—likely because he’d initially presented himself as such. She’d stubbornly believed that things could eventually be perfect between them—if she just held on.
In other words, she’d committed Scarlett’s sin: failing to recognize that the so-called “bad boy” was actually the better boy for her because the so-called “good boy” was a waffling weakling!
She sighed, focusing on the Viking as memories starring him flooded her mind.
Sookie couldn’t help but to smile. As vulgar and inappropriate as Eric’s flowers to her had been, they’d made her smile—and then laugh to herself—as she’d lain in the hospital bed following Rene’s attack. She’d been surprised that she could still laugh after learning that her friend’s fiancé had been the one who’d killed Gran, Tina, Dawn, and Maudette. She’d been even more surprised that she could laugh after having had a glimpse at Rene’s thoughts regarding how he desperately wanted to kill her—and worse.
And then Eric had appeared hovering outside her hospital window. His expression had been difficult for her to decipher, for it had been full of so many of the “feelings” he tried so hard to conceal.
By then, he’d already saved her life once—during the Long Shadow incident. But—back then—she’d still believed Bill’s narrative about the Viking as if it were gospel.
She should have believed the facts. For instance, Bill hadn’t even been in town when Rene had attacked her because he was trying to secure the position of Area 5 Investigator so that he could better protect her—not from Rene, but from Eric.
Had she ever needed to be protected from Eric? No!
She had needed protecting from the serial killer who had already taken the lives of her co-worker, her cat, and her grandmother. Sookie scoffed. It was as if Bill had wanted her to be harmed.
Had he? She couldn’t help but to wonder.
Or was Bill just thoughtless when it came to caring for others?
Meanwhile, Eric had done all that she’d allowed him to do when it came to protecting her.
He’d killed Longshadow when he’d attacked.
In Dallas, Eric had shown up as Leif. Looking back, Sookie recognized that he’d been watching over her.
It had been Eric—not Bill—who had thrown himself over her when Stan’s nest had been attacked.
It had been Eric—not Bill—whom Sookie had trusted to take her to and then see her through the orgy when she’d wanted to clear Andy’s name and discover who had killed Lafayette.
It had been Eric who had been compassionate when Bill had basically pensioned her off to him—despite the fact that Eric benefitted from Bill’s action.
Eric had appeared as Leif again in order to look out for her in Jackson.
And, again, when the man who was supposed to be looking out for her had run off (following his nature), Eric had stayed by her side and made sure she received healing after she was staked.
Sookie didn’t want to blame Alcide for shifting and running off after Newlin. Similarly, she’d forgiven Bill for following his vampire nature and prioritizing his need for revenge and blood over her well-being following the attack on Stan’s nest.
But it said something that Eric Northman had been the one to stay with her during both situations.
“He really is a Rhett,” Sookie mumbled.
But he was a Rhett without the scene where he lost control and forced himself upon the heroine.
He was a Rhett who had smelled her blood in the water more than once, but had placed himself between her and potential sharks.
He was a Rhett who had carefully and tenderly taken the glass from her body in Dallas without ever even attempting to take her blood. But—more than that—he was a Rhett who tried to comfort her after her ordeal in the Dallas Fellowship church.
In sum, he was a Rhett who gave a damn about her—despite the fact that she’d been fixating upon her own version of Ashley Wilkes. And that made Eric better than his fictional counterpart.
Plus, he was 100% real!
But could she be better than Scarlett? Could she recognize the man—vampire—who was best for her before it was too late?
Wasn’t it already too late?
After all, given her current situation—waiting to die in the trunk—it seemed futile to “pick” Eric.
He’d never know.
But that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to make her choice.
She opened her eyes and tried to look for Bill in the dark once more. She wouldn’t waste trying to speak the words to him, but she thought them at him—for herself: “Bill Compton, I’m officially breaking up with you.”
A tear slipped from her eye. “Thank you,” she continued thinking in her mind, “for being my first in a lot of things. Most every girl is disappointed that her first love cannot last forever, but—because of you—at least, I had a first.”
The telepath let those thoughts and her positive feelings fill the trunk for a moment. “I forgive you,” she continued thinking at him, “at least for what you are going to do—as long as you don’t turn me. But I don’t forgive you for all the rest of it. I don’t forgive you for hiding things from me and lying to me—especially about Eric. I don’t forgive you for taking advantage of my naivety and my grief—especially when you took my virginity the night of Gran’s funeral. I don’t forgive you for taking me for granted and making me feel like a fangbanger at times. In fact, I need you to know that, from here on out, I’m gonna think of you as a stranger because I don’t think I really know you at all.”
She closed her eyes again.
As another rumble of thunder passed overhead, Sookie mentally closed the chapter of her life that had been Bill Compton. Even if a miracle happened and she lived on as a human, she knew that she would keep it closed.
If, however, she was turned by Bill that night, she was determined that a separate and a different book would be opened—one in which she would do all she could to gain control within her new existence. She would also test her maker to see if any of the “honorable” qualities he portrayed himself as having actually existed. If they did, he’d treat her with compassion. He’d help her learn without forcing anything upon her. He’d release her to her own life as soon as she was capable of living it. And he’d never try to manipulate her to love him. If he treated her well, he’d earn a friend and a good child; if he didn’t, she would just hope that Eric would stake him.
No—she trusted Eric to.
Because Eric would know that she’d be miserable if Bill turned her—only to try to warp her to his will. To fashion her into his ideal Southern Belle.
To hell with that!
“Eric,” Sookie said into her gag before feeling more tears on her cheeks, “I want to give you a chance,” she swore, despite the fact that her raw throat could now make very little noise. But the words meant enough to justify the pain of them.
“I’d give us a chance,” she further promised. “I have faith in you, and that says everything—now, at the end—doesn’t it?” she mumbled before a fit of painful coughing rattled her body. Her crying had caused congestion in her nose, so breathing became labored for her for a few minutes, and she felt as if she might slip from consciousness, but another loud blast of thunder shook her awake.
After a while, Sookie felt—once more—able to breathe more freely, though her lungs were still burning.
“I’d be better than Scarlett—for you. If we fall in love, I’ll fight for you. I promise,” she choked out, though she was barely capable of producing a noise.
She ended those hard-fought-for words with more coughing.
But she spoke one more time against the gag nonetheless. “See you soon Lala. See you soon Gran.”
After that, she figured she was done with words.
She’d said her piece.
But she knew she would not die in peace.
A/N: Hi all! Thanks for everyone who has jumped back into this story with me! It’s much appreciated.
Please indulge me for a moment; I have a quick note about my style. I include quite a few italicized words in order to create emphasis and quotation marks to emphasize distinctive phrasing, and-clearly-it bothers one or two (maybe more) of you. I’m sorry you don’t appreciate that aspect of my style, and I understand when you indicated you’d rather provide your own emphasis to the story. However, though I considered your critique, ultimately, I personally get more out of the reading/writing process when I “see” a representation of emphasis, especially in dialogue. As an English teacher, I’ve come to appreciate that the job of all punctuation (including italics) is to help readers read and understand authorial intent. Thus, the italics and quotation marks used to demonstrate what I consider to be essential word choice will stay. Stylistically, I don’t happen to enjoy stories written in the present tense as much as those written in the past tense; however, for a good story, I overcome my own preferences to enjoy the narrative. Moreover, I try to focus upon the elements of style I do appreciate. I hope those critiquing my style can do that too. If not, I wish you well as you explore other authors’ works. However, I would ask that any people offering critiques also take a moment to tell me something you like about the story. When I receive only a critique from a reader I’ve never heard from otherwise, I will admit to a twinge of frustration. There are thousands of elements that go into a piece of writing-exponentially more small grammatical/syntactical choices. As you can see, I take critiques seriously. I hope those making them will also take my efforts just as seriously and offer support along with their advice.
Okie dokie-now that that’s done, how are you liking Sookie’s trunk ordeal? Again, I wanted to do more with this situation than CH did. Many of you wondered if the Lafayette/Gone with the Wind interpretation would be picked up. I intentionally started in one chapter and finished in the next to try to make manifest the swirling stream of consciousness that anyone in Sookie’s situation would likely experience-while at the same time trying to keep her thoughts from being too confusing to follow. I really hope I succeeded in doing that.
Until next week!
As always, thanks to the intrepid duo: kleannhouse and Seph!