There’s an abiding myth that vampires are afraid of garlic. This, of course, is a lie. The garlic myth was triggered hundreds of years ago, when a nameless vampire joked about not attacking some woman because she smelled of garlic. I mean, how could anyone be terrified of a culinary herb? It’s true that garlic makes vampires sick. But in that respect it’s no different from bread or bacon or Brussels sprouts. A vampire’s stomach isn’t capable of digesting normal food; one slice of watermelon could put half a dozen vampires in bed for a week.
It could also be that Ma got me the job because she started working at Antoine’s when she was sixteen, my age. Most parents who want their kids to follow in their footsteps are doctors or senators, stuff like that. But Ma wants me to work in a convenience store. Stay in the neighborhood. Support my community, because that’s another thing about growing up in Jokertown—it’s the only home some of us will ever have.
–The Thing about Growing Up in Jokertown (A Tor.com Original) by Carrie Vaughn
“She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.”
Casimir had been a typical vampire—the quintessential vampire, in fact. And look what had happened to him! Whereas I . . . well, I was different. I was active and empathic and dependable and involved. I wasn’t anything like Casimir. It’s funny what lies you tell yourself when you’re scared to death.
The worst thing they have done to you, who are my mother’s people, was not to destroy your government, take your food and children, deny your traditions, or outlaw your greatest powers. The worst thing they have done is to replace your version of honor with theirs. They are making you, the Shaftali people, into Carolins. So when you read this book, read it not as a history of the enemy, but as a history of your own future: what will happen to Shaftal when the Carolins are extinct, but live on in you and your children. Rather than defeat the enemies, you must change them—or else, someday, their story will be your story.
Going into the woods by yourself is the best way to pretend you’re in another time. It’s a thing you can only do alone…If I had a lot of money, I would buy acres of woods. I would put a wall around them and live there like it was another time. Maybe I would find one other person to live with me there. Someone who was willing to promise they’d never speak a word about anything in the present. I doubt I could find anyone like that.
The storyteller’s fingertip touched the red symbol stamped on one corner. “This glyph means fate, or chance. The Laughing Man’s actions are so unexpected, and their effect is so profound, that his victims think it is a bitter joke. He destroys everything—even trust and hope. But there is one power that can counteract his.” She took out another card: a circle of people, arm in arm. “Fellowship,” she said.
Being two different people is so exhausting. I’ve taught myself to speak with two different voices and only say certain things around certain people. I’ve mastered it. As much as I say I don’t have to choose which Starr I am with Chris, maybe without realizing it, I have to an extent. Part of me feels like I can’t exist around people like him.
Chris and Maya walk through the gate, and my stomach gets all jittery. I should be used to my two worlds colliding, but I never know which Starr I should be. I can use some slang, but not too much slang, some attitude, but not too much attitude, so I’m not a “sassy black girl.” I have to watch what I say and how I say it, but I can’t sound “white.” Shit is exhausting.