So a bit of time passed. The household got used to little Larry and loved him. Sarah bought him warm outfits from shops all around Center City. She also brought home colorful story books from her cozy, snug, tick tock book shop, Philadelphia After Dark. Dragons and unicorns hung over his crib. He liked warm, strained, apple cider and the rich, meaty blood Sarah regurgitated for him. Such is the life of a new, little cherub. He had a small, seascaped aquarium on a table next to his crib lit by a low blue light. Tiny neon tetras swam about the tank. Other fish hid in the plants. A mermaid blew bubbles and waved. Larry waved back as he drifted off. Some nights Jonathon played his oud.
Early in the evening, Sarah bundled him up so he wouldn't feel the cold and took him out. Not that the cold could hurt him anymore, but he'd make a face and say - Don't like it... when the wind touched his skin. She'd put him in his stroller and push him to Washington Square. They had to go early, or else people would look and say - Why's that baby up so late?... Larry would go - I not a baby. I two!... And everyone instantly loved him. On the way back she'd stop in a nice, little bodega and get him a few bottles of juice. Vampires can tolerate certain liquids, but you know that. Once Edith was cooking for herself and Billy. She was making mashed potatoes, real good ones with milk and butter. Larry says he wants some. Sarah tells him he's 'allergic' to that kind of food and will throw up. But he doesn't care. He remembers throwing up from before she made him 'night-folk.' Toddlers don't mind spitting up. Vampire toddlers taste a lot of things. And if they do throw up ten minutes later? So what? When he's out and about Sarah can take him into some place for a bowl of chicken noodle soup. She can get a cup of tea. Helps them fit in. But here's the sad thing mortals never think of. You can't have a two year old in the same area for more than a year or so. People notice. They ask questions. Either they'll have to give up the townhouse, or keep him somewhere else.
That's why it's so important he meets the other cherubs and gets socialized. Sarah and Jonathon are in denial, but they know. He'll probably join the others like him and live with the caretaker and his wife (this is a new caretaker) in their cottage in the middle of Laurel Hill Cemetery. It's so private there. After dark they have the run of the place. There's a walking tour that comes through two evenings each week. People carry candles. It's real atmospheric. The caretaker's wife keeps the cherubs inside till it's over. Then she opens the door and lets them fly out. They giggle (quietly, or course) and play tag above the memorial obelisks.
Sarah and Jonathon and some of the other vampires will still visit Larry all the time when he moves on. One of the never used private mausoleums is set up as a playhouse. You can't tell from the outside. Looks like a regular, above ground, pseudo classical temple, dead-box. But cherub magic can open the heavy, verdigris, copper door. They have big floor cushions inside and quilts and toys and music boxes and puppets... some of the puppets dance by themselves. They have these big chunks of quarts that glow in the dark for light. I don't know where they find them. Night-folk just find stuff. There's a finger paint decorated skeleton named 'Boney' seated in a corner. The cherubs say - Hi, Boney... Boney waves.
Larry will be all right.... Like a nice, little, wide eyed, pre-school Peter Pan.
Look, Sarah'd like to keep him with her always. But that would mean moving from place to place every eighteen months, keeping him hidden on a vast, isolated estate somewhere, or locked in the house all the time.
Night-folk make choices. They have to.
They teach him to fly. Little by little he learns. He laughs his cuddly toddler laugh. He smiles.
They nod and smile too.
But then they cry.....
<more next time>
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