Daylight crept along the land, an unwelcome intruder, lingering just long enough to make itself known before being chased away by blessed night and comforting gloom. As the morning took hold, the vampire retreated to her coffin. Fresh and new, smelling of dust and early twilight, she sleepily regarded the pale blue violet upholstery. A safe place in a new, dangerous world.
Days became weeks, months, years. Decades. Penny P. Post retreated to her coffin morning after morning. Photos of friends and lovers were pinned to the walls and taken down, rearranged every week or so. Blissful last sights before long daytime slumbers.
A witch’s photo appeared in the rotation one day and before long, the photos of the witch were joined by a winged, plump black cat.
After a while, Zelda K. Arcadia and Soot dominated the collage with newer and larger photos. Then photos of them with Penny: on moonlight picnics, flying through clouds on brooms, eating pizza, on their wedding day, picking out a plot of land, building a cemetery, building their home, adding enchantments so the home would move, chasing their home because the enchantments went awry and the home ran off into the swap.
All the while, the coffin fell prey to mortal time. Nails rusted and fell out as the wood warped. Brave and foolish moths invaded and attacked the upholstery as it faded from modern to antique. Candle light crept in, moonlight poked through, and as the years passed, sunlight began working at the kinks in the rotting wood.
“You need a new coffin, my purple pixie parasol,” Zelda grumbled. She sat on the floor, eying the decaying temple honoring and protecting her wife’s undeath.
“How can you say that?!” Penny gasped, honestly shocked.
“Because I can see you the color of your pajamas and the lid is closed. Okay, that is a rude gesture,” Zelda laughed.
The argument went nowhere. On birthdays: “Why don’t I just get it reupholstered for you?” On holidays: “Let me just have it nailed fresh for you.” Zelda was always politely but firmly refused.
“Good morning, mushroom bliss,” Zelda said with a calm and measured tone one day. She sipped her coffee, double poison, one sugar, double swamp scum.
“Where is my coffin lid?!” Penny rushed, frantically pantomiming for the lid. The room was kept safe with a Darkness spell Zelda had cast as the sun rose. Penny was not in danger.
“It broke into pieces when I knocked on it this morning,” came the annoyed reply. “I told you—” Zelda softened as the vampire sunk to the floor and crawled over to her. “You need a new coffin,” the witch offered with love’s gentlest tone.
“You don’t understand!” Penny cry-shouted.
“When I first turned, I learned to become a vampire here. I–I learned to sense daylight here. How to sleep standing up, to stop biting my tongue with my fangs.” Her voice rose higher as she worked herself up. “I realized I was in love with you the first night you slept in here to keep me safe during the day. I was in this coffin when I cast my first spell. I was here when I saw the moon for the first time with my undead eyes. When we talked about building this house, together. And now! It’s gone! And I have! To just get! Rid of it?!” She stared at the witch incredulously, tears flowing. Her entire body shook with weight of shock and raw agony.
“I will buy you an ice scream to eat on the way to the cemetery. Whatever flavor you like, and we will catch a movie tonight, soft love,” was all Zelda could offer.
“I want sprinkles, please, this is very hard on my dead heart.”
Spells kept Penny safe until the new coffin was delivered. Salt washed pine, engraved with a floral pattern. Carved into the thick lid, a bat perched on top of a raven’s head, itself perched on top of a sleeping winged cat. Their family crest. The sides of the coffin were engraved with scenes of Penny’s life, ending with the destruction of the original and a subsequent trip to replace it.
With a sorrow filled sigh of resignation, and then a small smile of new beginnings, Penny traced at the designs inside the coffin. Scraps from her original armor against the dreaded day were salvaged and used for inlays. Zelda kissed her neck gently and the two drifted to sleep, holding each other.