The Vampire is a rule-follower. If unbidden, she doesn’t cross your threshold and simply stays away. Once invited in, however, she will tear and eat the flesh of your home.
Although she has a dwelling place, sometimes more than one, the Vampire doesn’t have a home. Hers is not a nest-making kind. Where she lives is immaterial – any interior space she entrusts her body to evokes nothing but a practical exchange – but imagine hovels, small rooms hardly bigger than cells, an enduring dampness in each wall. She needs only an outer shell, devoid of significance, could be the most ornate, frilly-lipped conch, or a rusty soda can, no matter; the Vampire looks only to fit the extent of her undead body into something, anything will do.
It doesn’t matter where the Vampire lives because her vampiric aim is not to suck you dry or eat your flesh, what she wants is to live, be allowed to live, in your home. A home is what a human makes, and the only way the Vampire can experience one is if she is invited into yours.
Because of this, the Vampire needs to make you love her, or at least like her, which is hard for her to do because living in small, damp rooms doesn’t exactly exacerbate her natural charms. Still, she is small and tender, and looks nothing like a Vampire ought to look, and so sometimes she somehow manages to endear herself to you, to make you want to hold her close.
When you visit her, her powers allow her to change the parameters of any hole she lives in so as to sustain the image we all have of vampires’ homes. However small her dwelling, however dank, she can blow it up temporarily the way one engorges a bouncing castle or inflatable child’s toy; all of a sudden, and for your eyes only, she appears to live in an ornate and immeasurable villa, full of large hallways and lavishly decorated rooms, a complete set of creepy servants and unsnuffable candelabra. The moment you leave, or die, whichever comes first, the simulated villa once again deflates and the Vampire finds herself in the dark, in a small musty room, alone.
Then, when you invite her to visit you in turn – and, make no mistake, you will – it is too late. She crosses the threshold to your home and finds your ceilings tall, the bright colours of your walls compelling, she rolls her body on your thick blue rugs, breathes the dust in your corners, jumps and writhes on your heavy sofa, she delights in your kitchen cupboards filled with plants and spices, her nose twitches at the green and herbal smells, she sees your bed and sighs as she crawls her small body between the pillows, she enters your bathroom and imagines herself in your tub, her neck and arms smell of your soap for hours, and God help you if you cook even a single meal for her.
The Vampire thinks about nourishment and realises she doesn’t understand the concept when she is alone, locked inside her dwelling place, whose musty walls suck the livelihood from her skin. She opens the door to your fridge and shoves a handful of fruit into her mouth, chews the soft mass into wetness, thinking, Yes, this makes sense, this is what sustenance must feel like, I want more of it. She clings to your fridge door as though rows of teats were growing from its flank. She eats from the dishes on your stove, sticks her fingers in your potted soil, lays her shallow breath against your closing palms. She licks the air in all your rooms.
It is your home, but you have invited her in. To a human an invitation of this kind is temporary, fierce defenders of our private spheres that we are we are. We have invented volumes of Law dedicated to protecting what is ours and only ours, but to a Vampire, the invitation to come in and share your home is permanent. It is the feeling of existing in your home that feeds her, and the longer she stays the more her eyes turn from yellow paleness to a deep, satiated grey. She does not intend to leave this place where she has found nourishment, where she has found an indication of what it means to be at home.