When the Moon Hits Your Eye

North Portland 
Lila laughed at his dumb joke, mostly because of the explanation of it after he made it.

"You fucking dork," she teased. She watched him build his pizza, leaning against the fridge as she did. She had an answer ready for his garlic question, anticipating it.

"So, that came from a disease called Porphyria, which made the gumline like, recede a bit, and made people look super pale. Garlic is also used in a lot of cultures to repel evil, and since most people think vampires are evil...boom. Garlic repels vampires." She paused. "But maybe? Maybe not for the reasons we think it repels them. I'm not gonna carry a clove of garlic around. And," she grinned at him. "Since you're not hissing and writhing on the ground, I'm sure you're not a vampire."

She could make fun of herself.

She decided to not put garlic on her pizza. You know. Just in case.

“100% not a vampire,” Maiah promised, still grinning from being called a fucking dork. It was so cool when someone just got him. “But I am going to pass on the garlic.” Pepperoni-mushroom-olive pizza. That seemed reasonable. More importantly, it seemed delicious.

“I do think you’re at risk of confirmation bias, though. The idea that garlic-as-vampire myth comes from porphyria, that originated before we all knew vampires were a thing. Pretty much everything we know—or, I guess, we think—about the supernatural came about before we knew the supernatural was… well… not that. So we were looking for reasons to explain things within an incomplete background. Um… that… wasn’t supposed to be mean.”

He was just trying to talk about her subject and got a bit carried away! Unfortunately that did tend to happen.

"No, no, I agree." She chuckled. Once he was finished making his pizza, she began making her own. Bell peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni, a sprinkle of spinach. "We used vampires as a scapegoat for things we didn't get. Like werewolves? There's some disease that makes people hairy all over. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I think there's only like one recorded case now of it, and they come from a long line of people who had it. But people would get killed for stuff like that."

She pulled out another cookie sheet, putting her pizza on it. "Just put yours next to mine, on the sheet," she said. She looked over at him, her blue eyes taking him in suddenly. He was close to her, but not uncomfortably so. She wanted to reach out and touch him, take his hand or something. Show him he didn't need to apologize for engaging her on a topic she liked. Though, he did get a little mansplainy. Can't win them all, though.

"I think," she said as she put the pizzas in the oven. "Stuff like that was a comfort, too. Like, bad things happen, right? And people used to say 'Well, it's because you didn't pray enough,' or 'Because you touched yourself last night,' and people would want a way to fix it. So they'd hang garlic on the doors to ward away the sex vampires, or vampires that would give them miscarriages, and feel a little safer at night." She set the timer for the pizzas, then began cleaning up the ingredients.

"I think the treats are cool enough, now. Why don't you give him one?"

Maiah set the pizza beside Lila’s and, when she suggested it, took a treat and crouched to offer it to Cosmos. “C’mon, boy.” The puppy sniffed at the treat, then took it, crunched it down—crunches were good for puppies—and whuffed happily. Then he whined and gave Maiah a pleading look.

He laughed and looked up at Lila.

“Well, I think he approves!”
he said, downplaying how much her definitely approved because the puppy’s joy was clear. “Can he another one?” With Lila’s approval, Maiah gave him another treat, but then he ignored the pleading puppy eyes. “That’s enough for now. I don’t want to overfeed him,” he explained to Lila. “Though they are clearly wonderful treats.” He wouldn’t want her to think it was a criticism of her cooking—especially with such a big fan!

He straightened up and went to wash the puppy saliva off his hands as he said, “I get it, though. My dad was always religious, but after we lost my mom, it was… y’know, it was all the time for a while. It really helped him. Not excusing the extreme stuff, but… I get how someone could get carried away. What can I do to help clean up?” His now drool-free hands were ready to assist! Only then did he realize: “Oh, damn! Did you want to give Cosmos a treat? If you want to, you totally can.” He had been all wrapped up in Cosmos’s puppy-joy and forgot about… human manners.

Lila's heart soared when Cosmos asked for another treat in his dog-speak. She crossed her arms and watched the two interact, her heart squeezing with joy.

I want a dog...

She listened to him talk about how his dad turned more towards religion when his mom died. She wanted to tell him she was sorry, that she couldn't imagine his pain, but the gesture seemed empty to her. She wished she had a better way to offer condolences. Instead, she nodded as she bent to put the rest of the vegetables in the crisper drawer.

She chuckled at his offer. "I've got it. And yeah, I do, but it can wait til later. You did just say you don't want to overfeed him." She motioned him over to the couch.

"We've got a good fifteen minutes before the pizzas are done." She sat on the couch, tucking her legs under herself as she crossed them.

"We weren't really religious, but we had some stuff from when my grandparents came from Ireland. My grandmother got me an iron ring so the fey wouldn't steal me. She made my mom hang a horseshoe over my window. She also insisted we keep wind chimes in front of our front and back doors to keep the fey away. Cross over the bread, bird pooping on you is good luck. Stuff like that. I once tried to pick up a pretty necklace on the ground and she nearly yanked my arm off as a kid," she laughed. "My grandpa would always just shrug his shoulders. He never corrected her."

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