Excerpt: Fireworks

I haven’t seen fireworks since I died.

Not that they were a huge part of my life before I became an Undead Canadian—I don’t like being called a ‘zombie’—but so much has changed since I was murdered and resurrected by my now-husband, Edward.

Just to be clear, Edward is not the one who murdered me.

I can’t eat any of the foods I used to love—not without being sick like the world is ending. I can drink all the alcohol I want, but it tastes like nothing and I can’t get so much as tipsy.

Finding things—experiences—that are the same now that I’m dead as they were when I was alive has become precious to me. So has celebrating with the people I love, no matter what the occasion. Okay, that hasn’t changed much.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my… unlife? Second life? Afterlife? Whatever.

I love Edward, and our cats, Winston and Boo. Boo is a nightmare creature from the Void—Edward raised him from the dead as a child, and… let’s just say his necromancy has gotten better since then. As evidence I present: myself. Just as tall, blond, and gorgeous as I was in life. I have all my teeth. I don’t lose patches of hair.

I’m sick of thinking about Boo, so I’ll switch to Winston.

Edward got him for me as a kitten our first Christmas together. If Boo is darkness, Winston is light. He’s the sweetest little dumpling and I love him to bits.

I love the rest of my new family too: Edward’s parents, Moira and Jonathan. His mentor Mariel, who helped teach him to control his necromancy, allowing me to be, well, me and not Boo. Mariel’s nibling, Kamaria, is the newest member of our group. They recently moved to Canada from Haiti to study Vodou with their aunt.

I’ve even come to love, in his own way, Edward’s creepy ex, Bone. Mostly because Edward probably wouldn’t have been able to rescue me from the evil necromancers who kidnapped me without his help. Although, given that Bone stealing a book from said necromancers and giving it to Edward was probably what attracted their attention in the first place, the whole situation could easily be blamed on him.

Even with all the good—and good-ish—things in my life, I’ve only been undead a few years. I spent so much more of my life, well, alive, and bridging the gap between who I am now and who I used to be is important to me, frustrating, and often elusive.

And with that, our stage is set. Scene:

“You want to go see the fireworks tonight, Kit?” Edward asked, incredulously. His use of my name made it sound like he was trying to make sure I was really myself. Not an unreasonable fear, given his experiences with ghosts and other undead nasties.

I’d expected him to ask. He’s pretty predictable, but that’s actually one of the things I love about him. Predictability is great after the whole coming-back-from-the-dead thing.

I shrugged, trying to pass it off as NBD, and it kinda was. But it also kinda wasn’t.

His eyes kept darting across my face—mouth, eyebrows, cheeks, mouth again—clearly trying to decide if I was fucking with him or not. He gave a sigh of exasperated laughter. “Okay, I’ll bite. Why?”

I shrugged again, just one shoulder this time. I didn’t want to have to explain why the fireworks were important to me. I don’t like to talk to Edward about my issues with being undead often. It makes him uncomfortable and sad, things I don’t want my husband to feel, especially because of me.

I do have a counsellor. A very open-minded one.

“We’ll get eaten by mosquitos.”

“You’ll get eaten by mosquitos.” I smirked at him. I have to admit, I’d been a little concerned the first time I saw a mosquito land on my perfect undead skin—would it bite me? If it did bite me, would it simply die, or would it become undead itself, passing on the Undead Canadian virus to every subsequent victim? I think Edward’s paranoia and worst-case-scenario attitude are rubbing off on me.

I was tempted to kill it, but I’d forced myself to keep still and just watch. Better to find out what would happen while I was paying attention, rather than have a mosquito get me when I didn’t notice and potentially start an undead plague.

The mosquito flew away without so much as breaking my skin, and I kept my relief as silent and inconspicuous as possible. I hadn’t mentioned my concerns to Edward because, while I worry about things with decorum and poise, he freaks out. I try not to tell him about my worries unless I have to. I spend enough of my time winding him down to wind him back up again over something that may not even happen.

I’d seen mosquitos land on me since, but I’d never found a bite, and I hadn’t seen anything on CBC about a zombie outbreak, so I’d decided I’m safe. The world is safe. Probably.

I wasn’t actually sure my kind of undeath could be passed on, through blood or any other fluid—Edward raised me with magic, directed specifically at me. I didn’t become an Undead Canadian because of a virus or something more general. I wasn’t going to ask Edward, though. It would ruin the whole all-knowing thing I’ve got going on.

“So, wear bug spray,” I told him.

“It stinks, and only the stuff with DEET actually works, and DEET is terrible for—”

“Wear long sleeves, then.”

Edward frowned at me. I’d been attempting to keep my voice as light and normal as possible, but he seemed to have picked up on the fact that this was A Little Important to me.

“All right.”

“We could bring a picnic, and your parents, Mariel, and Kamaria could come,” I hurried on, because things were on the verge of getting awkward. Edward is the awkward one. Not me.

He nodded. “That… might actually be nice.”

“Thanks.” I rolled my eyes at him, sticking just the tip of my tongue out. “You don’t have homework?”

“It’s July.”

I snorted. “Like that’s ever stopped you.” A medical student’s work is never done, trust me.

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