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Tonya Smith


4 min
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Moderate

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Vampire Slaying For The Soul

Psych 101 and the mouth of hell

by Tonya Smith

When things look the bleakest, that’s when Buffy is at her finest. She is calm and confident, trusting in her skills and abilities. She dances in the eye of the storm, and so could I.

Vampire Slaying For The Soul | Psych 101 and the mouth of hell

It’s frighteningly easy to live atop the mouth of hell.

There’s always an explanation for the bumps in the night — for the shadows that follow you down dark streets. You tell yourself there’s no such thing as monsters, explaining away the catch in your throat as you quicken your pace.

It was my first semester of college. I was away from home for the first time, and I was scared. My dad drove me to campus, helped me unload, and then kissed me goodbye.

At first it was the little things — her dishes piled up in the corner accumulating mold, the stench of unwashed laundry, her body odor permeating the unventilated room.

I wasn’t prepared for a demonic roommate. At first it was the little things — her dishes piled up in the corner accumulating mold, the stench of unwashed laundry, her body odor permeating the unventilated room. If I opened the window, she shut it. If I sat down to study, she blasted Cher at full volume. Everyone has their own idiosyncrasies, though, and I told myself that we’d learn to live with each other.

As I dressed one morning, I thought I could feel eyes on me. Kathy’s snores rose from her bed, and the blinds were tightly shut. I shrugged it off and continued dressing. When I pushed open the door that afternoon, she was laying in wait. She pounced, ready to rip my head off. Her voyeuristic boyfriend had been concealed behind her, peeking over her prone body to watch me dress. Never mind the fact that my privacy was violated; in her eyes, I was the succubus trying to tempt her greasy-haired pig of a boyfriend away from her.

I am done. I’m tired of feeling like my soul is being ritualistically sucked from my body. I go to the RA’s office and request a new room assignment.

My new roommate is amazing, and we quickly become good friends. The only trouble is that the new room is more expensive. I need to find a job.

The first time I got jumped by a vampire was a surprise.

I’m extremely excited when campus security announces they need new candidates.

It’s the perfect job for me. While I pace the quiet halls of the freshman dorms, I pretend that I am the class protector, chosen to take on the evil that lurks on campus.

Creatures emerge from the shadows, seeking me out. The first time I get jumped by a vampire is a surprise. He nearly gets the better of me, but just before his fangs land on my neck, I thrust my stake into his heart, sending a cloud of ash rising through the air.

I am hooked on the adrenaline rush of the hunt. I volunteer for extra shifts. Over the coming weeks I continue to pick up shifts and cancel plans so I can spend my nights fighting off demons and vampires.

A particularly messy slaying keeps me out until 4 am one night. I stagger home covered in ash and collapse into bed. I sleep straight through my alarm. When I wake up that afternoon and realize I missed my Intro Psych class, I spend the day fretting about the consequences, but no one notices.

What the hell had I been thinking? I’d built my whole identity around being the Slayer; I’d neglected classes and relationships, and for what?

When I realize that no one cares, I begin skipping class in favor of slaying activities more often. When I should be learning about Pavlov, I’m researching different demons and devising new methods for taking them down. I brutally exterminate an entire nest of vampires.

Occasionally, I feel the trembling of the Hellmouth beneath my feet. It’s an uneasy sensation, but I stay focused on slaying. Slaying is now. Urgent. I can deal with the Hellmouth later.

Nothing was going to distract me from my purpose. I slayed tirelessly day and night, until one afternoon in December there were no monsters left. I paced my room, trying to come up with something to do. I half-heartedly opened my notebook, intending to catch up on Psych homework I’d missed. As I glanced at the syllabus, I suddenly realized that finals were early the next week. I’d missed almost an entire semester of Psychology.

I double- and triple-checked the dates, hoping my eyes and brain were playing tricks on me, but no. My breath came quick and shallow, and my gut started turning. The Hellmouth shook violently, tossing me off my feet. I felt the floor splitting beneath me.

What the hell had I been thinking? I’d built my whole identity around being the Slayer; I’d neglected classes and relationships, and for what? I wasn’t the Slayer. I was just a scared and lonely girl who couldn’t handle being an adult, so I hid behind a TV show.

Sobs racked my body as I contemplated my imminent failure. I was at school on scholarship. Anything less than a C and any hope of a college education went away.

Test day arrived with no divine intervention in sight. I sat shaking in my seat, my vision blurred with tears as I skipped question after question in hope of something I recognized. I was done. I’d wasted my life on a fictional world, and this was the consequence.

Pouring hours into the show didn’t make me weak. She taught me that failure won’t trigger the end of the world.

I thought of all the time I’d spent watching Buffy, and what did I have to show for it?

Then it hit me — Buffy was the key. She had already taught me everything I needed to know.

When things look the bleakest, that’s when Buffy is at her finest. She is calm and confident, trusting in her skills and abilities. She dances in the eye of the storm, and so could I. All the months I’d spent training with her prepared me for this moment.

I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths before looking down at the test. I heard Buffy’s voice in my ear, “That one’s about addiction. You know all about that. Remember Willow’s magic addiction? How about the next one, it’s parenting styles. You know that too, just think about Giles. He’s totally Authoritative, and mom’s demon boyfriend was Authoritarian. I’ve got your back, we’ll get through this together.”

Buffy was more than a character. She was a mentor and a friend. When I felt lonely and scared, she showed me that it was okay. Pouring hours into the show didn’t make me weak. She taught me that failure won’t trigger the end of the world. When the Hellmouth opens and demons pour out, you dust yourself off and get right back in the fray.