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I Could Not Face Forever
I am going to watch the sun rise today for the first time in eleven centuries. Eleven centuries—what can you about time, about life, that hasn’t already been said? There is nothing that I haven’t done, haven’t experienced, and yet… I feel somehow the time was wasted. Really though, when one has eternity, human wants and needs and cares do not matter as much. Why spend the time helping people or interacting? I will still be here when they are dust. Who can care about the meager decades of ill-spent humanity when there will be countless more?
I was not brought willingly to this life. I don’t believe that, given the choice, I would have chosen it at all. This existence—don’t dare to call it a life, for it is not—is empty, as bleak and vacant as infinity. All the things that ruled me prior to my ‘convalescence’ (love, ambition, compassion, joy) died even as I took my last breath, leaving behind only animal instinct and the need for blood.
I was born to indifferent parents in France in the year 1023. I lived the life of a peasant child, though my parents were of noble blood; as the only daughter of an aristocrat I was the most valuable of my father’s tradeable commodities, to be kept safe until such a time when marriage would benefit my family. Then, as so many young girls do, I met a boy. His name was Jean-Claude, and I loved him with all of the fervor of an untried woman-child. I trusted myself to him, heart and soul, and believed in my naiveté that he would never hurt me. I was wrong.
One night, he came to me at our secret place, the place where we met each night when my parents wouldn’t allow us to meet, and for some reason he frightened me. He was wild, feral. When he caught sight of me he rushed forward, and I thought that he was going to hurt me. I didn’t think he would go for my throat as he did,however. He was ravenous. I was seventeen.
I will spare you the gory details as I wish someone had spared me. Suffice to say that the pain of the conversion was nothing less than torture. At the moment my heart stopped beating, the girl I had been, the happy, compassionate girl that I no longer am, died and a monster was unleashed.
I spent the next 250 years ruled by instinct alone, killing everything that crossed my path, including Jean-Claude. It was a dark time for me, but I am strong. I found one of the few remaining parts fragments of myself and held on to it, though the memories burned me. I will not bore you with the rest of my story; centuries of witnessed history, intense insatiable blood lust and ennui, seasoned with the occasional bout of madness.
But one thing remained constant through the years: Only rarely did I care. I did not see myself as the monster I was, gorging myself on the blood of the innocent. I did not remember being human. Not until you.
Because of you, I see now what I’ve lost. I look into myself and am horrified at what I find. You are innocence and light; I am darkness and death, and I mourn, for the first time since my rebirth. I vaguely remember past loves, past epiphanies like brief flames in the darkness of my memory. Sweet interludes of love and tenderness, lasting for no longer than a breath before being blown out by the slightest breeze.
Seeing you here beside me, feeling the warmth of your soul as you touch my hand and beg e not to do this, I am glad that I make no reflection in the mirror. You’ve brought me my sanity, and with that comes the self-awareness that I hate that I’ve found.
I can’t go back to being what I was. I realize that I was wrong to ever accept this... this demon I’ve become, this perversion of beauty and grace. I am not alive. I am an abomination. I was a fool for believing that I could love, and be loved by you. The way I see it, this has been a long time coming. I used to believe that one day, life would be better, that I would be better, that the loss of the sunshine would not hurt as it does.
Vampires, I know now, do not change. We are creatures held in stasis; some force, I know not what, keeps us as we are. It is as if every few centuries we are reset, losing whatever ground we’ve gained in the intervening years. We are not the romantic creatures of literature, sparkling paragons of immortal love; we are beasts under our thin veneer of civilizations.
You do not understand this, I can see it in your eyes. You hear my words and feel not horror and loathing, but pity and love as you always have. You hold me in your arms--how is it that you do not flinch from the coldness of my flesh?--and whisper words of comfort.
“I love you,” you say to me, voice thick with tears, “Do not do this.” But I just smile and break free of your gentle, restraining hold. “I can save you.” The words are whispered, but I hear them, and my smile is genuine.
“You already have.” Don’t you see? I would sooner die than hurt you, and I know, given time, that I would. It is my nature. In these past fifty years, you have been the only sunshine in an existence fraught with darkness, so bright and warm that the reality of my memories pales in comparison.
You gave up that light to be with me; you gave up any change for normalcy. You knew all these years what I was, what I did when I was away from you, and still you love me as you did the first time we met. Now I set you free.
Your flesh sags as you begin to cry, and I hold you for a moment, savoring the rush of your skin, the beat of your pulse like the fluttering wings of a bird against my flesh. I know not what awaits me, but I would gladly face whatever it is if it meant that I would never hurt you, could never hurt you as I have so many others.
My time draws near; I feel the sun climbing just below the horizon as I always have, and I feel a tear trace it’s way down my jaw. The moisture is surprising; I did not know I could cry.
“Farewell, my love,” I say, “Hate me if you must, but never forget me.” I leave while you are still too stunned to respond, leaving behind only a single chaste kiss there, upon your wrinkled brow.
I am going to watch the sun rise today.