Chapter 9 : Adrian and DarikRussia, 1861.
“He is so beautiful. Are you certain that he is not a vampire ?”
“Very, he is one of them.”
“What a shame. Such a beautiful boy.”
“He'll be grown up before you can say so. He will be just like all of them.”
“Maybe not, we must hope for the best. Not all Forgotten, cursed be that name they've been given, are outcasts.”
My eyes are closed as I listen to the rhythmic ticking of the clock.
I am grateful for her selflessness and bravery, without it I would not be here. My life is perhaps a far fetch from wonderful, no matter. I still live in a nice house with marvelous parents. We have a hefty sum of money put aside, both have successfully amassed considerable fortunes. Russia might have its problems but they do not concern us. We have nothing to do with humans. Weak, fragile and problematic bunch they are. A waste of space if you ask me. We'd be better off without them. All they are good for is their precious blood.
I think about a perfect world, preferably ruled by Forgotten, as night sets in. The witching hour, safe haven of damnable creatures, a utopia made for us, where we need not hide ourselves. Soon I will be fifteen years old. I take a glance at my imposing grandfather clock. Yes, very soon indeed. It is ten to one. I was born fifteen years precedent, on this very same night, when the moon reaches its apogee in the starry sky. I watch the seconds pass. Time is such a peculiar thing. I will never run out of it. A hundred years from now, I will still walk the face of the earth, admire the trail of beautiful destruction that humans leave in their wake, keep existing in an unchanged state while humanity evolves.
The clock chimes. Happy Birthday, Adrian. I turn over, facing the wall and close my eyes, falling asleep to the sounds of Novosibirsk and the living souls of its inhabitant.
I am dragged from my dream by obnoxious hammering on my door. wake I try to engrave into memory the details, but as dreams seem to go, most slip away. It was about a girl, that I am sure of. Brown hair, worn long with wild flowers tangled in her curls. Rich brown eyes, like honey and chocolate, swirled into one. Beautiful features and rosy skin. Smooth curves and graceful fingers.
We were dancing. I held her close to me as we swayed. When the music stopped, she looked up to me and with a slightly whiny voice exclaimed, “Why did you have to ruin my life ? You took all I had and even more. For that, I shall detest you infinitely.”
I started to reach for her, to comfort the breathtaking angel, to apologize for whatever I had done. I wanted more than anything to feel her lips pressed against mine, but as I blinked, she started fading into nothingness, like mist dissipating.
“Are you dressed ?” Mother's sweet voice pulls me back to reality.
I grab the wool covers which had fallen off during the night and yank them over my chest.
She peaked her head in. “Breakfast is ready darling.”
“I'll be down in a minute.”
She leaves, shutting the door behind her and once alone I stretch. While getting dressed I walk over to my desk. Grabbing my plume and a sheet of paper, I draw the young lady from my dream. Under, I sign my name and the date. As I head down to the dining room I promise myself that I will find her. I don't care how long it takes, I will make her mine.
* * *
Florida City, present day.
I don't know why mom and dad called me down. Maybe it's about Leah. We haven't received news from the police yet. I guess no news is good news. In fact, since she disappeared we haven't talked much about anything at all. The house has grown silent, Leah is the missing a piece, without her we are nothing. After I told them about the phone call, it had gotten very unstable around the house. Mom would break down each time she overheard Leah's name. Dad took any framed picture of her and packed it up. I almost feel like she never existed.
I walk into the living room, where my parents are sitting on the couch, holding hands.
“Have a seat, son,” Dad says in his husky voice.
When we were kids, Leah was scared of the dark. So, once she was tucked in and our parents had gone downstairs, I would sneak into her room and we'd curl up in bed together. To help her relax I would joke around about Dad's voice, saying that he was Santa Clause and that that was why we always had such great gifts for christmas.
I sit down in the worn out recliner.
“We have something to share with you. We should have told you before, but we could never find the right time.”
My mom nods along, agreeing.
“Yes,” she takes over, “With all that's been happening, it's a good moment to, hum... Well, let's say “come clean” – in a sense.”
“Just tell me already,” I press.
What is it ? Are they getting a divorce ? Or having another kid ? I eye Mom's stomach, it seems a little rounder.
“Darik, son, Leah isn't your sister.”
The world stops turning. The clock stops ticking. My heart stops beating. How can my parents just sit there, with wide, worried eyes and still be able to take a breath ? It's impossible. This is some sick joke. I've known Leah her whole life, I went to see her at the hospital the day she was born.
“Huh?” I must have heard wrong.
“Leah was adopted, Darik.”
“When ? Where ? ” I know I'm not supposed to react this way, that I am stone-faced, because Mom's eyes are damp.
Dad sighs, “When you were one you got the flu. We had to take you to the hospital and while a doctor examined you, your mother and I walked around.
“We stopped to look at the newborns. At the time we were trying to have a second child but it just wasn't happening.
“A teen was standing next to us, biting her nails and rocking on the heels of her feet. We asked if her mother had had a child. She pointed to a beautiful baby girl and said the baby was hers. She told us that she was going to give her up for adoption. A few days later, after considering and discussing the matter, when you were being discharged, we came home with two babies, you and Leah,” he says.
“We named her after her birth mother.” Mom finishes.
I wipe tears from my eyes.
“That's why there are no pictures of Mom pregnant. She never was,” I muter.
“Yes, honey. We're sorry. I can't imagine how hard this must be for you. But, you needed to know the truth.”
I abruptly get up, mad at both of them. How could they have not told me before ? Did Leah know ? No, she wouldn't keep something this big from me. Holding back my tongue, I grab my car keys and run outside. The cool October air fills my lungs and bites my face as I rush to my car. Leah, my beloved only sibling is not related to me. But we look the same, talk the similarly, even think alike. We are brother and sister, by everything but blood.
I drive for hours. Around town, on the highway, along the coast. I'm stuck behind the wheel in traffic when it first occurs to me, when the idea takes form. I never considered running away before. Then again, I never felt the need to. Yes, it's a good plan. That's what I'm going to do. I'll go home, pretend everything is fine and tonight I will leave my lying parents to go off on my own. I will do what the police isn't. I will find Leah and I will kill whoever kidnapped her. The last is a not a fact, it's a promise.
* * *
Russia, Novosibirsk. 1876.
Once I head downstairs I slip into Lord Ivanov mode which consists of showing zero to no emotions or not betraying my thoughts by various facial expressions. In other words, I turn into a real life statue. The house is huge, so in October when temperature drops drastically, the hallways become freezing. For most Russians, we, the noble Ivanov family, have lived here for generations. Fact or fiction ? Truth be told, I am the third generation after my grandparents and my mother and father. But many other family members such as cousins, uncles and aunts have lived with us for extended periods of time, which makes the list of descendents less spaced out, more suitable for the human life span.
Once I reach the dining room I take a seat and present my excuses for my tardiness. Mom walks over to me and pulls me into a hug.
“Happy birthday, Adrian.”
“Thank you, Mamka.”
Papka, father, doesn't acknowledge this exchange. He doesn't believe in birthdays since he says we will never die. I for one don't actually care but it is still nice to receive the good wishes. As we eat I let my thoughts drift towards the nameless saint from my dream. She was so soft, yet so strong. So sensible, so fragile but at the same time, quite tough. Words could not describe my feeling towards the stranger. Except maybe one...
* * *
Florida City, present day.
I drive back home, mulling over my future plans. The house Leah and I played in, with its reassuring yard that separated us from the whole world, no longer feels safe. In the course of a ten minute conversation my life was blown to bits.
As I pull up the driveway and park my car I see my “sister's” favorite hoodie, half hidden under a dirty blanket that I use to cover the beaten up backseat. I can't believe it's already the 14th of October. Time goes by so fast, I feel as if only yesterday the cops knocked at our door, with Leah's abandoned backpack. I grab it and walk up the steps and through the front door. Mom and Dad are waiting for me. It seems like they haven't moved since the last time I stormed out.
“Honey are you alright ?” Mom's voice sounds so heartbroken.
“No, I'm not alright,” I shout as I head down the hall. The stairs are after the living room which gives me no choice but to walk passed them. Dad reaches out and grabs my arm. That's all it takes for me to snap.
“Get your hands off of me you lying bastard !” I scream.
I look into my mother's eyes but I feel no sympathy. Instead I turn, my father having let go and head towards my room, where I start packing up my things. I include all my money. I will not be coming back. I check Leah's room and grab some of her stuff too. When I find her she'll probably thank me. Once everything is set there's nothing left to do but wait. Wait until night and my chance to slip out.