A little something for Halloween...
I wait. My hands feel the individual grains of sand in the rock walls around me. They are rough and solid. The rock fills me with strength for the task ahead. Touch is all I have left that is familiar now. All that has not been changed. Infected. I know why I am doing this final task.
It began with a chance meeting. A brushing of skin against silk in the inn. A feeling of electricity passed between me and the man that I had bumped into. He looked at me appraisingly and I felt a warmth rush up from my groin and suffuse my face.
"I'm sorry Sir," I said, my head lowered. His beauty took my breath away. I couldn't look at him. "Can I refill your mug?" He must think me a fool.
"Yes." His voice was a caress. "Come talk to me when you do". I couldn't pick the accent. In this inn we had many travellers being so close to the docks, and I had learnt to recognise all the ways a drink could be ordered. His language was strange, seductive - a man from no country I had heard of.
He was dark . Dark hair, dark eyes to fall into. High cheekbones, pale skin, bright teeth. Lips made for kissing. He wore lace at his throat, and a silk waistcoat in lavender. A long morning coat of lawn incongruous at this time of night. Trousers which accented the trimness of his legs. Boots of polished leather.
A curse on him and all his kind.
I took him his drink. We spoke and when he asked me to join him, I left my work, my home and family without a backward look. Who wouldn't? You condemn me for my choice, but you would have made the same.
Walk in my shoes. No time for anything but work. Dead Mother. A Father who did what he had to do, to succeed. It was only a matter of time before he ended up in Bodmin Gaol, and us on the streets selling our bodies to make the next meal. I owed no-one loyalty. What choice had I been given in the past? None. I went with this man who had stolen my soul without my even noticing.
I remember his hands at my waist, and his breath on my neck. Pain and bliss and the world changed.
He did not stay with me long after that. But through the years we saw each other again - came together and parted again in the slow dance. This life I had embarked on is solitary.
I can still hear his words as he left me. " Do me proud."
I can hear the cries of the baby as I crept into a house that same night. The wails of the woman when she woke the next morning to find her first-born dead.
That first night, he did not tell me how I should go. Where I should live. I heard the bats screeching, searching for their prey. I followed them and rested that day in their bell tower. It took many nights before I found a place I could rest, wash, change. I learnt to rifle the pockets of my clients for gold and silver. It takes years to collect enough to provide a permanent home. I could wait. I had years to take.
I hunted. I heard the throbbing of a vein from miles away. The sharp intake of breath as I came upon them. I am beautiful too. The thud as we fell to the ground locked in a last embrace. It doesn't matter how young or old, male or female. All are food to my lust.
There is no sound of music, of water, of birds that I hear now but the wails and cries of wretched humanity. Humanity made wretched by me.
It took one person to change my life from mindless pleasure to mindful pain. I smelt a familiar perfume on the wind. I moved toward my goal. From behind, all clients look the same. I breathed on his neck. I held him about his waist. I spoke:
"Shall I take you to the heights of ecstasy?"
Without waiting for acquiescence I began. Waves of pleasure overwhelmed us both. I did not hear until it was too late.
"Amelia. Sister. Is that you?"
I cannot undo the death I caused to my own family. And I did not know til then that I still loved them. I left money, my brother and instructions on the steps of a church. The priest did not come near me and I could not go near him. He buried my brother. God rest his soul. I have damned mine.
Each day now, I dream. In my dreams, I hunt and when I begin to feed, the client turns into my brother. All my joy has turned to ashes. I smell his aroma always. I see his face. I taste his blood.
Once I killed my brother, I realised the lie. What they promise you is the world. What they take is everything. You don't believe me?
I bought a house in the winter of 1976, one hundred and eighty years thirty two days since the night I killed my brother. I bought it in London where food was plentiful. I sat in my living room - what an irony in that name. In front of me were three foods that you people swear by. Coffee. Chocolate. Icecream. When I was like you, they were rare treats for the gentry. Now anyone can enjoy them. My feeding brings ecstasy but any pleasure will pall if it is the only one. So I tried them. Coffee. Chocolate. Icecream. They tasted like ashes in my mouth. I gagged. I cannot swallow your food. There was nothing of your life I was allowed to have.
No sight of sun, no taste of food. No joy.
I spent a lot of time at the cinema. Leicester Square has West End clients close at hand, for dinner and money. I used to go to the films, just to see the sun. See normal people in normal lives. Sometimes, I would sit in the all night cafes pretending to drink tea. Talking to the other lost people. I didn't know I would be lonely. Like Lot's wife I have turned back to see my life, and I have turned to salt.
It has become an obsession with me. I think of nothing else, but to see the sun. I tried once but the burning pain drove me indoors, before the first sliver had appeared over the horizon.
I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I want to hear the dawn chorus. I want to smell the day - the dew evaporating on grass, the dirt promising life. I want to be human again.
I want to see the sun.
This time, I am waiting in the open. In a quarry - lifeless stone. There is no place where I can escape my saviour. The sun. It will crest over the rim of the quarry. I will be protected in shadow long enough.
Before I die I will see the sun.