Why is forever a promise I would be privileged to make, yet it is a gift I am loathe to receive?
I have been hopelessly in love with Elyse since our first encounter. I, in what I now realize was a futile attempt to prevent the crossover to middle age, was club hopping in, and around, Milton Square. At the time, I was painfully aware of how foolish I must have appeared to those around me. My makeup appeared as if it had been applied with a paint sprayer, the style of my hair was one obviously retrieved from a time capsule several decades buried and forgotten, and my skirt was nothing more than an irritatingly hued wide sash. In all the establishments I had graced with my presence thus far, I knew I had been an object of ridicule. The ladies were brazen and made no attempt to disguise their mockery. And the gentlemen? A bit more subtle; however, their downward glances and grimaced expressions revealed their silent disdain.
Yet, onward I continued, determined not to have a head-on collision with my 50th birthday that would result in my being placed on social life support, a fate shared by several of my acquaintances. Sipping lukewarm tea in a neighbor’s drawing room nodding and smiling at nothing--sharing nothing--being nothing. Is it a surprise that I chose to postpone the inevitable as long as it was in my power to do so?
As I approached the last of the cantinas in operation for the evening, she stepped out from the shadows. Her hair was as spun gold, her eyes as dark and mysterious as the regions far beyond planet Earth, and her touch as icy cold as a January breeze.
“Take my hand, beautiful one," she whispered. "I mean you no harm. I have been observing you and I understand your fear. We can remain as we are. Together. Come with me and let me teach you the truth. Your life is not in the hands of any god. It is in yours alone.”
When our fingers locked, the heat was exquisite and unbearable. She shared with me her dreams, her desires, her hopes, her sense of self, her secret.
She wants me as a lover, a companion, a confidante, a friend. For always. She, who is ageless, eternal, has chosen me to join her on her timeless journey. All I need do is agree and accept. She cannot comprehend my refusal.
“Forever, my love,” she pleads. “Why do you not want to live forever?”
“Because,” I respond angrily, “I cannot fathom anything so tedious and obscene. Let us delight in today as if tomorrow were only a fantasy. In offering me eternity, you have opened my eyes to the pleasure that growing old in the company of she who holds my heart would bring. I do not want to live forever. There can be no peace if there is no end. If I have learned only one thing from this momentary existence, it is that to die with honor, one must age with grace. And die with honor I will, so age I must. Alone, if destiny demands.”
She does not understand why I would choose temporary loneliness over permanent companionship. She is confused. She is wounded. She is relentless. She is…vampire.
published 30 December 2011
Sunlit days pass… long walks and quiet contemplation. Moonlit nights bring earthly delights… passions spent… desires fulfilled, and yet…
She remains un-swayed by ‘these momentary diversions’. I am unable to change her mind. Her determination to ‘let nature take its course’… to age gracefully, and then pass on to whatever is waiting for her… is too strong. If only I had that same luxury!
Centuries ago, despondent over the loss of my lover, one of Queen Elizabeth’s handmaidens; I had thrown myself from the White Tower, only to be ‘rescued’ by the Queen of the Damned herself. Some years later, failing to turn Elizabeth, I earned my dark Queen’s disfavor, and was condemned to forever roam this earth.
I took many lovers over the intervening years, turning some and outliving others. More than once, I have known the heartbreak of the loss of one I thought to be my eternal soul-mate.
After a time, I grew weary of a ‘forever’ alone, but for me… age truly is an illusion, for I cannot. The ‘fire’ of time leaves me untouched.
My only solace had been the certainty that one day I would find that one person… my ‘other’… to whom eternity would be made bearable. And now that I have found her… she refuses me! For her, age is not an illusion… but a journey with a finite end.
“Is there nothing I can say to convince you otherwise, my beloved? Think of everything that could be yours… ours! No day would be the same… no experience only a shallow echo of the one previous. I can give you back your years!”
She shakes her head. The sadness in her eyes is not for her ‘loss’ to age. I see now that she has accepted that her ‘march of time’ will end, and what she desires above all else is to end it with honor. In her, the beauty of aging with grace and dignity is unveiled.
No… the sadness in her eyes is for my ‘loss’. She is saddened that I will not know the truth that she has now found.
“We can be together for as long as I have left on this earth… I can give you that, but no more. I will not ‘surrender’… I cannot!
Could you not join me? If you are so unhappy with your ‘forever’ and you truly love me as you say… then come with me! Let us make our final days a memory that lasts forever… long after our age has passed.”
My heart has not ‘beat’ as a mortal for six hundred years, but there have always been stirrings… wants… needs… desires within me… ebbs and flows. Yet now, the thought of surrendering to the inevitability of time… of aging… brings a stillness to my chest. What of my unfulfilled dreams… what of my hopes?
“What of them?” She speaks… as if reading my mind.
“My dream… an eternity with my ‘other’… what becomes of it?”
“If I am truly your ‘other’, then is not this short thread of time together preferable to the never-ending path of an eternity of unfulfilled desires and dreams?”
In her words, the truth is revealed. We are all ‘slaves’ to age. We all face the relentless accumulation of minutes and hours… days to weeks to months… years to decades… sunrises and sunsets. How we live them is what is important, not how many of them we have to live.
And… most important… who we live them with.
The one who is our true destiny can make a single heartbeat an eternity.
I look up at the woman who has captured my heart… . The love in her eyes is reflected in the dark pools of mine.
I hold my hand out to her.
“Show me how to live…”
published 30 December 2011