"The girl twists in her sleep, mumbling her fiancé’s name, and the sensation of victory reaches another high, for he knows that the other vampire won’t be here to save her tonight. She is all his, now, and no one can take her away this time. She is his forever." Can memories resurface?
Or are they lost forever?
Do they even exist?
I was feeling a little down today, when this idea hit me. So yes, it's a little depressive and gloomy. I wanted to try something new. I tried to use the present tense throughout the whole story, but I slip a lot and don't necessarily notice the mistakes when I read through the text again. You have been warned.
3. Les cheveux bruns
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"Now, what shall I do to make you remember?"
The girl is sitting on the mahogany chair timidly, her hands clasped together and her shoulders raised. She does not know what to say to the intimidating vampire before her, and does not dare to move, in case it angers her abductor. Nicholas paces the room, mumbling to himself too quietly for her to hear.
At last he turns to gaze to his love. "I know! Remember that day in July, twenty years ago? It was raining, like it is now, and the air was colder than it should be in summer. Say you remember!"
But the girl only widens her eyes. Nicholas crosses the room in an instant, and now leans down towards his love, one hand on her upper arm. "Think! We lit a fire in the hearth, because you said you enjoyed the warmth, and then I did your hair. We just sat there the whole day, talking and laughing, and you were glowing in the light of the fire! You were so beautiful… Now your hair may be a different color and much longer than it was then, and maybe you won’t glow the same, but perhaps it will make the memories resurface! Yes, this is what we'll do. Go upstairs and change into the woolen pullover you have in your closet. It's similar to the one you were wearing that evening."
She shudders from his touch, and he quickly pulls his hand away. At first she does not move, but looks like she’s about to protest, but when she sees the look in the vampire’s blood red eyes, she rises to her feet and heads upstairs. She stops on the stairs once, glancing longingly at the front door, and then almost runs the rest of the way after hearing his impatient growl.
Nicholas places some wood in the ancient fireplace in the living room and lights it up with a match. The logs are dry and ignite almost instantly, the flames now casting a warm luminosity into the room. He then pushes an armchair closer to the fire and fetches a brush and some hair pins. The scene is very alike to the one that took place many years ago, and he smiles in delight. How long he has waited for this moment to arrive!
When the girl comes from her room again, she stops by the foot of the stairs, looking at the equipment and the vampire with fear. But he does not want her, this beautiful creature, to be afraid, and says with his most reassuring voice, "Come here, Julie, and sit down. I will not hurt you, like I've said so many times." The girl hesitantly walks over to the armchair, but does not sit down.
"You… you don't need to do my hair. I'm so sorry, I truly am, but I'm not Julie. I don't believe in reincarnation and things like that, and if you… you… killed Julie then she's probably not on this planet anymore." He does not answer, but pushes her on the armchair and takes a seat behind her.
"Your hair is very nice, now. I actually like it better this way. Thank god you were reborn as a human girl! I cannot imagine what I'd do if you were a man, or even worse - an animal! I'd love you all the same, I think… But this way it is definitely better." And so he takes her hair in his hands, and combs it through with his fingers. The girl shudders from his frosty touch, she even tries to pull away, but his grip is too strong, so she raises her knees up to her chest and closes her eyes.
He does not like her rigid position, but nothing he says can relieve her, so he ignores it instead, knowing it will pass once Julie is back.
"Your hair is very soft, I must say… yes, I definitely like it better now. Back then your hair was so thin, somehow. Don't get me wrong, I still loved every strand of it. But now I love it even more."
The girl starts trembling. After a moment of silence, the only sound coming from the brush in her hair, she finally mumbles without looking up, "Please stop. I-I'm not Julie. I'm not."
But he does not give in to her wishes, and says, "No, Julie, you don’t want me to stop. Isabella wants me to stop. But not you. Come back, please. We have so much to discuss. For one, I read this incredible book a few months back. I think you might like it very much. Maybe you already know it?"
And he talks to her about every book his has read in the last twenty years, every theatre he has visited, every movie he has seen. Every now and then he directs a question to the girl, but she never answers them, never even looks up from her knees. So he just ignores this gesture, and continues his monologue.
He has finished brushing the girl's hair, and is now piling it up on her head. He starts to place the pins in it, letting some random strands fall down, the way he remembers the woman of his time doing.
"I remember watching my sisters doing each other's hair… they were very pretty, young women, who would soon be married away. My father was a landlord, you see, and we had the fortune of being wealthier than many others of my time. And back then, only the fewest had the privilege of choosing their wives and husbands themselves. My father had picked out a young lady from a nearby town for me, Mary was her name, I believe. The memories fade pretty fast, so I don't remember much… I only know how much I despised her. She was the last woman on Earth I wanted to marry.
"I suppose what happened next was destiny. I was walking the grounds one evening, trying to come up with a way to get rid of my future wife, when I was attacked. The only thing I remember is something flying right at me, a bite at the throat and then the fire. Even today I do not know why that vampire stopped - perhaps someone interrupted him? Perhaps he came to second thoughts? I will never know. Either way, I lay there on the field for over three days. It is a wonder nobody found me. Later I found out that I was screaming at such a loud volume, that the peasants thought I was a demon and dared not come close. How right they were! A demon, indeed…"
His thoughts drift away at that, as he remembers his life before Julie. The many nights he spent alone, wondering if he would have to live that way forever… His hands drop down from the girl’s hair and land on both her shoulders. She shivers, once again, at the contact, her muscles tensing even more, but she does not look up. In her head, she is wishing for her real love to come, soon, to save her from this beast. She thinks about his angelic face, his gentle lips, his velvet voice, and immediately feels more homesick than she ever has before. A sob escapes her lips, which snaps the man out of his thoughts and back to reality.
"You still don't remember? This will be harder than I thought… please, are you even trying to remember?"
She raises her head for the first time to look deeply into the vampire’s eyes. "I'm…not…Julie,” she says slowly, emphasizing each word "That's why I can't remember. I'm not her. I'm just not. Please, let me go home."
Her voice sounds weak and miserable to his ears, and he sees that she has wept throughout the whole monologue. A flash of pain runs through his body, for he hates seeing his love so grieved. Without thinking, he bends down to give her a tight hug, tight, but not enough to hurt her. The girl shrinks back from his embrace, but he pretends not to notice and holds her even tighter. "Don't be upset. I'm sorry we have to go through this phase, but it is inevitable. You already are home."
"N-no! Let go of me!" The fear in her shriek is so evident, that the vampire releases her and takes a step back. With the light of the fire, the girl's ivory skin doesn’t look pale anymore, but has a healthy glow to it. And even with her eyes swollen and red and her trembling body, he can appreciate the sight of his gorgeous loved one. The urge to kiss her is almost too strong to resist.
"I'm sorry, love. Let us talk instead of touch, all right? Now, where should I begin… hmmm…"
Nicholas takes a step forward again, and sits on the armrest of the chair the girl is sitting in. "I know! Let's talk about the day we met, shall we? You often referred to it as the best day of your life."
The girl is staring at the flames in the fireplace, seemingly oblivious to his words. He knows that she is listening, however, and begins his third tale of the day.
"It was the first warm day of the year. Spring was well on its way, flowers blooming in the fields, birds singing their merry songs, the trees blossoming with colors of every kind, the scent gorgeous… The sun still hadn't set, even though it was well into the evening. I was pacing the streets, enjoying the sounds and smells of the beginning summer, for once not hunting, like I usually do in the evening.
"The path I was on was normally a deserted one. It didn't lead anywhere, and was mostly used for hiking, but who would hike at that time anymore? I thought I was safe from humans there, that I could run without disturbance. I was wrong.
"Suddenly, I heard humming. A human was close by; I could already smell the scent of her blood, calling me to feed on it… And though I had been planning to refer from killing that night, I couldn't help myself, and the predator in me took the reign. I started walking towards the source of the simple tune, slower, as not to scare the human away. You see, I like to enjoy my food, and often talk to my prey before revealing my real intentions. It gives me satisfaction to know that the last minutes of their lives weren’t miserable. And once the time comes for them to part from this world, it'll come too fast for them to even notice. I do not torture my prey."
The topic does not please the girl. She shudders at the thought of all the poor humans, who just happened to be walking down the wrong road at night. The vampire's hunting habits are not something she is interested in, though it does soothe her to know that if he decides to kill her after all, it will be painless. Nicholas notices his love's distress, and quickly moves on to another topic.
"As I was drawing closer to the unlucky human, my coming dinner, I couldn't help wondering why it felt so… off. There was nothing unusual about the situation, at first glance. But there was something in the air; no, not in the air - in me. Something new. A new feeling, perhaps, and I found that I quite enjoyed it. The melody that the human girl was humming was so calming, in a way. I felt myself slow down, as if I didn't want her to stop.
"The predator was losing his power over me. The craving for blood was drowned by a new urge - of being close to this girl? Was I losing me mind? Maybe I was, but I wasn't bothered by it. On the contrary, actually. The new emotions that had piled up in me caused me pleasure beyond measure, and I cherished the feeling.
"By now I had reached the human, and she had seen me approach. The humming ended, which immediately left me yearning for the sound. So I decided to talk to her, to be able to hear her voice again.
"'Hello, my lady. What are you doing here alone, on such a fine day?'
"'Uh, just walking, I guess… searching for signs of the coming summer.'
"You enjoyed being outdoors, observing the cycles that make up the course of nature. And I must say, that evening you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The reddish light of the setting sun illuminated your face in a way I had not thought possible. You positively glowed. The warm winds flushed your cheeks. And your eyes… ah, your eyes. They did not have the depth in them that they do now, but they were pure beauty. They glittered. In that instant, I forgot who I was, what I was, and only knew one thing - I was in love. With a human girl. And you had not spoken so much as a sentence yet! Ridiculous, you may think, but there was an undeniable bond between us from the very beginning. Later you told me you felt it, too. Love at first sight? No, it was more.
"I offered to walk with you, and you accepted. This surprised me; usually, humans understand to keep their distance from me, as though they know what a dangerous creature I am. But I could not find any hesitance in your eyes, like I do now. Yes, I see you are scared at the moment. But I assure you, none of that fear is reasonable."
The girl shakes her head. She still hasn't lifted her gaze from the warm fire, and her position is as tense as ever. In her head, she is picturing the story of the vampire and the girl, understanding only too well the emotions involved. She can easily identify herself with the human, and hadn't the vampire been about to commit a murder, she would be able sympathize with him, as well. But being held hostage by that very man did not aid any positive feelings towards him.
"That’s how it all began. But you do not remember."
"No. I couldn’t remember, seeing as I'm not her."
"Silly, silly Julie. Of course it's you."
A moan escapes the girl's lips. She is tired, so tired, of pleading with the vampire, and sees he is too stubborn and sure of himself to grasp the truth. Even though it is barely lunchtime, she feels exhausted, and wishes for nothing more than the familiar cold embrace of her real love. But that love is not there. Tears are rolling down her cheeks again, and she wonders how much she will have to cry before there are no tears left to wet her face.