I was optimistic, in the borrowed finery of a film star’s optimism, and the clothes I had stolen along my way. When I passed windows I looked just like a girl out of the movies, ready to run into the arms of the waiting man who loved her. It was 1967 and I was sick of being alone in my own darkness. Alice/Jasper
1. Woke Up New
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1905 Review this Chapter
Looking back, my earliest memories are not memories at all, but a blank, all-consuming, darkness. As if the black hole of my mind ate away at whatever shadows should have haunted me. As if, in exchange for my growing ability to understand the future, I had surrendered my memories of the past. But at the time of my birth, or death as it may be, I was wholly consumed by his image. He was not the sun in my eternal night, for I had not yet fully grasped the concept that there would be so many days of thick confusion and dangerous learning ahead of me. He was my existence for those first few minutes, he was the world itself and the only thing that would ever be real for me.
His blood red eyes were not frightening to me for they held no threat, only sadness and longing. I knew when he looked at me that I was what he had been waiting for and I felt an apology rising in my throat that he had to wait when I was born before his very eyes. His face awed me, his expression of combined hope and despair made me feel light inside despite the dead weight in my chest. There were no comparisons to make, no explanation for his beauty, he was the first thing I had ever seen, or ever been able to remember.
There were too many words and all felt unfamiliar. I whimpered slightly and I could feel the questions in my voice even without the articulation. Who are you? Who am I? What’s happened?
My hand reached out to touch the face, to soothe the pain, and he was gone. There was daylight and the sun and I was lying out in the grass in a bloodied white night gown. No image out of my surroundings was familiar and yet nothing was new. I understood the words for what I was seeing, understood I was sitting on the ground in a clearing of trees but not why. I had no concept of what I was, of the difference between myself and the young man, that I prematurely knew I would kill, who would pass into the clearing alone only minutes after my waking.
I, however, understood the immediate desire and thirst and hunger that I felt as his scent met my nostrils. As far as I was concerned at that moment, he was conceived for my need, brought into the clearing for my purposes. I stood from the ground, unaware that the alarming sight of my skin flashing under the sun, the alarming sight of a small girl in a blood soaked gown was shocking my prey into staying still. I had broken his arms in my effortless grasp before he even had a chance to be frightened of me.
My vision blurred then, and there he was there, my first vision. That face that I would follow unwittingly into whatever it asked of me. We were in a field with others, a man and woman smiling back at us as we raced through the open land chasing our prey, a family of deer. He turned to me, his eyes alight with an expression that made my skin feel suddenly hot. I understood my future then. That despite the fact that this young man whimpering and dying between my small hands was obviously born to feed me, or I was born to devour him, there would be a day when I would not break a body between my hands.
The vision passed and I looked down at the pained expression of the young man whose body was so similar in shape to mine. I was preying on something so closely related to myself. But he was broken now, and I was not yet the girl in the field with the man that loved me at my side. I fed and tasted the first heavy, heady mouthful of blood wondering how I could possibly ever give up this hunger, surrender this need. As the boy went limp in my curiously strong arms and as I drained his life out of his body I began to understand that this was a thirst and desire that might destroy me one day.
Perhaps I was naturally curious, or perhaps it was my foresight into the years that awaited me, the decades of searching but never quite reaching the man I so desperately wanted, but I learned quickly.
After discovering that I was incapable restraining myself from feeding on humans I retreated into the mountains. I knew that I would have to take careful measures, find myself a spot where I could find animals but not people. But I was strong, unnaturally so as I learned, and I could hide myself in caves and crevices that were impossible for humans to reach, too difficult to scale for their weak forms. I spent my early years grappling at the future, learning as much as I could from what was available.
The home, the family of gentle hunters who called me Alice, was always there. Carlisle, the leader, was the consistent figure in my visions, always welcoming, always ready to help me learn. There was a young man, Edward, handsome and dark but solemn, that I obviously felt a keen friendship to, but after a time he disappeared from the visions. Finally the woman I had seen in my first vision, Esme, began to appear consistently. I longed for her comforting voice, her assurance that was so true to me, even in a vision that I had not yet confirmed would take place.
More important than the family was him, Jasper, my mate. My visions of him wavered, and sometimes did not come at all. They could be ugly and violent, and I fought the desire to escape from my hiding and find him to comfort him, to ease the regret he felt at his manner of surviving. The visions of us together fueled my patience and impatience, tender and strong as they were, visions of a happiness that was too foreign to feel completely true. For a long time I believed that I was meant to wait and he would find me, perhaps I was left with that impression after awaking into my half-life with his face to greet me. Waiting was painful, and over the years I could sense no change in his life. Eventually I knew it would be up to me to find him, to show and explain our life together with the others, the family we would have.
With great time, I was uncertain how much but I knew that I had not lost the chance to find him, my blood lust eased. I left the wilderness, but did not enter the cities that had grown around me. I kept to the fringe of civilization, aware that my thirst might have lessened but was most certainly not gone. I kept to my diet of animals with renewed focus from the meditative practice of spying into the future. I carefully tested my will and felt unusually proud of myself when I could be in proximity with a human and not need to attack. I was living a game of Dare with myself, and I was lucky to survive those years without feeling the racking guilt of killing a human.
I was impatient for him, for my Jasper. I followed the fringe paths of one city to another, knowing from the greenery around me that I was not near him. I saw him in heat and dry land, hot desert days in hiding and cold dry nights in violence. I continued to test my resolve, allow myself to cross paths with humans. It’s possible that my prideful sense of success when the humans left the encounters wary but unscathed was naïve, but I knew that Carlisle and Esme and Edward, who had returned in my visions, would be proud of me.
The traveling was frustrating for a time. I was confused and lost more often than not. The closer to the heat and dry climate I got, the harder it was to stay out of the sun. I began to spend days hiding in theaters, watching movies. Not in the audience among all the humans, but behind the screen with the tall and imposing reversed image. I learned about humanity there. Romance and laughter and pain that could be represented beautifully. There was violence too, and my first awareness that what I was had a name; Vampire. Monster. Killer. I saw the similarities. I was not a figure in a cloak with long canine teeth who arose out of a coffin. But I was a body that rose out of death, a body that preyed against the neck of human victims. A new concept began to tickle the back of my mind. According to these movies, female vampires were human bodies born in death from the bite of another vampire. Was this a false notion, like so many of the others in the movies, or did it have relevance? Was there a reason behind my existence aside from Jasper’s obvious need of me?
I learned to avoid the movies about monsters like myself, and movies with too much blood that caused an unreasonable lust and hunger to rise up inside of me. I preferred the films that I could hear the happy reaction of the audience through the screen. I liked the happy characters that bantered lovingly to one another. I liked the beautiful women in beautiful clothing who seemed to be happy and at peace even when tears ran down their cheeks. I liked Audrey Hepburn a great deal. She was small and dark and there was a certain resemblance between our large eyes and brittle frames, although mine was deceptive and hers was likely genuine. I could never quite tame my short hair into looking as elegant as hers, but I found that a scarf wrapped around my hair and neck, and a copy of oversized sunglasses could make me look charmingly human.
I learned to keep track of time and was surprised how quickly it could pass when I paid attention. Fifteen years went by as I carefully made my way into the south and across the country. I learned resistance to my blood lust, and hesitatingly experimented with being around humans, I learned to blend in. Audrey Hepburn dazzled me alongside the many romantic male faces of the time. She was a princess, a chauffeur’s daughter, a blossoming model. She became an icon of human frailty, an optimistic girl solving a mystery to save her life, an ignorant pauper turned refined lady, a contrary heiress with a family of secrets and funny untruths. In the end, the last of her I saw, she haunted me the most as a blind woman grappling in her own darkness to protect herself.
I was close by now, or so it felt in the heat of the desert. I could not be far from him, from my waking dream, Jasper. I was optimistic, in the borrowed finery of a film star’s optimism, and the clothes I had stolen along my way. When I passed windows I looked just like a girl out of the movies, ready to run into the arms of the waiting man who loved her. It was 1967 and I was sick of being alone in my own darkness.