Finding What We Want
Sunday, September 12
Buchanan State Forest, Southern Pennsylvania
Sunday morning, I’m waking up.
Can’t even focus on a coffee cup.
Don’t even know whose bed I’m in.
Where do I start? Where do I begin?
Abigale rolled over and regarded the figure slumbering beside her, as the Chemical Brothers song played softly from his computer speakers. “Well,” she whispered, “your name’s Daniel. I know that much.” One finger idly traced the graceful curve of his neck where it met the lean muscle of his shoulder. He didn’t stir, but she watched as his chest rose and fell in a quiet, hypnotic rhythm. “And you have good taste in music.”
Gently extricating herself from his sleeping embrace, she rose from the bed and wandered into the living room of his small apartment. The spicy scent of sandalwood incense still hung in the air, and a handful of candles sputtered silently as she passed. The mp3 player on the computer shuffled again, and Tori Amos’ Aching Heart mix of the Cure’s “Lovesong” started to play.
Whenever I’m alone with you,
you make me feel like I’m young again.
Whenever I’m alone with you,
you make me feel like I’m whole again.
She laughed ruefully to herself, and hugged her arms to her chest, staring around her bleakly. Here in this man’s apartment, filled as it was with all the trappings of a normal, human life, she felt old, empty, and broken despite the warmth of his blood as it flowed in her veins.
She’d found him in a state park not too far from her haven, perched on a rock outcropping along one of the lesser-used trails that was little more than a deer track through the woods, playing a battered guitar. Young, maybe twenty-five, with that rugged new-age backpacker look. They’d talked music for a while, as casual and easy as old friends, and he’d invited her to come back to his place for tea and more music. Innocently trusting. After the previous weekend’s frantic, desperate, drug-hazed interactions, innocently trusting appealed to her.
His clumsy flirtations were almost comical, but she’d let him lead her back to his apartment, had listened to his love songs and let him make her tea. His hands were rough but warm, and his hungry kisses brought out in her a desperate need to remember what it was like to feel someone’s breath warm in her ear, to listen to the steady beat of a heart keeping time with her own.
But her heart didn’t beat unless she willed it, and as his passion rose to the point of overwhelming her senses, the sound of his blood rushing in his veins drowned all else. She wasn’t human, would never be again, and she pulled him into the Kiss, all other desire temporarily forgotten. His blood filled her mouth and there was nothing but the Beast’s animal pleasure, his life flowing into her, his world becoming her own. There was borrowed fire in her soul, for the briefest of moments.
But now the young man slept soundly in a tangle of bed sheets, all remnants of the Kiss healed. In the morning, he would remember a pretty young girl with strange eyes who had come back to his apartment and talked music and drank tea before they fell asleep together, innocent companions too tired to be anything more. She looked around her at the detritus of his all-too-human life: coat tossed casually over the arm of the couch, bills piled on the coffee table, pictures of family scattered amongst the posters on the walls, half-eaten sandwich getting stale on the kitchen counter.
This wasn’t her world anymore. She could visit it, for a time, but only as someone else, living it through someone else’s name, someone else’s face, someone else’s memories.
She padded silently back into the bedroom and watched for a moment as the tangled sheets rose and fell with his breathing. So fragile… So easy to destroy, so easy to manipulate. So easy to make into one of your own… She reached out and laid her fingers on the side of his neck, feeling the steady pulse of his heartbeat beneath the thin layers of skin, then jerked her hand back abruptly. The claws had grown of their own accord, wickedly sharp against his soft flesh, without her willing them into being. Horrified, she watched as tiny beads of blood welled brightly where they had rested.
Daniel stirred, moaning softly, and she leaned down and licked the blood from his skin, then soothed him back into deep sleep with a whispered word. A sudden realization brought a soft smile to her lips. Let him sleep, she thought. There was another, somewhere in the night, whose skin didn’t break quite so easily, and who already knew most of her darkest secrets. And the rest were only a matter of time...
She blew out the candles in the living room and then faded slowly into mist, slipping out through the bedroom window screen. The night was still young, and the wind carried with it the howl of a wolf…