Letters to Elise: A Peter Townsend Novella / Page 3

Page 3

“No, nothing like that,” he said with a small smile. “We’ll discuss it more later. But now, I see the thirst is getting to you. You must feed before it grows too strong.”

“Feed?” I echoed.

“Yes.” He turned and began walking up the stairs. “Come with me. It’s time you learn the proper way to be a vampire.”

May 23, 1852

There aren’t words fit to describe her. I still can’t believe in my own eyes. I’m writing as fast as the ink will allow me, but it’s not fast enough. Ever since I first saw her, I feel as though I’m going to burst.

Something has taken hold of me, something too large for my body to carry, and I must release it or perish.

I’ve never been one for hyperbole, so please believe this isn’t grandeur. As soon as I saw her, I was in love, horribly, deeply, irrevocably in love. It was as if my purpose in life suddenly became clear, as if every moment before this one only happened so I could see her, be near her, love her.

Nothing in life has ever made as much sense as this.

I want to run to the hillsides, climb to the rooftops, singing her name over and over. Elise, Elise, my love, my true, Elise.

All this time I’ve been here, travelling with Ezra, and we hadn’t seen her. We must’ve gone over every bit of countryside in all of Ireland, but somehow, we missed her. As if she’d been hiding, a treasure tucked away like a pot of gold.

The guilt I’ve felt these past two years has finally disappeared, like a weight from shoulders. For nothing about me can be as horrible as I’ve imagined, as I’ve feared. No creature such as Elise would ever speak to me if I was a monster.

I want to write down exactly how I found her, precisely as it happened, so I can remember this day forever, in perfect clarity. Even if tomorrow she leaves, I could survive forever on this one meeting, on this one beautiful, perfect day. So I cannot forget. I will not.

Ezra and I have been staying in the countryside, preferring the small villages to the cities. The rural areas have been hit the worst by the famine, and that is why we came here in the first place. Ezra had gotten word of the devastation in Ireland, of all the people dying of starvation.

After some debate, Ezra decided we should come here. We would be doing the people a favor, helping to ease the suffering.

Things were even worse than we’d expected. Children so small and frail with bellies round and distended. Fields filled with rotting, stinking potatoes. Bodies piled along the side of the road. Flies in swarms, the only things thriving in this kind of climate.

Well… perhaps not the only thing.

Initially, I was against the idea. It was the opposite that everything Ezra had ever taught me. Taking a human’s life is beyond my capacity. But when I saw how these people were dying, the slow agonizing death that starvation is, I understood that there were far worse things in life than death by vampyre.

Ezra chose carefully, looking for people he was certain wouldn’t survive and whose absence would benefit those around them. Like a family of five that only had enough to feed two.

Many humans called him the Angel of Death, and they were grateful when he’d finally come for them. To humans, Ezra did look much like an angel. He was beautiful in a way that I’d only imagined the seraphim could be. Calm and comfort seemed to flow from him, and he held his victims in his arms, giving them peace for the first time in so long.

Still, the guilt ate at me. I truly believed we were helping these people, ending their anguish in the only way we knew how, but death is not an easy burden to bear. Even a welcomed death.

We both ate much less frequently than we needed to. Once or twice a month at most. The humans were far too weak and frail to handle even the smallest blood loss, so every feeding meant death.

I’d begun to hate Ireland. When we’d first arrived, I’d been enchanted by the beautiful rolling moors. The grass here seemed so much greener than I’d seen before. Even with famine lurking around every hill, there was a certain lushness to the scenery I’d never seen in America.

But now I saw the grass that was so green because it grew from such tainted fertilizer. How many bodies were buried here? How many lives had been lost? Not just at mine and Ezra’s hand, but by the hands of our kind, or by disease and famine?

“Why does this happen?” I asked him, kneeling beside a fresh grave I’d dug myself. We always buried every body we came across, whether we made them or not.

“I don’t understand the question,” Ezra said, wiping the dirt from his hands onto his trousers.

“Why do people always die?”

“It’s as it is. As it should be,” he said, but the moonlight shone brightly on his expression, and I knew he’d asked himself that a thousand times before. “Everything dies.”

“But we don’t.” I stared up at him, hoping he would have some response, but I’d already began the realization that my maker didn’t know everything. He was no more a god than I was, with no more solutions than I had.

“We will,” he assured me, staring off in the distance. “Someday.”

“But why is it like this?” I got to my feet, unable to contain the anger and confusion inside me. “Why do all these innocent people suffer? How can children, who’ve barely even taken a breath, die in so much pain? How is there so much death in this world, and yet we live on?”

“I don’t know, Peter,” Ezra said. “But I’m afraid that the answer might be that you’re asking too much of this life. I don’t think there is a reason.”

“Asking for a reason isn’t too much.” I shook my head fiercely and clenched my fists. “Suffering requires a reason.”

“We’ve spent too much time out here.” Ezra lowered his eyes and turned away from me, walking towards the road. “The isolation is getting to you.”

“What isolation?” I asked, following him. “I’m with you always.”

“I’m not enough.” He quickened his steps, inciting me to hurry along with him. “I’m death as much as anything around here. You need to be around life. We’re going to the city.”

“How will that help? Life is only a prelude to death,” I insisted. “Being around living vital people will only serve as a reminder that soon they will be still and motionless in the ground.”

“Sometimes the best course in the search for the meaning of life is to busy yourself until you forget that you don’t know the meaning of life,” Ezra said finally.

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