Such a damaged four letter word that is often disregarded as nothing more than a thoughtless emotion. I can remember a time when love was love, an action and not a verbal declaration.
I miss those days.
Perhaps you believe that my current state mars me from understanding, let alone feeling love.
It’s all that I have ever wanted and all that I truly believe that I need to keep me living.
Sadly put…I need love.
I lost the love of my life when we were both young; she was eighteen, delicate, sweet and primed for marriage and I, twenty-one. Any man at that age at that time was considered way past his prime for finding an ideal mate to marry. But I was confident that I would find that one woman and I did when I saw her.
Her name was Simone, a Caribbean beauty who nothing of the word slave nor the trying times that the United States had faced but came to this country bright eyed and eager for work. She was hired as a maid for the State Mayer family; a well to do family with a brood of children who they could not keep a handle on and went through a handful of black maids before Simone arrived. It was gentle demeanor but firm actions that made the diplomatic parents adore her and their children respect her.
I had set my sights on her while walking through the market on my way to work. Her warm cinnamon eyes met mine in a sudden flash which was followed by a nervous smile. Her plump, pink lips were inviting and her eyes were just as enticing. Immediately, I offered to help her carry the groceries back to the State Mayer home and shyly, she obliged.
From that day on, Simone and I were inseparable. Needless to say that our love blossomed in a matter of months and shortly into six months, I asked Simone to marry and she accepted. I found my love, I found my peace of mind in that woman but little did I know that our engagement and our lives would be short lived.
It was just an hour or two after dusk and like clockwork, I picked up my love from the State Mayer estate. Mother State Mayer always greeted me at the door and watched us walk away with a joyous gleam in her eye. She would watch us until we disappeared beneath the willows. That night, we took our normal route home, taking in the new life that the darkness brought and watch the street lights flicker to life. We did decide to stop at Logan’s Bakery before we headed home, grabbed a fresh peach pie then continued on home.
We walked hand in hand and I listened to her talk about her day at the “crazy house” as she called it. I laughed when she mentioned one the kids clogging the toilet with a towel and a wooden toy soldier and she giggled when I told her the story of a white man second guessing my accounting. Even after I revealed to him that he did in fact make a profit. We didn’t have a care in the world as we walked, ignoring the world around us like we always did.
But that day, I wish we didn’t.
With only five more blocks between, our regular stroll was cut short. A man stepped out from an alley in front of us; his face concealed by dark shadows and his body slender but intimidating.
“Evening sir.” I said, unsure of the proper salutation. This man was a friend- one who accepted the end of segregation or he was a foe-one who was bitter and was anxious for the second coming of the Holocaust but this time for blacks. Either way, the man didn’t speak when I spoke and that made me nervous but I spoke again, “Excuse us, sir. I need to get my fiancée home. She’s had a very long day.” I squeezed Simone’s hand then proceeded to step forward and the dark figure did the same.
“Vincent let’s just cross the street.” Simone whispered, keeping her eyes on the man and trying to pull me in the other direction but I refused to budge.
“Excuse us, sir.” I said again, “My fiancée and I…”
“Such a beautiful woman she is…” The man said. He stepped closer to us, bringing more of his features into the light. His copper skin appeared ashen and his features were stark; shadows cut into his long face, exposing his muscular cheekbones and chiseled jaw line. Beneath the light too, I saw his translucent brown eyes.
“Jesus…” Simone gasped. She clutched my arm tighter. “Vincent, what’s wrong with him?”
“I-I don’t know.” I said then spoke to the stranger again, “Are you ill sir?” The man chuckled softly to himself, amused by my naïve tone maybe. He advanced closer with his eyes fixed on Simone.
“Such beauty should be place on a canvas for the entire world to see.” He reached for my fiancée’s hand but she snapped it away.
“While I am flattered by your compliment, sir. I must say how distasteful it is of you to say such things in front of my fiancé.” His pallor eyes met mine for a split second then returned to Simone.
“I’m sure a man of his age cannot truly appreciate your beauty as I can.” He caressed Simone’s face; her body went rigid, her eyes brightened and the grip she had on my arm loosened then faded.
“Simone…” the man sang her name, “Beautiful woman, beautiful name….beautiful life.”
Her fingers released from the edges of my sleeve and I watched link hands with the stranger. Her russet eyes were fixed on him as if she was enchanted by him. He pulled her body close to his then embraced her like a lost love.
“Simone… I called again. The man smiled but it was his eyes that struck me deep; they were no longer pale brown, instead they burned bright red.
“It’s not use, Vincent. She’s mine now.” His smile widened to a grin and revealed his long while canine teeth.
A vampire. We had encountered a vampire.
The beast stroked her hair, luring her thick locks to one side of her neck and I heard him inhale deeply, “Beautiful…life.” He beamed.
“Please don’t do this.” I spoke up. “Please. I love her. Her life is too precious to be taken.”
“And what would you do for the one you love so much?” He asked with a smile.
“Anything.” I answered without hesitation.
“Anything.” The vampire repeated. “What a noble answer.”