“But I’ll feel another’s. And so will you. If I can’t bear that thought—the thought of you touching anyone—” I placed his hand over my heart, “—how can you possibly bear to think of me being with someone else?”
He laughed out a breath. “It makes me feel hollowed out in the pit of my stomach. But what choice do I have? I am a mourner without tears, a wild stallion locked in a stable—powerless to change my position.”
“I know you are, Ara.” He hooked his finger under my chin and rolled my face upward. “But you should not have to apologise for the desires of your heart.”
“I disagree. I love you the way you are. Never change that.” He touched my chest.
“Do you…” I looked up into his green, loving eyes. “Do you think we’ll ever stop missing each other, or that maybe, one day, you’ll be able to forget me?”
“Forget you?” His tone dropped all comprehension. “Do you not understand? My love, I won’t just miss you. I will exist as if I were a rose without the grace of rain. There will be no peace for me—ever.”
“Then why?” I pushed away from him and took a step back. “Why did Fate bring us together? Why did we find each other only to be forced apart?”
“We found each other, my love, but maybe Fate had nothing to do with it. What if we just weren’t meant to be?”
“Perhaps, but, if so, you are the one mistake I will never regret.”
“I don’t want to be somebody’s mistake.”
“Cosmic glitch then,” he said kindly, and I smiled. But, sadly, I knew exactly what he meant, because I felt the same way. Neither of us would recover from this, but it’d been worth all the pain. I knew a love more perfect and more devastating than any other feeling I’d ever had in my life, and I owed that to this man, who had very unfortunate timing.
Our eyes met in a standstill of anguish and indecision. Neither of us could find the words to make everything okay—it would never be okay.
The school bell ringing in the distance broke the silence in my room. It seemed so stupid to me then; school, life, everything in the wake of the thought that I’d lose David forever. Going to school, living life like normal was an empty, silly idea.
“You better call the school and tell them you’re sick today,” David said, standing across the room, his shoulder against the window frame. “Roll call will start soon. They’ll alert your dad if you’re not there.”
I didn’t even see him move. I wanted to walk over and touch my fingertips to his spine where the morning light shadowed and highlighted the contours, but I wasn’t sure why he walked away—or if he wanted me to touch him. I stayed motionless, watching David’s thoughts fall away from the hold of his gaze and onto the world below my room, while my thoughts consumed the empty space around us. I didn’t care that he could hear them, and I didn’t care that if Vicki came home early from shopping she’d find David and I ditching school. Nothing mattered to me in the same way it used to. It all just seemed inconsequential with the idea that these were the last touches of light I would ever see on his skin. I would never know the summer sun glistening behind his emerald eyes again, never see it kiss his hair with tones of gold, and never again feel it warm his fingers while he played my guitar, sitting in front of me in a world of childhood dreams, as innocent as a sweet smile.
All we had was one last day, where we would watch the sun set before our eyes, and bring with it the darkness of eternal nights. There would be no way to prevent it; it would come, and even the nights would disappear in a countdown around us until he was gone.
But I would forever be David’s girl. I knew I’d look for him in the face of every man I passed for the rest of my life, and though my physical existence on Earth would end one day, I knew in my heart that I would love him, too—for eternity.
“Come on.” He turned suddenly and smiled, offering his hand. “Let’s not waste this day on solemn thoughts.”
“What do you want to do then?” I took his hand.
“What song?” I asked, grabbing the guitar when he pointed to it.
I stopped for a second and watched him sink down on my bed. “You write songs?”
“Course I do.” He patted the space of mattress between his legs. “Sit here.”
“O…kay.” I sat with my back against his chest, and David took the guitar, positioning it across my lap in front of us. “What’s the song called?”
“What’s it about?” I asked, letting David take my fingers and place them on the strings.
“No. It’s not a goodbye song; it’s a love song…” his tone softened away to near silence. “It was just written with the tears of farewell.”
Somehow, that made it hurt more.
David smiled against the side of my face, then took my hand again. “After the first chord, place your fingers here.”
“What’s that chord? I’ve never seen it before.”
“I think I invented it.” He kind of laughed, then strummed it once.
“Yes.” He arranged my fingers on different strings and pressed them down firmly, as if to ask if I had it. I nodded. “Okay. I’ll whisper the chords as we go along. I want you to know this song by heart, Ara.”
He moved my fingers back to the A Minor—the first chord. “So you can play it when you miss me.”
I didn’t want to think about that right now. “Who says I’m going to miss you?” I said playfully instead.
“My love—” he pulled me closer, reaching his right hand around to the guitar, “—if you never, not for even one second, miss me once I’m gone, then I will be happy eternally. But we both know that won’t be the case,” he teased.
“You’re so sure of yourself, aren’t you?’
“Only with good reason.” He pecked my cheek, drawing a smile to my lips, and gave the song life in the same breath, his fingers dancing in an elaborate pattern over the strings. We changed chords then, and the flow of my favourite notes, nearly each and every one I ever loved, filled every corner of the darkness in my heart. I could’ve sworn the room even illuminated with bright, white light. It was as if he’d written down every song that ever made me feel something, and combined them, crafting the notes with an ethereal life-force.
He whispered the next chord in my ear, moving his fingers with mine.
I wanted to separate myself from this world, try not to feel all the pain, the loss, the dying hope of the future climbing to the surface, making me want to cry. I just couldn’t believe he’d be gone soon. Two weeks. Just two weeks, and I would never, ever see him again; never feel his breath on my skin again, never look into those emerald eyes, never kiss his soft, dark-pink lips.
He said it wasn’t a goodbye song, but it had all the sadness of parting in the flow of its notes. How could I not cry; how could I not fall to my knees right now and beg the universe for one chance? Just one little piece of hope that there’d be a happy ending for us. I’d give anything. Anything for that.
The song floated softly to a haunting end, leaving the room silent for a heartbeat. I tried to take a breath but it came out of my lungs instead of going in, making the grief shriek from my lips.
I covered my face as David pried the guitar from my tight grip and placed it on the ground, pulling me against him on my pillows. “Shh. It’s all okay, my love. Everything will be okay.”
But he didn’t believe that. He couldn’t even convince himself.
He stroked my hair back, tucking me up like he’d never let go. “I’ll never stop loving you, Ara. You know that, don’t you?”
I nodded, hiccups quietening to soft sobs. “And you know I will too, right?”
He nodded against the top of my head, kissing my hair after, and the last of my strength dissolved. I closed my eyes and drifted away in his arms, allowing myself to dream, for a moment, that things were different—that David and I could be together for the rest of my life.
Our future danced around in my head like a short film—a black and white. I walked toward that boy at the end of the aisle, whose green eyes reflected the awe in his heart as they fell over my white dress, his joy dissolving my nerves, making the people in the pews disappear. It was just he and I, alone, on the edge of fulfilling one of our hearts’ greatest desires.
As I finally came to stand beside him, he took my hand and smiled down at my bouquet; a soft, simple piece of completely white roses, with one immaculately blossomed red one set centre.
“What’s that one for?” David’s soft, warm breath brushed the top of my head, waking my mind a little.
“The part of my heart that will never belong to anyone else; the part of me that will always be only yours.”
“How appropriate,” he said, and shifted under me as he reached into his pocket. “I have something—a gift for you—which comes bearing the exact same sentiment.”
I looked up to the golden light of the morning sun on my walls, my eyes drifting from David’s lips, down the curve of his arm around my waist, to his closed fist. “What is it?”
He unfolded his fingers, revealing a pool of delicate silver chain, slightly covering a heart-shaped locket. “So you may never forget that you—” he pointed to the engraved rose, “—are in my heart.”
“David, it’s beautiful.” I turned the locket over and ran my finger over the fine inscription on the back; though I wasn’t sure, it looked like it was written in French. “What does it say?”
“Tu m’appartiens.” He kissed my cheek and smoothed my hair back, leaving a cool tingle behind where he linked the chain around my neck.
As it fell onto my chest, just below my collarbones, my hand rose up instantly to hold it tight. “What does that mean?”
He slowly pressed his lips to my ear. “You belong to me.”
“I like that,” I said, sitting back against him, and he wrapped his arms across my waist, holding me that way until the sun went down, stealing away the last day of our forever.
Orange shadows stretched across the highway in the early morning sun, and my thoughts, distant and reflective, seemed lost far beyond the car window too. I leaned my weary head on the glass, trying to hold on to that last moment before everything changed.
Today, for the first time, I woke to the sting of normality; coffee, with its unusual ability to make everything seem okay; toast on the table when I came down, feeling the early morning chill on my bare arms, and quiet conversation with Dad—trying not to wake the rest of the house.
Even though Mike was arriving today, excitement was not the first feeling I had as my alarm startled me from peaceful slumber; it was devastation, weighed down with a tight ache in my throat called sorrow. It was kinda fitting really, that the last time I saw Mike, I was in exactly the same state of mind as I was now—miserable. I really thought Mike’s coming to stay would ease the pain of losing David. But I was wrong.
Dad moved his gaze from the road and smiled at me; I knitted some semblance of a grin across my face, but the world couldn’t make me smile for real, and in two weeks, when David left forever, I’d never smile again. Unless I became a vampire.
Thing was, with the days of losing him coming closer and closer, the idea of killing for love seemed less horrific. Not enough that I was ready to tell him that—or think it around him. I just…I just needed guidance—a sign.
The music in the car became louder when one of Dad’s favourite songs came on, and as we turned onto the long stretch of highway toward the airport, a black billboard with a white circle of light caught my attention. I spun in my seat and read the words as we whizzed past: Let Fate Decide.
Dad turned the radio off then, leaving me feeling exposed in the silence as an idea took shape. I sat back in my chair, smiling. Maybe if I couldn’t decide what to do, I could ask a higher power to grant me an epiphany—or at least an answer. Mike loved me, but he, in no way, loved me like I loved him. It would take some miracle for his heart to change, just like the kind of miracle it would take to convince me to go with David and be a murderer. So maybe that was it; maybe that was my answer. If Mike magically confessed his undying love for me, I’d stay human, live my life, have babies, and one day die. But, if I was right, if he really only loved me as a friend, then it’d be a sign that I should throw away childish beliefs about meeting ghosts of the past in the hereafter, let go the hope of one day being a mother, discard all my moralistic beliefs, and go with David—become a vampire.
It was perfect; like rolling the dice and saying ‘seven’.
Dad looked sideways at me and changed gears as we slowed, coming into the airport. “You excited?” he asked.
Part of me wanted to tell Dad about the ‘Tragic Rejection Moment’ between Mike and I, but the sensible part said, “It’s just been a while, is all. I’m not sure if we’ll be friends like we used to.”