She sits, in the darkness, haunting the corner of the room where the shadows dance. The fire flickers and illuminates her pale face. She is beautiful, as ever; timeless, forever young, but her large dark eyes appear increasingly fuller of a silent sorrow, which she carries around upon her strained shoulders.
I call her name, but my love does not reply, or indeed acknowledge that she heard me, perhaps she didn’t, as her eyes gaze forward, in another intense daydream.
I call again, but I am interrupted by the domineering chimes of the grandfather clock. It breaks the spell; Martha has returned to the room and her sweet face turns to face me.
‘It is time, my love,’ I tell her gently.
She nods, her eyes are now void of emotion and it is difficult to tell what she is thinking. I don’t understand her disinterest, my body yearns for the blood of another. The tips of my sharp fangs can almost taste the scarlet nectar, I crave the metallic red, the pierced skin of a slender human neck. But, not her. It’s as though she is giving up, surrendering and collecting dust. It seems as though she doesn’t enjoy it any longer. I hope this isn’t true.
I race out into the liberating, cold night, the chill of the wind is exhilarating as it runs through my hair. I tightly clasp hold of Martha’s hand, taking her with me, showing her that this is us, what we do, and what we love. She seems to remember, at least for a short while, as her eyes twinkle with that irresistible glimpse of danger and thirst, and her fangs are visible underneath that luscious, soft top lip of hers.
A pretty maiden takes a wrong turn, though the right one for me as I grab her and take away her being. I hadn’t fed for a few days, and I was ravenous, I quite drained the young lady, finally satisfying my appetite.
‘Your turn, my love,’ I say.
I hold her hand again and we head, quietly and furtively, towards the town, full of sleeping residents and the odd intoxicated reveller, clumsily snaking their way back home, smelling of beer, which infiltrates our sensitive nostrils.
Martha peers into the windows of the tiny slum houses, she counts the people, so crowded into the small, oppressive rooms. Then, she stops, suddenly, and I don’t recognise her facial expression.
‘What is it, my dear?’ I ask, rushing to her side at once.
She points to a child; a little girl, she is fast asleep, her hair is a mass of ginger ringlets, spread out, over the pillow which rests her head.
‘I want her,’ cries Martha, in a whisper containing so much longing and pain that I am speechless to her request.
‘A child, I yearn for a child, Alistair. Please?’
She begs me as blood-red tears soak her perfect face.
‘Martha, no, not a child, you cannot think to change a child, this would be no life for her.’
I attempt to pull Martha away from the window, but I see that she is bewitched by the sleeping infant; her rosebud mouth twitches slightly as she dreams and Martha cannot take her eyes off her.
‘I could be her mother,’ Martha pleads.
‘No, my love, no.’
But Martha doesn’t hear my words, she opens the window and she begins to step inside.
‘Martha, don’t,’ I say, to her back.
She turns around, one last time, and looks right into my eyes.
‘Forgive me,’ she asks, and then she is gone.