Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Five - 5 First Person POV

 
Some readers enjoy reading a first person point of view, while others can't stand it. As a writer, I seem to return to it every once in a while. Here are five stories that are include the character(s) speaking directly.

~~~


Are you trying to make me look like a Lolita, and Will like a pervert? Let’s set things straight, all right? I was twenty-two when he first let me kiss him, and it was five years later before we did anything more than that. The age difference will always be there, of course, but you don’t have to make it look so bad.

While we’re at it, that’s not how I remember the events of that night. I do remember squeezing his hand, because I wanted to say thank you—for bringing me home, months earlier, for talking to my mother, for being kind—but I didn’t quite know how. Also, I don’t think I was smiling that much. Hell, the sirens had been blaring for at least two hours when we evacuated. I was scared I was going to die, or if not me, Mom or Paul. I can’t possibly have smiled that much. I don’t care what you think you know, I just didn’t.

As for Will… You’re not explaining much about him, are you? I guess that means I have to.

The reason why he came to our door was the same reason he had for walking through my street so often when he patrolled the town, or even for deciding to evacuate my street and not the next one. It’s also the same reason why he kisses me every time we leave for a fight. As old as he is, with everything he has seen, all the battles he has fought, he still needs something to fight for. He needs an image at the back of his mind of the people he’s helping to keep safe.
When he first met me, in the cemetery, he didn’t have that connection anymore, he told me, long after we had become lovers. So, he picked me and my family as the people he’d fight for, the people he would do everything in his power to protect. With his influence in town, ‘everything in his power’ turned out to be quite a lot when I joined the Guard, and we had a couple of heated arguments about that. He can be so stubborn!

His need for someone to keep alive was also why he was so upset when I was turned. I thought he would kill my Sire when I rose as a vampire. For the longest time, I told myself he had just been jealous that he wasn’t the one to turn me, but now I know better. I know him better. Still, even after all this time, he always manages to surprise me.

~~~


When I first saw Jeffrey standing outside the diner that night, I thought I was dreaming.

I had seen him dozens, hundreds of times since he had disappeared. Everywhere I looked, his silhouette seemed to cling to the shadows, the profile of his face seemed to wait for me at the other end of the diner or in the back of the bus. I knew it was my imagination, of course, but at the same time, I continued to hope. How could I not?

It’s a strange thing when the police come knocking on your door to tell you someone you love is dead. It’s one of those things that only happens on TV or in movies, to someone else, maybe, someone unfortunate, but not to you. When they come to tell you that he’s dead but there’s no body to bury, it’s even more surreal. I remember asking them how they knew, how they could be sure, telling them it was a mistake and of course Jeffrey would come home. He loved me, and he would come back.

I remember their reply that vampires can’t love more clearly than I do their explanation of how they knew he was one. I believed neither.
When they left, they gave me two business cards. One was the card for their department at the police station; ‘Blood Crimes Unit,’ it was called. Just the name was enough to make me feel faintly nauseous. The second was the card for a local Special Enforcer.

“If he does come for you,” they warned me, “it will not be because he loves you. Don’t hesitate to call. It could save your life.”

I threw both cards away, but only after tearing them to pieces.

Jeffrey came back, like I had been so sure he would. I couldn’t say what made me look up at that moment. It was like someone whispering into my ear, telling me, “Look who’s there. You were right, after all.”

I didn’t stop to think about the police’s warning, or about the horror stories our ‘friends’ had thought necessary to recount after the funeral, stories of a cousin or roommate whose friend or great-uncle had once known a vampire, and how different the vampire had been, bloodthirsty and cold, in all senses of the word. At no point did it occur to me as I ran out of the diner—throwing a quick, choked up, “Jeffrey’s back” to my boss behind the counter—that the man toward whom I was running would be any different from the man I remembered.

And when his arms closed around me, when I felt his body tremble against mine, I knew I was right.

Later, after we talked, after we walked home, I remembered those warnings and heeded them. But for now…

Jeffrey—my Jeffrey, my love and lover—was back. He had come back to me. That was all that mattered for now.

~~~


The elevator doors opened with a whisper. Virginia was leaving. I could stop her still. All I would have needed to do was go to her. Call her name. A word, maybe even just a look, and I was sure she would stay. With me. Here. Anywhere, probably. For as long as I wanted. As long as I let her.

I didn’t move.

I couldn’t.

I couldn’t move or call her back, just like I hadn’t been able to sleep that night, and for the same reason. If I had allowed myself to sleep by her side again then, if I moved now, I’d never let her go. Only pain lay that way.

The thing about living as long as I have is that there comes a time when you can’t fool yourself anymore. You can try, of course. You can ignore the warning signs. You can tell yourself that you’re not feeling what you know perfectly well you are, indeed, experiencing. You can pretend you still have time to pull back from the fire without getting burned.

I did all this. I lied to myself. And the whole time, I knew I was lying.

That’s why I didn’t stop Virginia. That’s also why I listened intently for the elevator to return, and clenched my hands on the sheets when I heard the doors again, then steps coming toward my room. For the few seconds that it lasted, hope was bittersweet.

“Silly man.”

Leaning against the doorjamb, Mary crossed her arms and shook her head as she looked at me. Her expression matched her voice: exasperated. I rolled onto my stomach, turning my face away from her. I hadn’t forgiven her yet for chaining me up. I wouldn’t forgive her either for bringing Virginia to New York. At least, not any time soon.

I couldn’t forgive her, and yet at the same time I was grateful. That was what thoughts of Virginia did to my mind.

It would have been too much to hope that Mary would leave me alone. With a little sigh, she came to the bed, and I felt the mattress dip when she first sat down, then lay against my back, her arm draped loosely over me.

“You still have time to go after her.”

I didn’t respond. I knew that only too well. I was trying the best I could to stop myself from going.

“Why did you let her go?” she insisted.

“Why did you bring her here?” I asked back, growing annoyed.

She chuckled quietly. “Because I was tired of seeing you moping day in and day out, waiting for her calls. Because I wanted to see what kind of woman can turn my Childe into a lovesick teenager.”

~~~


I think of getting my few possessions from the car, but decide it can wait. I walk over to the kitchen. The standard welcome bag of blood is there, and I drain it straight from the fridge, not bothering to heat it. Then I move over to the sofa, and shrug out of my jacket before sitting down, placing the bottle on the coffee table in front of me. I surf through a hundred channels or so until I find something half decent, and try very hard, like every night, every day since I left that cursed city in Ohio months ago, not to think of her. I try not to see her face in my mind. I try not to taste her on my lips, not to feel her heat in my arms, not to breathe in her scent, not to hear her voice. I really try.

It works just as well as usual.

Now that I’m here, I can admit it to myself: this little road trip across the United States was just as much about finding myself again as it was about getting away from Alexandra. Physically, it worked, because I can hardly go any farther this way without crossing an ocean. Mentally, it’s a different story. Good thing I have my old friend here. Only half a bottle, not enough to get drunk, but at least I’ll get a little buzz. Hopefully enough to drown her parting words. A vamp can dream, can’t he?

Oh yeah, dreams. Those are another thing altogether.

Half the time, I dream of fucking her to death. It always starts the same. The same burning, violent, nothing-else-exists-but-us kiss like those we shared a few delicious times. And then, it’s always different. Sometimes it’s sweet and tender. Sometimes it’s rough and hard. Sometimes a mix of both. And sometimes indescribable. Just like her.

The rest of the time… Well, she still dies, but it’s not as pleasant for her. Strangely, not as pleasant for me, either. The idea of killing Alexandra is about as appealing as taking a walk in the sunlight. And no, that’s not to say that I am suicidal.

Not suicidal, but pathetic, without a doubt.

Isn’t it pathetic the way I just left? She told me to go, and I did. Since when do I listen to what anybody says, especially a Special Enforcer? I should have kept fighting; that’s what I should have done. Fight with her, fight for her, fight her, until she—

Until what? Haven’t I learned my lesson already, first as a human and then as a vamp? Again and again, I make the same mistake. I fall for a woman and she leads me on, only to hurt me in the end. She makes me believe in love, only to betray me. Alexandra, and my Sire before her, and a wife who broke her vows before that. Enough, already. I did the right thing when I left. The best thing for me. At least now I’m done playing.

And if I just keep repeating that to myself, maybe I’ll end up believing it.

~~~


We took a limo to the party. Maybe the livery service was out of pumpkins.

I kept thinking I’d start hyperventilating any moment, now, but while she was curling my hair and pinning it up—she’d done it herself, telling me to stay still and let her work her magic and I’d had a hard time stifling a giggle at that word—Miss Delilah had told me to relax and I’d done exactly that.

I was going to the party of the season, I’d brush elbows with people I was accustomed to seeing in magazines, on TV or on movie screens, but I was calm. Relaxed. Just like she’d told me to be. Another clue, but I was too mellow to pick up on it.

In hindsight…

No, forget hindsight. There is no amount of clues that would have made me understand.

Or believe.

I’m still not sure I believe it now.

Would you?

Be honest, now. You’ve read stories in which vampires are real. Or magic. Or elves. Or aliens with ten heads who eat nothing but sushi. You’ve seen movies with the same. All right, maybe not the sushi-eating alien, but that could be a fun movie. Anyway. Would you be any less shocked if you were suddenly confronted to that alien? Or for that matter, vampires?

No, you wouldn’t be. Even if you really enjoy vampire stories, even if you sometimes think to yourself ‘I bet vampires really do exist and I wish I could meet one someday,’ deep down you know there is no such thing and it’s all just pretty—or not so pretty—stories.

We like to tell ourselves stories. Like to be scared, or thrilled, or enthralled. Like to forget our lives are nothing more than ordinary. But when your life turns out to be anything but ordinary, it’s like nothing you ever imagined. I know that firsthand. Just like I know all those stories have a nugget of truth to them, but don’t quite tell us what vampires are truly like.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a bit and return to that limo.

It stopped right in front of the mansion. The chauffeur came around to open the door for us, and we stepped out onto, I kid you not, a red carpet, complete with security guards keeping photographers and curious passersby at bay.

Miss Delilah walked onto that carpet and under these flashes as though she does that every day. Which, okay, isn’t far from the truth. Me? Not so much. All I could think as I followed her was, ‘Don’t trip.’ I really didn’t want to end up on one of those blogs I was reading as the nobody who humiliated herself before even getting to the party.

I managed to step inside without making a fool out of myself. A man at the door greeted Miss Delilah by name and gave her a little bow. He threw the tiniest of questioning looks toward me. Miss Delilah simply said, “My guest,” which apparently was enough. The man inclined his head toward me, said, “Welcome, Miss,” and started turning to the guests who had arrived after us.

Again I followed Miss Delilah’s lead and handed the wrap she had draped over my shoulders, a twin of her own, to the coat check. I slipped my ticket in the tiny, beaded black clutch Miss Delilah had let me borrow.

She linked her arm with mine, then, and leaned in close to whisper in a conspiratorial tone.

“Now, Lina dear, this is as far as we go together. It’s a nice house, I’m sure you’ll enjoy exploring it and have fun meeting new people.” Her voice slipped into a deeper, thicker tone. “Be nice to my brother when you see him, and don’t you dare leave without me.”

I was taken by the urge to laugh.

Be nice to Mr. Ward? Why did she think she needed to tell me such a thing? Did she really expect me to be rude to our host, one of the most powerful men in town—or even in the world? Did she think I’d trade barbs with him and call him a jerk?

If that was what she thought, she was entirely right.

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