Eternal Life

It was a rainy night. I ducked into a dimly lit coffee shop to escape the downpour, and I sat in a secluded corner with my hands wrapped around a cup of steaming Earl Grey tea. The staff had kindly brought me a towel and I dried myself as best as I could, giving my hair a good rub and my face and arms a quick swipe. Good thing my backpack was waterproof and my phone and books were safe and dry.

Speaking of phones.

It started vibrating the moment my food arrived. My roommate’s name showed up on the screen, but I was too hungry to answer it. I figured he’d call again later anyway, so I polished off my Reuben sandwich and my fries in record time. My phone stayed silent throughout the meal.

The rain was still falling as heavily as ever, and I decided to settle in and do some homework for the meantime. I signaled the wait staff over and ordered a slice of cake and a huge cup of coffee, then took out my books and got lost in my philosophy reading assignment.

My phone vibrated again.

I stuck a pencil between the pages of my book and answered the phone absentmindedly.

“Hey,” I said offhandedly, thinking it was my roommate.

“Hello,” answered a voice that most decidedly didn’t belong to my roommate or anyone I knew.

The very first thought that came to mind was how ridiculously attractive her voice was.

“Who is this?” I asked, feeling a bit puzzled.

“I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. I called a random number because I wanted somebody to talk to.”

I glanced out the window. The rain still hadn’t let up. “I’ve got time,” I told her. “What’s up?”

“My name is Mikhaila,” she said. “I’m going to kill myself.”

The first few seconds following her announcement were tense. “Are you kidding?” I asked, sounding incredulous even to my own ears. She sounded so calm, so matter-of-fact – she didn’t sound like someone who was about to kill herself.

I took a sip of coffee.

“Where are you located?” I asked.

She lived one city away from me. I told myself I was crazy, taking the train at 9:30 in the evening in the middle of a rainstorm to meet some random suicidal girl and convince her to live. But I couldn’t very well just let it go. She was calling random numbers, trying to find help – or at least, that was what my mind rationalized.

It was almost midnight when I reached her city. The train station was deserted, and I went straight for the line of benches near the wall. She said she was going to wait there.

And there she was – a small girl, bundled up in a black hoodie. She was wearing black skinny jeans and white Vans and a baseball cap. Her dripping umbrella was sandwiched between her knees.

“Hello,” she greeted me, a serious expression on her face. It was an interesting face, a mixture of porcelain doll and horror movie ghost. Pale skin, rosebud lips, huge eyes, dark shadows on her eyelids and under them.

“Hey,” I answered back, feeling uncharacteristically shy.

“You look cold,” she observed. “Want to go get some tea?”

***

We walked out of the station hand in hand. Her hand was soft and warm and squeezed mine comfortingly. Somehow, being intimate with her didn’t feel strange, even though she told me of her suicidal intentions. All I wanted to do was to make her want to hold on to life – and the fact that she was very attractive helped a lot, too.

All the coffee shops and tea shops were either closed or about to close, so we ended up at McDonald’s. The second floor was empty and we stayed in a corner booth, drawing smiley faces with ketchup on paper napkins and letting our sundaes melt. We talked in low, quiet voices, leaning on each other comfortably.

I had one arm around her and she was resting her head on my shoulder. It felt natural, somehow.

“Hey,” I said, playing with her fingers. I would smooth her hand open and then curl them up into a fist and repeat the process again and again. “Why exactly do you want to die?”

She laughed. “I’m just bored with life,” she said. “I have done everything that I could, I’ve gotten all the things I wanted, and there’s nothing left for me to live for.”

“First world problems,” I grumbled.

She poked my cheek, and I bit her finger playfully. “Sorry,” I murmured when I heard her gasp slightly.

“It’s…it’s fine,” she said, turning her head away and reaching for her sundae. She dipped her spoon into the half-melted ice cream and licked it clean.

“Are you really all right?” I wrapped my arms around her tighter and she nestled into me, and I felt her nod. I kissed the top of her head and she shivered.

“When I look out the window,” she said softly, “all I see is despair and ruin and hopelessness. It wasn’t like this before, you know? Everything used to be so fresh and bright and I was so eager, so full of life…”

She lapsed into silence once again and I accompanied her in quietness, waiting for her to speak again.

“It was so nice, at first. I felt powerful, I felt like the world was in my palms. Everything was mine for the taking. I studied a lot, traveled all around the world. Whenever there was a new event or an exciting discovery, I had to be the first go, the first to try it. I had lots of friends, at first, but then one by one they started leaving me behind.”

I stroked her hair softly as she spoke, combing through the strands rhythmically with my fingers. “I won’t go,” I whispered into her ear. “Stay and live, and I’ll be with you forever.”

She turns to me and smiled, and it’s such a sweet, heartbreaking smile that in one bizarre moment I decided that all I wanted to do was dedicate my life to make her feel happy again.

“You can’t,” she told me, holding my face delicately between her hands. “You’ll leave me too.”

“I won’t,” I protested, but she silenced me by leaning forward and placing a tiny kiss on my lips.

“I appreciate that you want to help,” she said. “Will you come home with me?”

***

We were silent during the cab ride to her house, wrapped around each other, feeling pleasantly warm and sleepy. My eyes fluttered close a few times and she kissed my eyelids gently, her fingers leaving trails down my arms, the back of my neck, and my collarbones. I tried to suppress my shivers, but eventually I couldn’t stop myself and I bit her, leaving a deep imprint of my teeth on her shoulder.

She gasped, her lips pressed closed to my ear. “Better save that for later,” she told me, her fingers wrapped around a fistful of my hair.

I squeezed her tighter, nipping her behind her ear and making her squirm again. “I don’t like waiting,” I told her.

We didn’t even bother turning on the lights once we were inside. We fell into bed and I pulled off her jacket, and then she was in my arms only in her dark grey tank top. I had managed to leave a few bite marks on her arms and shoulder and chest already and they bloomed like dark flowers on her skin.

“You’re beautiful,” I told her, smoothing strands of her hair away from her face. “I don’t understand why you would want to die.”

She had her arms wrapped around me loosely, and we were pressed together so closely that I could feel her heartbeat like it was my own.

“I just have one problem,” she whispered, bringing my face close to hers and looking intently into my eyes. It’s the first time I noticed that they are pure liquid black, that there’s something not quite human about her. “I can’t die.”

I wasn’t scared. All I felt was resignation.

“What do you need me to do?” I whispered back.

She traced my cheekbone with her thumb and brushed her lips over mine once, twice, thrice, until I rolled her over so I was on top and kissed her properly.

“I want you to kill me,” she said.

I laughed, moving her face to the side gently and biting her exposed neck gently at first and then with more and more pressure. Her fingers dug into my shoulders and her breathing became rapid. But she wasn’t fighting back, even when blood started to pool around the bite marks and run in dark rivulets down her skin.

“I can give you eternal life,” I told her, slowly licking the blood and kissing her so she could taste it. She kissed me back, her eyes wide and unsure. I pulled back and stared at her face, her lips and the area around her mouth streaked with dark red. “What do you think? You and me, living forever…all I need is one thing. Your soul.”

She turned to look at me, and all I could see was infinite sorrow, as old as time itself.

“I don’t have a soul,” she said quietly. “And I already have lived forever.”

“What are you?” I whispered, grazing my lips over her now-closed eyelids, pressing my body close to hers and feeling her breathing start to become erratic.

“I”m…not quite human,” she answered. She sounded honest, simple, resigned. It almost seemed like an appeal, not a statement of a fact.

She trailed her fingers lightly over the back of my neck and pulled on my hair while I sank my teeth into her skin. I pierced her flesh in random places, lazily licking up the little streams of blood with my tongue. I painted her lips red with her own blood and kissed her deeply, and her fiery heat was beautiful but almost painful at the same time.

By the time we were done, she was dozing off, her heavy eyelashes fluttering and her face half-obscured by her hair.

“Are you all right?” I asked her gently, covering her with the blanket and pressing a kiss on her shoulder.

In response, she turned to me and nestled her face in my neck. The blanket covering us slid down from to her waist, exposing her back.

In the pearly swath of moonlight that fell over us, I could clearly see two symmetrical scars on the ivory skin of her back. Roughly six inches long, each gouged deeply into her skin.

That’s right, I mused to myself. She’s missing her wings.

“You’re one of the fallen,” I whispered.

She stayed silent, and I traced the scars lightly with my fingertips, feeling her stop breathing. Her entire body was tense like a tightly coiled spring, ready to lash out any time.

“I don’t want you to die,” I implored, reverently kissing the spot between where her wings should have been.

“There’s nothing left for me,” she repeated quietly.

“You have me,” I told her. “We’re both immortal. We can rule the night, you and I.”

“No,” she answered, turning to me. She stared at me with her fathomless eyes, and I felt myself shiver. “I don’t even have that. Didn’t you know that my blood is poison?”

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