Featured Image: A still from the movie ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ (2013)
Henry cracked his knuckles and took a huge swig out of the ornate goblet on his desk. The laptop screen cast a blue tint over his already languid pallor as he rubbed his eyes, and the red tinge they began to take on contrasted nicely with the dark half-moons under them. His fingers itched to run through his hair, but the thought of being bald for the next whoever-knows-how-many millennia led them to play with the hem of his shirt instead.
After all, a vampire’s hair once lost is lost forever. Much like Mr. Darcy’s good opinion. Henry reclined as his thoughts automatically drifted to poor dear Jane, who would probably faint in terror if she ever saw that one particular scene in a Pride and Prejudice adaptation involving a lake and a white shirt that could only be described as “billowy”.
He sometimes wondered if his keen sense of smell was the reason the deep pangs in his heart occurred more frequently, as he caught a whiff of lavender, or coffee, and was instantly transported into other times, times where he could see Shakespeare or The Beatles live. Or maybe it was his always-on brain, forever identifying almost nonsensical patterns connecting events and memories that transcended time and space.
His entire life felt like the universe, always expanding, beginning and end unknown, forever spinning out of control. And yet, in all his almost uncountable years of lonely, forsaken existence, he had never met someone like him, someone who had to skulk under the blanket of night, avoiding shiny surfaces and the stench of garlic (yes, the rumors were, unfortunately, true — he’d never be able to visit a Pizza Hut).
Maybe that was why he did what he did, meticulously editing Wikipedia, answering questions on Reddit and Quora, hoping someone would understand he was telling the truth, by the simple virtue of them actually being present when the things he talked about happened. He needed to know that he wasn’t the only person who actually lived history, that someone existed who would understand that to him they weren’t just stories, but memories, full of vivid color and scents and tastes and feelings.
If he was being very honest with himself, he really was tired of himself, but he had no idea when he would ever “move on”. Physically, his skin was pale marble, and if he didn’t drink blood his muscles rusted, but he never got close to the veil beyond which everything disappears. In a way, giving up blood for a while was almost like a juice fast, and his body and mind emerged from it clearer and more in tune with life, or whatever this pathetic excuse for it was.
He did drink animal blood exclusively, but this only started after he caught a glimpse of Edward Cullen lunging after a deer in between the news channel and a reality show about people conquering their fears by jumping into a tank of snakes. All those years of existence and the thought that perhaps he could survive on less demented forms of nutrition hadn’t occurred to him, something he would have felt immensely guilty about had he not come to the conclusion that guilt was a waste of his energy anyway.
After all the thoughts of Austenian novels and past lives washed through him, Henry felt the itch to sit at the piano and play, if only to let the music consume his thoughts for a moment, giving his overactive brain a brief respite. The choice of the piano was pretty arbitrary; in total, he could play 53 instruments, some of which were his own inventions and others were things that had fallen out of use.
Sometimes, when the longing for companionship was unsurmountable, he’d think of making an album, including all the instruments people wouldn’t recognize anymore, the kind that make truly haunting music that their ears would perceive even if their brains didn’t. But he knew how crazy music fans could be, stalking and scheming till they’ve finally tracked him down because of the burning curiosity that drove them to music in order to understand the secrets of the universe in the first place. It simply wasn’t worth the risk.
Listening to music was like drowning in an ocean, but past the screaming and the clutching-on-to-water-slipping-through-your-hands part. It was when you finally gave up and allowed it to consume you, when your emotions became what the music told it to become, and you were at peace at last with what has happened to you. It was beautiful, and if he had to spend millennia in this cruel world, at least it was a world with music.
Wow. No wonder the humans considered him no fun. He really was a grouchy grandpa.
The laptop pinged out of hibernation, interrupting his ocean of piano notes and once more casting the room in unnatural blue light. It was probably some guy on Reddit, about to argue with him that the Grand Duchess Anastasia still lived, as if life were some Disney movie, when it was obvious that she was killed by the Bolsheviks that fateful July night. He should know, he was there to watch it happen, too late to save her and her family.
But it wasn’t. It was a message from NoItsBeetrootJuice on Tumblr (because there didn’t exist a social platform he hadn’t used, very ungrandpa-like of him) disagreeing with his post about who Mr. Darcy’s character was based on. Clearly, it was John Parker, 1st Earl of Morley (also Earl of scandals), in looks if not in character. He and his wife were friends with the Austens, so it was plausible enough for humans to comprehend. Also, he once met Henry Austen in Oxford, before Pride and Prejudice had been released, and the other Henry divulged details that left no doubt in his mind now that only John could have inspired such a socially awkward yet handsome gentleman.
He furiously typed back, annoyed that no one took him seriously, especially considering he was someone who had the ability to reveal insane things they didn’t know about the past. NoItsBeetrootJuice replied: What makes you the expert?
God, these kids and their bothersome need to question everything. He hit back: I was there when it was written. Obviously, this other person was not going to take him seriously, but he felt this squirming need to declare who he was out loud, if only to a bored teenager picking fights on Tumblr.
For a long time, there was no response. The three dots at the bottom of the page flickered on and off, like streetlights in the rain. Good, he thought. I’ve officially creeped them out. He was about to turn off his laptop and go back to the warm embrace of his instruments, but just then, he got another notification.
NoItsBeetrootJuice had replied: Oh yeah? Well, I wrote it.