* * *
Words were like bricks at the bottom of my stomach. I couldn’t speak. She waited there patiently—a time bomb, ticking down till the words exploded.
Where was my wisdom now? 500 years and I hadn’t learned a God-damned thing.
“I was born in 1503.”
NO! No! The words had escaped, slipped off my tongue when they were supposed to stay inside my head. No! Her eyes grew impossible wide. She had never expected that—not in her wildest dreams did she expect that. Her mouth opened wide; her jaw was practically on the floor. A gasping sound emerged from her throat; a breathy, shocked sound, like she was desperate for oxygen. No! I should never have spoken to her! She was a demon now, I was sure, an impossible demon, sent from hell to destroy me…
She collapsed back on the couch, and I leapt up, but her eyes remained open. She was aware, at least. “Oh, God, Damon. Oh God. 1503. Damon. 1503.”
I couldn’t allow myself to speak. I didn’t deserve to. Anyway, I was sure that if I did she would’ve had a heart attack. God dammit, why had I ever opened my mouth?!
“You’re—” Her eyes were frozen, glassy orbs, trained on the blank wall in between the two windows. “You’re 507. You’re 507 years old.”
I didn’t move. I was sure anything I did would send her over the edge. I had to let my age sink in slowly, let her get used to the idea before I told her the rest…
She leapt up suddenly, eyes ablaze and horrified. “That’s absolutely sick, Damon!”
I didn’t move.
“507!” she screamed, so loud I was sure the entire town could hear her. I sank back, shoved onto the couch by the force of her anger. “507! Oh, God…” She suddenly collapsed back on the couch, appalled and clearly faint. “I can’t believe I—Oh, God…”
She suddenly blushed. Oh, the money I would’ve paid to know what she was thinking…I tried to let what had just happened affect me, but it was difficult. Every bone in my body ached to comfort her, even though I knew it would only distress her now.
She was right, though. I had never considered that before, but she was right. I was an old man, an ancient man…what right did I have to think about her in—in that way? But then she snapped out of it, shook her head, and stared straight at me, eyes intent.
“No. Never mind.” She swallowed roughly. “Just…tell me the rest. Don’t stop. I don’t care how I react, just tell me everything.”
I was sure she wasn’t ready, but I was a slave to her wishes. The words exploded from my mouth before I could stop them.
“I was born rich,” I began, watching her every move. I didn’t care what she said; I would stop again if I had to. She remained composed, though she seemed to wince at every other word. “Very rich. I was part of the aristocracy—privileged, spoiled, and pompous.” I watched her. She didn’t look at me. “I would like to think I’ve changed since then, but—anyway. I was the picture of youth and beauty. I had everything. But…”
This was the hard part. The part I never thought about. The part I never realized affected me so deeply.
I had never even—oh.
“My mother died when I was ten,” I muttered, speaking more to myself than to her now. “I guess…I think that was what prompted it. My obsession. I became obsessed with death; or rather, with not dying.” I laughed without humor. “I guess I could be compared to Dorian Grey—I wanted my youth and beauty to last forever. Yes, I was very conceited, but when you’re wealthy you have a right to be.
“Oh, Emma, I can’t even tell you how it ate away at me. I could literally feel myself die, every second of the day—I felt my body decaying from the inside out, even as a teenager. By the time I was twenty I was nearly insane from it. Every moment of my life was devoted to…to immortality.” I didn’t pause. I barely took a breath. I couldn’t let the expression on her face stop me. “Yes. I knew no concept of life after death. I didn’t care. I wanted to live as I was—wealthy and young—forever. I didn’t care how it happened.
“I drove everyone away. People who were once my friends. People I never gave a second thought to. That made me the perfect candidate, I suppose—I was not close to anyone anymore, and I didn’t miss them. I was too busy being afraid. I was fearful every day of my life. I was afraid of going to sleep, lest I shouldn’t wake up. I was a wreck. I barely ate. Every night I would go out and wander around the city like a lost soul. I was bone-thin, pale, sallow. The most prominent feature on my face was the bags under my eyes. I suppose I looked like a ghost…” I shuddered. I hadn’t relived those days in hundreds of years—no, I suppressed them. They were the worst time in my life. “I didn’t care that everyone hated me. Even my father hated me. He was a proud man…much like I was…and my behavior embarrassed him. How could he explain to his important colleagues why I never came down for dinner anymore, why I was always out of the house, or why I was spoken of so unfavorably in their circles? I never gave him a thought, of course—I never gave anyone a thought but myself. I didn’t see how much he hated me. I was blind to all the world except myself.
“Maybe, if I had given a thought to anyone else, I would’ve seen it coming. He didn’t say a word to me, Emma—not a word. One night I came home from one of my walks and the door was simply locked. The house was dead. I did not shout, or bang on the door…I no longer had any connection to my lifelong home, or to my father, who I had once revered. I simply turned and walked back into the city. Oh—did I mention the city? I was born in Spain—”
“You don’t look Spanish.”
Her voice was, to say the least, a shock. I had been so caught up in my memories—memories that were once fuzzy and vague, but were now as sharp as if they had happened yesterday—that I had forgotten she was there. When had she moved to the couch? When had she taken my hand? Her voice was shaky, as if she was trying hard not to think too much about everything I had said. I squeezed her hand.
“My father was Spanish. My mother was English. I was born in Spain, but grew up in London.”
She nodded once, very seriously, and I was about to continue when she blurted out: “Damon is not a Spanish or an English name. It’s Greek. And I’m pretty sure it's not from the 16th century, either…”
“Ah.” I found myself blushing, though I didn’t really know why. It was just another lie, after all. “Yes. I was named after my father…”
“Let me finish.” I gave her a serious look. “My father’s name was ‘Alejandro’. I was christened Alexander.”
Her face was completely blank. There was a long pause. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her—I was afraid she would disappear if I did. Her eyes were impossibly wide.
Then she whispered, with all the heartbreak of the world, “Was everything a lie?”
Oh, God. No, no, Emma. How I feel about you is not a lie. I extricated my hand from hers. “Emma.”
“No.” She was crushed. I could tell. “No. Didn’t I tell you? My name’s not Emma. It’s Jessica. I’m also part Chinese. Oh, and I was born 500 years ago and EVERYTHING I TOLD YOU WAS A LIE!”
She burst into tears.
* * *
Oh, yes. Things are revealed about our Damon-Wamon-Poo. He was a pompous, rich, insane bastard, and his real name is Alexander. Is it a bad idea to change the name of someone in the middle of a book? Probably.
This is in luei of actual blogging, yes. Haha. I butchering 'leui' right there. Or however you spell it.