The night is awake. It's terrible, I can feel it, I can feel it moving, breathing, pulsating, just waiting to fly, to escape. But it can't, and it won't. And neither can I. Neither will I.
You shift in your sleep, the moonlight worming its way between the drapes, hitting your beautiful form like a spotlight. Your skin is dappled in silver, and it's all I can do to keep myself from standing up and walking across the room to you where you are stationed on your couch. I catch myself in the last moment, though. It won't do to have you see me awake. It won't do to have me touch you, to be tempted by that beautifully dappled moonlight skin…
I shake my head, sigh, bury myself deeper into the covers. I'm ill. I know this. Try to sleep, I tell myself. Try and sleep like a normal human being. But it grows harder and harder with every night that passes. Later and later I stay up. More and more I do nothing but sleep during the day. More and more do I detest the burn of the sun through the window. I don't eat. I don't speak.
I fear this is having a dreadful effect on you, my love. I look at you, sleeping across the room, our bedroom; you're thinner, gaunter. You look like I should look, right now. But I don't. I don't look like that at all. During the nighttime, at least. I saw myself in the mirror, once. I was expecting to be frail, weak, sickly, but I nearly screamed in shock from what I saw.
All beauty, all radiance. I'm not a vain person. But never before had I ever seen myself so beautiful. I looked even better than I had a year ago, before…everything…
I can only remember snippets. Music, a voice in my dressing room. Walking through the mirror, a strange house on the dark lake. The crash of crystal, a terrible death's head. A scorpion or a grasshopper. You, tortured.
Distressed, I stand, walk to the window, pull open the drapes. It normally takes me so much effort to merely sit up in bed during the day. It disturbs me.
But the sight of the streets and buildings all whitewashed and pale and silver like the moon, like your skin—this comforts me. I open the window, walk out on to the veranda. The spicy, exotic scent of jasmine assaults my senses, night roses blooming in our window boxes. I reach out and touch one, a deep, deep red. The petals are so soft on my fingers, the scent so heavenly. I can't remember the last time I've touched a rose like this, can't remember the last time I've been outside. I used to be afraid to venture out into the dark. Now, it is nothing but comforting to me, like falling into a pair of soft, familiar arms.
I return again to the rose. So beautiful, such a rich, deep color, even in the all-encompassing moonlight. Enraptured, caught up in my thoughts, I do not realize that I've pricked my finger on a thorn.
There is no pain. There is, however, a smell, a smell so overwhelming that it masks even the flowers; my vision swims in red, and my stomach lurches in unexpected hunger.
I bring my finger to my mouth, suck away the droplet of blood. It is immediately salty, rusty, repulsive. But I find myself wanting—no, needing—more and more. I bite at my hands, my teeth tearing at my flesh while I lap up the rich, crimson rivulets that bloom forth like rose petals onto my skin from inside me. My mouth is stained with it, and so is my nightgown, but I don't care. All I feel is this sudden, seeming unquenchable thirst for life. For blood.
I suck on my hands until they are pale and cold, until no more than a few droplets issue forth every now and again. I am tempted to start on my arms, or to wait until the circulation returns to my hands, but I fall to my knees instead in sudden clarity, sudden horror.
What am I doing? What is happening to me?
I shiver violently, feeling the need to vomit. The bloodstains crack around my mouth as I open my lips to let out a silent scream. I curl up, holding my knees to my chest the best I can, feeling and smelling the warm blood seeping from my hands again, onto the white linen of my nightgown. I close my eyes, trying to picture the sunlight, happier days spent by the sea shore, a scarf rescued from the waters by the most beautiful boy I'd ever seen. I struggle in vain, hearing instead a cold, cruel laugh sounding from within me, see a pair of golden, glowing eyes escaping from the vaults of my memory.
I roll onto my back, trying to ignore the sticky feeling of my bloody hands against the polished floor of the veranda, staring up into the stars, willing them, the night to sweep me up into dreamless sleep.
But it doesn't happen. I lie there, waiting, tortured by my thoughts, my very being.
The night is awake.
And so am I.