"Life in Sedona"
Darkness poured into the bedroom on a moonless night. The dark, once Te'ijal's familiar, comfortable world, now a world where she could see nothing. A world where she felt . . .alone, even though her husband was sleeping right next to her. She stared up into the dark that seemed to go on forever.
Forever . . .
Forever, once a word she savored, once a word that adaquately described why it was better to be a vampire than a human. Forever, once everything she had, the only amount of time she would accept.
She rolled over to face her husband, tempted to think that the bed was the reason why she couldn't sleep, tempted to get back on the floor . . . but something told her that even if she were to lie on the floor, she still wouldn't be able to sleep.
This was ridiculous. Vampires never had trouble sleeping – they could just lie in their coffins and be out in minutes. Then they would always wake up refreshed and ready to hunt some more. It was stupid, how humans could lie in bed for hours without getting any rest.
"Galahad?" she found herself saying without thinking about it.
"Galahad?" Te'ijal repeated, nudging her husband.
"Mmmm?" Galahad muttered.
Te'ijal nudged him harder. "Galahad, I can't sleep."
Galahad seemed to wake up at least a little when she said that. "What's bothering you?" he mumbled.
"Nothing, I just can't sleep," Te'ijal quickly responded. "It's probably this stupid bed."
"Oh come on," said Galahad, now fully awake. "You've been sleeping just fine in the bed." He reached over to touch her shoulder. "Really, what's wrong?"
What was wrong? She wanted to think it was just the bed . . . but no, it wasn't. It was something else entirely.
"Galahad . . ." she whispered, ". . . do you ever wonder what the world will be like in another three hundred years?"
"No," Galahad said, so quickly that it sounded like he was in denial again.
"Well I do," Te'ijal said matter-of-factly. "Doesn't it sadden you to think that we won't be around to see it?"
Her husband sighed. "I've been around for over three hundred years. That's an incredibly long life, more than enough for a human."
Te'ijal growled. "Well if you really think you've lived long enough, why don't you just kill yourself here and now? It's easy for a human."
There was a moment of awkward silence before she continued. "No, you don't want to do it now, do you? Because you enjoy living, no matter how long you've been around."
His continued silence sent the very certain message that she was right, providing more fire for her speech. "We are old, Galahad. In another fifty years or so we'll be dead. Just fifty years! Doesn't that bother you?"
Galahad remained silent.
Now it was Te'ijal's turn to sigh. "No, I suppose it doesn't. After all, you spent three hundred years trying to become human again, never stopping to appreciate the glorious gift of immortality. A gift I gave you." She rolled to her back, once again staring up at the endless darkness. "I'm not going to make one thousand." Her breath shortened as the notion seemed to pound on her. "Other vampires have eternity, but I'm not even going to last a full millennium."
She realized that she probably sounded insane to her husband, her husband who never appreciated the vampire existence, who still thought eighty years was a perfectly good lifespan. Humans were like dogs, content with their incredibly short lives.
"Well I'm not either," Galahad finally whispered.
"But I was so close to it," Te'ijal lamented. "It's like the goddess wanted to tease me by bringing me almost to one thousand but then taking me away before I actually reached it."
Galahad again seemed at a loss for words. He reached over and pressed his hand against his wife's cheek, as if he thought that would make everything all right. Humans. Always trying to fix things they couldn't do anything about.
"I've seen so much . . ." she whispered, almost unaware that she was speaking. "I've seen cities rise and fall and rise again. I've seen triumph over evil, I've seen the world change so much that it's hardly recognizable. But now . . ."
She didn't know what she was about to say, but Galahad gently pushed her face so it was once more facing him. Though she couldn't see him, she found herself grateful for the gesture.
"We knew the great Rhen Pendragon," she whispered. "Back before she became the beloved queen of Thais. Remember how happy Edward was when we told him about her?"
"Yes," Galahad said carefully.
"Previously he only knew his anscestor through books and historical documents," Te'ijal continued. "But we . . . we remember her. We heard her laugh. We witnessed her and Dameon falling in love. We saw her power when she used the Sword of Shadows."
"Yes," Galahad repeated in an awkward tone.
"And when we die . . ." Te'ijal felt a lump forming in her throat, ". . . our memories will be gone. This world's last true link to Rhen Pendragon will be gone."
"What about the Druids? The Oracle?"
"You and I both know that they're not supposed to mingle in human affairs unless necessary," Te'ijal groaned. "They certainly won't go around telling stories about Rhen."
Galahad gave a long, deep sigh. "We can write about her."
"Writings can be lost," Te'ijal argued.
"They aren't always," said Galahad. "We could hire a printer to make our writings into a book. Perhaps people would read it."
"Would they believe it?" Te'ijal sighed loudly. "A book written by a pair of humans who claim they used to be vampires?"
"Our friends would believe it." Galahad stroked his wife's cheek. "Mel and Edward are King and Queen now – I'm certain their influence could help."
"Perhaps . . ." was all Te'ijal could say. Were they actually King and Queen now? Mel hadn't actually told Te'ijal about her life as a princess in any of her letters. Mel's letters were always full of encouragement, telling Te'ijal to keep going, that things would get better, and yet they were surprisingly lacking in details about Mel's own life. Was being a princess really so boring that Mel felt no need to write about it . . . or was Mel hiding something?
Te'ijal suddenly felt a burst of anger. Did Mel no longer trust Te'ijal now that she had become a weakling human? Did Mel think Te'ijal was now unable to help her?
What could Mel be up to? Marriage difficulties? Pressure to rule? Pregnancy?
"Yes, we're mortal," Galahad said suddenly. "But that makes our time here all the more precious."
"The excuse humans use to justify their short lives," Te'ijal mumbled.
"But it's true." Galahad persisted. He cupped her face in his hands and ran his thumb down her hairline. "When we know our lives will end someday, that makes it all the more important to savor them, to do what you want to do now and not put it off indefinitely."
"Spend your brief existence hurrying to get things done." Te'ijal sniffed. "Never any time to simply be."
Galahad gave yet another sigh. "Well . . . maybe we could simply be right now."
He kissed her forehead and gently shifted their bodies so he could wrap his arms around her, pulling her close to him until she could feel his breath on her face. Her arms instinctively wrapped themselves around him, her hands squeezing his broad shoulders. Her leg bent upwards so it could wrap around his thigh.
Simply be . . .
She wanted to say something, but she couldn't think of what. Death was still there, somewhere in the near future, but it wasn't here. It almost felt like this little embrace protected them from all that lay ahead.
Almost . . .
"Tomorrow," Te'ijal whispered in her husband's ear.
"Tomorrow we start writing. We have centuries to cover and only fifty years to cover it in."
Though she couldn't see him, Te'ijal was sure her husband was smiling. "I think that's an excellent idea."