It's times like this, in the deep darkness of my room, that I feel my age. The night stretches, becomes elastic, as I lie awake. Sleep used to come easy to me before Pearl and Leo, when I embraced the bloodlust and the terror, so tangible. I'd think nothing of draining some pretty girl most nights; they'd be glad to come home with a soldier, a writer, a sailor – whichever disguise I was wearing then.
The solider was always popular, and the red jackets hid the blood well - although I also had to wash them. They were pathetic, desperate – usually broke, or runaways, or stowaways. I despised them even as I sunk my teeth into their throats, and that made it emptier. Their lives didn't mean much to me; they were only girls, and human girls at that.
But it was hard to hide the monster in me; I was known even amongst my own kind as being savage, and the fear I could smell on the girls I hunted seeped through to the others. They trusted me and looked up to me, but they were terrified. Skulking in the shadows, they crawled at my feet, sycophantic, servile and stupid. I wanted to step into the light, to be the lord they called me, to rule over the idiots who I fed on.
So I did.
It only lasted for a few hundred years, and time flies when you're having fun (Annie's phrase; her cheeriness and inane optimism have sadly sneaked into my thoughts). That time is a blur of blood and bodies and pleasure and heat.
Faces leap out at me (although I suppose it was I who was doing any leaping) when I concentrate, but it doesn't become a real life until 1955 – even then, Leo and Pearl never felt like my family. We were close, but that had more to do with my respect for Leo than much love for Pearl. They were a couple, but a couple that had not yet realised it.
Love always used to be an abstract. It still is, of course, but being in the presence of it – Annie's fierce love for Eve and her grudging love for Tom, and my love for routine (which I now recognise as necessary for life, whatever Tom tries to say) – makes me more aware of people. The girls I killed had mothers, had boyfriends, husbands, children, and that love was lost forever, ripped out from them by someone who didn't know their names.
The love here, in this house, is as tangible as the old fear. I can almost smell it.
We're becoming a family now, and I like it.