Echo of a Tear

The moon glimmered lazily off the water that tumbled past the riverwalk. Among the straggling tourists and late night thinkers, Celeste strolled, stirring hunger sharpening mind and senses to precision. Restless waves of thought disturbed her as she prowled, leading her heart to long-disused places. Her eyes wandered, coming to rest on a solitary visitor near the water's edge. Something in the girl's slow pace along with the abstract downward gaze of the pretty young face captured the interest of the Toreador. Edging closer, Celeste took in the spare frame covered in jeans and a dark denim jacket. Straight, shoulder-length hair obscured the fine face in a reddish curtain that billowed slightly in the breeze. Reaching out with acute perceptions, Celeste could almost feel the wall of sorrow surrounding the teen. Creeping still closer, the vampire licked her lips at the pungent aura of sadness shimmering around the girl's body.

Like an echo of darkness, Celeste stepped beside the girl, their shadows merging. "Why you lookin' so sad?" she purred softly, ignoring the start of alarm that jolted through the tense form beside her. She smiled kindly into the tear-stained face that turned to meet her own.

"What do you care?" the young woman asked glumly, eyes returning to the ground passing slowly beneath her feet.

Celeste reached a hand under the girl's chin and guided the face gently but firmly back up to where their eyes could meet. "Why wouldn't I care?" she returned, letting her thumb caress the alabaster cheek before dropping her hand.

Clear eyes shimmered with a spark of blue in the dimness just before tears overfilled them to run in silver trails toward the ground. The Toreador's will did not release its hold, however, and black eyes held blue in a gentle command. Stifling a sob, the girl answered, "Because...nobody cares anymore. Nothing matters." She fell silent and looked away as Celeste released her gaze.

The vampire remained focused on the lovely sad face and slightly slumped shoulders, fascinated by the wash of emotion from the creature before her. Those restless thoughts returned, haunting her with memories of what years had stripped from her. Taking a slack hand in her own, she raised it to her lips. As Celeste laid a tender kiss on cool fingertips, she whispered, "Oh chere, it matters."

A choking sound came from the girl and she began to shake. She was crying, Celeste realized, her body quaking with sobs as if the vampire's words had broken her last bit of armour. Celeste wrapped her arms around the trembling girl, showering in her tears. As she held her, she lifted a hand bearing a stray wet drop to her lips. Closing her eyes, Celeste thought for a moment that she could feel the child's pain as if it were her own. Shifting her hold, she guided the girl's stumbling steps to a nearby shelter of shadows.

"There now, chere...there now," she cooed, her voice soothing her young charge. Still the weeping continued, emotion washing over the vampire in relentless waves. Giving way to disturbing restless thoughts, Celeste's lips turned to the pulsing life so close. As the warm vitae filled her dead body, her dead heart seemed to shudder and break in the flood of sorrow that flowed now between herself and her prey. Tears of blood leaped to her eyes as the bottomless sadness of youth and dying dreams coursed through her. Celeste drank as if she could fill the void in her soul looming before her so clearly now that she could remember, if only for a moment, what it had felt like to care so much it hurt.

With a gasp, the vampire forced her lips away from the bittersweet nectar. Holding the slack form up, she licked closed the tiny wounds. "Rest now..." she whispered as she laid the unconscious girl down in the dew-covered grass. Celeste brushed a crimson stain off her cheek as she slipped silently away.

Sonja Torres 1999

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