14 February 2003, Highgate, London.
Valentine’s Day. The Victorians loved this day, they celebrated with handwritten poetry and gifts of flowers. I wonder how many of them realised the tradition stemmed from celebrations for an early Christian saint named Valentinus. Although apparently, the first association with actual romance should be accredited to Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages.
This Valentine’s night, I sit alone, writing a journal, just as I have done for more than three hundred years. So many things have changed over the centuries, including the actual journal itself – and my writing implement. Perhaps one day I shall even use a computer, although the thought makes me smile.
Do not waste sympathy on me, for I choose to live alone. I am dangerous. Too dangerous, perhaps, to live with others. I am a vampire – the Vampire Elder of London in fact. My responsibilities are many and varied, such is the penance for eternal life.
I have, of course, taken many lovers, a man is a man no matter how old he may be. But none have stayed. The human lovers perished, the vampires either left, or I tired of them. Never have I found the one true love for whom my non-beating heart yearns. Until ... perhaps ... now.
The first stirrings of the thirst alerted me a little after the grandfather clock in the hall struck nine. I needed to feed, and soon. My mind wandered to the beautiful red-haired dancer I had noticed some weeks ago at the Adelphi Theatre. For some reason I found it difficult to erase her memory. She moved like a dream, her grace and beauty so bright – like a captive star. Her personalitymesmorised me, and I have been back several times since to watch her performance. She never disappoints.
Throwing down my pen, I stood and walked over to the window to look out at the peaceful walled garden. Moonlight picked out the tangled mass of ivy clinging to the wall, and bathed everything in a cold silvery glow. I needed to be out there. I could feel the compulsion to feed growing with every passing minute.
Once again, I found myself standing just over the road from the stage door of the Adelphi, and I watched for my quarry from a dark doorway. Eventually the redhead come out, surrounded by her friends. They called her ‘Ellie,’ and I stored the information away for future use.
Suddenly to my surprise, she looked across the road – directly at me – and smiled.
Could it be she had actually noticed me? An old woman stood nearby, selling long-stemmed red roses, and on impulse, I purchased them all – at an exorbitant price – and then strode swiftly across the road to ‘Ellie.’
She stopped when I stepped in front of her, blushing furiously, and looked up at me with startling eyes like twin sapphires.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I said with a smile. “You dance like an angel.”
She laughed a little self-consciously, and accepted the flowers. “Thank you, please tell my choreographer that.”
Her friends had stopped a little way up the road to wait for her, and were looking back at us with huge smiles on their faces.
“I have to go,” she said.
“Of course.” I stepped back to allow her to pass. “Until we meet again then.”
With her arms full of red roses, she walked away from me, glancing back once to smile again, before disappearing into the night.