"BEAUTY SLEEPS" - Dorothy Davies
It is the strangest thing that someone can be the love of your life, the one you cherish beyond all others, the one who holds your very soul in their fine delicate fingers that are like chains, so tight do they hold your priceless gift of love, and yet you look at others.
It is so because I can do nothing else but go with what nature made me – male.
Talk to me not of those who stay devoted to one person their entire married lives, talk to me not of those who fall in love, lose that loved one and never ever look at another person as long as they live.
I disbelieve them.
We are all born with the driving need to perpetuate the species. It is true, this I acknowledge, that men and women have used that excuse for eternity to justify their dalliances outside their relationships which were supposed to be everlasting. It is an excuse. It is also valid.
There are some of us who are driven by darker needs. Those of us who rise and fall with the waxing and waning of the moon phases, those of us who respond to the call of nature in different ways, those whose bodies change and whose physiometry is not entirely under their control. Ah, do you think, even now in this enlightened age, that such mythical creatures as werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters and the like are no more than that, myths? Do you not understand and accept that every myth, no matter how strange, has its basis in fact somewhere in the distant past, even if that past is as distant as the Stone Age and beyond?
Think on it now. Know that dragons once existed as dinosaurs did. Likewise unicorns and werewolves and all the other mythical creatures, mer-people, centaurs, need I go on?
You are asking about the other realms, fairies and the like. They have been with us since the world began; they are timeless, immortal and real. Ask no more. It is fact.
The facts are these. For the first time in my existence I fell in love.
She was amazing, so beautiful the sun hid its face when she walked the earth.
So intelligent that philosophers stopped their philosophising and listened to her instead. So joyful that the very birds stopped singing to let her celebrate life.
How trite are these descriptions, how cliché ridden! How truly awful! And yet there is no other way to describe the effect she had on the world – and on me. I was lost. Completely. For the first time I thought I had found someone who would truly hold my love and life for eternity.
In some ways I was right.
In other ways I was not.
We courted, we married, we lived. Within a year I was bored. Beauty at that level is boring as it has no imperfections. Perfection is hard to live with as you constantly measure yourself against it and find yourself lacking. I stared hard at the mirror some mornings and knew, handsome as I know I am, that I could not match her perfection. When we had dinner parties or entertained in other ways, everyone looked at her and not at me.
The male ego is very easily damaged.
Her knowledge outshone mine. I could not hold an intelligent conversation with her; she would pin down my obvious faults and pour scorn on them.
I looked for others, less beautiful, less intelligent, less knowledgeable. I began to recover my equilibrium.
She suspected, of course.
I denied it, of course.
We continued in a state of truce for a further year when, to my horror, she announced the one thing I had not thought of – she was to have my child.
I should explain that I am not the kind of man who seeks perpetuity through a bloodline. I am not the kind of man who relishes the thought of his home being wrecked with baby items and his sleep wrecked through baby wailing and adoring fluttering people gushing over its every smile, burp and frown.
I took care of that. Knowledge she might have, sense when it comes to the male ego she does not. I took care that she did not discover what had been fed to her and mourned with her at the loss of the child.
But possibly not good enough, for soon after I realised her eyes had turned to another. For a while I encouraged it, the pressure being taken from me, which suited me well but then it galled me that she would look elsewhere.
It was time to take the next step.
The person who supplied the material to induce the miscarriage supplied further material for me.
I had her buried, so we had a grave to mourn over and cherish, those of us who professed to love her. I had her buried because I liked the idea of beauty asleep in a grave.
I imagined her rotting, slowly, everything eating her away, slowly.
I played the field, after a due period of mourning had passed, I had fun, something I had forgotten about and could do.
But something was troubling me. Something I felt I had overlooked. Something I should have known – but didn’t.
A friend commented that I knew, of course, she was not dead, but sleeping. This is a religious comment and I ignored it. At first. He persisted, telling me over and over that she was not dead but sleeping. The word ‘vampire’ was mentioned.
Then I recalled the time I cut myself and she fastened onto the cut and sucked it until I thought she would take the finger clean off my hand.
I wondered why I had been foolish enough not to recognise my own kind.
I had to do something. My mind would not rest.
One dark overcast storm tossed night I took shovel and courage and went to her grave. I dug and dug until I uncovered the coffin, untouched, unscarred by its internment.
When I prised off the coffin lid and looked down at her perfect face, she looked up at me and smiled.