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Adriana is not pretty. She is attractive, but by today's standards, she's not a raving beauty. Other women don't torture themselves in comparison to her. She is not despised for her looks. But something in her face drew men to her. Something about her smile. Something in her gaze.
Adriana didn't have to work. She tried hooking for a while, but she didn't care enough. Her apathy forbade her from making a substantial profit. She instead spent her free time walking the streets. She'd travel from city to city, never having a permanent address, depending on the kindness of strangers. Her kind always did. Most strangers would offer her food and a place to stay just to remain in her company. She'd wander around, admiring the crafts of the street merchants, being admired from afar. Some of her admirers never approached her. Some would simply follow her for blocks, unable to say why they felt so impelled to watch her. Maybe it was the color of her hair, so light a blonde, it was practically white. Perhaps it was the way she looked at everything, with the earnestness of a child. But something in her eyes said she'd seen it all before. that the only reason she was looking was because she enjoyed doing so.
The admirers who did dare approach Adriana were mostly artists. Musicians and sculptors, painters and writers, photographers and poets who desired simply to be with her, or perhaps to be seen with her. They were mainly young men, but occasionally, there were a few women. They'd make eye contact with her and immediately feel bereft of all tact and segue. Adriana would hold their gaze, stretching out the unbearably awkward moment of silence. Some beckoned her to follow them, one young man merely said, "Draw," and he motioned toward his sketchpad and pencils. Regardless, Adriana would always be invited to her suitor's home, and she never declined.
Upon entering the dwellings, the artist would usually introduce him or herself and proceed to tell Adriana of their passion for their craft. How desperately they wanted to share their art with the world, how much they needed to create. The musicians would share a few bars from a song they'd been working on. And then write endless songs about Adriana, praising her eyes and her face, her body and herself. The visual artists would immediately request her to pose nude, even the shiest of them, saying she'd be perfect for it. She never quibbled over this request. It wasn't the first time and it certainly wouldn't be the last. They couldn't draw or sculpt quickly enough. Flash bulbs would burn out before photographers were satisfied. It would be hours of work, always their best, even if it wasn't hers.
Then of course, was the sex. As though creating had starved them physically, they'd often leap on her, tearing at her clothes. She never refused. Though like the art, it was usually the best they'd ever performed, these private liaisons rarely ended well. There was one young musician, a promising young talent named Gwendolyn. She was engaged to marry a handsome writer named Adam. She wrote heart rending sonnets about Adriana and set them to song. She spent an entire afternoon running her hands all over her body, pushing her fingers deeply into her. She wrapped her legs around Adriana's dainty waist and nibbled the side of her neck. Gwendolyn ground her hips against Adriana's until they had smeared a damp puddle into the carpet. Panting, she collapsed next to Adriana, who was propped on one elbow. Well, said Adriana, I should leave. Gwendolyn was close to tears. She looked down at the engagement ring she wore and felt the heavy weight of guilt fall on her chest. Adriana got dressed and started for the door.
Gwendolyn asked if she would see her again. Adriana said no, but that the songs she wrote for her were beautiful. As soon as Adriana closed the door, Gwendolyn went to the kitchen and cut off her left ring finger.
Adriana met a poet in Maine. He had a chiseled jaw and was quite attractive, but not nearly as attractive as he thought himself to be. A clear spring day, as he was sitting on a bench, writing about the woes and sorrows of being young, he looked up and saw her. Adriana was talking to a watch vendor and the sun had transformed the crest of her head to a golden halo. The poet, who went by the name Mark, literally stopped everything he was doing. He stopped writing, he stopped thinking, he stopped breathing. An angel was no more then twenty feet from him. She was ethereal. And she would be his.
Mark crossed the twenty feet and found himself speechless. After some time, he mouthed a wordless hello. She smiled a half smile and said hi. My God, you're perfect, he said. So I've been told was her reply. He told her about his poetry and about how he felt the need to educate every one in the beauty that is life. He marveled at his own words, his ability to turn such phrases had never come to him so easily before. He told Adriana he wanted her to see his apartment. She said okay.
The first thing he did when they reached his place was to retrieve a blank book and a pen. He sat down in his writing chair, as he'd dubbed it, and asked if she would sit opposite him. She did. He wrote of her physicality. He filled pages detailing her hair, her smile, her breasts and thighs. Mark wrote of her as a bird, soaring past clouds, free and determined, the wind rushing against her lovely face. His words made her an angel, immortal and untouched. When his pen was empty of ink, he got another one and wrote until his hand ached. There he sat, not quite satisfied, but happier than he'd ever remembered being. He asked if she'd like some wine. She thanked him, but no, she did not want wine. He poured some for himself and drank as though trying to rid his throat of sand. His cheeks blushed.
He turned down the lights and sat next to her. He told Adriana he wanted her. He pulled her close to him and pushed his mouth down on hers, hard. He tasted of wine. Mark rubbed his hand between her thighs and unbuttoned his pants. He removed his erect penis and pushed her head down to it. Adriana made no argument. She took as much of it in her mouth as she could. He thrust his hips toward her face again and again. In less time than he'd ever done before, he came in her mouth. To his surprise, she swallowed all of it. Mark had read somewhere once that if a girl swallowed all your cum, she was trying to impress you or tell you she wanted a serious relationship. It never occurred to him that maybe Adriana liked the taste of it.
Seeing that he was done and she was tired, Adriana asked Mark if it was alright that she slept there. He said that was absolutely fine with him. He fell asleep next to her with his arm draped around her waist, but when he woke up, she was gone. He thought maybe he'd dreamt her, until he heard her moving in the bathroom. She came out of the room, fully dressed. Well, I'm going to get going, she said. He asked if she wanted to get breakfast. No, she said. Can I have your number? No, she said. Can I see you again? To this, she also said no. Mark didn't know how to respond. He thought she'd enjoyed herself.
You can't leave yet. I, I need you, he stammered. You don't know anything about me, was her reply. He felt an indescribable sense of loss. He was inconsolable. He tried to convince her to stay, just for the day. She said no. She had things to do. He said if she left now, he'd kill himself. What else could he do without her? She told him not to be ridiculous. He got a folding razor from the bathroom. I will. He held the razor to his wrist. Adriana's hand was on the knob of the front door. She looked back at Mark, open blade to his skin. She turned the knob. The door opened. Mark plunged the razor to his wrist and pulled down. He felt the metal twist around his arteries. He let out a slight yelp and watched, horrified, as the blood ran down his arm and dripped to the floor. Adriana tilted her head to match the angle of the dripping, watched a single drop fall, made eye contact with Mark and left, without saying another word.
These are the things that happened to Adriana. After a couple centuries of the same crap, one becomes desensitized to just about anything. Only one of her admirers knew of her true nature.
She was in Boston. She had happened upon an occult bookshop. She perused the dimly lit aisles and found herself being watched by a pale fellow dressed all in black. He was watching her through the eyes of a skull on the end of a bookcase. He said hello. She said hello. She asked what he did. He said nothing. You don't paint? No, he said. Write? Nope. Sculpt? Film? Photograph? Sing? No, he said. I merely attempt to find a way to exist forever. Oh, she said. One of those. He laughed, what does that mean? She just smiled. His name was Eric. And Eric wanted to be immortal.
He took Adriana back to his parents' house. His room was painted black. His sheets were midnight blue and he had a dark black skull candle forever burning on the table beside his bed. So, he said, what do you do? She smiled and didn't reply. He explained to her that what he really wanted was to be a creature of the night, preying on the innocent and beautiful. He wanted to master life after death and he wanted to be a supreme being who instilled fear in all those who saw him. And he wanted her. He'd never wanted anyone the way he wanted her. Adriana smiled. She pushed him down on the bed and took off his pants. She smiled again. You're a virgin, she said. Yes, how did you know? It's just something I picked up over the years, she replied. She hiked up her skirt and pulled him inside her. She rode him and his face contorted. God, this is so much fucking better than jerking off. And then he came violently, as one will only do the first time. Adriana touched the side of his face, got up, pulled down her skirt and told him to sleep. He did.
Eric dreamt of Adriana. She was leading him down a dark hallway. It felt like forever until the doors appeared. He opened one. Inside, he stood beside two coffins. He and Adriana were both there. It was his parents' funeral. They'd been in elderly homes for years and had finally passed on. He didn't look as though he'd aged a day. Neither did Adriana. He left that room.
He opened another door. His friends were getting married and having children. He was still lighting his black candles and reading about Satanism. Again, he looked as young as he was now. Shaken, he left that room as well.
He opened door after door. One housed a battle scene. Men shooting each other and gutting one another in hand to hand combat. When the carnage was over, bodies were piled on top of each other waist high. Eric saw himself walk among them, again unaffected by age. He crouched beside an especially bloody corpse and traced his finger through the blood. He raised his finger to his mouth and licked it clean.
In the next few rooms, Eric found separate stages of a fatal illness. It was passed through shared cups and eating utensils. The first stage was a shortness of breath, followed by violent coughing. The lungs would then expand as though trying to free themselves from the body. The pressure would force the victim's blood out of every exposable pore and orifice. Eric attempted to vomit, but found he could only dry heave.
He opened doors to famine, plague, devastation and pain. He fled all of them, until there was only one room remaining. Hesitantly, he opened the door. It slammed behind him. He stood in the middle of the street of a large metropolis. There were no cars. No street merchants. No bums. No birds. There was no one wandering aimlessly, trying to kill an afternoon by window shopping and consuming stupid little merchandise they'd never need or use. Hello? Eric called. Where is everyone? I can't be the only one left. That's impossible. Hello? Hello?! He screamed in anguish. Tears rushed from his eyes to the pavement. He screamed and sobbed until his throat was raw. And then Adriana was there, beside him.
Hello, she said.
You, he replied. What's happened? Where has everyone gone?
This is what you wanted. You wanted to be immortal. Now you are. You've reached the end of humanity. And you'll continue living until the end of time, she told him.
But, no. he stammered. I don't want to outlive everyone. Humanity will never end.
Everything ends, said Adriana.
No. Humanity isn't over. I'm still here. And so are you, said Eric.
Immortal beings are not human. Neither you nor I are mortal, surely you've seen that, she said.
I don't know what I've seen. Everything's gone too fast, he sobbed. He looked at her sideways. In her eyes, he saw something not of the world he knew. What are you? he asked.
I'm just someone who sees the best in people and brings it out of them. They can never seem to readjust to mediocrity once I leave. It's kind of sad, really.
You're a muse, said Eric. Yes, she said distantly. But you're one of the lucky ones. Your change is permanent. You'll live on until the last dying embers of the world expire. And maybe even after that. She turned to leave. No! He grabbed her and turned her to face him. If I'm stuck here, so are you.
I wouldn't do that if I were you, she said. Humanity may be over, but there are still beings who could make you regret you laid an unwanted hand upon me.
He saw in her face that she meant it. He released her. She heard him crying as she left.
She stood over him a while as he slept. A single tear fell down his cheek. She smiled. In a few hours, his parents would shake him, trying to bring him to life and he would simply lay there, so close to death. He would live forever; she hadn't lied to him. He would just be in a coffin.
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