But now I’m beginning to think that it touches us even more than it touches them. It erodes, causing decay as harmful as the humans, but ours isn’t visible. It’s hidden away, tucked inside our hearts, where all our memories eaten away.
I can never be sure if this life, this thing that Ezra bestowed to me, is a curse or a blessing. At times, I think it would be completely unbearable without you. I don’t think I could handle this on my own.
Even as I write this, I’m still shaken. Not just from the visit with my brother, but from the illness I had last month. It won’t go away – this strange feeling of doom. I wake up in a cold sweat most days.
Please, Elise, I need to hear from you soon. Ezra has tried to assure me that everything is fine, and I wish I could believe him, but I can’t. I won’t, not until I hear it from you. Tell me that you still love me, that we’ll be together soon, always and forever.
Do you remember when we were on our honeymoon, and we arrived in Prague? We stood on the bridge, looking out over the Vltava flowing below us. The sky glowed blue as twilight came upon us, and the first star glowed brightly above us.
“Should we go back to the room?” I asked you, my arms wrapped around your waist. I nuzzled your neck, my words muffled in the soft of your hair. “We could sleep…” I said sleep, but we’d slept on the train, and we hardly ever slept when we were in bed, at least on that trip.
“Sleep?” You laughed a little at that and turned to face me. Your hands went to my cheeks, stroking them lovingly, and you stared up in my eyes. “To sleep, perchance to dream. For in that sleep of death what dreams may come.”
In that moment, I loved you, and you loved me. I heard you say those words, and I thought you meant death as in our lives, since we are truly the undead. You smiled as you said it, and I thought surely you must mean that we had been sleeping in this death until we met each other. Every moment we spent together had been a dream come true.
I thought you had misquoted Shakespeare as a declaration of love. But now I wonder… were you ever truly happy, my love? Did you mean the soliloquy by its true intention? Even on our honeymoon, had the melancholy taken hold, so that you were thinking of suicide even as I held you in my arms?
Or am I thinking on this too much? Elise, my true, return to me quickly, and tell me what dreams may come for us.
Yours, forever and always, in this life and the next –
June 15, 1863
By now you must know that something has happened, and that’s why I’m writing to you instead of Elise. I’ve gotten all your letters, and I’ve read them all, even though most of them were addressed to Elise and not Catherine.
I pray you haven’t gotten on a ship to return back here, the way you said you would in the last letter. Not hearing from Elise on your anniversary had to be a shock, and I am certain she would’ve written to you had she been able.
I should’ve written to you months ago, and I know that. I just didn’t have the words to say to you, and I was in mourning myself. You had Elise for eleven years, but I’ve had her for fifteen.
Peter, I love you as much as I loved my own brothers. There isn’t a person on this earth I cared for more than you, other than Elise. That is why it is with such despair that I have to tell you this, and in such an impersonal way. This is not how I meant for you to find out, but I have no other means to tell you.
Peter… Elise is dead.
I’m not sure if you’ll keep reading this after that, if you’ll even be able to. But I feel I should tell you how it happened, in case you have the strength to read on.
As you know, she was trying to close up the farm and sell it so she could meet you in America. We talked some of me keeping the land, but the townsfolk had become far too suspicious of us both, so I began visiting villages farther north.
Elise went with me. She felt bad about leaving me behind, and no matter how I tried to ease her guilt, she insisted on helping me getting settled into somewhere new.
I know now I shouldn’t have let her come with me. I beg your forgiveness, knowing I will never receive it, nor do I deserve it. I didn’t think anything would come of it.
We stopped at a pub in a village far up the road. We didn’t know that it was already overrun with vampyres, not until it was much too late. They’d claimed the town as their own, and thought we were trying to take over their territories.
Elise and I tried to leave. She kept telling them she didn’t want their land. She even offered them hers. A vampyre grabbed her arm, meaning to throw her out of town himself, and dear Hamlet saw the brute put his hands on Elise, so the dog rushed in to save her.
The vampyre reacted, lashing out the dog, and Elise wouldn’t stand for that. She would never let anything happen to Hamlet. I swear she loved that dog more than me.
I tried to help. I tried to save her. Truly, I did, Peter, and they nearly killed me too. Somehow, Hamlet and I escaped with our lives, but just barely.
I’m not sure how much I should tell you. How much you’d want to know.
She fought valiantly, Peter. You would be so proud of her bravery. She fought with a purpose I didn’t even know she had.
But it was one move. A farmer’s pitchfork propped up against a stable that did her in. I pulled it from her chest, and I threw her onto her horse. I raced us out of town as fast as I could, thinking if I got her home, I could do something. I could save her.
Now I know that she was gone as soon as that fork pierced her heart. I tried to do everything I could for her. Anything I could think of, no matter how insane sounding, I had to try. But nothing would bring her back.