We both ate much less frequently than we needed to. Once or twice a month at most. The humans were far too weak and frail to handle even the smallest blood loss, so every feeding meant death.
I’d begun to hate Ireland. When we’d first arrived, I’d been enchanted by the beautiful rolling moors. The grass here seemed so much greener than I’d seen before. Even with famine lurking around every hill, there was a certain lushness to the scenery I’d never seen in America.
But now I saw the grass that was so green because it grew from such tainted fertilizer. How many bodies were buried here? How many lives had been lost? Not just at mine and Ezra’s hand, but by the hands of our kind, or by disease and famine?
“Why does this happen?” I asked him, kneeling beside a fresh grave I’d dug myself. We always buried every body we came across, whether we made them or not.
“I don’t understand the question,” Ezra said, wiping the dirt from his hands onto his trousers.
“Why do people always die?”
“It’s as it is. As it should be,” he said, but the moonlight shone brightly on his expression, and I knew he’d asked himself that a thousand times before. “Everything dies.”
“But we don’t.” I stared up at him, hoping he would have some response, but I’d already began the realization that my maker didn’t know everything. He was no more a god than I was, with no more solutions than I had.
“We will,” he assured me, staring off in the distance. “Someday.”
“But why is it like this?” I got to my feet, unable to contain the anger and confusion inside me. “Why do all these innocent people suffer? How can children, who’ve barely even taken a breath, die in so much pain? How is there so much death in this world, and yet we live on?”
“I don’t know, Peter,” Ezra said. “But I’m afraid that the answer might be that you’re asking too much of this life. I don’t think there is a reason.”
“Asking for a reason isn’t too much.” I shook my head fiercely and clenched my fists. “Suffering requires a reason.”
“We’ve spent too much time out here.” Ezra lowered his eyes and turned away from me, walking towards the road. “The isolation is getting to you.”
“What isolation?” I asked, following him. “I’m with you always.”
“I’m not enough.” He quickened his steps, inciting me to hurry along with him. “I’m death as much as anything around here. You need to be around life. We’re going to the city.”
“How will that help? Life is only a prelude to death,” I insisted. “Being around living vital people will only serve as a reminder that soon they will be still and motionless in the ground.”
“Sometimes the best course in the search for the meaning of life is to busy yourself until you forget that you don’t know the meaning of life,” Ezra said finally.
I wanted to argue further, but Ezra was impossible to argue with when he’d made up his mind. He’d become tired of my ever growing malaise and was determined to snap me out of it. Once we reached the city, he planned to find a boat to take us away from Ireland, maybe to England or France.
We reached the city two nights ago. Ezra took me to a pub, which is the only way I’d know how truly hard this was him. Ezra kept his emotions to himself as often as he could, but when they became too much for him, he had to find a release.
His best solution for dealing with a depression was to lay with a woman, preferably a human woman full of life with a warm body and pounding heart. I never asked him, but I suspect that he never bit a woman he took to his bed. To be with them was to pretend, for a moment, that he was alive, that he was capable of giving and receiving love with another being.
In the pub, he ordered whiskey, which we both pretended to drink, but most of it ended up on the floor. Women were always enamored with Ezra, and two lovely girls joined us.
The fairer of the two had her eyes set on the Ezra. She hung on his every word, gripping his arm with urgency, and she melted at the sound of his laugh. It didn’t take long before he was renting a room above the pub and whisking her up the stairs.
Her friend would gladly go with me, but I didn’t have it in me. Being with a woman had never been quite the release for me as it was for Ezra. I stayed down in the pub, listening to the girl talk for quite a long while, but eventually, I left to walk the streets alone.
When the sun began to rise, I headed back. We didn’t have much money, so I didn’t want to rent a room of my own. I waited on the stairs until the girl had gone before going into the room. Ezra was sprawled across the bed, contented and sleeping. I stole a thin blanket and made myself a bed on the floor.
Ezra awoke early for the day with an extra bounce in his step. He was still convinced that being around people was the cure for what ailed me. He insisted that we go out to the market while the evening sun was still up, when the market was busy with shoppers and sellers. Seeing people laughing, bartering, living, would be good for me.
I’d wanted to argue with him, but I thank the heavens that I did not. Letting him drag me out to that market was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
The streets were crowded, much fuller than I’d seen them in the small villages we’d traversed. The sound of voices echoed off the shops that lined market. Chickens and goats were aplenty, making their protests at being sold off for food.