I'm a disgrace, we both were.


‘Vampire.’ Lazarus muttered. ‘I’m living next to a vampire.’ He paced the living room restlessly, the glass of vodka sitting untouched and forgotten on the counter. He turned and saw it. He rushed to it, desperate to blank out his confusion. Because it wasn’t like the vampire had been unfriendly. In fact, she was polite and had come to introduce herself, though admittedly she hadn’t known he was a...

‘Ugh.’ Lazarus grunted, disgusted as he thought about what he was. Not as bad as her, he thought. Werewolves are not as bad as blood sucking murderers.

He came to a fidgety stop at his window, leaning on the sill to stare out of the window. He pulled away from the ledge as he saw Melissa exit the building. Thought they couldn’t go out in the light...? He looked at the sky and sighed. Winter. The sun was hidden plenty enough for a being like her to run wild. Lazarus switched the stereo on, trying to calm himself with some Debussy. It didn’t help. He continued to pace agitatedly around the room. The CD stopped, making him growl a little. Had he really invited that vampire in to listen to him play? I need to get out more! He chuckled to himself and sat at the piano, gazing at his composition.

‘Ah, Gabriel... What can I do?’ he looked up at the ceiling, wondering if Gabriel ever listened to him. Or if Gabriel was even up there. Biting down on his lower lip gently, Lazarus placed his fingers with familiar ease into the first shape the chords formed. He leant into them gently, letting the hammers caress the strings inside the piano. He jerked as there was a knock at the door. His pulse raced suddenly, and he opened the door cautiously.

Melissa stood on the other side of the threshold, the conversation from just four hours ago running through his mind again already.

‘Rain check?’ she asked. Her smile was polite and he noticed her clothes were the same as they had been earlier. He laughed nervously and let her in.

‘Drink?’ He asked indicating for her to sit down on the sofa. She looked around his apartment appreciatively. The place was modern and tidy, but had definite hints to his character dotted around. The vodka bottle being one of them, visible in the kitchen from where she was sat. She declined a drink and Lazarus stood awkwardly.

‘Umm... food?’ he asked, scratching the back of his neck. She smiled and declined again. ‘Sorry,’ he smiled shakily. ‘Long time since I’ve had any visitors.’

‘How long?’ She asked, a hint of curiosity spiking her words. Lazarus sat down on the piano stool, facing her.

‘Too long. About...’ he counted on his fingers, ‘about four hundred years. Far too long. So forgive me for any hosting faults.’ She shakes her head with a smile.

‘It’s fine. Will you play for me?’ she asked. Lazarus faltered.

‘What would you like to hear?’ He hoped it wouldn’t be what she likely heard last night.

‘What were you playing last night?’ his heart sank with her words, but he maintained the host’s smile, attempting to make it genuine.

‘Just... something I wrote a long time ago.’ He knew what was coming next and straightened, ready to turn to the piano.

‘Will you play it for... me?’ she asked, hoping he would. He gulped and nodded slightly, turning to the piano. As he played, he stared at the name scrawled at the top of the page before him. The melody ended and the silence hung between them for a few moments after. Melissa looked at the floor, avoiding his eyes as he turned back to face her.

‘What do you think?’ he asked, concerned a little by her silence.

‘It’s beautiful. Why don’t you play anymore?’ she queried. He shrugged and let his posture relax into a comfortable slouch again.

‘No one cares for this kind of music anymore. It’s not the same playing to an empty room without your lover beside you.’ He chuckled, a memory floating to the surface.

‘I’m sorry.’ She blushed. ‘I love it,’ she muttered almost too quietly for him to hear.

‘You wouldn’t love it if you knew who I had written it for!’ Lazarus’ smile became pained and embarrassed. She looked up.

‘Who was it written for?’

‘It... doesn’t matter, really. Long dead. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.’ Lazarus glanced at the bottle of vodka to his left in the kitchen and grimaced, turning his gaze to the floor, ignoring the sudden craving for the liquid. Damn addictions.

‘I’m sorry... do you want me to leave?’ Melissa enquired. Lazarus looked up surprised at this.

‘Why would you want to leave? Did I upset you?’

‘No, I... I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything.’ She got up to leave. Before she was even halfway across the room, Lazarus had caught up with her. He put a hand on her shoulder, making her stop in her tracks.

‘It’s my fault.’ Lazarus told her, his voice low, laden with regret centuries old. She recognised that tone. ‘I wrote it for...’ the name caught in his throat and Melissa turned around to face him. ‘Gabriel. A man.’ Shame pierced his demeanour; he hung his head, staring at his feet as his cheeks flushed. ‘I’m a disgrace. We both were!’ Melissa shook her head, though he didn’t see it.

‘You’re not a disgrace. I think it was beautiful. You must have loved him a lot.’ Her tenor was sincere and he grimaced as he looked up, ashamed of the tears that filled his eyes. He turned away and wiped them away, cursing himself.

The End

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