She wanted to be noticed. He never saw her. She had a dream of becoming famous, thinking that it could help. She stopped at nothing to get there. Cleo wanted to introduce herself to the world, and Van, her unrequited love.
Then came Wake.
My heart was still racing as I fled the stage. When I was behind the curtains, my eyes were already going to pour. I rushed past everyone and shut the door behind my dressing room. I sunk down to the floor and wept.
It was all happening too fast. Everything was just meshed into one big event. I cannot even recall of the last time that I had a normal day out without being hounded by all my fans. No, not my fans, my pursuers—they were my pursuers.
“Oh Cleo, these are your fans,” a voice cooed near my ear.
I kept my head ducked down between my knees. I wiped my sticky face from there. I didn’t want to lift my head up. I didn’t want to see him. Even if he could hear and feel everything that I think and experience, I can still wish him away, there’s always a possibility of doing that. I sniffled and cupped my hands tightly against my ears.
He touched my hair and started to stroke my head, like I was nothing but a small pet to him. “Ah now Cleo, don’t be foolish. I’m never going anywhere. I’ll never leave your side.” He gave a rueful laugh, “Even if I tried to...” He paused for a moment then clicked his tongue, “Why must you think of yourself that way? Of course you aren’t a pet. You’re a human being Cleo.” He smiled with contempt.
I shied away from his hand and tried to fight the urge to shelter myself next to him. As I shook from my sobbing, I spat, “Oh, so you’re human?”
He didn’t answer. He sat there for a long time. I didn’t know what was on his face; whether it was a smirk for my foolishness or a frown for the hurtful words I fed him. Either way, I didn’t care. At least, I didn’t want to care. I felt so weak, how did he have such an influence on me? How was he able to control every breath that escaped my body with one snap of his finger?
“Cleo,” he said. “Lest we forget that you’re bound to me now.”
He made me remember.
I shook as I felt all the memories forced into my mind. He was my Soul Possessor and sole possessor. He owned me and my soul. He owned my entire being.
“Now I wouldn’t want to say that I own you dear Cleo,” he said to me in a taunting way. I glanced at him and avoided staring into his pale, pale grey eyes. Those were the things that got me into this dilemma. Those were the things that had me in a state of confusion.
I felt the tears streaming down my face. I listened to all of the people outside calling for an encore. I touched my throat, wishing that I didn’t have this voice. It wasn’t mine to keep. It was his gift. He gave me this voice.
“Yet, you deserve it,” he told me. “Go on, your audience is craving another dose of you.”
“Please, be quiet Wake,” I told him. My soft command was the most ineffective, I used to be so brash and outspoken, but near him, I am reduced to such a...
“You are nothing but a foolish little girl, you know that?”
Wake willed me up to my feet and still managed to keep the door barricaded from any of my managers. Ha, my managers... They thought they were the ones in charge of my life, they were terribly mistaken.
I was terribly mistaken.
“Listen to me,” he stated as he turned me towards the mirror, “You shall go up on the stage and make everyone enjoy themselves. You will sing and everyone will fall in love with you Cleo.” He sat me down on my seat and rested his head against my shoulder.
I looked at our reflections in the large mirror. Wake’s face was radiant with life; he was looking more mortal everyday. Except for his otherworldly grey eyes, his outer appearance was subtle enough to blend in with the regular population.
He played his role well; my fans were convinced that this monster was my sweetheart. They all seemed attracted to this demon, they swooned over his radiance and glow. It was sickening.
“Oh look at you Cleo,” Wake exclaimed. He widened his eyes in mock terror and shook his head. His brassy hair shook with the motion. He touched my cheeks and said, “It is such a shame that you look so tired, no? I remembered when your cheeks were so rosy...So pink, like carnations.” He chuckled at his own absurdity.
I willed myself to stare at my reflection. Under all of the makeup lies the face of a tired performer. I had circles under my eyes; my black hair was dull—except for the glitter that was in it now. Then, I stopped my eyes on my lips. They were covered in a deep red lipstick, blood red, if you will—it frightened me to know how they were under that coat. It was that coat that was protecting them from Wake’s own Kiss of Death.
The lipstick, I thought, as Wake tousled my hair in a light manner. I still remembered when Hailey gave me that, a present, for my birthday. ‘Use it. Van will surely notice you with this on! Well...Even though you’re pretty already Cleo,’ was what she said to me when we were at my house. I glanced at her from the side and had asked, ‘Really?’ She nodded and said, ‘If Van would never notice you, that’d be the day when you’ll turn famous.’ I remembered laughing along with her and then saying, ‘Right, then when I become famous, I’ll have no time to even consider Van!’
“Oh, is that another tear I see?”
I lifted my head up and glanced at myself in the mirror. Wake was staring at my reflection; he had his hands tangled in my hair and his chin was perched on top of my head. He wiped the tear away from my face and produced a frown, “Aw now, now love. No need to cry...”
I was far away from Wake. I wanted to see Van. I missed him. I wanted him to notice me. It was as if he never knew I existed. Shy, reserved, and quiet, Van was in a world all on his own. Yet, he let in that Melody. My throat burned. I didn’t dislike Melody, I just despised what she accomplished.
“Stop thinking about him,” Wake hissed. He narrowed his eyes and let go of my hair. He turned around and waved his hand, causing the people on the other side of the door to stop knocking. He froze time. The whole world probably stood still now.
Including Van, who couldn’t even care less about me...?
I tried to dismiss that thought. Yet, I knew it was too late, I made Wake angry. Wake was Hell when he got upset. My heart was wrenching now as I watched him glare at me with an intense hatred in his eyes.
“Stop it! Stop thinking about...Van!” He shouted at me with all of his might, it almost seemed impossible with his voice’s easy vocal register, the beautiful sound that came out of his throat...It was startling to hear it like this.
I pulled my knees up against my chest and cowered, I wanted to hide from him.
Wake stormed towards me in an instant, cupping the bottom of my jaw and forcing me to look at him. He was only inches away from my face when he whispered, “Why not think about me? You think of all of these disposables, like...like...they mean something! It’s just so confusing...I hate being confused.” Wake shut his eyes and bit down, hard, on his bottom lip.
After a moment of silence, I answered him in my most inoffensive voice I could muster. “People like Van are always on my mind because I love them... I love V—”
“—Stop!” Wake interrupted. He furrowed his brows at me and whispered, “Van never even knew that you were alive! You only talked to him at least twice and, and... Ugh, how can you love Van?” He shook his head violently; I blinked in surprise when some of his soft hair caressed my face. “I give you everything, Cleo. I’ve given you what you heart desired. I’ve given you fame, fortune, and admiration from others. What do those underlings offer you?”
My eyes were dried wells by the time that Wake had finished speaking. I searched his raging eyes for any source of weakness before saying, “They make me happy. They’re human...”
Wake swallowed and took his hand away from my face. He tapped his chest and said, “I look like a human now, look Cleo...”
I kept my mouth closed and gazed at Wake. When he had first arrived to me, I thought I was dreaming. He was so unreal. Light radiated from him. His skin looked like it was smoothed and shone by an artist. Then the smile, the faint smile on his face...I thought that I was receiving my consolation prize for having lost Van to Melody. I thought that Wake was a gift.
He narrowed his eyes at me, listening to all of my thoughts. “I am a curse,” Wake replied. He breathed in deeply and said, “I am a Soul Possessor, granting you your deep desire. I give you what you want yet I steal the very mortality from you. You’ll end up dying...”
I remained silent. I knew of that fate. I knew that it was going to happen eventually. I couldn’t wait. At least I would be relieved of this nightmare.
“Cleo,” Wake breathed. He took my arms and willed me to my feet. Then he embraced me. It was quite common for him to do that, but he often did it in a protective way, shielding the world away from me. Now though, he seemed to be craving the love that he thought he had all along. I tried not to drown into his hypnotic hold; it was all part of his nature. “I never want that to happen to you,” he told me.
Loud sounds started to spring again. The world was now awake. He let go of me then glanced down at my face, then he hugged me once more. I rested my tired head to his side, thinking about whether or not I’ll face a fate that is predestined for the victim. “If you don’t want this to happen to me, then why am I suffering?”
Wake looked down at my face. Did he see what I saw every time that I looked into the mirror? Did he see the once exuberant girl that revelled in living? Or did he see the hollow shell that remained? He held his breath, then pushed me towards the door saying, “Go on out there Cleo, the crowd is calling.”