Matthias, p.40
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       Matthias, p.40
 

           Ariana Kenny

  ****

  I watched Cassie for months, seeing all the things she did. I watched her settle in to real life, but there seemed a distance in her. After a few months, she started sleeping earlier, stopped going for walks when she woke, she became quieter. She even started looking more sullen, lost her glow. When I saw her start visiting the Doctors, then the specialists, I knew what was happening. That’s when I knew things were going to have to change. I had to speak to her. I chose a warm night when she was walking home from work. For the first time in almost a year, I didn’t hide in the shadows. I had an interest in letting her see me now.

  As she slipped the key into the lock, she stopped and turned her head to face me. “I know you’re there. I know you keep following me.”

  I stepped forward. I was apprehensive about how she would react, but I tried to leave that behind. “You’re sick.”

  “I am.” She murmured.

  “I can heal you…That’s why I came.”

  “Can you now?” Cassie asked cynically. “The doctors all say that’s not possible. Besides, you never really left me. I know you’re always....” she gestured into the night “...out there. Watching. It’s kind of creepy you know.” Cassie proceeded to open the door.

  “I found it hard to say goodbye. That’s not a crime.”

  Cassie relaxed her stance. “What is it you think you can do for me.”

  I took her hand and it felt glorious to touch her again. I placed a vial of my blood in her hand and lingered for a moment before saying: “If you drink it, you should be just fine again”. As I reluctantly withdrew from her, she caught my arm.

  “What if I wanted something else?”

  “What else could you want Cassie?”

  “I want answers. I think you are the one to give them to me. Come upstairs?” She pleaded with me as she took a step further in to the now open doorway.

  I followed her upstairs to the flat. The place was filled with prints of some of the artwork we had seen in France, a picture of the hotel we stayed at by the river, an Egyptian sculpture of a Felucca. Cassie had been collecting ‘things’ that reminded her of times she had forgotten. I spent a breathless moment wondering what this meant. She didn’t seem to remember. I watched as she sat on one of the chairs near her coffee table. She looked at the vile, rolling it around in her fingers, watching the blood cling to the side.

  “We used to know each other well, didn’t we?” She asked. “Camille told me some things, but not everything.”

  “Yes, very well.” I moved to the chair adjacent and sat next to her. I remember watching her features anxiously hoping for her to say something that I wanted badly to hear. She stole a glance over toward me and spied my tattoo.

  “You have a tattoo like mine, but yours says something different.”

  I nodded. “I am not led.....” started.

  “I lead” she finished. She leaned back taking deep breaths, and I said nothing, just looked at her. I probably should have left, but then she spoke again and I hung on her words. “I keep having these dreams, like I am remembering things that couldn’t have happened. You’re always there.”

  I tried to ignore the connotations and focused on the vile. When she drank it, I reasoned, I would go. “You need to drink it, looking at it won’t do anything .….”

  Cassie changed to the topic I brought up. “So what will it do?”

  I sank back in to the plush cushioning, trying to seem relaxed. “Work from the inside, healing what is wasting away.”

  “Will it make me like you?”

  “No, you would have to die after you drank it for that to happen…” at my words Cassie looked distant.

  Then she asked the question I simultaneously hoped for, but also wished she hadn’t. “Was I happy? Were we happy”

  “Why would you even ask that?” I stammered.

  Cassie picked up the vial and peered through the glass. “Even if I take this, I get better…I feel like I am missing my insides, that I have lost so much. I don’t think I can be happy in this life.”

  “No reason not to try to make a life for yourself. Grow old, meet someone, have kids, become happy.”

  “What if I don’t want any of those things?” Cassie turned to look at me. “I want you to change me to how I used to be, before....this.”

  “I can’t do that.” Was my immediate response.

  “You won’t do that.” She corrected.

  “I can’t. I owe you so much. The only way I can make sure you get it is to let you live.

  “Weren’t you happy with me? When I dream, you always seem happy.”

  “I was happy. Happier that any other time I can remember. I spent nearly 30 years trying to find a way for us to be together again.”

  “Then, let me be with you.” She saw my hesitation. “Don’t think about it, just let it be....I don’t care what comes with it. You can teach me.”

  I smiled. “You taught me”

  “What do you mean”

  “You turned me. To save me.”

  “So now its your turn to save me.” I let her make sense for me.

  I paused to consider what I was about to do. Camille was going to kill me. Well, not literally. “Are you sure?”

  Cassie nodded. “What do I have to do?”

  “Nothing. Stay where you are.” I stood, then knelt in front of her. I came level with her neck. It was the fastest way to drain her. I couldn’t bear to break her neck, or kill her in some other way. “Drink me” I said nodding towards the vial. She popped the top and threw back the blood with no hesitation.

  “Will it hurt?” she asked looking straight into me.

  “No. I won’t let it.” I assured.

  “I’ll die, then come back?” She confirmed.

  “Yes”.

  “Will you stay with me until I do?”

  “I won’t go anywhere”. There was no where else I could possibly go. I leant towards her and felt her tremble slightly under me. I gently bit into her, and she gasped and tensed momentarily before relaxing. All I could think of was the smell of fresh flowers.

  I took Cassie back to the club. To the rooftop where I had put together the greenhouse. I had had it filled with all kinds of flowers, but left a space in the middle for Viktor to work. I turned up the dirt along the seedlings box on the floor and buried Cass there. She had once told me it was a mark of respect to bury us before we came around again.

  Viktor arrived just as I covered Cass and was on my knees contemplating how to tell people what I had done. “Hey – he returns!” Viktor cheered as he rounded the doorway. I looked up at him and he looked back. Stopping in his tracks at the seriousness on my face, the dirt and the disheveled garden box, we spent a moment in exchanged silence. “Don’t look so worried Matt. It’s not for me to say anything. I’ll leave you.” Thank goodness for Viktor, and his lax moral principals. It made it easier to measure myself against.

  By the time daylight approached, I could hear Violet’s heels clicking on the rooftop. I went out to meet her where she stood leaning against the ledge. The sun was at the cusp of breaking through the darkness.

  “Violet.” I stared. “I have to tell you something.” She looked back at me with an amused smile on her face.

  “Oh yeah. What is that little brother.”

  “I brought Cassie back.”

  Violet stared out over the city. “Hmm. Took you long enough.”

  “You’re kidding right?” I responded taken aback.

  “I told you I would forgive you anything Matthias. I meant it. I’m just surprised it took you so long.”

  “I was busy doing the right thing.” I pointed out. She brushed the side of my face with the back of her hand.

  “The right thing isn't always the right thing is it?” she said, starting to walk away to go inside.

  “No. I realise that.” I responded.

  Violet turned back as she walked “Thank goodness for that." with that she left, and I went
inside to sit next to the garden bed.

  As the sun set, I felt that pull, that tingle in my chest as though part of me was being drawn in, towards the ground. I closed my eyes when I felt it. I took a draw of air in to my lungs. There it was. Cassie's scent. The ground stirred and I sifted through the earth to find her hand. Guiding her in to the fresh air, she woke trying to gasp for air she no longer needed. She sat for a moment with earth around her as she looked into me. I pulled her to standing and she moved, wordless into me, clutching at my back and sinking her face into my chest. I embraced her back hand we stood silent for a moment while she grounded herself.

  When we parted I looked at her practically shining in the sheer white dress I had dressed her in. The one I bought her that she wore in Paris. She looked otherworldly, like a fairy or elf in another time, Surrounded by the plants and gardens.

  "I feel.... " Cassie started. "I feel....so alive. I didn't think I would be able to feel so much." She wondered.

  "There's a whole lot more." I assured her as I guided her to the doorway.

  Outside in the darkness we found Violet and Cam waiting for us with Viktor and Elias standing behind them. Violet held an ornate vessel filled with fresh warm blood. She walked over to Cassie and held it out. "We missed you little sister." Violet enthused. She said it quietly, but I could see the held back excitement.

  "Violet" Cassie whispered as though trying to recall something from her memories that was important to her. Cassie took the cup and looked over towards Cam.

  "Camille. It's been so long since I saw you." Cassie responded to seeing her.

  Cam came over and unexpectedly embraced Cassie. I thought I saw her well up, but then she parted and looked Cassie deep in the eyes. "I wouldn't miss this bit for the world. You can't imagine what it took to get here Cassandra. Now drink up. Be strong, and let's take you outside."

  Cassie drank the contents of the glass without question, and her eyes rolled with the taste. I could remember that first drink of mine as if it were yesterday.

  "Shall we ladies" Viktor boomed from the edge of the building. He swung his arm out in a gracious gesture, but Elias just gave a wink and skipped over the side.

  Cassie gasped in reaction, but saw Violet jump the side and Camille stride up. Cam stopped for a moment though to address Viktor. "I do so love this part." she said before stepping over the edge. Viktor looked at Cassandra and I expectantly.

  "We'll be with you in a minute Viktor." I said, and with a nod he launched himself over the side.

  Stepping over to the edge I took the small step onto the ledge and held out my hand for Cassie. Nervously, she walked over to me, peering over the concrete. "You are going to have to get used to the new rules you know….” I quoted Cassie, from years before. She stepped up to me and held my hand. Together we jumped off the roof.

  Epilogue

  It's a cold night tonight not that it really bothers me other than having to dress to fit the occasion. Fog and steam drift across the streets and I walk down the main street that leads from the club to the other end of town. I can almost smell snow in the air. It's just about perfect. As I walk, soaking it all in, I see a young woman and an older man, dressed in thick coats, and warm hats leaving a restaurant to walk down the street. I recognise her immediately, and the man a moment later. It's Mehnaz walking on the street locked arm in arm with her father.

  They look pleased, Mehnaz chirping along as her father listens intently. As I pass her our arms brush slightly, and she takes a moment to peek over her shoulder at me. There's a curiosity in her eyes, as though she recognized me but couldn't quite place me. Almost as quickly, she turns back to resume her conversation and I smile to myself knowingly. Cassie, who is walking beside me squeezes my arm and looks back at Mehnaz, then at me.

  "What's so amusing?" She asks me.

  "Nothing, Violet does good work, that's all." I dismiss.

  "So where are we going?" Cassie moved on.

  "I thought we could watch a movie, get dinner. Normal stuff that normal people do when they're on a date."

  "Ahh. We are on a date, and we are normal are we Matt? Tell me what's for dinner?"

  "Italian, French....whatever we come across." She hit me on the arm in chastisement. I flinched from the blow. "Ow, I was just kidding. We aren't so abnormal, not tonight anyway." I answer. We walk along in comfortable silence for another moment. "You used to call me Matthias you know." I said.

  "Sorry, still getting used to things. There's a lot to remember, to take in. I kind of like Matt anyway, not that I mind Matthias."

  "You can call me whatever you like Cassandra, I'm just glad we're here." I respond, bringing her in closer.

  "So it's just us tonight then. No entourage." Cassie remarked.

  "No. Just us." I sighed in relief. We had barely been alone since she awoke, and I was desperate for time. It was a strange balance, having known her for so long, so intimately that it felt we were attached at the soul, yet having to start again. Take things one step at a time, not make assumptions about what she liked, what she didn't. I had come clean and told her everything when she woke, and over the ensuing few days. There was so much to learn, and her understanding of who she was, what she could do, and the mastery over her skills was at the absolute beginning stages. Even then though, she was still the same Cassandra, not surprisingly, and I loved that I knew things about her that surprised even her. Life was going to be....how it felt it was supposed to be after all.

  "I'm afraid you are stuck with just me tonight Cassie." I repeated.

  "Cam decided to play nice with Myria and pay her that visit after all then?" I nod in acknowledgement. "I like Cam. I always feel safe with her. Violet too, though I suppose that's no surprise." Cassandra often thought out loud now. It was something I was becoming used to. I guess not having to watch everything you say gives you the freedom to communicate differently.

  "Well they are going to have to get along if Cam wants to be part of Myria’s life and try to help her work through her darker moments. I know Myria and Elias are getting married and all, but I don't see Elias as being the extra responsible type."

  Cassie gave me a cheeky grin. "Yeah, no way that can go wrong."

  "I was thinking Cass." I continue on, going for broke. "Violet and Viktor were talking about setting up a new club in Atlanta."

  "Russell's Place, they were going to call it" she confirms.

  I stop on the street and she faces me. "Do you want to go with me? We can run it, make it work, then decide what we want to do from there."

  "Just us? Sure why not...." After a moment she asks the question on everyone's mind. "Any chance Russell could ever be brought back?"

  "Never say never Cassie." we start to walk again.

  "Hmm. At least he'll have a place named after him if Myria ever figures it out." Cassie says as we arrive at the cinema.

  "I think I might love you Matthias De Luca." Cassie quips. I kiss her on the forehead and she smiles. "So what's the movie about?"

  "Some story about a guy trying to get away from his life, his cheating girlfriend, and he falls in to some supernatural cult or something. Has cars, blood, violence and adventure. Might be alright." I answer her.

  "Sounds like fun."

  "That's the plan Cass."

 
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