Coffee, Tea, or Me?
I enter her room after a brief knock. It is pitch dark inside, with only the light of the full moon coming from the open window illuminating my wife’s profile. The air inside is heavy. The scent of death is hanging above us. I try to control the urge to shout in frustration. I feel so helpless, so useless, unable to alleviate the pain she is feeling, unable to stop the inevitable from happening.
As always, she is sitting on the bed, in shadows, waiting for me. Every night, for the past three months.
“What is it. . . this time?” she whispered, weakly. Too weakly. Her voice is now just a shadow of her once vibrant, giggly self.
I swallow the lump in my throat. “Coffee. Brewed and black.”
She nods slowly. Too slowly. “The green tea last night was delicious.”
“I can make you one again, if you want.”
“No, coffee’s just fine. May I have some?”
I approach her, the tray containing the coffee mug clasped in my hands.
She turns her face away, as if stung.
“Don’t come near me! Can you. . . can you just leave it. . . on the bedside table?”
“Love,” I groan, “you’re too weak. You can’t even lift your hand. Let me help you, please.”
“I. . . I don’t want you to see me like this,” she murmurs.
“You’re still beautiful, love,” I hasten to assure her. “You’re always beautiful to me.”
She sighs. “You’re just saying that because I’m dying.”
“DON’T SAY THAT!” My words come out harshly than I intended them to, and she cringes at my tone.
Immediately, I apologize profusely, not wanting to add to her pain. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m sorry, love,” as I walk to her, my arm outstretched, wanting to hold her. She puts up her palm, her unspoken way of telling me off. I sit on the bed, my fists clenched at my side.
Oh, what I would give to gather her in my arms again, to feel once again her warmth, to smell her sweet breath, to hear her beating heart against mine. . . things I haven’t been able to do in the past months.
But she turns farther away from me. “Please, love, just leave me. I have accepted my fate. You should, too.”
“No, I won’t, and I can’t accept it! You shouldn’t too. If you’d only agree to the cure they told us about, you will live.”
“I can’t do that.” She shakes her head slowly. “I don’t want to do that.”
“Why? For heaven’s sake, why?”
“You know why. You know why,” she feebly replied.
“Don’t you love me? Don’t you want us to be together?” I ask her, my tone pained and grieving.
“Of course I do. I love you, Philip. God knows how much I love you. You’re the only man I have ever loved.”
“Then, please. . . please. . . let yourself live!”
She shakes her head adamantly.
“Even for me? For us?”
“That is why I don’t want to get the cure, Philip. This is all for you.”
“No, it isn’t. Because if you die, I’ll just kill myself, Georgia.”
“Philip!” Gasping, she looks at me with panic-stricken eyes.
“I’ll kill myself,” I repeat with conviction, as I realize this was what I wanted — and planned — to do ever since she refused the cure. “I really will kill myself. I’d rather be dead than live without you.”
“Don’t,” she whispers, squeezing her eyes closed, as if in pain. “Don’t waste your life because of me.”
“But you are my life, Georgia. Without you, I am not alive.”
She looks at me for a long moment with haunted, sunken eyes. Slowly, one by one, the tears fall down her cheeks. She hasn’t cried ever since she became ill. The walls she had built up for herself are now crashing down, and I grab the opportunity, the slimmest chance, that she will consider getting the cure that can save her life.
I plead with her, eagerly, urgently.
“Love. . . you can’t survive with just a few drops of animal blood laced in the drinks I prepare every night. You need human blood, or you’ll die. Please, take my blood. . . and live. I don’t care that I will be a blood-thirsty, hunted vampire like you.”
I grasp her hand. . . her cold, pale hand, and put it on my chest.
“All I care for is being with you. . . for all eternity. Don’t you want that?”
“Oh, Philip, I do. I do!”
“Then. . . what are you waiting for?” I whisper seductively, “Coffee, tea. . . or me?”
She smiles. Then she opens her mouth wide, and I catch a glimpse of her fangs. . .
. . . before she bit me.