New Year’s Day, 1793

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I sat back and closed my eyes contentedly, feeling the warmth of the fire on my face, and the brandy warming my insides. My belly was happily full from a good lunch. Life was good.

“Barnabas, are you going to sit there all day?” smiled my mother. She looked at me intently, as she set down a small tray on the side table.  “You look like the cat who has got the cream.”

“I’m happy mother,” I replied simply.

“I’m glad to hear it”, she smiled back at me. “Would there be any particular reason you feel that way?”

“I don’t quite know,” I mused. “ It can’t be just a good dinner,  a warm fire, this brandy-” I looked into the amber liquid and swirled it round in my glass.

I looked up at her earnestly. “I just have a feeling that this will be a good year for us, perhaps the best one we will ever have.”

“Well I hope you are right.”

“How is Father?”

“Oh his cold is still bothering him, but he will recover soon I’m sure. The hot toddy should help.”

“I hope so,” I said, standing up and going to look out of the window. “How beautiful it looks outside, the snow.”

My mother came to stand by my side. We stood in silent companionship looking at the expanse of white that covered the grounds like a blanket.

“How pure it looks,” I said at last, breaking the silence, “almost as though everything is untainted and new, cleansed almost in readiness for the coming new year.”

 

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“You sound almost poetical Barnabas.” My mother took my hand. “I’m so proud of you. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that but I am.”

“Well-” I said, my face flushing at the sound of pride and love in her voice. “I hope I will always make you feel that way, no matter what happens.”

A sudden chill came over me and I shivered, then in one fleeting moment it was gone.

“Come and sit by the fire again Barnabas, you look a little cold.”

I turned away so that she would not see the confusion on my face. I’d been so happy all afternoon and in a mere moment, something I couldn’t explain had come over me, I was not a man given to bouts of melancholy, so it was all the more puzzling to me.

“Yes,” I said, and walked over to my chair and poured more brandy into my glass, and with perfect timing in walked my Aunt Abigail.

“I hope you don’t plan to finish that bottle, and sit there stupefied all afternoon, Barnabas,” she said in a scolding tone.

“Since when have I been a drunkard?” I retorted. “It’s New Year’s Day, and I for one feel like celebrating it in a pleasant manner, with a couple of glasses of brandy by the fireside. I don’t see what is wrong with that.”

“Well you wouldn’t, so I won’t be the one to spell it out.” With that she opened the Bible she more often than not had in her hands.

I sighed, waiting for her to start quoting me chapters about the evil of “strong drink” when the door opened and in flew little Sarah.

315kl“Barnabas, let’s go out and make a snowman! Oh say you will, look I have a carrot for his nose.”

“You will catch a chill,” Aunt Abigail said, “ You don’t want to be in bed with a fever like your father now do you?”

“No I won’t!” Sarah said,” I have my new grey coat, that will keep me warm, and the mittens you knitted for me.”

My mother moved away from the window, and smiled at Sarah. “I don’t see why you can’t go out with Barnabas Sarah, as long as you wrap up warmly. That’s if he wants to go with you.”  With that she looked at me for my assent.

“Of course,” I said graciously, “ Go and get ready Sarah.”

“Oh good!” She said and handed me the carrot. “Now you take care of the snowman’s nose for me until I come back.”

“I will,” I promised, smiling affectionately at her, amused by her excitement.

My aunt made a harrumph sound and I looked over at her sitting there stiffly in her chair.

She  met my gaze, a frown turning her mouth downwards.

“Those eyes of yours will get you into trouble Barnabas, you mark my words.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said puzzled.

367-1If looks could kill Barnabas!” she exclaimed, looking away momentarily then down at the Bible in her lap.

“Now just what are you talking about Abigail?” My mother’s  voice took on a sharp tone.

Abigail had the grace to look a little guilty, but only for a moment. “Well it was the way he looked at me. That expression just popped into my head. I don’t know exactly what I meant by it.”

“And how did I look at you?”

“I don’t wish to discuss it,” she muttered and stood up. “I think I’ll retire to my room for awhile.”

“As you wish. Oh Sarah, you do look nice and warm, here’s your carrot.”

“Have a nice time,” my mother said.

“We will!” Sarah almost ran to the door. “Look out the window Mother and you can see us make the snowman.”

“I will darling.”

The snowman proved more difficult to make than we imagined, for our hands got very cold and we had to keep blowing warm air from our mouths every so often to ease the stiffness of our fingers. We soon found out wet gloves were an impediment to snowman creation.

A little bird flew down into one of the low branches in the trees and watched us set the carrot into the snowman’s head.

“Oh the bird must be hungry! Let’s go get him some bread from the kitchen Barnabas.”

If there was one thing above all I loved about my sister it was her inherent kindness, her purity of heart.

“All right, you stay there, I won’t be long,” I promised. “I ‘ll get the buttons in your box for the snowman’s eyes too.”

“Then he will be able to see, won’t he? He can look out at the trees and watch the birds.”

“He will,” I said smiling.

When I returned Sarah was playing her flute and the bird was cocking his head, appearing to be listening to the piping sounds.

“I think you’ve made a new friend Sarah.”

“Do you really think so?”

“I do. Now let’s crumble up this bread and put it under his tree.”

As we neared the tree the bird flew up into the next branch watching us, then swooped down to the ground when we moved away.

“Oh he is so hungry Barnabas!”

“I expect he is, with the ground covered by snow, frozen hard with no worms for him to find.”

I took Sarah’s little button box out of my coat pocket and handed it to her. She chose two bright blue buttons for his eyes and I helped her push them into his round face.

“Oh but he has no mouth! What can we make his mouth out of?”

I reached into my pocket again and handed Sarah a piece of thick red thread.

“How about this?”

“Where did you get that?”

I looked down at her and spoke in a hushed conspiratorial tone. “From Aunt Abigail’s sewing box. Now don’t you tell on me! She left it in the drawing room.”

Sarah giggled, enjoying the secret.

“I won’t tell on you.”

We pushed the thread into the snowman’s face and Sarah pulled the thread up at each end.

“Now he’s smiling. That’s better.”

We stood back and looked at our snowman. The being of ice stood there comically, his buttony blue eyes gleaming in the frosty daylight, smiling at us as though he was very glad to have been created.

“I think he’s happy we made him Barnabas.”

“I think he is too. Do you want to give him a name?”

“Adam, like the first man in the Bible.”

“That is blasphemous,” Aunt Abigail said as we came into the drawing room to warm ourselves by the fire and told our mother about our snowman.

“Making snowmen is one thing, but only God gives life and calling a snowman after the first man-”

“Oh Abigail be quiet!” My mother tutted.

“”Well, if I don’t point out their sinful ways who will?” Her voice rose in response to my mother’s annoyance. “ This is a good Christian household, and don’t you forget it.”

“Have you not thought Aunt, that by naming the snowman Adam that we acknowledge God’s creation?” I said in my best soothing and charming manner.

“Well if you put it like that-”

“I do.” I said firmly, “Now let’s not fight on New Year’s day. I want nothing more than peace and happiness in this house.” I smiled at my mother and little Sarah. “And love of course.”

81426771-d990-4484-8fcb-67bf12af3765“You will always have my love,” my mother said warmly.

“And mine too!” Little Sarah hugged me tightly. I wrapped my arms about her warm little body and kissed the top of her head.

“Happy New Year darling,” I said softly into her long brown hair.

Her sweet face lifted up to look into mine. “It will be a happy one won’t it Barnabas?”

“The best,” I said, looking over her head gazing at the snowman stood outside, and watching our bird soar into the sky, his belly full of the bread we had given him. He flew high into the cold still air, and then vanished from my view. I had the  feeling that we would never see him again, which made me feel inexplicably sad. The sun was setting, shadows began to fall around our drawing room and I let go of Sarah in my arms and began the evening ritual of lighting all the candles.

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Suffering

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Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea;
The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape,
With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape;
But O too fond, when have I answer’d thee?
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: what answer should I give?
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye:
Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die!
Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live;
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: thy fate and mine are seal’d:
I strove against the stream and all in vain:
Let the great river take me to the main:
No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield;
Ask me no more.

When we are suffering we may inadvertently create more suffering not only for ourselves but others we hold dear to us. I should never have gone to her that night, I know that now.  But, truth be told I knew it then too, but I could not help myself. To live for eternity without her was an agony I knew I could not bear, yet to live with her meant death- her death. I was already dead, but in a cruel way also alive – and my feelings were intense, more so than when I had been an ordinary man. Now, I was a creature of the night with dark yearnings – cravings so strong that at times I thought I would go mad.

When her tearful eyes gazed into mine and she begged me to take her with me I felt an icy chill seep into my bones, for she had little idea of what this meant.  How could I explain what I had become? That my love for her would bring her suffering then her death? I wanted more than anything to keep her safe, bring her love and joy. When we love someone the last thing we want is to make them suffer. Yet, when the witch had screamed at me that all who loved me would die, that became the only thing I could bring my dear Josette.

I was suffering enormously it is true: tormented by my need for blood each night and disgusted with myself afterwards I would slink into the shadows tears on my blood stained face. 

How could I ask her to love me still? My loyal servant Ben pleaded with me to leave Collinsport for good, but I couldn’t bear to never see her lovely face again. Selfishly, I stayed and visited her of a night through the secret panel in her bedroom, taking her in my arms and loving her in the only way I knew how.

Barnabas 1795 in the secret door

My plans to make her mine meant that she would live for eternity as I was cursed to do, but it was a living death; I knew Ben Stokes was right when he told me I was wrong to even consider it, but I didn’t know how else I could bear each night otherwise. Centuries of loneliness and suffering stretched out before me, unless I could find someone to end my suffering. Faithful Ben could not bring himself to do it. I longed for him to destroy me – being destroyed at the hands of a friend seemed to me a kindness, laying me to rest in peace, but to have been hunted down like an animal by the authorities was what I faced (it was inevitable) which was worse.  I had left many victims of my blood lust in the short time since I had been cursed to this damned existence – already the inhabitants of Collinwood were gossiping about the  “ blood thirsty beast” in their midst.

We are often told that we should not have regrets, for they are futile as we cannot change what has been. This I find to be false in light of what I am – for if I didn’t have any regrets how could I live with myself? I may not be able to put right many of the wrongs I have done, but I have realized that the experiences I’ve had have taught me to see how precious life really is. We must never waste a moment to show our loved ones how much they mean to us; we must show them that we care. We must. Having too many  regrets eats at our souls and we cannot be at peace. 

With regrets comes forgiveness, which I have talked about before. Forgiving other people is much easier in some ways than forgiving ourselves. I know now that Josette eventually forgave me for that terrible night on Widows Hill. Even now I feel the horror as vividly as I did over 200 years ago as she slipped from my arms down onto the rocks as the wind swept the sea into  a frenzy.

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As the elements claimed her spirit, and her broken body lay below the cliffs, my heart became as hard and as cold as the cruel stones that she lay upon, and for a long time after that I could only feel hate and despair. Many a night I would roam Widows Hill raging at the way it had stolen me from her, claimed her as its own. Her voice mingled with the ghosts of the weeping widows that haunted the place – my suffering was causing me great agony but in a perverse sort of way brought me some comfort, for I felt that one day I might find Josette again as I could often sense her presence  in the wind that whipped my cloak around my legs as if she were angry with me for causing her to die.

In the new century I found myself in Josette’s spirit came to my aid twice when I was in danger and I knew then that she had forgiven me, even if I had not forgiven myself.

In the old house

“My darling forgive me for the suffering I brought you,” I told her one night as I sat alone by my fire in the Old House, and outside the wind sighed at  the window. Perhaps I was imagining it, but I felt some peace come over me as though she had heard me.

climbed the stairs to her room and gazed at her portrait, holding a single candle above me which cast a wavering glow on her face.  Her eyes were solemn.

A knock on the door broke me out of my reverie and reluctantly I turned away and went downstairs to open the door.  It was Julia. As she walked into the drawing room she could see that my mood was particularly melancholy but did not press me on it, for I had had enough of an ordeal being bricked up by Trask’s spirit in my basement, and she kindly made a front of putting my mood down to that.

“I deserved it,” I told her simply, “for he was only doing what I did to him.” Trask had suffered and died at my hand and even though he had been a spiteful and vindictive man, his fanaticism bordering on mania, I had acted from the same emotions that he had shown to Victoria Winters – hate. Now we were even – he had got his revenge on me and his spirit lay quiet once again.

Julia turned away, pain reflected in her eyes at my words, for the prospect of losing me was as unbearable to her as losing Josette had been to me – and still was.

“Don’t Barnabas,” she said quietly and I looked down at my hands, understanding her, accepting what I meant to her.  I said no more on the subject, for I knew how much she had worried when I had gone missing and regretted that I yet again had caused her so much upset.

At this moment in time, I was no longer a creature of the night, but it still felt to me that the curse was never far away from me, and my fears that it was laying in wait for me proved to be correct. TKitty and Josettehe Leviathans returned the curse to me (although the witch made an attempt to and would have succeeded if it had not been for Adam). They prevented me from saving Josette’s death a second time, and reliving that agony once again was  one of the worst nights of my life. 

Death has touched me so many times, yet I am still alive- why, I don’t know. I have suffered and brought suffering to many; there are those who say that through suffering we can come to a state of enlightenment, or wisdom or something close to it, but I wish that I hadn’t had to have gone through all that suffering to have learned what I have. I have lost too much, caused too much losses. There must be better ways to learn:  I believe there are better ways to learn, which I will save for another time. 

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*Poem: Ask Me No More, from The Princess by Tennyson.

 

 

Awakening.

 

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When I was released from my coffin in 1967 I was half mad with grief, anger, loneliness and self loathing. Many people have some aspects of themselves they do not like or wish to change, but to to be filled with loathing for oneself, one’s very being is a terrible thing to live with. I knew that I should have been destroyed once I became what I am, not only for my own benefit, but for the benefit and safety of those in Collinsport. Yet, how I longed to live! My need for survival was greater than the desire to die. So it is with all living beings.

And so it was that I lived, although dead of a day, due to the mercy of my father and Ben Stokes,  neither of whom could not bear to have me destroyed. But what life was it to become? Chained within the confines of a coffin, time began to stand still to me for all those years. I cannot explain the torment I felt being in that stifling dark prison, with no room to move, with not one thing to comfort me.  

Alone, my thoughts, my memories attacked me and haunted me during the times I was conscious. My insides clawed deep within me, my hunger for blood a thousand agonies-I was starved. Starved of light, companionship, human touch- all the things we take for granted.

And so when Willie Loomis removed the chains from my coffin and I was freed from my prison I attacked him hungrily. With his life force sustaining me I began my new life. Slumped on the floor, Willie groaned in pain and terror, and, I am ashamed to admit  that I  did not stop to consider the shock this young man was going through but fired questions at him- I had to know what world I had been released into. His clothing was very different to mine; that alone told me that some time must have passed.

“What year is this?” I demanded roughly.

“Y- year? 1967,” he croaked.

My mouth fell open. 1967! So much time had passed; there was much I had to learn about this new time I found myself in. I questioned Willie mercilessly-  was there still anyone living at Collinwood? What changes would I expect to find? Fortunately for me it was night, so I was able to go out from the mausoleum and see for myself if what Willie had told me was true, for he told me all manner of strange things about this new century.

There had been many developments since I had last walked in Collinsport- motor vehicles, telephones, women wearing trousers and short frocks and nauseatingly loud music coming from machines. It was shocking, but the shock of being free at last was the greater one, for I had long given up hope that I would ever be found.  I was certain that my father would have taken the secret of my existence to his grave.

But a few weeks later, I began to wonder if my father had decided to spare me out of hope that one day in the future someone would find me and know how to cure me of my affliction. Despite his disgust and horror at finding out what I had become, he had tried to find a way to have the curse removed, but he had been unable to. With great sorrow he had told me that I must die, and I had hung my head and agreed with him, unable to bear what I had become any longer.

Yet, I had been spared, and here I  was in 1967. I was immortal- time would now either be my friend, or it would become my enemy. I had to become a modern man, or learn to pass as one, so I instructed Willie Loomis to go and get me a suit of clothes and warned him to tell noone about me.

“You know what will happen to you if you tell anyone about me,” I said, “Be here at dusk with the clothes and make sure no one sees you come here.”

Willie nodded, “I- I understand.”

He came at dusk with the clothes as I knew he would, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they looked on me.

“A perfect fit, you have done well Willie.”

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Dressed in my new 1967 suit I went to Collinwood and introduced myself as a cousin from England. It was surprising how easily they believed me and welcomed me into their home. The Collins family of 1967 were far more welcoming to me than any of their predecessors would be during my travels into the nineteenth century.

Living with them was a young woman named Victoria Winters who was a governess to young David. He was often a troubled child and she showed great patience and kindness towards him. Despite the dark desires I held for her,Concern for Vicki she was innocently drawn to me, and I liked her company for she liked to hear about the Collins family history- my history, although she never found out who I truly was. I was very pleased that she was so interested in Josette.

Victoria became in time, a very important person in my life, but during those troubled times in 1967 at the Old House she became closer to me, and I began to fear myself greatly and what I might do to her. I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, but I began to be stirred by feelings I wished to keep buried- again I speak of friendship and love.

I told myself that my reluctance to fulfil my need with her, despite the intense craving I felt, was to avoid rousing suspicions within the Collins family regarding my true nature. Already I had caused a great deal of trouble and pain to  Maggie Evans and I had to be careful not to place myself in any more danger of being found out for what I was. I will always be grateful to Victoria- for her grace, her gentleness and kindness towards me. By knowing her I slowly began to learn how to control myself better and over the coming year we became closer, and when I was cured of my condition  and human once more I realized that I had fallen in love with her.

Her heart lay with another however, to my sorrow, but Victoria was sensitive towards me in her rejection of my love and gave me a different kind of love- that of a true friend. By knowing her I began to see what love meant, and sometimes it means watching the one you love be happy with another, and accepting it. I empathized with Vicki when she lost Peter Bradford to the mists of time, and  even though Eliot Stokes and Julia tried to dissuade me, I was willing to take whatever risks I might face in order to reunite Vicki with the man she loved. I shall however, save this for another time.

A being such as myself inevitably has many enemies. As much as I loathed myself, others would loathe me more so- and fear me. They had just reasons to fear me, as I had little self control in those first months of my awakening. I make no excuses for my actions; I only seek to explain how I came to be the way I was. Isolation, grief and pain led me to losing most of my humanity and sympathy towards others. How I envied other people their humanity- how simple their daily lives seemed to me!

In those early days in Collinsport I would hide in the shadows of a night and watch people going into the Blue Whale, watch them talking and laughing and my sense of isolation would intensify. I would see people courting and  a pain like a stabbing knife would pierce my heart and Josette’s beautiful face would haunt me. In those moments I would almost wish that someone would come by and know what I was and drive a stake into my aching heart. It was moments like these that drove me to go down to the docks and alleviate my pain by sinking my fangs into the soft flesh of some helpless victim. This was always only a temporary comfort however, and as the warm liquid reached my throat I felt only a brief enjoyment, tainted by self disgust.

I was careful not to feed for too long as I did not wish to kill those I fed from, and with my powers of hypnosis I made some forget that they had ever met me, so that they would never remember what had happened to them.

As my confidence grew through the Collins family accepting me  I began to grow in my arrogance; I began to grow careless and  started to spiral out of control. I faced a crisis. Julia’s treatments  to cure me of this affliction failed and the people in Collinsport were anxious over my violent actions and what I had done to Maggie Evans (although they did not know I was the one who had done these things, soon I knew I would be found out if I carried on as I was). I had to change, find myself again, for I was lost, and even Julia was struggling to help me and critical of my actions.

1967 Barnabas

I was hardened to the sufferings of others; in fulfilling my needs I ignored the pain I caused them. Yet, the very need that I secretly yearned for most, was the one that would release me from much of my troubles and fears. Love. I had lost Josette and everyone I had ever loved, and I feared loving anyone ever again, for I knew what would happen if I opened my heart to love again: destruction.

How can I explain how it feels to fear loving someone? That by loving someone you will condemn them to death, either directly or indirectly?

So now perhaps you can now see why I rejected gentleness, kindness…for they can lead to friendship and love. I thought by remaining cruel, cold hearted and friendless then she would not return. Turning love into an agent of destruction is truly despicable and only she would have thought up a curse so cruel. I was heading towards my own destruction through my actions, as it was only a matter of time that I would be discovered, even though Julia and  Willie protected me and kept my secret.  

I have already spoken about Julia’s loyalty to me and her dedication to seeking to cure me of my condition. Willie, too was loyal though I am ashamed to say that this was not because he liked me- he did not, but because of the power I had over him. As with Julia, I later on sought to seek his forgiveness for how badly I treated him (which I shall talk about some other time).

I was astonished when Julia offered herself to me one evening, seeking to help me fulfil my needs without having to go out of a night and prey on a stranger. I abruptly refused her offer and did not tell her why- the truth is that I was filled with shame, and felt awkward that she would even consider accepting such an act from me.

I did not know it then, but my reluctantly agreeing to work with Julia and take the help she offered me was the beginning of my journey back to finding my humanity; for not only had I to learn what true friendship was, but I had to learn how to trust again. Trust was one of my earliest lessons. This took me a long time, for I lived in fear every night. I feared loving again, I feared friendship and I feared myself.

With the help of Julia (and Vicki although she didn’t know it) I slowly regained my ability to trust, form friendships and to be able to love others again. However, the fear, although it lessened, always remained.

I discovered that I had an innate ability to see what others around me could not see, and I began to use the heightened senses that came with my condition to my advantage in order to help those I cared about. I had to learn to find a way to live with myself. The awakening of my humanity lessened the darker needs that lurked within me, and by other people’s acceptance of me, I began the long journey towards self acceptance.

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Love, friendship and loyalty

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In my world and yours I have seen many acts of hate: people driven by the desire to control others, greedy in their quest for power. I make no excuses for my own acts of wrongdoing, (and I shall talk about that another time), but if you remember, I have said that I’ve had to learn to use my abilities wisely. In certain circumstances I have had to use them in order to help others. Many times I have had to do this-  hate and evil came to Collinwood all too often and it fell mostly to myself to defeat it. It was my responsibility to do so.

I crossed time to save my family from danger, and faced many dangers myself. I did this willingly- I did what had to be done.  I met many powerful and ruthless adversaries during my travels into the past, and one of the worst were the Leviathans.

The Leviathans claimed to be all powerful ancient beings and for a time they had a firm grip on us at Collinwood. Part of their power lay in their lies- they had the ability to sound convincing and their hideous appearance only added to their menace. I have not known as many beings  that had the level of arrogance they did- they acted as if they had a right to  do what they did, and truly believed, it seemed, that they were superior to us. Had I stopped to think that they had needed me to carry out their plans and were fascinated by my ability to traverse time (which they could not), then I might have got out of their grasp sooner than I did. They seized my mind and almost my humanity, but deep within, my soul still carried the love and loyalty I had for all those at Collinwood. I was lost for a time, not only to myself but to my dear ones.

Love broke their control over me. Yes love. I would not and could not betray or hurt those I loved. Their command to kill my closest friend was the beginning of their downfall.  Inside their soulless beings was only endless darkness, cruelty and coldness. They did not  know what love is.

It is my humble observation that many people in my world and yours also do not know what love is, perhaps we are all learning, myself included, so I shall not make this into a lecture.

“Love conquers all” is a saying in your world, said by an ancient poet called Virgil. I would like to believe this is true, however I found many times that it took more than love to conquer evil and hatred. I wish it had not been so. Perhaps you are shocked by this admission- that at times I have had to resort to violence in order to bring peace.

I admire the concept of pacifism in your world and those who do much good towards others by following this philosophy. However in some situations I have faced I was forced to be violent myself or not only would I have been destroyed, but those I loved. It is not something I am proud of.

I have been very fortunate in that I had a friend in Julia Hoffman. She was willing on many occasions to risk her life in order to save mine; her loyalty to me knew no bounds. I will be eternally grateful for this. Julia taught me what true friendship is, and I showed the same loyalty to her.  My love for her was brotherly, yet I could never quite find the words to express this to her, to my eternal regret.

Barnabas-and-Julia-

“Never without you,” I once told her. Without her by my side I think I would truly have been lost.

In 1967 I was full of anger and torment. My heart had been hardened to love and I scornfully saw this as a weakness, a sentimentality that had led to nothing but pain, yet there was a deep scar within myself and when alone I often stood at Josette’s portrait willing her to return to me.

I was ill prepared for the arrival of Julia, who wished to help me. I was cruel to her many times and suspicious of her motives, yet she did not waver in her determination to help me. Perhaps I was cruel to her to test her, to see how far her loyalty would go, and test her I did, and for a time I almost drove her mad with fear.

For a long time we had a very uneasy partnership (I would not call it friendship then), constantly trying to outwit each other. I once tried to allude to our growing friendship as I mistakenly saw it at the time, and Julia replied that I was devious, and she was correct. She understood me well. I am ashamed to admit that she began to be drawn into my devious and questionable activities and became very distressed.

Much later in 1970, I made attempts to apologize for what I had put her through, but she did not wish to hear it.

“Oh Barnabas…don’t…” was all she said to that.

So my words were left unsaid, hanging heavy in the air above us. It was as though she could read me like a book that she had read many times before.

I was left wondering what to do about this. I respected her wishes not to talk of those terrible times in 1967, yet I wished to clear the air, seek her forgiveness. Perhaps there was some element of self indulgence to it, yet I truly wanted to her to know how sorry I was.

I spoke to Quentin about this; if anyone could understand how I felt it was him. He and I shared so  many similar experiences and regrets. We both knew what it was like to live under the constant shadow of a curse and to fear oneself of a night.

And so I went over to Collinwood and found him standing pouring himself brandy into a glass and looking pensive. I wondered if it was the right time to speak to him, as he was much preoccupied at the time with his own problems, and growing distant.

He turned around as I came in.

“Oh Barnabas, it’s you. Care for a brandy?” He gulped down his drink, then poured himself another one.

“No thank you,” I said, thinking that perhaps he’d had enough brandy himself.  

“Quentin, I need your help,” I said, deciding to get to the point.

“Oh?” and he gave one of his little laughs, “Well what can I do for you Barnabas?”

“It’s Julia, well I- you see I haven’t treated her very well in the past, and I want to put things right. I can’t explain it all now Quentin, but you know what it is like to live under a curse and have done things that you wish could be undone.”

“We can’t change the past Barnabas you know that.”

“Yes,” I said looking down at my hands. “I have tried to apologize of course, but she didn’t wish to hear it and changed the subject.”

Quentin fiddled with his brandy glass. “Well I don’t see what else you can do.” He then smiled. “Why don’t you give her a nice gift ?”

“A gift?” I repeated. No gift could ever  make up for what I had done I thought; what on earth could I give her?

“Yes, something to show your appreciation. All women like that sort of thing, I’m sure Julia is no different.”

“Perhaps you are right,” I mused, “but I have no idea what to give her.”

“I’m sure you will think of something Barnabas,” he said setting down his glass on the table, “If you will excuse me, it’s late. I am tired and need to go to bed.”

“Of course,” I said, “Goodnight.”

“Good night Barnabas,” he said and went upstairs.

I stood staring into the fire, wondering what token of my appreciation I could give Julia, the one person who had been by my side through so many difficult times, even when I had been very unkind to her. I knew her so well, yet I had no idea what I could give her.

I lowered my head, realising the one thing she did want from me I could never give her, and felt ashamed that I could not do so. I wished it could be different, but I could not change that. How different she is to Angelique I thought, for Julia accepted how things were, how ever much she wished they could be different. This was one of the things I admired about her.


I put on my cape and picked up my cane to walk back to the Old House.

As I opened the door the night air cooled my hot brow and I looked up at the night sky. I felt a glimmer of the unwelcome craving inside me, and shook my head a little. 

960

No, I will not give into that, I told myself. I walked through the woods telling myself as I had told myself a thousand times I would feel no comfort afterwards, only shame and regret.

Willie was in bed when I got back to the Old House. I did not think he would have been much help to me, so I was glad to be alone with my thoughts.

I sat in my chair by the fire, thinking, and then it came to me.

Of course!” I said out loud.

At dusk I opened the gate of the basement, ascended the stairs and walked into the parlor to find Julia looking at the table.

“Who sent me these?”

“ I did,” I said.

The look of surprise on her face delighted me.  ”You?”

“Well I  had to send Willie to order them as I couldn’t go myself,” I said dryly with a small smile playing on my lips. “But yes, they are from me.”

“Oh Barnabas!” She picked them up, admiring them, and then noticed  the card I had tucked inside. She gave me her quizzical look then read what I had written on it.

Dear Julia, although these flowers will last only a few days, our friendship will bloom for a very long time. Your devoted friend, Barnabas.”

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

Her smile as our eyes met, showed me she understood what I was trying to say- what had passed between us all those years ago was gone. I could not change what had happened, nor forget it, and neither could she. I had to accept that as she had done. The look in her eyes as she held the flowers I had sent her showed me that I had been forgiven. The gift she gave me in that moment was one I would never forget.

“No, dear friend, thank you.” I said.

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Reminiscing.

 

Reminiscing

So many memories. To have lived a life as long as mine has been means much of my life is bound up in memories. Time stretches before me, ever present and the past often comes to haunt me. My Josette once told me that I am “the future.” But what is the future, but tomorrow’s past?

I was born in the late 18th century, and in many ways I am of my time. To be immortal is something many people wish for, but it comes with a price, and one I have paid for dearly over and over again.

My dear little sister Sarah…..never was there such an enchanting child. From the moment she was born I loved her dearly. Our bond was strong, and I vowed to protect her as any older brother should. Little did I know that I would fail her in the most horrifying circumstances.

Those early years before that terrible night I was changed forever were filled with sunlight, laughter and long walks on our estate. Sarah loved to ride in the carriage with me and stop and pick flowers for our mother.  To see my mother’s sweet smile of delight when Sarah would hand her the flowers gave me happiness. I was very close to my mother.  She and Sarah would sometimes dry the flowers and press them into books, or Sarah would glue them onto paper and write stories underneath the flowers.  She was an imaginative child and had she lived to adulthood I think she might have been one of those lady novelists.

How simple life was then, despite my often troublesome relationship with my father.  He and I seemed unable to understand each other, and he often expressed his disappointment of me. He rose early of a morning and expected me to do the same. He took a small breakfast and then would work at his desk until mid morning, and then go out and take care of his business affairs.

He was a proud man and much concerned with honoring the family name and making good connections. He sought to instill this in me as being his only son, much of the future of our family would continue with me.

I remember coming down to breakfast one morning to see my father frowning. As he often wore a frown I did not think much of it.

“Good morning Father,” I said as I sat down and poured myself coffee.

“Is it a good morning indeed? Isn’t it about time you got married Barnabas? Collinwood needs an heir.”

“When I find the right woman Father,” I said.

“Oh, you’ve been saying that for years! You’re not getting any younger Barnabas. What if something should happen to you?”

“I am strong and healthy Father, nothing is going to happen to me,” I said biting into my buttered toast.

“I am glad that you can see into the future and be so sure!  I want you to start considering looking for a wife instead of gadding about.”

I made to leave, feeling irritated, but he had not finished; once my father started he hardly knew when to stop.

“Now you stay here and listen to what I have to say. I blame your mother for all this romantic nonsense- always sitting there with poetry books and sipping sherry and sighing. It’s her influence on you, that is why you are this way! And what are you laughing about now? You are far too frivolous Barnabas!”

“I am not laughing at you Father if that is what you mean.” I held out a piece of paper. “Look at what Sarah drew for me this morning.”

My father eyed the paper quickly and grunted.

“Do you not find it charming?”

“Well, what is it supposed to be?”

“It is a view of the dawn sky she saw this morning, can’t you see it?”

“If you say so,” he said getting up from his chair. “Now finish your  breakfast and get on with the accounts I have left you in the study, and remember what I said- I mean it Barnabas, you have a responsibility to this family. Do not forget it.”

I could not forget it: responsibility to the Collins family, he reminded me of it often after that. We could never have foreseen just how far my responsibility to the Collins family would reach. Long after he was gone, it fell to me to protect my descendents, a role that I took seriously. There was never any time for the “frivolities” he so often accused me of.

I shall never forget little Sarah’s drawing of the dawn sky. Something so simple, a pleasure I expect many of you reading this will take for granted. When you can no longer see the dawn, forced to live at night only, the dawn becomes precious. To feel the sunlight warm your face no longer, only the cold light of the moon night after night, and only shadows instead of the vivid colors of daylight.

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I wish I could still look upon Sarah’s dawn, but one of the maids twisted the paper up and used it for kindling to start the fire a few mornings later. I was more upset over this than Sarah was, and my father found yet another reason to regard me frivolous.

He was a man of contradictions my father. He would have had me marry any frivolous heiress so that the Collins name would continue, but  in doing so denied me the chance to find love if I had not stood firm in my convictions- I would marry for love, or not at all. And I almost did- but my dear Josette was taken away from me in the cruelest way imaginable.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had married one of the many young ladies my father had encouraged me to court, none of which I may add whom I felt the slightest love for- what would my life have been like?

Almost certainly I would never have been cursed to live as a being of the night. Would I have been happier for it, to have never met my Josette? My family would not have suffered so- for many years I blamed myself for this. My loyalty to the Collins family of the twentieth century became my reason for living; somehow I had to make amends for all the misery that had been brought to my immediate family, and learn to use the powers that came with my condition to prevent even more suffering. It was not always possible for me to not bring more suffering to others, however, which is something I shall talk about another time.

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