In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. It was a chorus as mighty as the wind and the waves, all those voices of the dying. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken.
I woke, in the dark, unable to leave the coffin in the vault in which I slept for fear that the setting sun would burn the young ones.
I held the root now of the great vampire vine on which I was once only another exotic blossom. And if I were cut, or bruised or burned, all the other vampires on the vine would know the pain.
Would the root itself suffer? The root thinks and feels and speaks when he wants to speak. And the root has always suffered. Only gradually had I come to realize it — how profound was the suffering of the root.
Without moving my lips, I asked him: “Amel, what was that city? Where did the dream come from?”
He gave me no answer. But I knew he was there. I could feel the warm pressure on the back of my neck that always meant he was there. He had not gone off along the many branches of the great vine to dream with another.
I saw the dying city again. I could have sworn I heard his voice crying out as the city was broken open.
“Amel, what does this mean? What is this city?”
We would lie together in the dark for an hour like this. Only then would it be safe for me to throw back the coffin lid and walk out of the crypt to see a sky beyond the windows full of safe and tiny stars. I have never taken much comfort from the stars, even though I’ve called us the children of the moon and the stars.
We are the vampires of the world, and I’ve called us many such names.
“Amel, answer me.”
Scent of satin, old wood. I like seasoned and venerable things, coffins padded for the sleep of the dead. And the close warm air around me. Why shouldn’t a vampire love such things? This is my marble vault, my place, my candles. This is the crypt beneath my castle, my home.
I thought I heard him sigh.
“Then you did see it, you did dream it too.”
“I don’t dream when you do!” he answered. He was cross. “I am not confined here while you sleep. I go where I want to go.” Was this true?
But he had seen it, and now I saw the city flashing bright again in the very midst of its destruction. Suddenly it was more terrible than I could bear. It was as if I saw the myriad souls of the dead released from their bodies rising in a vapor.
He was seeing it. I knew he was. And he had seen it when I dreamed of it.
After a while, he gave me the truth. I’d come to know the tone of his secret voice when he admitted the truth.
“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “I don’t know what it means.” His sigh again. “I don’t want to see it.”
The next night and the night after he was to say the same thing.
And when I look back on those dreams I wonder how long we might have gone on without ever knowing any of it.
Would we have been better off if we had never discovered the meaning of what we saw?
Would it have mattered?
Everything has changed for us, and yet nothing has changed at all, and the stars beyond the windows of my castle on the hill confide nothing. But then the stars never do, do they? It’s the doom of beings to read patterns in the stars, to give them names, to cherish their slowly shifting positions and clusters. But the stars never say a word.
He was telling the truth when he said he didn’t know. But the dream had struck a chord of fear in his heart. And the more I dreamed of that city falling into the sea, the more I was certain I heard his weeping.
In dreams and waking hours he and I were bound as no two others. I loved him and he loved me. And I knew then as I know now that love is the only defense we ever have against the cold meaninglessness around us — the Savage Garden with its cries and songs, and the sea, the eternal sea, ready as ever to swallow all the towers ever created by human beings to reach Heaven. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes for all things, endures all things, says the Apostle. “And the greatest of these is love….”
I believed it and I believe in the old commandment of the poet-saint who wrote hundreds of years after the Apostle: “Love and do what you will.”