She left her appartment late that night- it was almost morning. She locked her door, as usual, but the key, slipping between her fingers, fell into a gutter when she walked away.

The artificial light of the street lanterns illuminated her pale face, turning it into a white mask. Her light, watery blue eyes seemed unreal and had a translucent quality.

She did not look human, and in that night she did not care the slightest bit about looking mortal.

Her pace was inaudible on the wet, glittering tarmac. No white clouds of condensed breath were escaping her mouth, as she did not breathe.

She was on her way from darkness into light, when she arrived at the river in the earliest of mornings.

All of those she had known were not there anymore-devoured by mortal age, the cleansing fires of the inquisition, or the enemies' swords.

Some cars left their traces of light on the promenade. The first birds were waking up now. It would be the most beautiful morning of eternity. Fear mingled with loneliness, as the almostblackness of the sky was replaced by a deep blue.

A bloody tear absent-mindedly left a trace on her cheek. She clasped the iron railing of the wall with both her hands, standing on the embankment. She had witnessed this wall's construction. In that December night, the metal was much colder than a mortal could bear it longer than a short moment. She had clutched at it like at the last straw. She would never let go of it again. It seemed as if her life depended on that iron railing.

But that, her life, had depended on something different, even if her body had not been alive for three hundred years. Her whole life had clung on to Celeste, her life, her lover, everything that had changed sides with her, went with her into the world of darkness. She could not take revenge on those who had extinguished her life- it would be useless, it would not bring her back from final death.

A second tear left a pale red trail on her marble cheek. Would she have been human anymore, she would have sobbed now, but she had not been able to do that for decades.

The sky turned ever more pale and began to lose its deep blue. Only a short moment, and the celestial cobalt blue would have left her completely. It was like a last glance of Celeste, it would never return. Never.

The birds' songs grew louder, welcoming a new morning, and she could recognize the first tender gleam of red at the edge of the horizon. A little wind got up, cold and wet, playing with her hair as if saying goodbye to her.

If ashes met ashes in death, it would, at least, be assured that she saw her beloved again, be united with her once more, at last- but she did not take to illusions any longer. Nothing would be there- a pure nothing. She was a damned, so why should anything be waiting for her, she had been dead for centuries. Now everything in her yearned for that nothingness, Oblivion. The world around her had aged, had changed- but she had always stayed the same- she had had no reason for a change. Celeste and she had had each other. If you are joined together for eternity, why should you take the world seriously? They both had not changed, and now she was alone, and the old, other, strange world had suddenly caught up with her. The world had decided not to let her live off it any more, mortal everyday life had pushed her out and nothing had brought back Celeste.

Her skin began to tickle, as dawn grew more intensive, seemingly bathing the whole horizon in blood.-Blood which had been everything for her.

Of course, she had needed blood, to feed herself, to survive. But there had been more it, the blood belonging to Celeste and the blood they had shared in an intimacy unsurpassed. They had shared everything. Even their souls.

The red was glowing, she could almost see the sun pushing upwards behind the horizon. Her skin, too, began to glow from within. The iron railing was not cold anymore where her hands touched it. A leaden, numbing tiredness covered her like a thick blanket. She stared straight at the dawning sun.

For one life, 300 years had been too long, the world did not let itself be stopped. For two lives together, these centuries had been all too short to be enjoyed to the full. On her own, she had drained her part of the world's cup to the dregs. Now she would say goodbye.

The first rays bathed the awakening city in unreal, glowing light, reflected in thousands of window mirrors. The first rays hit her uncovered face and her uncovered hands and were not reflected. It seemed as if her flesh had to catch up with lost centuries, sucking up every bit of the sun's energy. The heat turned unbearable, but still she was standing straight, her glance securely locked to the sight of the glowing ball of the dawning sun. Her body caught fire. The birds stopped singing. Fire surrounded her, and, at last, devoured her sad blue eyes.

For a short moment, she could, maybe, feel something, as if she would leave her body soon. Then the sun had risen, and nothing but ashes was left of her, being carried through the iron railing onto the river by a gust of cold wind.

Sandy (030195)