I lived just ten years of this immortal life before I decided to bury myself in oblivion. It took much less time to pull me out of it, and I mean that quite literally. How long I might have lain beneath the sandy earth if Marius hadn’t found me I will never know. My dreams drifted piquant and smothering like Oriental incense or the shifting desert sands beyond Cairo.
And I dreamed of Paris and Nicolas and fire and ashes. I was obsessed with ashes. You see, I didn’t know if anyone had thought to let Nicki’s ashen remains disperse on the wind. What of his hands? What if he came back? What if he didn’t?
After that short burst of sleep I gave it a real go. I held tenaciously onto consciousness for well over a century. And when I finally slept again, I did it in style.
I couldn’t have chosen a better sixty-five years to dream my way through so I could make a grand entrance back into the waking world. If you’re going to go for the phoenix angle, make it count. Dust off the slum-filled drought of Prohibition and launch right into the champagne Eighties. I slept through the demise of the horse-drawn vehicle and sweat shops and depression. I bypassed the untold misery of two world wars. I was out of it while the dank world I’d known glowed into sleek modernity. When better to finally come roaring into action through sleek skyscrapers and miraculous bars and stores that now sold everything in the god damned world. My sentient self has immaculate timing.
And did I dream during those lost years? You bet I did, though my memories melded with disjointed little fragments of history until I couldn’t be sure what originated within me and what part of it was seeping in from the lost world above, my faded conscious world which seemed in its very marvels and horrors an outlandish fiction from H G Wells or Jules Verne. And there seemed to be fire everywhere, fire in the very air and sea and sky. Electricity was a new flame lighting up the world like a great humming torch. Most of the dead were burned to ashes.
During this long drought I dreamed of those I knew. Louis didn’t haunt my thoughts, or even Claudia who has been known to stalk me while I’m off guard, or even of Armand or my old savior Marius. I still dreamed of Nicki as if my sleeping self could quicken him to life.
My latest journey into total immobility came only a decade later and this time I involved the entire immortal world. Really, if I’d known that all I had to do to elicit so much attention is nothing at all, then I might not have gone to so much trouble before. Anyway, I opted out again, and this time publicly. I didn’t bother with the dreary business of digging myself into the earth to dry out like an insect. This time I prostrated myself before the very altar of the chapel, beneath the pale painted starlight that glimmered from the tinted glass. I dropped everything, including myself, and I dreamed again.