It was the meal that would change everything in my life. I remember everything so very clearly, as if it were happening right this very minute. At the time, I thought it was saving my life, I needed sustenance so badly; I needed my thirst to be quenched like nothing I'd ever needed before in my life. Unfortunately, the meal was but a temporary and fleeting happiness, for the sadness and misery it bore lasts a lifetime.
I remember my brother seating me at a large, old table. The ornate decorations on it were beautiful, I'm sure, but I was too starved to pay attention to their stories. Another time, I told myself, I would allow my fingers to gloss over the wood and read - but right now, I'm just so hungry. I couldn't focus, my brain felt as is there had been a lone lightbulb left on for too long and that incessant buzzing that occurs with old electronics just wouldn't shut off. The buzzing in my ears grew louder with every shout from my brother. My vision had begun to dim, but my brother roughly grabbed my chin and was yelling at me. His words seemed to slice through the buzzing, telling me to "eat and you'll feel better". I looked to where my brother gestured and noticed a large vessel of meat on the table. It looked so appetizing and smelled like ambrosia, but something was wrong. Something was off and the more I thought about it, the clearer things came into focus. The meat was moving. My vision cleared, the buzzing in my head suddenly stopped and everything assaulted my senses.
"No!" I shouted with every ounce of my body, standing and thrusting my brother's hands away from my face. His eyes burned like fire at my defiance. "I cannot eat someone! I'd rather die!" I spat at my brother's feet. The lump of flesh on the table groaned in pain and for the first time, I allowed my eyes to focus on the intended meal. I cannot lie - he smelled amazing, like a freshly roasted rump right out of the oven that had been brined and roasted in its own juices for hours. I met his gaze, the confused eyes of an innocent person boring into me as I failed to banish thoughts of his own death in my head. Tears streamed down his dirty face as he whispered, pleaded and begged me to spare his life - he was my age. My brother growled as he grabbed my head with his hands and brought his face very close to mine.
"You will eat, brother, because if you don't, you and your meal will die," my brother hoarsely whispered into my face, his closeness intended to be taken as a potential threat. At this point, my brother was much stronger than I, as I was on my last legs and using the very last of my strength to resist him. He wrestled his arms around me and forced my head forward, into the fleshy neck of the person on the table. I fought against my brother as best as I could, but unfortunately it had the effect of a gnat buzzing against a dog. The man shrieked in abject horror and shrunk away from me as far as he could, what with being tied up on the table. He was crying and praying as he waited for death. His skin smelled even more wonderful up close, so I closed my eyes and my mouth as forcefully as I could, even as I bit my lip in anticipation. I rested there against his neck until my brother realized I wasn't eating.
My brother grabbed a fistful of my hair and yanked my head back, causing me to yell out in shock. He pushed my head forward into the man's neck and two things happened. My teeth pierced flesh and I heard the man scream. At this point, I was too far gone. I had starved myself too long to fight anymore, and as his life poured into my mouth and bathed my tongue, I had no willpower left to fight. I gave in and allowed myself to drink, greedily and thirstily, soothing my conscience by reminding myself my brother was going to kill him anyways. At least, in this way, he can nourish me so that I may fight my brother again someday. I drank and drank until the man shriveled up, until he had no more life to give anyone in this world anymore. Every gulp I took was excruciatingly delicious and unbearably agonizing, it was absolute pleasure and horrifying pain. I'm certain it was undoubtedly worse for the poor man, but I am convinced it would have been more painful for him had I continued resisting. My brother has turned out to be quite a warlord since then, and he's most egregiously known for his creativity when it comes to death. The minutes dragged on as eons, my brother patting the back of my head while I feasted, babbling about how strong we would be together. "Bon appétit," my brother said, then laughed.
My first meal was akin to a man being lost in a desert for months and someone not only offering him fresh, cold water but telling him to drink it while he refuses. There is only so far he can tell himself no before he gives in. At least, that's what I knew of willpower before the meal that changed my life. Once you feed on a person, there is no going back. You're now forever a bloodsucker, a walker of the night, a child of Selene. I've fed many times since then, as is necessary to sustain myself, but never as much as I did that first meal.
I did bury my first meal's leftovers in the yard afterwards. To this day, he still has a tombstone on my lawn. I go out occasionally to reminisce over my first meal, but I'm still trying to figure out if it's because I feel bad or because I enjoyed it. I think I'm starting to become my brother.