Tag Archives: flash fiction

Tell Me A (Very Short) Story

Black and white image of a woman with writing in black ink on her back

Skin Writing II by Matou Malin

Welcome to the second installment of my pre-Eroticon, I-Had-More-Material-Than-Will-Fit-In-The-Session series. This one is on flash fiction and plot. Or, more, specifically, does flash fiction need to have a plot?

Opinions vary (sometimes violently), but my answer to this question is yes. And no. Flash is a wily thing.

Before I can dig into my non-response properly, it’s important to look at what, exactly, “plot” means.

Generally speaking, plot is defined as a story’s rising and falling action, or what’s typically called a narrative arc. Implicit in that understanding is the assumption that a traditional narrative arc is one of a story’s baseline requirements. In other words, it needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. If it doesn’t, it’s something else—a vignette, a scene, a prose poem, but not a “proper story”.

So, given all that, what’s the difference between flash fiction, (which often doesn’t contain a clean narrative arc), and, say, a prose poem?

It’s a thin line, but the difference is in the fact that fiction, unlike poetry, is an inherently temporal form – it’s rooted in a particular time and place. By contrast, a prose poem is, essentially, an observation, which means that, as prescient as the observation might be, it has a universal quality that prevents it from anchoring itself to a specific, temporal space.

Stories, unlike prose poems, are populated by characters with needs and motivations, and those characters need to exist somewhere. That somewhere (even if it’s just an empty room in an unknown year) implies physical existence, the passage of time and changes in circumstance. Stories have characters and characters have needs, which means that something will change, or fail to in a meaningful way. That process is dynamic, and the dynamic movement from point A to point B is what forms a narrative.

This tinkers with the traditional notion of plot, but less so than you’d think. It doesn’t matter if the change happens on the grand scale or unfolds quietly in a single page. What matters is that the change is rooted in a character’s longing. It can be as broad as trying to save the world, or as subtle wanting to get out of bed and not being able to. If there’s need there’s change and that naturally forms plot.

And, in the end, that’s all plot really is—a character pursuing a need. Or, to put it more dramatically, plot is the portrait of a character’s desire—how they pursue it, how it’s  thwarted, and how (or if) it’s resolved. That resolution of a desire usually comes in the form of an epiphany—a realization that signals a pivot in the character’s outlook or circumstance. That pivot is the change that represents movement through a set of temporal circumstances, i.e.: the plot.

The journey from challenge to resolution has acres of room to breathe in novels. It has the opposite in flash fiction. But just because a character’s longing can’t unfold in epic or obvious ways doesn’t mean it’s not there.

While the brevity required in short, short fiction doesn’t often allow for a “fully developed plot”, flash fiction has the luxury of taking a microscope to the thwarted desires and revelations that drive traditional narrative forms. Flash fiction may appear to be inherently “plotless”, but if there is a character at the heart of it, and that character has a need, then that story has the DNA of plot and can, quite comfortably, be considered proper fiction.

Now, I’m going to be wild and crazy and say something that a lot of people would disagree with. I don’t think flash fiction has to have a plot, even in DNA form. That said, it also can’t just shuffle around without a point or purpose.

Monologues, vignettes, scenes and sketches, like prose poetry, are driven (generally speaking) by the universal observations I mentioned earlier. While some would disagree with my taking an inclusive view, I believe that these are also legitimate forms of storytelling because they achieve through observation what plot does through desire and conflict—they reflect an essential human truth or condition.

When you strip it down, that’s what fiction is, regardless of length. It’s a made-up story that reflects an essential human truth. That’s why characters in flash fiction are more important than a beginning, middle and end. The truth can be anything from desperately wanting to fuck your ex, to grieving the loss of a child. Whether it happens through observation, or the temporally specific plot movements, fiction reflects what it is to be a person in the world. Whether it’s a novel or a paragraph, that’s what fiction does.

So, does flash fiction need a plot?

It would be more useful to ask if flash fiction can accommodate a plot, and the answer to that is yes. But flash can also accommodate breathless observation, devastating reflection and humanity in all of it glorious, filthy complexity, and, in the end, they serve the same function as plot.

We are humans, and humans are driven by desire. Whether that desire is for a glass of water or the golden fleece, longing, wanting and needing are fundamental human conditions. As long as a story taps into what it is to be fundamentally human, it’s storytelling and it’s powerful, regardless of length.

Other Eroticon-Inspired Writer Posts

On Implication

What You Owe the Reader

On Implication

Repeating image of hands overlapping against a black and white back drop.

Hands, Hands…Horst P. Horst (New York, 1941)

It’s February, which means Eroticon is less than a month away (and shining like a light on the horizon), so I’ve started pulling my session notes together. The subject of my session is sex in flash fiction or, more specifically, how to write sex that turns the reader on reader on and lends a story impact, weight and relevance.

In writing as in life, sex is powerful on multiple levels. Knowing how to play with those levels makes for fiction that resonates—not just sexually, but emotionally and psychologically, as well. It’s one of my favorite writerish things to talk about, mostly because there’s so much to say—far more than I could ever fit into 55 minutes.

Rather than try to fit the ocean in a teacup, I figured I’d write a small series of posts on some of the things I’d flesh out a bit more if I were hosting a series of workshops, rather than a single session. It also has the nice, inclusive side effect of opening up the topic for those who aren’t going to Eroticon this year.

Side note: While the session is going to touch lightly on all of this, these posts are in no way a prerequisite. The only prerequisite I have is that you bring an open mind and a willingness to experiment in whatever way suits your style and interests.

So, back to keeping your writing tight. For this post, I want to talk about implication, which is as important in fiction as it is in flirting, (and, as any good flirt can tell you, worlds of filthy stuff can be said between the squeaky-clean lines). It’s part of something called “negative space”, which I’ll get into more during the session. For now, I want to focus on what implication has to do with connecting to the reader.

Sex and flash fiction were made for each other, largely because, like horror (or any other psychologically driven genre), the best erotic writing has a visceral impact. A restricted word count forces every element to count, which makes for a story that packs a hard punch. While a 250-word limit might sound crazy-pants, it’s actually an opportunity to nail your reader down on a deep, visceral level. But, in order to make that work, you’ve got to do something first. You’ve got to trust the reader. Here’s what I mean.

A few weeks ago, I wrote this:

They walk hip to hip, knuckles brushing, as they measure their potential in the rhythm of their feet..

I wrote that sentence in response to someone’s assertion that it’s impossible to write a “proper story” in less than 20 words because you can’t “trust the reader to get it”. Whether or not this qualifies as a “proper story” is a matter of opinion—some people like a clear beginning, middle and end, so if that’s what you’re after, it may not be your cup of tea. The idea of trusting the reader though, that’s something I have definite feelings on.

The story in that sentence comes more from implication than actual text. These two people are in sync enough to walk naturally together, but they aren’t yet sure of their potential as a couple. It’s a very specific moment in a relationship—the exploration of an unspoken line. Will they continue on together, or not? I know what I think is going to happen, but what I think isn’t the point.

That’s where trusting the reader comes in.

The reader’s only job is to read – not correctly interpret the “true” meaning of a story, as laid out by the author with loving precision. While I do believe that the author’s intention is important, I don’t believe the reader is obliged to treat it like the word of an authorial god.

What an author intends shapes a story. That’s why intention is important—it lends the writer direction and purpose. It is not, however, the only determinant of a story’s impact. Impact comes not only from the writing, but from how the reader engages it. It’s about making and maintaining a connection…sort of like flirting.

While you definitely don’t want your motives misinterpreted (flirting is one thing, but being a creeper is another), the best way to facilitate a natural connection is to be aware of the person you’re talking to. So, rather than trusting the reader to “get it”, it’s much more productive to invite their interest. Implication is one really efficient, really effective way to do that.

A writer controls the writing process. What a writer can’t control is how a story gets read because every, single reader will bring something different to it. And that’s okay. That’s how connections are made. That’s how you get a story that has a secret, powerful, visceral impact on someone other than yourself. All you have to do is leave a little blank space between the lines, and let the reader fill it in.

That’s how you get out of the way, and let the reader engage your work on their terms. When they do, it’s magic, like crazy chemistry on a first date. It means they’re trusting you enough to let you take them somewhere, anywhere, even places you don’t know about. It means they’re with you, no matter where it leads.

Flash Fiction: Dark & Deep

Black and white image of a woman biting her shoulder for Flash Fiction: His Voice by Malin James

From the Sacra series by Mona Kuhn

She thinks of his voice, his soul-grinding voice as she drifts off to sleep in a bed that’s far too big. His voice, that voice, drips through her. It echoes and coats her skin, like frost on the windows of the cold, dark room at the top of the narrow house.

Humming, lilting letters tumble down her spine. They slide into her hips. In his mouth, her name is the drip of melting ice, fragile and quiet, a secret dark and deep. It’s the forest in a poem, his mouth and her name, in a snowy, winter wood.

What is it about the way some people, one person, says her name – her name, the name she gave herself – that makes it the language of home? Not her physical home in the too-wide bed, but the home where her pulse rests deep in her belly, buried between her thighs.

She thinks of the language he made of her name as her hand slips down, past cotton and flannel, down to her lonely skin. Her body strains to meet her. Her name on his tongue is the country they made, the map of her slippery soul. She arches, placing the whole of herself in the cup of her capable hand.

Sounds, not words, filled the room long ago. In her mind, they do again. His breathing, her breathing, catching breath, bitten moans. They melt ice and salt the bed. She strains and falls open, longing for home, his voice, her name, her name…. The hollow ache of absence. The weight that isn’t there. Her mind is somewhere dark and deep, slick with dripping frost.

Her mouth parts like a shell, round and full of a name, his name, the name he has given himself. It tumbles down her spine, carried by her voice. Tight, pulsing echoes. Sound cracks, like ice, in her chest. Bones shudder and she is home.

Frost limns the window, but she is warm, warm, warm. Her breathing deepens and slows. Memories, murmurs, whispers on skin, so many years ago…she rests in the language they made for themselves, long ago in cold, dark room at the top of a narrow house.

Flash Fiction: Auction Sale of Clothes

Black and white photograph by Cartier-Bresson of a woman standing on a stage in a auction house modeling a dress in front of a full room

Auction Sale of Clothes by Cartier-Bresson (Berlin, 1951)

“Do you like it?”

“What? The model or the dress?”

“The dress…and the model, I suppose.”

The woman cocked her head. The dress was the sort of thing you’d wear to a cocktail party. The model was the sort of thing you’d bring home from a cocktail party.

“Yes,” she said, thoughtfully. “I do.”

“Which?”

“Both.”

The man raised a brow but failed to look surprised.

_______

Standing on a platform in a dead woman’s clothes wasn’t Laura’s idea of high fashion, but it was a paycheck and paychecks were good, especially when you liked to eat.

“Lot 398. Christien Dior. We’ll start the bidding at….”

Laura ignored the auctioneer. She didn’t want to know. It made wearing the dress depressing, like sampling a pastry she couldn’t afford. Laura hated not affording so she canted her hips and ignored the bidders too. These days the bidders were worth ignoring.

There were two types of people at auctions like this—collectors and ghouls. Ghouls, with their shabby collars and hard mouths, came to watch a rich person’s things get sold off. Collectors were different. Collectors went hunting for very specific things, but what made a thing special was anyone’s guess. Just the week before, someone paid $500 for a soap dish with an impeccable provenance…whatever that meant.

Laura pivoted and tried not to yawn. At first, the keen, avid eyes in the audience had turned her on so much that her thighs would be slick by the time she left the platform. Once or twice she’d even come (quietly, of course). It didn’t matter if she was modeling last year’s lingerie or someone’s ridiculous hat, being scrutinized felt good. But that had been ages ago. The novelty was gone. Now she barely noticed.

Laura unhooked the dress’s train, revealing an obscene amount of leg for 10am. Suddenly, the soft hairs on the back of her neck prickled and she looked up.

A couple was sitting in the middle of the room. They were young and golden and bright as if they’d gathered up all the stray light. Now that she’d seen them, she couldn’t look away.

Laura’s center of gravity dropped into her hips. She did a half-turn as the nerves in her belly coiled. She wanted the couple to notice. She wanted to make them bid. Laura moved to center stage, rolling her hips. She knew she looked like a woman begging to be kissed. Then the golden woman winked, and she almost fell off the stage.

The woman scanned Laura’s body, from her hem to her face, with the kind of cold interest she was used to in men. Every nerve in Laura’s body clustered between her legs. The woman smiled like a collector. She smiled like she knew. Laura squeezed her thighs tight, felt how plump and wet she was. She swore the woman knew.

Silver shoes peeked out from beneath her hem. The woman met Laura’s eyes and raised a brow. Without thinking, Laura raised the dress so the woman could see the shoes. Ankles, knees, halfway up her thighs…she would have kept going, right up to her waist, but the woman gave her a tiny nod, so Laura stopped. She didn’t lower the dress. The woman looked pleased. Still, they didn’t bid.

Laura squirmed, unwilling to drop the hem as the bids rose higher and came faster and the pressure built. She squeezed her thighs together as tight as she could. She could come like that. She had before. She would come and the woman would watch her. She would come and the woman would know.

But the woman shook her head.

Laura went still.

A Catalogue of Very Specific Things:

Silver dress. Silver shoes.  Twitching fingers, shifting hips. A trembling mouth that makes a quick but perfect O. The flush of a lip, a swollen lip, soft between hard teeth. Wide eyes. Young skin. Impulses waiting to spill….

The woman whispered to the man.

The gavel cracked.

“Sold, to the gentleman in the middle of the room.”

__

The woman sighed.

“Thank you, love.’

“Have you got your eye on anything else?”

“No,” she said. “Let’s collect.”

Flash Fiction: Statue

White marble classical statue of a woman's torso and thighs covered by a sheer veil

Marble statue. Courtesy of Getty Images

“So. Henry has this fetish….”

Marjory swirled her martini around with a naked swizzle stick. She’d already eaten the olives.

“Okay,” Jackie replied, waiting for the ellipses to run out. They didn’t.

“So, is he into feet or something?”

Marjory shook her head.

“Spanking?”

“No.”

“Breast milk? Teddy bears? Tell me it’s not corpses.”

“No, no. It’s none of that. Besides, Henry’s too squeamish for dead people.”

“Thank Christ.”

Jackie downed the last of her cosmo and signaled for another.

“So, what’s he into then?”

Marjory blushed and looked away.

“Statues.”

“Statues?”

“Yeah. You know… Greek statues.”

“Like…the kind in museums. With boobs and missing bits?”

“Yeah. Like those.”

“Huh. That’s interesting.”

“Yeah….”

Marjory had always played it kind of straight. Jackie was the one who’d gotten around. She waited for her sister to say more, but wasn’t surprised when she didn’t.

“So what’s the problem? It could be worse. It could be corpses.”

“Stop with the corpses. This is serious.”

“Okay, okay….”

The bartender set down Jackie’s cosmo. She tossed him a wink for the extra twist.

“So,” she said, toying with the little curl of lemon. “Tell me why it’s serious. Can’t he get it up? Can he only fuck in the Met? Museum fucking is hot….”

“No! I mean, yes. He can get it up. But he really, really wants me to do this thing and I’ve never done anything like it before and I don’t know if it’s normal or not.”

“Sweetie,” Jackie said, “there is not such thing as normal. There’s just stuff you’ve done and stuff you haven’t. So what does he want you to do?”

“He wants me to…you know. Dress up.”

“Like what? A statue?”

“Yeah,” Marjory said, chewing her lip. “Like a statue. He even bought me an urn.”

“Aw! He bought you an urn? That’s super sweet!”

“Yeah, but is it? Sweet, I mean? Isn’t it kind of weird?”

“I don’t know. What does he want you to do with it?”

“Hold it.”

“While he fucks it?”

“No. Just hold it. While I watch.”

“Yeah?” Jackie smiled. It was a smile she knew Marjory hated, but only because she’d never smiled that way herself. “Watch what?”

Marjory leaned in and dropped her voice.

“He wants me to watch him…masturbate.”

Jackie slapped the bar and laughed.

“That’s it? He wants you to hold a vase while he wanks? That’s great! Oh! You know what you should do? You should wear, like, a sheer toga thing and expose one breast. That would be lovely! He’d be so surprised!”

“Jackie, I’m serious!”

“Marjory, so am I! Of all the fetishes in the world, this one is pretty sweet. Random, but sweet. It’s not like he’s asking you to cut off your arms for authenticity. Besides, haven’t you ever watched a guy get off? It’s fucking hot!”

The bartender glanced over and pretended to straighten the cocktail napkins. Jackie pounced.

“Hey! Sexy guy! Am I right? Isn’t being watched by a woman you’re into hot?”

“Uh…yeah. Actually, it is.”

The bartender smiled. Jackie grinned.

“See? It’s hot! And the only other thing he’s asking for is that you hold a thing and stand super still while he does it. My vote is that you go for it. Expand your horizons. Embrace the new.”

“I don’t know….”

“Of course, you don’t. You’ve never tried it. Go on. Be a statue. Live a little.”

“Okay…if that’s what you think.”

“That’s exactly what I think,” Jackie said, scrawling her number on a napkin and sliding it to the bartender. He took it and tucked it into his pocket. “You’ve already got the urn. Now all you need is something sheer.”

“I don’t have something sheer.”

“We’ll go shopping for curtains tomorrow.”

Flash Fiction: La Belle Dame

Black and white image of a woman in a black coat standing in a doorway for Flash Fiction La Belle Dame by Malin James

Photograph by Marco Sanges

 

I have him chained to the wall. I always do. Strong backs pinioned to cold, hard stone. It’s an exhausting position. I know.

“You’ll learn to hate me,” I say.

Learn…hate….

My voice sounds strange. A stranger’s voice. I almost never speak. The words drop into the silent room, dense as mercury.

He tenses but doesn’t look away. None of them do. He smells hot and metallic, like coal-covered iron. Sharp ribs. Sharper hips. There’s a beautiful vein in his neck. Beautiful and thick.

He watches me approach, very proud. A man held together by his father’s influence…. Borrowed influence. I bring my face to his. He strains at the chains, but they pull him up short. Rattling, lunging, he spits his frustration. Laughter tumbles out of me, clean and cold as ice.

He doesn’t expect the blow.

It lands across his cheek, a delicate lie. He smiles, as he’s meant to. But the second lands hard. The third cracks his head back against the wall.

“Harder.”

It’s an empty challenge, full of ego and pride. Like that, my interest fades. Had there been something of his presence in that single word, had he shown me something true…. But, his strength is a lie he tells himself, the blown-out shell of an egg. There is mercy on my tongue for an honest man. But breakable things should break.

He snarls and pulls and bares his teeth. What a sad, ridiculous show. When I hit him again, I draw blood. He blinks. Poor, bewildered boy.

What follows is routine. There are implements on the wall and I take one down. A knife with a handle sloped like a woman’s back. I show him the arching blade, the metal that parts skin with civilized grace. Now, he looks away.

I watch him, wondering…. But no. His eyes when they find mine are blazing and empty. He bares his teeth to speak.

“No,” I say. “That’s enough.”

I kneel and consider the knife.

Very gently, like a mother, like a woman made of light, I slice through his rags and watch his skin ripple, as his clothing falls away. His eyes grow calm, as the rest of him stills. His defiance is in stasis, a delicate, crushable thing, arrested by the reality he finds himself in.

I look up at him and smile, the smile a kneeling woman gives a standing man. It’s cruel and unnerving. It’s meant to be. I continue to smile my mocking smile as I bring the blade to his skin, skin no blade should touch.

His cock stirs, making its final appeal, and I wait for him to shift and rattle and beg. It’s what always happens next. But he doesn’t. He stays quiet and very still. I press harder with the blade, curious. I want to see what he’ll do.

His muscles tense, but it’s autonomic. There’s nothing but calm from him.

I look up and meet his eyes. They are waiting for mine. He has great respect for the knife. His eyes tell me this. His eyes tell me things that sink through the silence and fill the room. There is a person in there now.

And, like that, my interest is piqued.

What May Sound Like a Stand-Offish NB: Though the trajectory of this piece was unexpected, I both stand by and am proud of it. That said, I am not personally into castration fantasies. While I respect them as a kink, please don’t feel obliged to send them to me. 

Flash Fiction: A Letter

Black and white shot of a handwritten letter for A Letter by Malin James

Dear You,

I want to go somewhere together. I want you to make me come – in a bathroom or a bookshop or in the middle of a film. I want you to make me come. Press against me hip, to hip. Touch me in a crowded room. Fuck me somewhere civilized, where people shouldn’t fuck.

I want to pull you into an alley and suck your cock. I want scuffs on my knees when I stand. Fuck me in a window where the neighbors will see, or high on a balcony in the warm evening air. I want someone to see us by chance.

I want to watch you with other people and I want you to watch me. Surrounded by other people I’ll still pick out your scent. I want mouths on our mouths and skin on our skin, tangled with other people and other people’s limbs.

I want you to fuck me, hard and fast, in the kitchen while we cook. Fuck me from behind just as company is due. Cup my breasts while I bend forward. Lift up my hem. Come inside me, fill me, make me wet. Then kneel and lick me clean.

I want to share a secret. I want to taste us when we kiss. I want to cross the room and feel your eyes, narrowed and hungry and sly. I know you with that look on your face. You’re waiting to gobble me up. Clever Fox. Big Bad Wolf. I promise I’ll gobble you too.

Me xxx

Flash Fiction: The Holly & The Ivy

A portrait of a young Tudor era woman

Portrait of a Young Woman thought to be Catherine Howard, Met Museum, NYC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It will be different with me, she thinks as he presses her down to her knees. Silk rustles as she bends like a young rose on a fragile stem. He smiles, and she takes heart. He is gentle with her now, this great man, larger than life, with hands like paws and a mind like jagged trap. He will be different with me.

Green groweth the holly,
So doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly.

He removes her wedding gown and she bows before him. He is already undressed. His vast, bear-like body, once wrapped in velvet and fur, fills her vision like the sun. She shivers. His fingers, so gentle with the outer casing of her gown, bite into her skin. He wants her, she knows. He has told her as much. He has written and told her so.

As the holly groweth green
And never changeth hue,
So I am, ever hath been,
Unto my lady true.

He is impatient and entitled as he grips her head. She opens her mouth and complies. She is no prudish Catholic, but neither is she a whore. Her cousin was a whore, an incestuous whore. She betrayed him and lost her head, spilled her blood all over the block, red as the holly he wrote about. Red blood on a dark green dress.

As the holly groweth green
With ivy all alone
When flowers cannot be seen
And greenwood leaves be gone,

There will be no blood with me, she thinks. I will keep his love. I will keep it evergreen. He grips her head harder, guiding her mouth as she sucks his cock with a skill that she learned as a girl. That skill would not betray her. That skill, and the gift of a pliant throat and an equally pliant nature, will keep me queen, she thinks.

Now unto my lady
Promise to her I make,
From all other only
To her I me betake.

Her eyes stream as his cock batters the back of her throat. She feels the bulk of his body tense. He’s getting close. She wills herself slack and feels the drool dripping down her chin onto her pretty white breasts. When he comes, he comes like an animal, grunting and thrusting into her mouth as if she were a thing. I will be his cherished thing, she thinks, gagging on his spend.

Adieu, mine own lady,
Adieu, my special
Who hath my heart truly
Be sure, and ever shall.

He tastes overly sweet, and beneath that a bitterness that makes her gag again, but she swallows and swallows and swallows. Then she smiles as she knows he wants her too, and lavishly licks her lips. I will do what I must do, she thinks. I will survive the love of this man.

Post Script: 

The italicized poem is called “Green Groweth the Holly” by Henry VIII. The lady whom it addresses is unknown but, for the sake of this piece, I imagined it to be his ill-fated 5th wife, Catherine Howard, cousin to Anne Boleyn and the second of his six wives to be accused of treason and beheaded.

The story was inspired by “The Holly and the Ivy” – a traditional Christmas carol and one of the prompts in Exhibit A‘s Awesome Christmas Erotica Meme. A new song title goes up every day between now and Christmas so click here to catch the prompts and participate (you should!). And click here to see who else is making merry this December.

Erotic Fiction: Lonely Things

Black and white ink drawing of a woman embracing a shinto lion

Fortitude by Miss Pybis

Her love runs deep, so deep it cuts. She wields it like a knife, coring her heart and peeling herself like fruit; soft and pulpy, sweet, grotesque and fragrant all at once. Her love is not a pretty thing. It’s a violence she metes to herself.

She smells cigarettes and knows it’s him. Even now, years later, her body knows the scent of Marlboro Reds. She can hear his voice if she tries to, in dreams, in her own…it disturbs her to hear his voice in her own. Lilting aural shrug. Sardonic, slanting grin. She learned that smile from him. She uses it all the time.

He is in her house in the dream, working, building. She comes in prepared, having smelled the Reds. He is so tall in her dream, much taller than in life.

“Hey,” she says.

“Hey.”

He tosses the word like a stone.

She steps closer. Approaching him is like approaching a wolf, but she does it casually, accepting the risk. She is bigger than he is. Now she is.

“It hurts to see you,” she says.

“Yeah,” he replies. “Good.”

She smiles. Of course he said good. It’s a good sign, that good. He’s angry and it shows. He showed her so much in the time they were together, things he didn’t see and didn’t know. But she did. She knew. She knew and she left. She remembers him hurt and cold.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

“What for?”

He lights a cigarette with the lighter she gave him. Brushed, stainless steel worn dull. It slips back into his pocket as if the denim holds its place. Narrow hips, like a knife…. She leans into the edge, loving the risk, loving the heart’s blood she feels beneath her skin.

“For this.”

She puts her arms around his waist. His cock hardens as she presses her hips to his. Her own soft and narrow hips. He resists. She knows he will. He resists anyone’s terms but his own. But he wants her. She knows he does. And that’s why he gives. 

She thinks of their first kiss, in the hall of her old place. Sunny hall, sunny day, he caught her in his arms, playful but they knew. When they kissed, they knew. It was better than sex, that kiss. It held the promise of their relationship. Mutual evisceration.

He tosses out the cigarette. She rest her cheek on his.

“I could kill you,” he says.

“I know. I know. That’s why I love you.”

They are pressed, hip to hip. He wants her so much. But there is a reckoning still.

He brings his hands up, gentle and lover-like. His fingers circle her neck. She thinks of the knife he once put there, and the calm that she felt when he did. He could kill her. She knows it. She loves him because he could kill her. It would be a relief, in a nihilistic sense, and he is dead enough to do it. She is dead enough to want it. She sees parts of her in him.

He squeezes her neck and she lets him. Eyes flat. No feeling. Cold, dead eyes. She places her hands over his. They are scarred and rough. Familiar. She knows them like her own. Her palms cradle his knuckles as he squeezes her throat.

Their mouths are close. He is taut. But she is soft. She is soft, which is why she will win. His hands tighten around her neck and she holds them there, calm, inviting, through shiny, bursting stars. Stars in her eyes and she smiles. He could kill her now. He should.

She kisses him then, while his hands squeeze her neck, bruising her obstinate pulse. He tastes like he always tasted—cigarettes, mint, whisky, death. He tastes like fucking death. He squeezes harder. She tightens her grip, forcing his fingers into her swollen, beating pulse. Pushing him. Daring him. Do it. Please.

Suddenly, the pressure lifts and he is with her. His reckoning is done.

They are on the floor as she yanks at his jeans, hungry for his cock. Split open like fruit, sticky with juice, she cannibalizes herself. She fills herself with him in a slow, slick stab. She eats her painful heart.

She is lonely, so lonely…. Her hands go around his throat, the way he’d wanted then. But she was sunny and young, blue skies and white clouds. She hadn’t found her night…a swirling black sky punched through with starlight. But he’d seen it. He’d wanted it. And she’d kept it from him.

She gives it to him now.

Her fingertips drift over his throat and press, harder than he had, harder than he’d dared, though she can already feel the bruises forming on her neck.

“I could kill you,” she says.

She is riding him and crying it feels so good. So right for her with him.

“I know. That’s why I love you.”

He fucks her ache harder, the grinding ache, deep and bruised with years. She is lonely. So lonely. And he is lonely too. He’s lonely and he comes. He seeps into her edges, miles and miles of edge. It’s the part of her he wants – the night sky with its blackness and its cold, pretty stars.

He wants the thing. The monster. The mirror. He wants not to be found. That’s what she wants too.

She comes ugly and feral. He bites her and she bites him. They draw blood from each other and lick it like juice. They would. Of course they do. There is so much blood between them. Drops spilling into years…. One day they will kill each other. One day it will be done.