by ERA
Wear a top hat but also a dark smile, sir. The lady
of the night is coming for you.

This is a dream. You know it is a dream because you've
had it before. It's the one where you're standing in the
yellow pool of light from an old-fashioned gas lamp, on
a dark cobblestone street shining wet with recent rain.
You are waiting for someone, you do not know who.
You know she will come and find you.

You cannot leave the circle of light, though you prowl it
like a cat, hands in the pockets of your Victorian
overcoat. You cannot go home, there is no home to go
to. Everything hinges on this woman you wait for, and
your frustration grows into anger. Who is she to keep
you waiting, penned here in this prison for her own

When she arrives, you know it without looking. Though
your back is turned, you hear the shushing of her long
skirts against the stone, the quiet crack of heels. She
does not avoid puddles, and you already know that
when you reach under her dress, her ankles will be
wet, because you've done it before.

You turn, slowly, brim of your hat shading your face
from her, and you're glad it hides both the gleam in
your eyes and the smirk on your lips.

Her pace does not falter. She walks briskly down the
lane, crosses, and enters your circle of light. Her
gloved hand takes yours—too firmly—and pulls you
into the dark alleyway beyond. You are unmoored from
your pen, and the night is dark and wild, and though
this woman is the personification of this, she is a
magnet you cannot leave.

Her wavy hair in the lamplight had glinted gold, spun
gold, and rippled down her shoulders over her dark
purple dress, the color of a plum. Her face is sharp,
leonine, hungry. Her eyes are sapphires, but they
never look at you until you are inside of her.

Your back finds cold stone, rough and grating against
your shoulders. Lace-covered fingers catch your chin,
taking a kiss from your lips, still without meeting your
eyes. She tastes like everything you ever wanted, she
rips something open inside of you, turning you more
monster than man. But that is okay. That is allowed.
She is your monsteress.

Your hands slip over her chest—no time for that—
though you can feel her nipples harden beneath the
silk. They trace down her waist, feel the ridges of her
ribs as her breath heaves. You find the slit in her
voluminous skirts, push them back from her slim legs,
which shine white in the darkness.

She's given up kissing you now. Instead, her hands
rest on either side of your neck, her face bent to your
shoulder, but not quite touching it. Her eyes are
closed, shadows of her lashes over-long. You hook your
hand behind her knees and pull her toward you.
Suddenly she reacts, slipping an arm behind your neck
and moving toward you so forcibly that you step to the
side out of trained habit. Now her back is to the wall,
and you hook her bare legs around your waist, and
then move your palms to the icy walls to either side of
her burning body.

Her hand finds you while her other hand grips the back
of your neck with bony fingers, and she arches and
settles down onto you, warmth encompassing you to
your very soul. Her body is rigid in a moment of
ecstasy, abs against yours and her head against the

Her eyes slide open to meet yours. Blue, blue, blue.
Everlasting blue. She breathes out a name, a name
that you know is your name but you can never
remember when you wake. Neither can you remember
her name, although you know it in the dream. But you
don't speak it, you don't need to. Instead you draw
closer, putting an arm around her hips, and it's
surprisingly slow, the way she makes love to you,
surprisingly like the way the ocean caresses the shore.
It is exacting, demanding every inch of you, every
minutiae of your attention, every depth of your feeling,
and it is visceral and spiritual and it is everything,
everything, and your world is expanding like nirvana
and contracting to a pinpoint of understanding so
extreme you think you might rip apart.

You're leaving your body and filled with heat, your
forehead against her neck now and you're moving
against her faster and faster and she clenches tightly
against you and releases just a second too late, letting
you push against that resistance, winning every time,
with a soft puff of air from her and a rising moan in
your throat. Your hands on her hips are grasping
unconsciously, every part of you flexing for release.
Before you do, she starts to sing some song, some
underwater song you know she's sung to you before,
but you've never heard it and your eyes moisten
behind your closed eyelids and you know that if you
come inside her, she will own you, drag you down to
the depths, engulf you, get you here again tomorrow
night, and every time you dream.

But you can't help it and you're not sure you want to.
Literally selling your soul, you release into her, jerking
with the spasms that wrack your body, your voice
almost drowning hers out, singing her song in whatever
language it is, one you hadn't thought you knew.

And she cries with you, not breaking her note, just a
seabird calling to the shore, and you catch her
shoulders and she melts like seafoam in your hands.
You see one last glimpse of her eyes—blue darkening
to evergreen—before she closes them, and when she
does, everything goes black for you.

Photo: Lee Avison