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 amusement?

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

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 wall.

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

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