Volume 4 Number 4
Darkness redraws the room, sketching shadows that crouch and creep. I lie on the hard bed, tracking moonlight across the ceiling, flotsam in its frigid ebb. Hours, until the sun hauls me back into the desert of day.
Torchlight beams, but it's not a smile.
"Checks." The nurse, backlit by the hall light, nods with ghoulish satisfaction. "Sweet dreams," he says as he goes.
The light leaves with him, dropping the room back down into darkness. Night air coils then springs, setting its teeth against my fragile skin.
I shiver and stare at the pockmarked ceiling of the hospital room. I'm an empty skin under a jaundiced moon, its sickle branding me her prey. I cringe as it reaches the peak of its arc.
Onto my shabby stage she steps. Artemis. Goddess. Huntress. Her hair in long ratted ropes, her mouth gleaming with teeth, she comes for me again. She will not let me rest.
The moon milks a sigh from my throat, its tallow light striping her to a tiger as she prowls the room and springs lightly to the bed.
Slim thighs grip me like cables, steely and blue with cold. The moon pinned me less fiercely. But the moon's face is pitted, not smooth, and so far away, benign in its indifference.
I burn beneath the savage light in the empty eyes of the huntress. A heat hard as frost stirs the embers of my lust, but cannot warm me. Lips sear so deeply I feel them in my bones, their ache lodged deep each morning when I wake.
She toys with me, batting at my sin with claws drawn in; savagery one terrible step behind tenderness. I know this dance. I led those others, young and fair, in its same steps. Now she leads and I follow. A fearful symmetry.
The first fingers of dawn reach into the room, touching her head as it dips and lifts, plush lips gliding, hot tongue sliding, until the scars at my wrists tingle and terror wages war with hunger for my soul.
The nurse uncovers me in the morning, wet patches blooming like flowers on the sheets between my legs. He shakes his head, his tongue tutting.
"Still at it, I see."