by Rahima Warren
My hand shakes. Too cold to continue, I contemplate the canvas. Silken-dark waters, a shimmering path, faint stars. Who will complete this one? The Mistress must be satisfied before I will know, but She is gone. I must wait upon her return. Until then, I must sleep.
Hearing the faint beginnings of the Call, I stir, but the Mistress is weak yet. I return to uneasy somnolence.
Gaining strength, She wakens me gently with her subtle silver touch. Undeniable now, the Call pulls me forth from my redoubt.
Pale faces peer at my sleek black automobile with its darkened windows, wondering which celebrity is inside. Somewhere near this glittery, narcissistic place, there is one who awaits me.
The Call leads me to quieter streets, dimly lit by street lamps shadowed by tall old trees, an occasional porch light, the garish flickering of entertainment screens. Circling slowly, I slide through these streets of simple homes. The engine purrs peacefully, but I pay heed only to the Call, as it fades, returns, grows stronger.
Ah, it is this house, huddling behind overgrown lilacs, with a few pots of drooping geraniums on the stoop. She is inside, alone. Her ripe despair washes over me in an arousing tide. She is not ready to come to me. I will return each night until she is.
A shabby pickup truck turns into the driveway. Reeking of stale anger and tobacco smoke, a man stumbles out of the truck and enters the house. Her fear increases but she covers it with appeasing lies. Soon he has reduced her to hidden tears with his cutting words. He raises his fist. I do not need to witness what comes next. It is always the same – crude, brutal, needless.
This holy night, the Mistress is full and strong, the Call incontestable. I drive through the darkening streets. Jack-o-lanterns glare from porches. Ghosts and goblins haunt the sidewalks. People playing with darknesses they don’t understand, reducing them to child’s play to keep them at bay. I smile, imagining how they would scatter if I walked among them.
Ah. Here is the woman’s house No yellow light glares from her windows, no garish colors flicker. She sits alone in silent darkness, as I wait outside in mine. Life means nothing to her now. He has murdered her will, her soul. I select music for her, sad and languorous. I get out and stand beside the car, leaving the door open, the music playing.
Heavy with emptiness, she walks out of the house. I bow to her and swing open the passenger door. She looks at me, at the dark interior of my luxurious conveyance, shrugs and slips inside.
I am roused to tenderness by her numb despair. She is my bride for the night. She longs for surcease. I am an artist. I will create for her an ending better than any she could imagine.
In an overly-precious village, we stroll a street of stylish shops. In one of these, she uses a piece of plastic to buy the kind of dress she never allowed herself – ruby satin, draped low in front and back - with jeweled sandals for her feet, and a fur wrap. She returns to me transformed, unknown to herself. In a restaurant full of dark glass and feverish chatter, I order a lavish dinner and watch her take neat bites with white teeth.
We return to my vehicle. I cover her neck with lingering kisses, tantalizing myself with the salty taste of her. She smiles distantly, far from the life she has known. We leave behind the smug little town whose people ignore the howling of their dogs.
As we drive on, our darknesses merge. The Mistress paints the slender road silver as it winds through the soft hills toward the sea’s shore. Yellow light from a foreign land shines in occasional farmhouse windows. Unsubtle music, clumsily sensual, booms and fades as we pass a rowdy saloon.
The silver path takes us along bluffs overlooking the sea, far beyond any cottage or tavern. The slow pulse of the Mistress surges through me, relentless as the unseen waves swelling and receding below. I drive the curves and twists recklessly. My bride clings to me, uncaring, caressing her fur-draped, satin-clad body in absent surprise.
I stop at the cliff’s edge. The Mistress turns the fog-clad ocean below us into land of silver mysteries. My bride follows me out of the car without protest or question. With cold, trembling hands, I wrap her new fur about her warm body. Soon, I too will be warm. The fog enshrouds us as we descend the path to the hidden beach at land's end. Now we can hear the ceaseless voice of the Mistress's vast slave, feel the cold wet touch of sea mist.
I brush her fog-bejeweled hair off her face. She kisses my hand and turns empty eyes toward the restless waters. The Mistress's cold fire rises within me. I am desperate to please her, but I am an artist.
I carry my bride across the sands into the waiting circle of heavy chain. In the center, I spread her fur on the sand and lay her upon it. I caress her face, her arms, her breasts, her thighs. Her passion mounts and I am hard with hunger, yet I await her summons.
“Please,” she begs. “Please.”
Invited, I enter. The Mistress’s demand pulses through me, yet I take my time. When my bride reaches fulfillment, I plunge my fangs into her arched neck. Her bliss-sweetened blood pulses raw and hot through my veins, exquisite agony flooding me with urgent life, raging desire. I climax, howling my praises to the Mistress.
I clasp her limp body tenderly, thanking her for her gift, whispering blessings for her journey. She smiles a small, grateful smile as she slowly grows cold. The Mistress breaks through the fog and looks down, satisfied.