I need to leave her. Before it’s too late. Perhaps it already is. Perhaps I know that, really. Heather was gone tonight when I woke, darkness surrounding me. Pitch. I reached for her and she wasn’t there - the sheets which should have held her warmth cold, no dint indicating she had been there recently. We fell asleep together, curled around each other, my hand caressing the puckered scab at her shoulder – the ridges already healing; indentations becoming less distinct. Somehow, she has managed to move from me; to evade any conversation over why she strolls the night. A new burgeoning, burning light behind her eyes. Signalling the inevitable. What will come. The becoming. Beckoning heat. Neither of us has managed to say the words. Not yet. Not until the inevitable. Until it falls apart. Maybe not even then.
I remember the night too well. The one which matters most. To us. She stumbled through the door, hair tangled about her shoulders, clumped with dirt, leaves; remnants of congealed blood. Jacket lost, top frayed. God alone knew how she had made it home that way. Her fingers left smudge marks against the wood and wallpaper; streaks of mud, mixed with the aftermath of what had gone before.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” she said. Still, she refused to meet my eyes. That told me enough. “They just grazed the skin. Hardly anything, really.”
“What? They? What?” The words refused to collate; to form solid sentences. “I – what?”
“The teeth.” Her lips quivered slightly, unshed tears beneath her lids. “Should have just phoned a taxi, I guess. Stupid.” There was a brief lift beneath the words before the slump. Literal and figurative, as Heather used the wall as her prop. The paper would need replacing – sooner rather than later, if it wasn’t to act as reminder. I would see to it, I told myself. Without fuss.
“I heard it coming.” A tremble in her voice. “I wish I hadn’t.”
I thought that was the worst. Then. Now I know better.
It crept upon us slowly. The realisation. That there would be consequences. Darkness made her restless. She tossed and turned a lot. To be expected. Her temperature ran high – not dangerously so. The GP administered injections to prevent against lingering infection, the fear of fever. We thought that the end of things, save for the delicate ridged scar gracing her shoulder. The preternaturally quick to heal, lasting reminder.
Night taught us better, as insomnia gave way to wilful wandering. Too little, way too late. Nothing could have prevented it. I think I knew that first night; knew without knowing. The moon’s crescendo towards apex. Waxing. Could scarcely fail to notice the night Heather came home, the cool of after hours amongst her locks, the taste of copper on her lips as I kissed her a welcome. Reddened by something over than natural high colour, though that was there too. Heightened above normality. Heat in her gaze; amber in her eye, once chocolate in colour. I purposefully forgot copper that night; concentrated instead on amber and gold.
Try as I might, I should have – must have – realised matters would reach their climax. Moon full, white above, no avoiding the merciless light. Her gaze burns through me, fever pitch, on her return. Flames fanned by whatever went before. Tonight I see the evidence stained across the white enamel of her teeth, cherry red matching grin accompanying it. Breath rich with the scent of others. Information I did not need access to.
No more avoiding. Secrets will out, one way or another – especially those which have been open for a while. Tonight they may consume us. Or one will be consumed.
Even seeing her this way, it’s hard not to want what we had; what went before the now. I feel myself falling, plunging deep towards the dark. Pull myself back from the brink. Barely. I know her name. Sadly, much as I try to delude myself, it’s no longer Heather. It is the other.
We face off. Now’s the time. Fight or flight. Focused versus fearful. Predator. Prey. Now. Teeth reach towards me, to administer a final lover’s caress. To bite.
Another Mid-Week-Blues-Buster piece. This one uses Tito & Tarantula's "After Dark" as it's inspiration. It came in second place for the week's challenge, which I hadn't really expected and made a nice surprise. :)