By Elizabeth Anne Schwartz
I lower my cigarette and study the filter, stained scarlet red. It could be lipstick, if this were a different story—if I were sharing a smoke with the femme in my sheets. I can almost picture her playfully taking a drag, hair spilling like gold across my pillow, nipples hard beneath the thin blanket. A glimmer in her eyes as she exhales.
I told myself this wouldn’t happen again. I promised Adam.
But here I am: last night’s whiskey pounding in my skull, fingers as red as the cigarette. Staring at the bra on the floor of my studio apartment and wondering if it’s hers or mine.
I don’t think I wore a bra last night. I remember throwing on a t-shirt and jeans, a denim jacket because the temperature had gone down with the sun. I ran a hand through my permanent bedhead, shoved my feet into my boots and my wallet into my back pocket, and strolled down to the bar. Feeling a buzz before the alcohol even hit my blood, smug confidence I never should have trusted.
I cross the room in search of my phone. The bra is definitely hers, satin cups and lace trim. My phone turns up on the floor under my jacket, discarded in a heap by the door—the same urgency that drove her to shed her silk dress at the foot of the bed.
Maybe not exactly the same.
I stub out my cigarette, swipe past my notifications and find Adam in my contacts. My mouth twists, nostrils flare as I type: Need your help.
Why did she have to be so goddamn pretty? Draping her hair across the bar, twisting her body at just the right angle. Flirting with the bartender, then glancing in my direction, like she knew it’d rile me.
Adam answers in under a minute: Jesus fucking Christ, Jordan. Nothing else. But I know he’s on his way.
In the bathroom, I scrub my hands and face, all without meeting my eyes in the mirror. Bits and pieces of last night push through my hangover, rise to the forefront.
The reassurance a few drinks had given me. How leading her to my shady little corner of the bar had set the whiskey in me on fire. Her mouth on mine, the way the shadow had risen inside me like wings—and how I’d kept it grounded (I should’ve known then and there).
She let me take her back to my place. We locked the door behind us and undressed in the dark…so at first she didn’t notice the change. I felt it, tried to deny it, that tingle in my hands and teeth. When it fully claimed me, she was already on her back—my lips against her neck, her thighs wrapped around me—and there was no untangling us, my shadow side gripped her with talons and fangs. Took what it wanted and left me to suck on the bones.
A knock, almost too quiet to hear.
I open the door a crack and meet Adam’s deep-set eyes, stone gray—like his mother’s, like my aunt’s. I unlatch the chain and wave him in, close it quickly behind him.
Adam turns a shade paler.
She’s still in bed: lying naked on her back, neck crooked. The shadow loves faces—or is that part on me, my own ache for her full lower lip and her wide, sultry eyes? Every feature clawed and bitten—fierce and tender—into a mask of meat and blood.
I light another cigarette, wait for Adam to speak.
He closes his eyes and takes a breath, like he’s pushing some emotions down and holding more tightly to others.
“Hope she was worth it,” he says. An edge in his voice, one I always dread.
Then he starts cleaning up my mess.
Elizabeth Anne Schwartz, born on Friday the 13th, writes sapphic stories and dark, enchanting tales. She earned her BA in Creative Writing at Purchase College. Follow her on Twitter.