Be Sure to Text, Not Call

There were boys who would only talk to Avery in text messages. She was fine with that. She didn’t mind! She felt lonely all the time and any kind of emotional proximity meant the world to her.

There was a burly Hispanic guy that Avery was once enamored with. He flirted with her constantly; he called her a fairy spirit that haunted clubs and trapped unsuspecting men and women. If she was a man-eating fairy, she wondered what sort of monster that preyed on mortals he could’ve been. He preferred to spend time with newly single mothers or insecure thick girls. “They are easier to get into bed!” he confided in her.

Avery once spent three hours locked out of her hotel room because her burly Mexican wanted to talk to his “real girlfriend” for a while. She sat downstairs in the lobby and waited for him to finish. The lobby was cold and her sweater was locked in the room, so she wound up jumping in the hotel hot tub to warm herself up. She should’ve thought things through more thoroughly since she had nothing dry to change into afterwards. Her colorful underclothes made for a great makeshift swimsuit but they stood out loudly under the dress she’d been wearing. Thank fucking Christ, her date messaged her when he was finally done. She’d be able to finally take off her wet clothes at last!! Or so she thought, but unfortunately, he was still unsure if his girlfriend wanted to call him back in a few minutes.  It was better for her to stay downstairs a bit longer. Avery alternated between hiding in the bathroom and the gym. The burly Mexican told her to hold tight and be sure to text, not call.

There was a tall, fast-talking Italian that Avery became close friends with. They bonded over their mutual love of anime, manga, and Japanese video games. His nerdy proclivities were a constant source of shame for him, however, and she began to worry that their friendship was too.

Avery went to a convention with the tall Italian and he was embarrassed to be there. What made matters worse, her husband was unable to go with them as planned, since something cropped up at work. It was a delicate matter, but they still wanted to make it work and go, despite the fact that their Italian friend also didn’t want his coworkers to know he had asked for time off because of it. He didn’t think they would understand.  He told Avery not to tag him in any of the photos, so they wouldn’t catch onto his lies. As strange luck would have it, one of his coworkers wound up being in the area over the weekend and they decided to meet up for dinner. The Italian mentioned that he’d been visiting the area to see an old friend, so it was better for Avery not to tag along. What was he doing with a lovely, married woman anyway? He believed it made him look bad, so the tall Italian told her to stay put at the hotel and be sure to text and not call.

This was a theme in her life. If she wanted a relationship with someone then she had to be okay with being held at arm’s length. She allowed her partners and friends to set their schedule, initiate the meetups, and decide the platform for the conversations. It was easier that way. Avery didn’t want to cause problems. She was just grateful to be a part of their life in any small way.

Avery would always text. She promised to never call.

There were times when she accidentally called.  Her phone bumped up against her purse or pocket and made the phone calls that she wasn’t permitted to. It always left her feeling petrified and messaging jittery apologies. She hoped she hadn’t interrupted anything or caused any issues with someone who was more important.

That was what she was used to, until one day she met someone who always answered her butt calls, no matter the time of day. She was astounded to hear a voice on the other side:

“Avery, you good? Why are you crying?”



Between These Palms


A violet twilight had crept over the castle of Mercura Academy and along with it came the same nightly visitor to the first Grand Scholar’s chambers. This time, the Witch Queen was sprawled out over his bedsheets, burying her face in his pillows. Candlelight danced warmly over her entirely nude body as she stretched languidly, twisting the sheets around her. She had a way of making the upholstered metal-framed bed look far more comfortable than it truly was.

“Your majesty, to what do I owe the pleasure? Did you need me to give you another recap of the new teacher roster?” Harper shed his leather overcoat and took a seat next to the queen on the disheveled duvet. He began unwinding the coiled divining crystals from his forearms as she sat up and embraced him from behind eagerly.

“Do I really need a reason to visit my most beloved Scholar? Yes, I find it all terribly confusing and tiresome keeping track of the crop of new faces. Won’t you explain them to me again my darling seer? Tell me who is who.” She rocked her body against his, glowing with pleasure as the sleek professor settled in for the night. He methodically removed his jeweled finery, sending fractured light like constellations into the dark room.

“It’s only confusing for someone who’s only feigning interest in school legislation and really just looking for the next opportunity to pull me into an empty classroom… or broom closet.”

“You wound me Harper! I care deeply about my teachers and students. It’s hardly my fault if your body distracts me from them occasionally.”

“Multiple times a day is not occasionally, your grace.”

“For someone who has to endure the monotony of knowing everything that comes to pass, an opportunity to cherish the present should be a gift. I bring the extraordinary gift of the glorious present every day and you relish my attention. Don’t try to pretend otherwise.”

“I never said I didn’t.”

Harper pulled Nevra’s prying fingers away from the buttons of his clothes.  He was surprised to feel a distinct wince as he moved to kiss them, his lips stopping just short of her flesh.

“What’s wrong?”

“I work my fingers to the bone so they get sore from time to time.” Nevra tried to discreetly withdraw her hand before the scholar could look closer at what had pained her.

“You expect me to believe the Sovereign Queen of Mercura is callusing her hands? Show me.”

“It’s nothing. Really.” She prattled nervously, trying to casually twist her wrist out of Harper’s grasp and keeping her fingers curled in a tight fist. “I- uh, sometimes I cut my palm open, just for the thrill of it. It’s an unbecoming habit that I can’t shake. Please don’t look, it’s ugly.” Her words darkened Harper’s rigid expression. He’d allowed the charade to go on long enough and it was time for him to end it, at least within this timeline.

“…Fyro, or is it Randy? Let me see your hand.” Harper ordered and was met with stunned silence from the Queen, who instantly stopped resisting him. The woman who was Queen Nevra transformed in a blaze of jewel-toned flame, bathing the room in light. When the flames subsided, a red-skinned demon crouched in her place, a young man with messy, cabernet wine hair and a pair of webbed bat wings. He searched the soothsayer’s face, with growing confusion as his mind grappled with the implications of what he’d said.

“How did you know it was me?”

“Nevra hates cramped spaces, she would never tolerate being pounded against a closet wall.”

“Yes but- but maybe she would make an exception for her favorite Grand Scholar.”

“I’ve also seen her struggle and almost choke on a large sirloin steak before.”

“You can train your body to resist the gag impulse. Maybe she’s just improved since!”

“She cannot unhinge her jaw like you can. I don’t think you understand the way basic human anatomy works,” the corners of Harper’s lips twitched. These conversations had played out countless times before but the incubus’s protests always changed and entertained him, warranting another look. He couldn’t recall exactly how many times he had replayed the events of this particular night. He enjoyed replacing notes and creating slight variations to see how the song played out differently. This was where Randy laughed.

“Yes, well, forgive me if I mistook her for a snake trussed up in royal regalia. I could see her needing a warm body beneath her to help digest her food.”

“Either way, it looks like her fangs have found you at last.”

Harper had taken advantage of the incubus’s surprise to inspect his palm, flattening his fingers out to get a better look as they talked. He had found what he’d suspected quickly. There was a deep gash that ran the length of the boy’s palm from the top of the wrist to his index finger. The stitches holding the wound shut were very fresh. It was the handiwork of the true Witch Queen, Nevra. It signified ancient blood magic, which took a full sun cycle to conjure and set into motion. This type of magic needed time in order to bind a person’s future, as it was meant to.

It didn’t matter what Harper did to try and prevent it. It would happen regardless of how many times he replayed the events in their past. His attempts to change Randy’s future failed every single time. The incubus kneaded Harper’s shoulder consolingly with his good hand, the same way he often had as the Queen whenever Harper seemed put off by something.

“This is nothing my lord. I’ve collected worse scrapes during foreplay with bad-tempered cambion up-starts. You don’t have to look so stern for me.”

Harper gave a beleaguered exhale, shaking his head. Randy noted that his handsome lover hadn’t been frightened out of the same familiar proximity by his true form. The fact that he was no longer an exquisitely pretty woman didn’t seem to phase him as he had feared it would. His heart wouldn’t stop pounding in his chest and it made him wonder about his own sanity as a lust demon. He was truly far gone if this was how much he physically feared rejection from a mortal. A small shudder passed through him like a draft and he felt just like four winds were pushing him in all directions, every possible emotion battering his mind.

The soothsayer squared his shoulders to the demon and pulled Randy’s hand free from his shoulder. He used his middle finger to trace the lines on the inside of his palm to illustrate something the demon would have to understand to grasp his situation.

“This is your dominant hand, you’ve used it to fight your enemies, perform spells, and satisfy your lovers. Your past is written in the lines of this hand. It represents manifested potential.” He retrieved Randy’s left hand and flipped it over gingerly to expose the dark violet laceration.

“This palm represents unrealized potential. If your right represents the past, the left is your future. Your heart line crosses the middle, the mind line sits directly under it and then, lastly, there is your life line, which has been entirely carved out.” The scholar held it and met Randy’s gaze.

“This is how my queen possesses the people who slight her, by pouring their future out, like blood from a wound. By the time the sun rises, your soul will be bound to her whims and you will be her perfect slave. There is nothing you do that she won’t be able to see and punish you for. You will exist to please her.”

The scholar tried to parse his words carefully, knowing the crushing weight they would carry for the free-spirited incubus.

“This is Queen Nevra’s price for the mischief you’ve caused her. This is the cost for getting involved with someone like me,” he muttered, knitting his brows and turning his eyes down. “I’m so sorry.”

Randy’s huge dark wings went slack against the bed, having lost any animated quality they had before, much like his expression. Harper was reminded of a time when one of his cohort, Richenda the Undying, had locked a black abyssal phoenix in a songbird cage to decorate her desk. She seemed to enjoy watching it languish there, eternally living, dying and resurrecting in the company of cadavers. He had been hideously hypocritical to judge Richenda harshly for her cruelty towards the lovely creature. His own brand of cruelty was far more sadistic since his own desk ornament of choice happened to be a boy with a crush. Any suffering that Randy would be faced to endure in the future would be entirely his own fault, because he failed to protect him and, at the end of the day, he couldn’t resist the chance to indulge in a sick joke at the Witch Queen’s expense.

Randy stirred finally, breaking the silence and patting Harper’s leg, bringing him back from his morose thoughts.

“Hey, I’m not sorry,” he smiled at the scholar with a kind light in his upturned eyes. Harper blinked at him, bewildered.

“I’m not! I have no regrets. I can choose this if it allows me to be close to you,” the demon assured him. He held up his palms again, grinning like someone soft in the head, an inmate who had found a sparkling penny on death row. Randy’s lips were made for smiling, even in the worst circumstances.

“Look, I have the past and the future, right?”

“Yes,” conceded Harper. Randy reached out and held Harper’s pained face in his palms.

“I also have the glorious present in between them.  This is okay, isn’t it?”

Harper held Randy’s wrists for a moment in what he called the glorious present. In that infinitesimal heartbeat of the universe, reality split multiple times and there were many Harper’s and Randy’s in the room, all of them as solid and real as the hard metal frame of the bed, existing simultaneously.

He splayed his fingers across the strings of three different fates, keying into their songs and listening to each reality. They were not obstructed, tenuous clouds inside a crystal orb, everything that happened within these alternate worlds was real, the love, the pain, was all real. As always, Harper would remember all of the details and there would be no remedy for the memories.

One of the Harper’s caved in on everything within himself. He had lost his own outlines and only knew a desperate desire for a reprieve from his own oppressive loneliness. He wanted to live in the present so badly. This Harper kissed Randy and inhaled his cinnamon, whiskey scent. He lavished sweet promises upon him, oaths to protect him in any way he could. They decided to face whatever future there was to be had together and were indeed happy for a time, though their love affair was a difficult thing to maintain.

Randy devoted much of his time attending to every carnal need the Witch Queen imposed on him and any scraps left of his days were spent engineering random encounters with Harper, waiting for any signs from him that would indicate the future was clear and the Queen’s gaze was fixed elsewhere. It hurt Harper to watch him live this way, with the bars of his cage shrinking in on him. The incubus grew impatient over the lean months as his schedule was suffocated and he saw less and less of Harper. Randy missed him like fire. His attempts to intercept him became sloppy and people began to take notice. It was on a cold night that Harper returned to his chambers to find Randy’s once beautiful body mutilated in his bed. His ebony blood filled the room like jet ink stains and a tidily written message had been left on his bedside mirror, scrawled in black.

“This is payback for my broken heart. Never betray me again.”

This was the song Randy wanted most. He would trade his life for this outcome because it was truest to his feelings. Harper had to be better than that, cool reason would govern his decisions for both of them. Harper would remember how this Randy loved him dearly and mourn his sacrifice as he explored other options.

While this Harper cried his heart out into the incubus’s mangled chest, another Harper was still holding Randy’s wrists in the glorious present, the diverging point. He released him and kept a respectable distance away. This Harper wanted to place words between both of them like spikes, to keep Randy from crashing into him any harder than he already had. This time he would protect him from his own passion.

“It’s a sweet thought but I don’t even know you. Anything you believe we have together is only skin-deep and built on lies.”

“Well, yeah, there were lies involved but the core of it was based on a mutual truth. That’s the way of any relationship.”

Harper didn’t agree or disagree with that.  It would give too much of himself away and it was dangerous for him to give the lust demon anything tangible enough to hook his feelings into. The soothsayer bade him leave, their time together had been enjoyable but the demon had no business developing a real attachment to him. Randy’s new task was to join the school’s ranks as a servant to the queen.

“Try to please her, like you did me. You are good at it, after all.”

Harper took care that he never spoke a word of affection to him again. Their affair didn’t end however, it only took on a twisted form. They continued to see each other in secret. Randy was ravenous for something that only Harper could provide, but refused to. There was only a cold wall of silence offset by the close heat of his body. The rough encounters eventually stopped comforting Randy when he discovered that he couldn’t tear an answer out of Harper’s flesh in fits of passion. The incubus had been ejected from Harper’s bedroom and heart. He was standing outside of the scholar’s door in the hallway one night when a sick realization crept into his mind like a blood dawn.

It had all been in his head, he was a meaningless toy.

Harper’s teeth gritted as this particular song became wild and frenetic. The strings screeched and launched into a Paganini style piece that would bloody the fingers of the musician.FullSizeRender

The incubus had a breakdown. It fractured his mind and drew out the libidinous monster in him. He tracked down and gently, sweetly murdered every partner he had ever taken within the walls of the castle. He used their limbs to paint messages of love to Harper on the walls. Perhaps these offerings would finally find their way to his heart. Harper was horrified and unable to shake the incubus out of his violent delirium. Nevra had the rabid demon shackled and given to Richenda, where he would still provide a use for her necromancy, even in his crazed state.

Harper watched as Richenda removed the incubus’s agonized soul within her underground catacombs, replacing it with the healthy soul of an insect.

While this was happening there was also another Harper still holding Randy’s wrists in the glorious present. The seer had darted his fingers along the strings and each melody he had plucked out brought a grim outcome. The strings Randy would play led to short-lived happiness that ended in his own butchery and the one Harper would personally choose tormented Randy and sent him over the edge.

He played faster and searched again, there was another reality in which they ran away, the incubus taking the form of an elven wife as they chose to live in disguise in the western wilds. Nevra’s curse endured, no matter how far they traveled, however.  She called for Randy’s return over and over again, and when he resisted he was overtaken by cerebral hemorrhaging.

In another reality, Randy and Harper collaborated over an assassination attempt on Nevra. Randy was all too eager to sacrifice himself if it meant freedom for the both of them from Nevra’s clutches. Harper was successful in bringing the Witch Queen down, but it cost Randy his life. The blood curse tore his soul to pieces alongside her. The Queen was dead but Randy was gone with her, still shackled to his mistress in death.

How many times did Harper have to watch Randy suffer and die? He relived their time together over and over, searching for the destiny that rescued him from pain. There had to be another option hidden that he had overlooked. It had to exist, one branching path that would allow his lover to survive and finally exit the labyrinth.

He finally found it. The only exit had been the entrance all along, back at the converging point of the glorious present, the cradle of silence inbetween the noise. Randy was holding his face between his hands.

“Tell me, are you incapable of seeing beyond your own raunchy short-term gratification?” He scowled and shoved the demon’s hands well away from him. Anger flashed across Randy’s face as pain seared the raw gash. His jerk reaction to pain was always to bite back, hard.

“Sometimes, YES. My life has been rich and brimming with experience for it too. I don’t spend my days brooding over sad omens in my tea leaves.” The incubus shot back, nursing his hand.

“No, you spend them whoring yourself out to any obliging piece of human refuse that crawls your way, don’t you.” Harper narrowed his stone grey eyes at the incubus, choosing barbed words that would infect him.

“Yes! You are perfect proof of that my human worm.” The incubus sneered up at him through his pointed teeth, seething like a heckled cat.

“Just how many people have you slept with? Hundreds, thousands?” Harper demanded as he rose to his feet, drawing himself up to his impressive height.

“Far more than that! I have spent entire months switching between different partners in endless orgies.” His grin widened as he plucked morsels from a buffet of sordid memories that would revolt Harper.

“I’ve played musical chairs on spiked dicks for hours for the entertainment of my demonic overlords. I’ve fucked my way through an entire city population. But what does it matter? I’ve only seen you since we’ve been together.”

“It matters because I find that behavior repugnant. I know that you’ve also defiled some of my students since you have been here. You trick your way into their hearts, wearing the guise of whatever you think they’d like best because you know no one would settle for the real you, not seriously.”

“There is no real me like you mean. I can be whatever I want so what does it matter if I try to use it to please the people I’m with?”

“When your magic has worn out you revert back to this shape every time. You are an abyssal demon and a man, any other guise you wear is a pretense.” Harper prodded the incubus’s chest. “This is the real you.”

Randy swatted Harper’s hand away.

“You seemed to know who I was this whole time. If you find me so disgusting, why did you stick with it for so long?” The incubus asked and then instantly wished that he hadn’t, he was too afraid of the power his answer might wield. He wanted to bury the question back down so the answer wouldn’t have to be dragged, kicking and pleading into the light. Harper tipped back his head and laughed humorlessly. This was the true, hysterical crux of the matter.

“Because I hate the Queen. You gave me the perfect opportunity to desecrate her in the worst way.” Harper had to stoop his broad shoulders to bring himself down, eye level with Randy.

“Everything I’ve done to you has been out of loathing for her. And now it’s done. You should leave.”

Randy unconsciously shrank away from him, humiliation burning in his cheeks for his own hubris. Why had he thought to crawl out of his absinthe-reeking netherworld to pursue this man?  What possessed him to believe that Harper Kriswell, one of the immortal lords of destiny, would want him. These were very human feelings, shame, and rejection, unfamiliar to an incubus. He would store them away to examine curiously later, like unrecognizable strands of hair on his pillow.

Randy’s body transformed again, rippling back into the queen’s lithe form against Harper’s sheets. He purred up at the soothsayer in the body of Queen Nevra.

“Don’t make me leave. I want you to use me, desecrate me.” She preened and stroked the flair of her hip in invitation. Perhaps a woman’s plea would soften his temper. It was a vaguely sexist notion that turned out to be very incorrect. Harper’s hatred for the Queen ran deep.

“I told you to leave. If you value your life then you will never impersonate the Witch Queen again. She will see it happen and kill you. Don’t give her that opportunity.” The soothsayer was ferocious in his anger, a wrathful time god that gave commands and not suggestions.

“You almost sound worried.” Randy returned to his own body, his hair was a tousled flame as he rose from the bed finally.

“I will leave you, my lord, but I will never forget our time together. What’s more, I’ll never allow you to forget it either.” Randy picked his way over the threshold, passing him on his way to the door. Harper found himself breathing shallowly as the incubus hesitated for a moment, then tossed a grin back at him.

“I think you fell for me for a while; you cared for a dirty manslut from the abyss… how very unbecoming.” He clucked his tongue as he leaned on the doorknob, appraising Harper for the last time through diminished eyes.

“I did, I’ve made mistakes, but we have to look to the future now and move forward, things will be better this way,” Harper swore.

“As you say, my lord, but I tend to think that you just use the future to escape the present. It’s a shame… truly.”

With that, Randy closed the door on them both.

Harper was left in an echoing world that faded into silence.

No Choice Pt 2


“So, you want me to sit on my hands, while you just go at it?” The gentleman asked, his bristled lips pulling back into a patronizing smirk. I was sitting at his feet and pulling his legs apart as we waited apprehensively in the pits under the stage for the next song to begin.

Yes, I want you to sit on your hands. I would keep your hands well restrained while I shatter your teeth with the metal rods in my heels. It would remove your ugly expression and make you a much sweeter quarry for me to entice and entrap. Weren’t stilettos a woman’s weapon? Could they be used to carve open a man’s face if you broke through the plastic covering?

“That doesn’t sound very comfortable. You could keep your hands at your sides if you like, or if you prefer, you can hold my hips.” I tried to keep my voice airy as I showed him where he could position his hands. This was how he liked me, vapid and clueless; perpetually granting him the benefit of the doubt. I am a stupid stripper who will cheerfully get your musty rocks off, sir. The more you indulge me, the more you can revel in your male superiority. I’ll physically worship your male superiority if you let me.

It seemed like I’d be worshiping the crabapple’s male superiority to the beat of Theory of a Deadman, Bad Girlfriend, a classic, fast-paced club song, which was meant for exactly this setting. I hated it; the lyrics seemed to call out everything we were doing without any clever metaphorical doublespeak. There was no subtlety and sexiness to it.

It was a guy screaming about how great it was to get it on with a dancer.

True poetry.

My ears were filled with the harsh guitar as I gripped the sides of the couch and dragged my head over the inside of the crabapple’s leg. I hovered my mouth over his belt for a long pause, long enough for him to feel my heat under the khaki pants. I cranked my legs up off the floor and worked my hands up his body, pulling his outter shirt open so I could reach his neck and the tender area beneath his ear more easily.

I pulled my head away as the music moved into its jarring chorus measures, choosing to switch tactics and spin my body away from him for a brief moment. He could watch my back as I pulled my breasts free of the brazier. I set the purple bra aside and rested my back against his torso. From this position I could easily remove the rest of my clothes where he could watch, down my body. It would look like he was doing it himself from this angle.

After the last ties had been undone I wove my arms behind the crabapple’s head and allowed him to hold my naked hips against him. I could feel his pulse against my temple and the smell his breath, a smell that reminded me of stale cigarettes and mold. I wanted to keep my back to it as long as I could, but the second portion of the song demanded new moves from me. I could knead my breasts and pull incredibly slick fingers from between my legs so many times before he would get impatient and frustrated, wanting to do more than just watch.

When I turned my body back around so I could straddle the crabapple against the couch, he was breathing faster and pulling my hips harder against his throbbing body.


I could hear his voice muttering my name above the music and it made me shudder with disgust. Why was he saying my name? Could I grip his throat and choke my name off of his lips?  I wanted to cut my nails deep into the arteries beneath the jaw that kept bumping against my breasts.

He was moving his hands upwards and pushing his foul mouth against the flesh of my nipples. I could feel cold, sticky saliva against them and the chaffe of untrimmed bristle. He had no sense of technique at all with his tongue.  He knew how to lick and suck, and that’s about the limit of what his narrow experience had taught him, evidently. His body fluids smelled noxious to me and it made me want to vomit, I would’ve felt better if I had.

I could feel my body wanting to jerk away as he sucked on me and it was making me physically shake as I tried uselessly to finish my dance. I’m certain he was mistaking my trembling responses for ecstasy and that was why he wasn’t relinquishing his grip on me at all.

I am rejecting you from the bottom of my heart.

Don’t touch me.

Get away from me.

The song was nearly over. I was in the clear if he didn’t think anything was wrong. I was able to quiet my screaming mind by biting down into the inside of my arm against the couch. It made me feel blessedly better as my customer continued exploring me with his mouth. Losing a piece of my arm was easier than losing a piece of my soul. If I could taste my own blood than I wouldn’t be able to smell the stale cigarettes. It was numbing my body so that I couldn’t focus on what the gentleman was doing and it seemed to be working. He had no earthly clue that I was suffering in any way. 

Thank fucking god, the music was ending and shifting to a new song. The set was over and I extricated myself from the gentleman and tousled his hair to try and lessen the sting of it all coming to an end.  I was very lucky that the song was a short one, unbelievably, this had been one of my shorter dances of the evening, thank the glittering plastic stars of our club ceiling. I am loved by the plastic stars. They pity me. They love me and hate to see me suffer.

I happily pulled my stilettos back on and discreetly wiped myself down as the gentleman sat up and watched me reorient myself. His smug expression was slightly less smug when he reached out and tugged on my bra, which I was in the middle of refastening.

“I’d like to buy another from you.”


No Choice Pt 1

“You aren’t allowed to turn down a client as a stripper,” someone told me back when I first started working, even though a few girls stuck to the rule. Unlike when you’re waitressing, as a dancer, you can’t profile a customer and decide not to wait on them. It would reflect badly on the establishment, angering customers along the way. But one night, there was a guy who I wish I could have ignored.

In order to make the most money I could, I often greeted as many “customers” as I could as they entered through the doors of the darkly lit club. Tonight, was no different. A curt gentleman with oily hair, old-fashioned clothes, and a hard-set brow came through. For someone who looked roughly 40-50 years old, he was handsome; though, I couldn’t really tell because his attire was so dated.

I had smiled at him and draped myself over his lap after he took a seat in one of the high-backed sofas to watch my coworkers perform. He gave me a funny look when I tried to find out where he was from and what brought him in. He kept a hand low on my waist but wouldn’t engage me in conversation as we sat under the throbbing club lights.

I felt the silence between us stretch as a younger girl slid across the stage on her knees, arching her body upwards as she reached one of the farthest poles. Her toned, tiny body was built for acrobatic precision. More often than not she would spend her entire set comfortably perched atop the pole. I was used to seeing her flip upside down 20ft up in the air, skating her stiletto heels against the ceiling. Her fingers would disappear between her legs and then retreat into her mouth. She would start shedding her lingerie for the sake of easier access to her own body.

I laughed over the music and bumped my shoulder against the gentleman.

“Haley is incredible, isn’t she? She looks young but she’s been performing for years. You don’t get to her level in a single season.”

He kind of snorted in what I thought was agreement and drummed his fingers against my skin.

“She calls herself Haley. What do you call yourself?”

I did a mental fist pump. I’d managed to get him talking! I could crack any crabapple open, it was my irrefutable charm.

“Me? I go by Siren.”

“Siren? No, what’s your real, actual name.”

“I go by Siren. I’m sorry.”

“So you aren’t allowed to tell me your real name or you are just refusing to?”

I felt myself cave. I had no reason to be ashamed or afraid, this older man was just antagonizing me out of boredom, surely.

“No, my name is actually Alana… I couldn’t tell you Haley’s real name. We just call each other by our stage names. We like it that way.”

He laughed dryly at what I’d said, and I felt myself getting irritated. The crabapple was pointedly laughing at me and I wasn’t cracking any jokes.

One of the waitressing staff finally made their way over to us and proffered him to buy me a drink. The waitress was a dancer herself, currently working a different shift, allowing her body to recover. I appreciated her sudden appearance because she had a cheery disposition that relieved tension. She was wonderful at sensing it, as a dancer herself who had dealt with strange customers.

“You can’t even serve us real alcohol in here, can you? Listen, maybe later, okay,  Alana?” He muttered agitatedly, shutting down my favorite waitress quickly before she could wheedle him harder.

“Sure thing! You just let me know. I’ll definitely be working the rounds.” I spoke loudly and in an obnoxiously chirpy tone. I was aggravated that he would use my name. It wasn’t his to give to other people freely in my club. To these people, I had always been Siren, the nerdy blonde who liked mythological references and danced to hard-rock sets.

It was good to have an excuse to retreat back into the changing rooms. I decided to switch into a different outfit for the evening in the interest of perhaps throwing off the crabapple so he wouldn’t recognize me on stage. It wouldn’t matter though since my short, blonde hair was a white flag of surrender for anyone looking for me under the black lights.

I hadn’t expected to be called back so rapidly.

“Is there someone called Alana here?” An auburn-haired girl who was totally topless called into the back rooms.

“Some guy wants a girl named Alana.” She said, catching my embarrassed eye. I gathered up my brazier and stilettos, feeling totally transparent to all of the armored, beautiful women in the room.

“Thanks, Henna… I’ll go find him.”


Three Songs


There was a tall brunette that wanted me for three full songs.

That was a significant amount of money to put down for a simple dance. No woman had ever spent that much money on me before and it made my heart race uncomfortably. Women patrons in strip clubs were unpredictable and flighty, like twitchy cats with lashing tails that stalked the dark corners. They often fell into one of three categories, an unhappy girlfriend who wanted to keep close tabs on their significant other, a barsexual looking for a good time in the interest of spicing up their relationship, or the rare lone wolf lesbian who came for the same reasons the men did. Most women fell into the first category and rarely the third; I wasn’t sure which of them frightened me more. Would my body satisfy her in the same way that it satisfied my male patrons?

A hundred dollars for 8-minutes of my time. I needed to produce an experience, a fantasy, that would leave her breathless and thirsty, that was somehow worth $100.

This lady was pretty enough with larger breasts and cropped dark hair. She wore high-waisted jeans and a short top that showed off her pear-shaped body. I wouldn’t have to pretend to feel attraction for her.  It was definitely there. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted and understood her body perhaps better than most women did. Normally whenever a guy bought a dance, I would pull on their hand and find a couch beneath the stage for both of us. They would titter and make nervous conversation with me while I prepared. This young woman, however, took me by the wrist and directed us both to a large black couch located furthest back in the pit. I realized that she liked to give instructions and set the pace.

“You don’t have to follow the rules with me, if you want to grab me, you can. I’d like it better if you did.” She made herself comfortable in the plastic black leather, under the flickering strobe lights as I made adjustments to my clothing.


My blood ran hot in my ears. With those things set in my mind,  we waited together for Lana Del Rey’s, “Young and Beautiful” to end before the next song began. I recognized the setlist immediately, it was a pulsing R&B set, which Ruby danced to. We would be dancing in time with each other, her mounting a pole with intensely dexterous skill, while I mounted an enigmatic brunette, who wanted me to ignore the rules. God help me.

I didn’t start when the first measure of the music kicked in, it was a mistake to rush in without understanding the push and pull of the music. You would wind up exhausting your best tricks and moves well before the 8 minutes were over. I always started on the floor and worked my way up, then down again. I worked my palms up her legs, using my legs for leverage as the beat of the music channeled itself through me. I pulled myself into her lap but continued to keep a careful distance, so my body would only lightly graze her as I held her in a straddle. I didn’t want her to feel my full weight until much later when it would be needed. She’d be anticipating a warm body against her but it wouldn’t come, first I wanted her to enjoy my breath against her neck, but to do that I had to somehow keep my breath even.

This was easy. I knew how to do this, I’d done it countless times before. She was my delectable, pretty little toy for 8 minutes. I could draw it out, make her want me. If she wasn’t attracted to women, she would be by the time I was done with her. These were my thoughts when I touched her hair to pull her neck closer to my face. My knees were anchored into the couch on either side of her body, allowing me to control our speed.

I was feeling very pleased with myself before the brunette took my hand from her hair and pushed it lower between both of our legs. Then I felt her move her head in against my neck; I thought she was going to kiss me but her teeth bit down on my skin. It caused an electric current of sensation to ripple down my body.  I would be in trouble if I tried to retaliate the way I would’ve liked. Our bouncer would be watching and waiting. If I protested or tried to retreat than this woman would be thrown out of the club.

I realized that it wasn’t a dance that she wanted. Evidently what she wanted was to devour me like a late night meal. It was the job of the dancer to remove their own clothes, but the brunette was content to do it herself. Her fingers curled through the loose fabric ties of my bra and underwear.  If a man had acted as entitled to my body as this dark-haired girl had, they would have been promptly kicked out and deemed perverted pigs with no respect for the performers. The dancers could touch you, they could dance and writhe against you, but you never reciprocated it. That was the unwritten contract that you signed when you took me into the dark pits under the stage. This brunette must’ve known that she was an exception to the rules. I guess she had sensed my desire to please her. It was a desire that she was happy to capitalize on.

I had totally given into this busty girl by the time the third song had played. I pressed my face into her gloriously large breasts and inhaled her cinnamon smell. I discovered that she tasted like hard cider and smoky whiskey. She must’ve been young if she was still nursing her alcohol habit on Angry Orchards and Fireball. Would I be able to sneak off and find her in the bar next door after the sets had ended? Every time she moaned I grew worried that our bouncer would catch us and end the dance prematurely. The things we were doing couldn’t possibly be allowed.

The third song was over and the “dance” was done. I extricated myself from the brunette bashfully. She was catching her breath and pulling her own clothes back on.

“Yeah, you were pretty good! Even though, you could’ve used your hands more and been a little rougher. Next time don’t be afraid to go all out.” she told me as I felt myself being, again, led by her out of the downstairs room.

I thanked her for the feedback and took a mental note.

I watched her return to her group where they were seated around the dimly lit stage. One of the older and far more professional girls was performing now. She went by an alcoholic drink handle, I think it might’ve been Chardonnay? The dark-haired girl that I had danced for was taking her seat next to a medium-built man to watch the performance. He’d been holding the seat for her, clearly, as he piled dollar bills onto the stage.  I wondered if it was her boyfriend. Perhaps the dance had been a gift for her?

I couldn’t be sure. There was no hint in her voice that she had wanted me to follow her. I felt like our business together was done and she’d had her fill.

I decided to go find Ruby and borrow a cigarette.

((After Thoughts: Revisiting this experience left me feeling a little disturbed. I have come to discover from these experiences that the men that I would perform for saw their bodies as instruments of violence. For me personally, the men I danced for were careful in their interactions with me, while the women did not see their bodies in the same way. A woman’s body can’t be an instrument of violence, because we are socially conditioned to know ourselves as the suppressed, sexual victims. And so I run into this type of thinking- “Why can’t I touch a stripper inappropriately as a woman? We are both women aren’t we? This is fine.”

As much as I love these sisters and feel solidarity with them in an oppressive male-oriented system. I dislike the notion that a girl’s body can’t also be an instrument of violence. In my experience, it isn’t true. I’ve experienced more molestation at the hands of women than men. Even if I sometimes I enjoyed it, that doesn’t really make it okay.))



Sometimes when I have mental lapses and frustrations, I try to ask myself “What is it I know for certain?” What blessed things can my mind cling to as solid fact as a safety harness? When I can’t be sure who or what I am, I need those things to keep me somehow tethered to myself. I meditate on them to keep myself from falling into a me-shaped spiral.

I know that my hands are a cool violet, like the tinged, dying light of dusk.  It’s slightly lighter on my palms and inside of my arms. My Mistress Lectra used to compare my skin to the color of orchids, which means nothing to me since I’ve never seen one. Or if I have, it was when I wasn’t Raguel. She said that orchids used to grow in our swamp, before things changed and the fungi took over most of the local vegetation. Perhaps she liked me like this because it reminded her of a more innocent time when flowers were flowers and not disguised parasites.

The most radiant blossoms that sprout from the ground close to my Mistress’s tower are a hybrid, inverted-pitcher plant that germinates by burying itself into the eyes and ears of unsuspecting animals and humanoids. I watched a goblin youth struggle against it for months; his body fertilizing a new crop of carnivorous blossoms in the earth; he periodically spasmed and cried out for help. It would be impossible to know if it were really him or a trick engineered by the plants to draw in more hosts. I remember that little boy whenever I feel the desperate need to ask my companions for some kind of help:

“I might be dying, I don’t know if this could be my last day. I’m frightened, please help me.” These sound like the words of a dangerous insect. As a withering host to a parasite myself, it would be useful to draw in new prey.

It started as a discoloration on my shoulder from where my Mistress used to touch me, sweetly and beguilingly. The poisonous infection started off as a shadow from her fingers and embraces. I discovered that her poisons could be addictive. It supplied me with a gentle high of condemnation that I could never achieve from years of tedious meditation. I never worried that I would ever come to rely on them because my Mistress promised me that everything she did to me was done out of deep abiding love.

I could feel her love in everything she did to me, even when it hurt. No, especially when it hurt. The scars in my arms where she planted crystals, the myconid skin-grafts that she applied to me indecisively again and again, and of course, the sickly green infection that is growing exponentially faster now, are all precious proof of how Mistress Lectra wanted to claim me as hers.

I wonder why she was so frightened to lose me. Particularly if a single order from an uncaring Queen was enough for her to release me from her service. She apologized and told me to go live a good life. Her last order was to forget about her, as if that were possible. Lectra is in my flesh now. I can’t forget her. The obsessive, twisted Lectra that walked out of the Dark Room made sure that would be impossible for me.

What was she like before the Ordeal? Was there that same need to brand me with her devotion? Were there orchids before she disappeared forever into the Dark Room?

I have thought it over and I don’t know what is certain. My hands are not certain, their color might give way to the green infection any day now. Whether or not the sun rises in the morning remains to be seen. Whether or not gravity keeps my feet locked to this world or sends me spiraling into the void, remains to be seen. I keep losing myself to the me-shaped spiral because nothing is certain. Not anymore.