As the full moon nears I can feel the tide of blood rise beneath my skin.
Gone are the days when I dread this moment coming. I now crave it. Yearn for it.
In the week proceeding, a heightening of my senses creeps in. Smells become intoxicating. Everyday sounds either pierce my skull, or lull me into a swoon. The dull grey of London life is replaced by a technicolour of animal desire.
I smile to myself, as I sit in a crowded café and Beethoven’s Piano Sonata #14 starts to play. Watching her through the steam rising from my coffee, the aroma of the warm drink in my hands doesn’t register. Rather, the sickly tang of sweat masked by sweet perfume clouds my judgment. Her scent overwhelms everything, even from across the room. It’s still six days away and already I struggle to contain my primal urge to consume her there and then. Her green eyes meet mine and for a moment I fear that she can read my thoughts. The hint of a smile at the edges of her mouth reassures me that she has no idea what’s running through my head. Her gaze flickers in my direction every few moments. I leave having not touched my coffee. It’s not yet time.
She’s wearing a spring dress. Ditzy flowers scattered on a white background cling to her body, as she walks through the park. I keep a good distance so she doesn’t know I’m following her. Studying her dark red curls and white skin I realise that this girl, this woman, is all alone. The crowd of people around do nothing to give her a sense of belonging. This is a kindred spirit of mine. We are different, but the same in so many ways. If only she understood that. She is carrying a book. I can just make out the title from this distance: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. I imagine her sitting at night on her bed, reading the final pages, her eyes growing wider and her heart beating harder as the tension mounts to a climax. In my mind her name is now Angela, the same as the author. My Angela. My angel. Blinking, I realise that I’ve lost sight of her. She is gone, but I’ll find her again. Looking down I find I’ve scratched deep marks into the bark of the tree I’m leaning against. Soon I reassure myself. Soon.
It’s taken me two days, but I have found her again. Angela’s scent is so unique that I could never lose her for long. We’re on the Underground together — Together, yet still apart. It’s cool on the surface today, but below the heat is almost unbearable. Rows of commuters stand between us in the stifling train, but I don’t see them. It’s not hard to remain anonymous down here. No one ever makes eye contact, they just stare ahead like lifeless puppets. Coats are flung over folded arms or placed on seat backs. Angela’s face is flushed, full of rouge beauty. Her chest heaves in large breaths. Only I seem to notice. Her face lights up, although almost sadly, like she’s just remembered a lost lover. At that moment, I recall some of the others before her. Not their living faces- their dead ones: Like the puppets around me. Then their faces come to life with delicious screams. The cabin rattles to a halt and my Angela stands. I remain seated. I already feel guilty. No, I’m only following my nature. I let her go.
Angela stands, looking into a shop window, oblivious to the attention I give her. She’s had sex recently. Either this morning or late last night, I can’t be sure. The musk of it wafts over and invades my nostrils. I find myself becoming jealous. If I knew who the man was I’d find him and take out my anger. I could do it easily. How can someone who looks so innocent smell so sordid? Doesn’t she know she’s too special to waste her energy on anyone? I shake my head free of the thought. This isn’t the moment for distraction. What we’ll experience together will be so much more intimate than a mere pressing of flesh. The connection of hunger and fear will always be more powerful than simple lust. She walks into the shop and I leave to prepare. Tomorrow night.
I’m almost bursting with anticipation. Pacing in the darkness I wait in the alley behind where she lives. This is the pathway to her home. The whole street reeks of her beauty. Crouching in the shadows I look up to the sky. Clouds cover the silver orb I know is lurking behind it, like the beast than lurks inside me. When it shows its glowing face, reason will depart to be replaced by unrestrained want. My heart pounds out the seconds in double time. Minutes. Hours. She’s near.
Footsteps echo up the pathway and I know it’s her. Her sound, her breathing, her scent: They’re all familiar. My pulse throbs in my ears. I look to the sky once more and hope my luck and timing meet perfectly. She’s wearing black. Her hair is pulled back to reveal her sensuous neck. It’s almost like she’s inviting me to come to her. She halts and looks up to the sky as well, letting out a long sighing breath. I want her to walk past me. I will her too, but she stands still.
“Won’t you come out?” she asks the air.
I don’t know if she’s talking to me, or the moon.
“Come out,” she whispers. “I know you’ve been following me. I hoped you’d come.”
I pause for another breath, but then step out of the shadows. Angela’s lips pull back into a lovely grin. Our eyes lock. The hunger in her face stuns me. I am a deer in the headlights. Her skin becomes bathed in silver light and it begins to change. The stab from inside my stomach tells me the same shift is happening to me. I fall to my knees with the pain of it. I hear a growl, and before I can react she’s on me. There’s a deep snarl in my ears and I feel teeth sinking into my throat. I try to let out a cry, but it turns into a gurgle, as crimson life bubbles out of me. Grasping hopelessly at her weight, I try to stop her, but the frenzy is relentless. The strangest thought pops into my head.
So this is what it feels like.
The pain inside me is exquisite. The tearing and biting. The wet noises as pieces of flesh are torn from my bones.
In my last moment I look up and catch her green eyes one final time. I imagine them crying over my corpse in the morning. Right now there is nothing in them but bloodlust. Angela pauses. She is satisfied. I can tell. I know that look. I’m glad I could give her what she needs. My Angela.
*This is a slight edit of my original award-winning story published in Midnight Echo 2013. Ideally to be read while listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Here’s a link to Spotify if you need it: https://play.spotify.com/album/6lYMdGFShVneIDstynwcfW