She wraps her little hands around my throat and I push myself into them, feeling nothing. They’re so delicate, paper thin instruments unused to violence. I want you to hurt me, I say, and she squeezes, firm but uncertain. You can hit me if you like. Her cheshire smile wavers, a heat haze mirage, and she shakes her head. No, there’s no pleasure in her eyes, only the hope of mine. Candles go out one by one until the dark lays upon us with an unwanted suitors charm, and I tell her, I can be hurt in other ways.

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