The beast with two backs looms on the horizon. ‘It’ll be a full moon,’ she says. ‘People always go a little crazy.’ I stroke her hair, staring at a fixed point in space. People are always a little crazy, I tell her. The moon may shift tides but social mores make waves. She leans into me, tilts her head, exposes her neck, looks through me. ‘You aren’t as clever as you think,’ she says. I know, I should give myself more credit. ‘At least you’re funny.’ I laugh and she doesn’t. We kiss, waiting for the sun to set.
I lean in quick and kiss her unevenly, a grossly affine plane. Pull back and make eye contact and feel like I know less than ever. ‘Are you going to do it again,’ she says. Standing in her pupils, I tell her, I’d like to, and touch my own face lightly. Her patience extends into the street, mingling with the fog and neon city vapour. ‘Will you do it again?’ I lower my guard and let the back of our hands dance at waist height, seasoned amateurs practicing excitement. I will, I tell her, I’m pretty sure I will.
Penny puts her free hand on my cheek. I can feel the tremble in it, though her eyes are still and somehow darkened, their militant olive occluded in rumbling grey and seductively poised to storm. I lie carefully, telling her it won’t hurt, turn my cheek and smile into her palm. ‘I don’t want to do this,’ she says, but I promise I won’t be mad and plant a kiss inside her hand before it slips behind to bury fingers in my hair. She pulls my head back gingerly, says, ‘I love you monkey,’ and slits open my throat.
Nature documentaries voiced by baritone sedatives and about an hour of awkward casual contact on the couch, hands grazing thighs and nestled knees and nested desires incubating under the skin. Then she says, ‘You can fuck me if you want,’ as though asking for the channel changed. When I form the question on my face she says, ‘Yeah, you can fuck me. Just don’t try to kiss me on the mouth.’ I ask if she keeps her hymen in her throat and she tells me to forget it. The narrator says that certain types of mantis eat their mates.