She bleeds ink, a ragged red-blue. I suck on her oozing fingertips and feel her words infect me. She’s my nightmare in paper and twisted magazine pages, glossy with grins and urgent unblinking eyes. Nothing but teeth and lips. In slack moments she moves, a gravity swell that crushes my body, pushes the air from my lungs. She is my sweet, hallucinatory fuck. Words drip from her lips in slurred utterances, like oozing warm glue. She looks me in the eye and everything dissolves.
Her apartment overlooks the large park she calls Witch Fields, a patch of sink hole black in the dirty orange of city. She says witches were burned there, that their ashes churn with the soil and feed the dark shapes of trees that punch like fists into the air.
The hospital stands at the far side of the park. She works there, in uniforms white and clean, with the bleach and the pills, the ink and routine, she walks the corridors inside its belly. I watch her dressing in the morning, sliding into the skin of authority. She draws two eyes in the misty windows and laughs as she looks through. When I look through all I see is the stone monolith of the hospital, washed in harsh car park lighting. White and clean.
She tells me about the hospital, about the witches whose charred remains provide the foundations. She tells me about the last to be caught in the town, two young women thrown inside a barrel and rolled down the hill into the fields below. The old hospital stands on the spot where the barrel came to rest. Where their bodies were dragged out into the light and set aflame. Where they screamed and writhed in agony, bound to one another as their flesh became ash and smoke. Sometimes she can smell the faint aroma of burning as she walks the corridors at night. When she comes home and gets into bed, I can taste it on her skin.
She never used to be this way. She used to be warm and smooth as velvet, her skin like soft fruit, her blood like honey and just as sweet. But each day she leaves me, and each night she returns, light bleeding from her pores, red and blue and orange, in neon arcs and bright bleaches; she splutters words like traffic noise out of her black-lined mouth.
Now she talks softly to herself, walking between rooms naked in the cavernous silence of night. I listen to her voice carrying in the air. I don’t understand what she says. It may be a foreign language; maybe one she made up. It crawls like a swarm of insects into my head.
Sometimes I think she is casting spells.
Now she kneels on the bed, and I hear her words in my ear, a hiss that sends quivers up my spine, rippling through my body. The hair on my neck bristles and I feel myself sighing, groaning as a weakness grows in my legs, my knees twisting, aching, forcing me to curl up like a crying child. Spiders crawl over my body, their sick legs moving rapidly with her formless whispers and panic takes hold of me. I want to get away, I want to run, I want to be free. But I’m paralyzed where I lie. Motionless in the murderous violet aura of her corrupted image.
I sit at the window and watch her walking the Fields. She appears to skip, to dance, spinning along the paths, through those bare trees that clench. I rest my head against the glass and I see her in the hospital corridors at night, the same skip in her step. The walls glow angry amber, and a crackling fills my ears. She moves like an angel, so sweet yet somehow drawn all wrong, like the erratic scribbling of a lunatic child.
I see her walk naked from the bedroom to the bathroom, her shadow a dark wake that throws shapes on the walls. For a moment her silhouette stretches out huge wings before it is gone, and only the yellowing wallpaper meets my gaze.
She will return to the hospital tonight. She will walk the corridors and lose something of herself. She will dance in the Fields, she will smile and sing and laugh, and fuel the fire that burns within her.
Photo by Arthur Chapman