by Thom Gabrukiewicz
She’s fresh from a warm bath, skin puckered and pink from various salts and essential oils.
She lounges naked on cool cotton sheets, her weight supported on one hip, a leg crossed over the other. She supports her head, wet hair still wrapped in a towel, on bent elbow.
I watch from the hallway, her reflection in an antique oval floor mirror.
She stretches an arm to the night stand, picks up a thick, leather-bound volume and spreads it open. Quickly she coughs into a balled fist and in an otherworldly voice, speaks:
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary...”
I watch the mirror image, watch her pale skin go dark and mottled, stare as filaments of feathers sprout, and unfurl in inky blackness.
Horrified, I shove knuckles into my mouth. She hears me, cackles:
“Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door - Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; - This it is, and nothing more.”
I enter and everything is as it was. She’s naked, smiling devilish, and reaches for me with open arms.
I go to her, run a hand across her inner thigh.
She wraps her arms around my shoulders, brushes full lips across my cheek, the tip of her tongue finds its mark.
And in her embrace I shudder, as into my ear, the other voice whispers:
“And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor…
Shall be lifted - nevermore!”