By Tala Fehsel

“Aren’t you engaged?” I asked the first time, helpless and desperate — not for the truth, but to hear the lies.

I pressed my forehead against the back of her neck and closed my eyes, matching the shallow rhythm of her breath. We both knew.

I heard her whisper as I traced her collar, her shoulder, down her arm a slender sapling.

I never made out the words.

“Aren’t you married?” I asked when she showed up months later, a gleaming band on her finger and a soft-edged need in her eyes.

She reached out to cup my face and I felt the warmth of her hands, the hard crescents of her fingernails against my jaw, the cold burn of steel against my throat like a knife (or like salvation) where her ring pressed against my skin.

I surrendered to her love and let it bear me under.

“Aren’t you pregnant?” I whispered as her lips brushed mine like flower petals cool with dew. There was a gentle sheen like satin to her skin now, a plumpness and a warmth.

She was soft against me as she crushed me with her teeth, bruising lips, jarring bones. I yielded; she was unrelenting, tasting blood.

She dragged me down, our chains caresses, and stopped my breath with hers.

“Aren’t you alone?”