The Way of All Flesh
by Tony Noland
The bathroom tiles were cold, biting plates of ice under her bare feet. The vanity cabinet door creaked as she closed it and she froze. Like silvery moonlight framing a statue in the park, the pale glow of the little nightlight held back the darkness. A moment, a long foolish moment passed and she heard nothing but his continued heavy breathing.
She clutched the barber's shears tightly. He would never understand. She didn’t understand herself. There was no reason for it, the whole thing was insane, but she had to. She just had to.
As slowly as she could, she moved back down the hall, back through to her bedroom. It was so dark, she moved by memory toward the bed. He lay exposed, blankets pushed down to his waist. He slept in the nude, as he always did. That first night, she’d been startled by his heat. He was not her first lover, and she’d been accustomed to the warmth of men. Men were like hot bricks wrapped in flannel, a comfort throughout the night for cold feet and hands.
Him, though... sleeping with him in her bed was like sleeping on a warm sandy beach. Every morning for the first week, she slept deeply and awoke aroused. Seven mornings running she had reached for him and he had been solid and ready for her, even in his sleep. Enormous, he was two hand spans long and as thick around as her fingers could curl. It was almost more than she could take, even with a slow and patient touch. He was wonderful, like nothing she had ever felt before.
The antique shears glinted, the long gilt steel blades catching the thin bit of light from the window. She moved one floating step at a time, closer and yet closer still to his side of the bed. It was on their twelfth night, as she lay naked beside him, sweat cooling into the darkness of the bedroom, that the first mad urge flashed in her mind. It passed and she had smiled at the lunacy of it. Since then, though, the desire had returned, at first intermittently, then continuously - a complete image of her doing the unthinkable playing over and over in her mind.
In her waking moments, when she was at work, at the gym, anywhere she was apart from him, she could see that it was absurd. But at night, in the deep heat of the night, when she was at the heights of emotion and sensation, with his body against hers, she was overcome with a sense of the rightness, of the pressing need for this mad course of action. She resisted, she argued with herself, berated herself for being a fool. Why did she want to hurt him? How could she?
She stood next to him, over him. In her mind the crime was already committed. It was not only right and wise - it was necessary, critical that she do this. A very small, weak voice inside her cried out to stop her, to forestall this insanity that would be the ruin of him and her and everything. She ignored it.
She drew down the blanket and with her free hand she gently lifted him. Whether at her touch or at the feel of the cool air, he grew, filling her hand. As quietly as her fingers could manage, she opened wide the shears and maneuvered them in place. Then, with all of the strength in her arm, she closed them hard, slicing the blades fully across the root of him. His manhood came free and she leapt back from the bed, snatching it out of the fountain of blood that gushed from him.
He came awake with a roar and clapped both hands to his mutilated groin. He looked up at her, screaming in shock and agony. Frightened, confused by what she had just done, she turned away from him and looked at the heavy mass she held in her trembling hand, dripping and flopping, yet still firm and radiating warmth.
From behind the head of it, two long yellow fangs flashed out, then arced forward convulsively to bury themselves in her wrist.
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