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Two days ago. Candles and the suck of cigarettes on a side porch in Texas. You can almost see the stars. Drinks make the heat burn less. Or more, depending on who you are. We’ve already had a dinner and a phone conversation filled with Tex-Mex and funny, fantastic friends, with collars and cuffs and boyfriends and lace. Now, the conversation slips from BDSM to music to love to pick-up lines to oral sex back to BDSM. We talk about fire and wax. From a plastic chair on the balcony, with a plastic cup in hand, I watch the flicker of flame. I’d put my fingers in it, but I’ve played with fire enough on this trip. I bear the marks already. Instead, I flick the lighter, let the play of orange and red dance along my fingers.

If I had a theme for this year, it would be this: I’m playing with fire.

After a year in which I spent much of my life feeling like I was being buried alive, suffocating slowly in a grave of unfeeling, this new rawness is welcome. This pain. This red. This fleeting and too fast-fading reminder upon my skin.

I’m home from Texas now. It’s cold. No heat. I miss it already. This place is too much like the ground I don’t want to be deadened in.

Still, hope, in the form of a book. Contributor’s copies of Playing with Fire, the new collection by Alison Tyler. All kinds of red-hot stories by some of my favorite authors, including Nikki Magennis, Sommer Marsden, Jeremy Edwards and many more. You can find the TOC and the list of authors at the Playing with Fire blog.

playingMy story, “White Heat, White Light” is a retelling of the Andromeda myth, the story of the chained lady. I picked the book up and started reading my story, something I rarely do, and I had a moment of wonder: I like this story, a lot. I don’t remember writing it. I am a better writer than I think I am. Playing with fire, playing with the strike and flare of words: this is what I’m made for. This is the reason I’m here.

From “White Heat, White Light”:

Somehow in the dark, his tongue touches, scents, the center of me, touches the hot wet pulse in my center. I’ve had snakes there, all hiss and tongue, but they are no match for what he does for me. The tip of his tongue laps at me, sinking deeper and deeper until his stubble scratches the inside of my thighs. I buck against the chain around my waist, not sure if I’m moving toward him or away. I put my fingers on his head, deep in the soft, short hair, but he shakes my hands away. He is eating me alive.

This time, I don’t cry out. I bite my lip to keep the voices inside. I wrap my hands backwards around the tree, holding myself there as though the chain might brake. If I were to come free now, I tell myself I would run, I would run back to the cabin and the man sleeping in the window light. I would go with the speed of light, with my winged sandals, and I would not be too late.

When he finally stands, I unbutton his jeans, pull them open until the zipper slides apart and they drop. He takes his own underwear down. He is the curve and strength of the Archer against my thigh. There are so many ways to tell this part of myth, but they’ve all been told before. Choose your objects: Bows and arrows. The slide of sword. The king’s scepter. The queen’s pride. This sea, taking him in. The serpent, devouring. If I could tell it different, I would. Reverse roles, be the one who enters or the one who chains.

“Fuck, Cassie,” he says, as he slides in all the way, pushing me hard against the bark, lifting me as high from the earth as my chains will let me go.

I don’t tell him he’s confusing me with another girl. Wrong myth.

###

It makes me want to relight the flames, let my fingers sink over the wicks and wax and wet heat, sit for a moment with the sizzle of skin. Lick the wicks. Tilt the taper until there’s a pattern of red on my pale palm. Remember what it feels like to blister and burn. To heal again.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

“I haven’t a clue as to how my story will end. But that’s all right. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, you don’t conclude the road has vanished. And how else could we discover the stars?”

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