The woman’s black cloak is wrapped tightly around her. She stumbles from the alleyway and into traffic. He is in the right place at the right time to catch her before she falls to the sludge. She turns around. His eyes meet hers. It’s hard to see more than a glimpse of her in the early morning grey dawn, but large dark pupils give off an impression of emptiness, of hunger. A cold shiver creeps along his spine, sending chills through him. At the same time he feels a stirring in his loins. She walks on.
Dried maple leaves scuttle along the road in her wake. The wind blows. There’s a rustling in the trees. There are no human sounds in the early morning. All he can hear is the white noise of cars as they shoosh by on the parkway, the occasional blare of a horn, the sound of a car alarm going off in the distance, the whoosh of a wing flap from a hawk as it dives to the earth to catch a rodent in its claws.
Somewhere someone has started a bonfire. He smells the scent of wood being burned slowly. It is November. There’s a nip in the air. Just after the Day of the Dead. At this time of year, he is prone to wandering, especially through cemeteries, to place roses on the unattended tombstones of loved ones forgotten by those who have moved on. He’s not the sort to move on. He still misses his former lover. His body still craves the feeling of her smooth sinewy legs wrapped around him, her thick mane hanging over him as she takes his cock inside her.
He doesn’t follow the woman in the black cloak but thoughts of her stay in his mind. He’s taken a short cut through this same alley every morning on the way to work to get coffee every day for years but has never seen her before. Not that in a city you don’t see complete strangers all the time but he recognizes most of his neighbours and the rummies that go through the recycling boxes outside people’s homes for returnable empties. It’s a quiet enclave in the middle of downtown Toronto. He leaves early when the moon is a pale white ghost, en route to his accountant job.
He passes a tangle of forest overlooking the Don River, the ravine. Toronto is a city of alleys, abandoned railway lines, former subway stations and ravines, secret hideaways for murder, rape and god knows what else. He senses that small cloaked body nearby, thinks he can see a blur through the trees. He feels the chill once more, combined with the stirring. Who is this woman and why is she out so early in the morning alone? What or who is she searching for?
It’s a cold morning. He shoves his hands into his trench coat pockets, wishes he’d worn gloves. He’s looking forward to a large cup of coffee to warm him, to wrap his hands around as he completes his walk to work. His office is a half hour’s distance from his home by foot. He could take public transit or his bike, but he chooses to walk, to steel himself against the drudgery ahead, and then at night when coming home a saunter through the quiet and emptied out downtown helps to calm his jangled nerves and delay his return to his empty condo.
He walks briskly now, gets his coffee, makes small talk with the sexy blonde server and leaves the coffee shop He does this every day. At the office he tries to concentrate on his mind numbing tasks, reviews spreadsheets, takes part in a conference call, has lunch, makes mindless small talk with his colleagues about sports and the latest Hollywood blockbuster that he hasn’t seen but apparently is all the rage, signs off on a few financial statements, reviews a profit and loss scenario for a new firm. All through the day the woman’s dark, fathomless eyes have interrupted his train of thought, causing that paradoxical combination once more: arousal and fear. Arousal and fear…
until he has to go into a stall in the company bathrooms and relieve himself, his hand wrapped around his thickening cock, his finger at the slit, rubbing the precum around, his other hand pulling on his balls. Imaging the black-cloaked, dark-eyed, hooded woman kneeling at his feet, her lips painted crimson red, her mouth opened in an O to take his cock.
He does this twice before quitting time. He plans on putting on some porn as soon as he sets foot inside the door of his condominium. His lonely condo. It used to be full of light and laughter until his lover left him. She moved to Paris when her modelling career took off. He texts and e-mails her often, but she no longer answers. It is like a death, losing her and being subjected to her lack of response. He wonders if she has come to no good, ending up dead in a Parisian catacomb. In moments like this, when his imagination takes him to dark places, he is overcome with a sensation of grief so sharp, painful and unrelenting that he doesn’t think he can bear it.
The thought of facing yet another solitary night in the bed which they’d shared makes him so lonely that he stays up as late as possible, more often than not falling asleep on the couch in front of the tv, watching horror movies they both used to love.
It’s still light but barely on his journey home. A half light. The time when things are difficult to make out. He passes the ravine once more. The trees are bare except for the rare dot of a blood red berry. He recalls that they are poisonous. Wonders how many one would have to ingest to die. Just before he crosses over to the alley, he sees her again, the woman in the black cloak. Beneath her hood she is staring right at him. Her eyes seem to have turned a piercing yellow.
In the distance he hears a howl. He read in the paper that coyotes were snatching dogs from backyards near the Neville Park Ravine. The city’s getting wild. The feral dogs have been spotted in the downtown core. It’s all those green bins for compost. The hungry animals can smell the rotting meat, the putrid stench of earth as the maggots crawl through it, turning dead flesh into food. The woman sniffs the air like a wolf. Can she smell his fear? His arousal?
He’s got a huge hard on. He wants to unzip his pants. Right there near the ravine, with the yellow-eyed woman looking on. She reaches into her cloak. Runs her fingers over her nipples until they are stiff and pointed peaks beneath the cloak. She licks her lips and kneels in the grass near the thistles and burs. The moon rises over the Bloor Viaduct. The suicide bridge, it’s called. Because so many people have leaped to their death there. He hears the sounds of traffic rushing over the bridge as he walks towards her and unzips his fly. She opens her mouth. She’s ravenous. He thinks she’s going to devour him whole…
© 2013 Amanda Earl. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.
Bio: Amanda Earl’s erotic fiction has been published in several Cleis Press anthologies edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel and also appears in the Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica and numerous other anthologies. Earl is a member of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. For more information, please visit AmandaEarl.com.