I envy that velvet lining, with its blood-colored fur and its neat little zipper. A creature—a small, soft creature—can choose to zip it all the way up and nestle inside, hidden from the outer world. Or it can nudge the metal teeth apart and poke its head out, look around, decide if it's safe to reveal itself.
I had something like it once, a cocoon I could hide and develop in. A cozy, confining, claustrophobic nest that traps you and breaks down your mind. Some never pick up the pieces to be able to come back out.
Obviously I did or I wouldn't be out here, looking back with a tinge of regret on what I’ve given up. But there are consolations. Out here I can create my own blood-colored spaces, crimson and cherry and everything sweet. Or find one, a place where I can lie in wait for unsuspecting passersby.
He looks up at the same time as me. Our eyes meet in the mirror behind the bar and he smiles. I noticed him noticing me half an hour ago when I went up to the mirror-backed bar to get a drink. It was also crimson, like the walls and my dreams, but the watery red of cranberry juice diluted even further by spirits.
Twice before I’ve let my gaze pass languidly over him, with only a second’s pause to leave him wondering if I’d noticed. This time I smile back.
He doesn’t hurry over. He doesn’t want to scare me off. But after a long, deep drink he rises and walks slowly over. Somewhere nearby I hear the faint buzz of smooth metal on metal, two sides separating and gaping open.
He keeps it simple and straightforward. We talk a little, shyly. Both pretending or neither? It’s too early to tell. First, we have to circle around the ordinary. Names, locations, what brought us here besides the obvious, which we can’t admit at this stage.
“It’s a little far but I like the vibe,” he says, looking around the room. “I’ve even thought about painting a room this color, making something like this at home.”
I wonder how deeply he means it. Is this purely small talk or the opening salvo of a revelation? I’m nodding and it’s past time to say something. I should say something complimentary about the music or the lighting, keep the conversation flowing and light, continue with pure small talk.
But I am too curious to continue. I stop and ask, “Have you always wanted a blood-red room?”
"I don't know," he says, his mouth broken into a crooked smile. "Maybe."
“Where did it come from, this desire? From your imagination or real-life experience?”
“Where does any desire come from?” he counters.
I know several answers to this but like him, I don’t want to be the first to reveal too much, so I shrug. He's managed to pierce my armor one tiny bit, but I won't fall to pieces yet.
Then he reaches down and plucks a tiny white globe from the underside of the table. He holds it up so I can see the overlapping strands of spider silk. The sac is still intact, full of potential. My stomach flutters.
“Maybe they’re already there when we’re born,” he says. “They come at different times, but the seeds are planted when we’re first put together.”
I nod and run a fingertip over the egg sac. It’s soft and velvety. Not blood-colored but it could be made to be, if it were dipped in blood for instance, or rested in a puddle and allowed to soak it up. I look around the room and let my gaze land on a short, stocky blond man. My companion’s looking too.
Hinges squeal as someone new enters. The swinging glass door reflects a glare through the window which reminds us both that it’s daylight out. Not the right time for hunting. What we’re doing is unnatural.
He dips his hand back down and replaces the spider sac. We’ll leave them to grow.
“Maybe sometime soon you can help me paint a room red?” he says.
I smile big enough to show my teeth.
“I’d like that.”
This was inspired by the weekend #freewrite prompts.
Image by geralt.